Sunday, September 07, 2008

Long's Peak Scottish-Irish Festival in Estes Park Sept. 7

Prickly Pair & The Cactus Chorale from Dubois traded western duds for Scottish tartans at the Scottish-Irish Festival in Estes Park. Les Hamilton (left) is a fourth-generation fiddler with Scottish roots from Wyoming's Big Horn Basin. His wife, Locke, plays guitar, sings and writes some of the songs, while Norman Winter plays bass. Sitting in with the group is Denis Sullivan from the Denver Celtic group Gobs o' Phun. Prickly Pair plays vintage Western, old-time fiddle and cowboy folk tunes. They also play -- and talk about -- the Celtic origins of early cowboy and fiddle tunes of the Northern Plains.

Prickly Pair plays a hybrid of country-western and traditional Scots-Irish folk songs. They performed a song about Irish and Scottish soldiers who fought (and died) with Custer's Seventh Cavalry, one about a Wyoming cowgirl and a Scottish bagpiper who meet and fall in love (based loosely on Les and Locke's own lives), a song by Lori Lewis from the point of view of a fiddle dreaming of his previous life as a tree, and a ballad about Scotsmen driving the last working team of Clydesdale horses across their land. According to Locke, some ranchers in the West still use these "gentle giants" on their spreads.

For more on Prickly Pair, go to

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