“Crix” Christopher Armitage (lead vocals, bagpipes, tin whistle, guitar, bass, sax); Tommy Cooper (trumpet, bass, vocals); “Black Magic” Anwaar Himself Hines (drums, vocals); David Macias (lead guitar, vocals); “Pyrate Mike” Miguelangelo Cazares (melodica, bass, guitar, vocals).
CITIES OF ORIGIN:
Yucca Valley, Riverside
California Celts (Invisible Mass, 2010)
Celtic music (of course), plus reggae, ska, jazz and Latin flavors, some mods, Vespas and, yes, even a little Riverside Rugby for extra fun.
It must be a bit tough being named the California Celts these past couple weeks, as a barrage of Southern Californians have been railing on some other Celts (see the green-and-white clad Boston-based NBA team for a fairly giveaway example). And, as we’ve discovered, at least one of these Celts—who largely hail from the eastern reaches of Yucca Valley—are rooting for L.A.’s back east rivals.
Now, for those Angelenos harboring a distinct aversion to anything Celtic, let’s be clear: The California Celts aren’t completely slam dunking our brains with Irish music. These Celts, as great as they are, sound more like a young Dublin expat’s iPod permanently stuck on shuffle, melding heaps of reggae, ska, folk and punk into a decidedly Celtic mold. Are you still following us?
First, funnel Peter Tosh, Madness, Men Without Hats, the UC Riverside Highlander Pipe Band, The Specials, Disney’s “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me)” and that one dude from the Irish Spring commercial into one studio. Next, throw some kilts around, hit “record” and the end result might resemble something remotely akin to what the California Celts have been stewing for the past eight years, after kicking off as a backing band for Johnny the Fox and landing a slot as the house band at The Auld Dubliner.
“It’s a blend of all the music we enjoy,” says lead vocalist Crix. “We try and bring out the best mix of all the sounds, and add a twist.”
While they’re certainly enjoying an incredibly wide breadth of material, there’s not an expansive music scene in Yucca Valley, as Crix explains, so they’re doing their finest in maintaining their locale’s wares. And by covering approximately 514 subgenres of music (attention scientists: our tally’s not scientific) in a set, they’re doing a swell job of tapping into just about everyone’s tastes.
“Each night we start off from the street to the stage, kilted pipes blowing and music blaring,” Crix explains. “As the night presses on, we hit you with some sweet sounds of Jamaican rhythms that set the stage for a modern day swashbuckling time.”
California Celts at Liam’s Irish Pub, 1087 S. Mount Vernon Ave., Colton, (909) 422-9900; www.myspace.com/liamsirishpubcolton, Fri, 9PM; at Mission Tobacco Lounge, 3630 University Ave., Riverside, (951) 682-4427; www.missiontobaccolounge.com. Wed, 8PM.