Long­time Celtic mu­si­cian pre­pares for Scot­tish Games

56th an­nual Fair Hill Scot­tish Games to be held Satur­day

Cecil Whig - - JUMPSTART - By DARA MCBRIDE

dm­cbride@ce­cil­whig.com

— Spec­ta­tors, com­peti­tors and per­form­ers come from far and wide to at­tend the Fair Hill Scot­tish Games.

One mu­si­cian doesn’t have to travel too far — and is likely a fa­mil­iar name to lo­cals.

“I have been lucky enough to be asked to this fes­ti­val sev­eral times over the last 20 years or so, and have been here I think the last five years in a row. The games are great, at­ten­dance is al­ways won­der­ful, so much to do for the en­tire fam­ily, and it is a joy to sing the songs of Scot­land at such a time-hon­ored event,” said Char­lie Zahm, who is based in Coatesville, Pa.

Called one of the most sought-af­ter Celtic singers on the East Coast, Zahm entertains through song and on

FAIR HILL

gui­tar. He comes to his love of Celtic mu­sic hon­estly (he has Scot­tish and Ir­ish blood on both sides of his fam­ily) and has re­leased a num­ber of CDs cel­e­brat­ing the genre.

Through­out the year, Zahm can be heard at area churches and pubs shar­ing his mu­sic and a bit of his­tory too. This year, he’ll be play­ing the Scot­tish Games with Bal­ti­more fiddler Tad Marks, with whom he has made mu­sic for the last 17 years or so.

Rain or shine, the games have been around for sev­eral decades. Are there any years in par­tic­u­lar that stand out for you?

Well, last year the weather was quite beau­ti­ful. I re­mem­ber singing the Amer­i­can Na­tional An­them on that gor­geous day just af­ter massed bands on the plat­form above the field...that was re­ally some­thing!

Are there songs that you en­joy play­ing (or are re­quested) ev­ery year?

Well, most folks have their fa­vorites, and I get dozens of re­quests over the course of a day. My fa­vorites are the bal­lads with some great his­tory be­hind them – such as an event in time, like the Ja­co­bite Re­bel­lion of 1745 – where I can ex­plain why the song was im­por­tant back then and why it needs to be re­mem­bered to­day.

Why do you think peo­ple (even those who aren’t Scot­tish or Ir­ish them­selves) en­joy hear­ing Celtic mu­sic?

The great songs of the Celtic lands can appeal to any­body, the ex­pe­ri­ences are univer­sal. Birth, death, strug­gle, ex­plo­ration, fam­ily, faith – the songs can appeal to all of us. So many of us have some Celtic blood in us that they touch some­thing deep inside that re­minds us that we have an­ces­tors who lived that ex­pe­ri­ence. Plus, many are just fun songs and fun to sing – there is some­thing for every­body and you don’t have to be Scot­tish, or Ir­ish, or Welsh...

When you are not on­stage at the games, is there an event or booth you like to visit for fun?

Well, the pipe bands are al­ways great to watch, and you can hear them from the next county, but I also en­joy the danc­ing. Those girls (and oc­ca­sion­ally a boy) work so hard and give it their all, I al­ways feel very proud of them!

Any­thing else you’d like lis­ten­ers to know about you?

Come out and sup­port the fes­ti­val! There are hun­dreds of vol­un­teers be­hind the scenes who work so hard for this one day, come out, have a great time at the fes­ti­val, and tell your friends!

The games take place Satur­day, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Fair Hill Race Track. The day of ath­let­ics, mu­sic, danc­ing, food, and arts cel­e­brat­ing Scot­tish and Celtic cul­ture will be held rain or shine. Gen­eral ad­mis­sion and box seats avail­able. Adult tick­ets start at $16 and chil­dren start at $4. For more on the games, visit fairhillscot­tishgames.org.

For more on Zahm and his up­com­ing shows, visit www. Char­lieZahm.com.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY DARA MCBRIDE

Zachary Jack­son plays Wil­liam Mor­ris Bar­fée, a speller with a “Magic Foot” that helps him find the right letters.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF CHAR­LIE ZAHM

Char­lie Zahm will be among the per­form­ers at this year’s Scot­tish Games in Fair Hill. The long­time Celtic singer has ap­peared at the games for sev­eral years now.

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