Kilmaine Saints part of musical lineup at Celtic, harvest festival
CLEAR SPRING — The inaugural Western Maryland Celtic and Harvest Festival at Knob Hall Winery will feature a bunch of “hooligans” with an angelic moniker hoping to rock the crowd.
Kilmaine Saints, based in Harrisburg, Pa., will be one of three musical acts performing during the event, set from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Clear Spring winery. Tickets cost $15 in advance, $20 at the gate for ages 16 and older; and $10 for wine club members and designated drivers.
“We’re excited,” said drummer Mike McNaughton, co-founder of the group that’s been making its own brand of Celtic music since 2009. “It’s exciting to see them get off the ground,” he said of the festival.
Devan Zeger, booking and marketing manager for Knob Hall, said the staff is always trying to organize interesting music and events, “something to draw a different variety of patrons to the vineyard.”
She said there aren’t many Irish-themed events in Western Maryland, so the winery hopped on the chance to change that.
“We wanted to bring some Irish fun to the Hagerstown area,” Zeger said. “All of our music events are family-friendly, even dog-friendly,” as long as four-legged children are on leashes, she said. “We just want to make it a fun day out.”
The members of Kilmaine Saints are all about having a good time. Their whimsical biography states that the band was created with the sole purpose of obtaining free beer at St. Patrick’s Day shows in the Central Pennsylvania area. McNaughton said that mission was accomplished, and the six-member band is now performing beyond that region and that holiday.
The five men and one woman who comprise the group used to do more bar gigs but now do 50 to 60 shows a year, a lot of them at Celtic festivals.
“We’re just getting old and not wanting to play four hours” at a pub, McNaughton said in a telephone interview from his home near Newville, Pa.
They have traveled as far west as Michigan and Ohio; as far south as Virginia; and as far North as Connecticut. Requests for their presence seem to ramp up in March, near St. Patrick’s Day, in the summer and into September, he said.
“That can be hectic, balancing life and shows,” said McNaughton, 47, adding that the members live within about 90 minutes of each other.
The Saints are born
Joining him in Kilmaine Saints are co-founder and bass/bagpipe player Jon Heller, who met when the two were in a Harrisburg pipe and drum band; Liz Mallin on fiddle; Brendan Power, vocals; Billy Brown, mandolin, banjo and bagpipes; and Rich Lipski, guitar.
The band started with eight people, who were having trouble deciding what to name it. McNaughton said the former accordion player had family from Kilmaine in Ireland and a couple of the members were fans of “The Boondock Saints,” a 1999 movie about fraternal twins who try to rid Boston of some evil men operating there. So they cobbled together the moniker Kilmaine Saints, which he said also appealed to the group because of “the irony of a bunch of hooligans calling themselves saints.”
A musical blend
During the day, they have myriad jobs. McNaughton works for the U.S. Army in the Department of Defense; Heller and Brown are in information technology; Lipski teaches at a cyberschool; Power works in plumbing; and Mallin juggles three jobs, including being a social worker and the security guard at a dam.
And despite their varied musical backgrounds — rock, cover bands, Irish session singing, classical — they mesh musically.
“We have such different musical backgrounds ... when we come together, it’s very interesting,” said McNaughton, who has been in bands since he was 16, playing styles such as punk, surf, rockabilly, and soul.
“We’re squarely in the rock realm,” he said, more like Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys, and less like U2. “We knew we wanted to be on the harder edge of Irish music. Nobody’s trying to twist it in their way,” McNaughton said of the members.
The band has recorded five albums, the latest of which — “Whiskey Blues & Faded Tattoos” — came out in July. “Live at the Abbey” was released in 2015; “Untraditional,” 2014; “Drunken Redemption,” 2012; and “The Good, The Plaid and The Ugly,” 2010.
The first one was mellower, featuring more traditional influences, McNaughton said. Then the band’s style got faster and louder, and now it’s calming down.
“We are beyond pleased with how it turned out,” he said of the latest release, describing it as “the perfect storm for us. It’s not too traditional, not too loud.”
For the local Celtic festival, McNaughton and his bandmates are being joined on the musical bill by Bunratty Racket and Barleyjuice, the latter of which they have encountered at other events.
“They’re amazing musicians, brilliant people,” McNaughton said. “Everybody knows Barleyjuice. They’re someone to look up to. Their entire band is known all around.”
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