Longtime Celtic musician prepares for Scottish Games
56th annual Fair Hill Scottish Games to be held Saturday
— 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
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.
Zachary Jackson plays William Morris Barfée, a speller with a “Magic Foot” that helps him find the right letters.
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.