The original incarnation of Charmas formed some years back. The players met while at traditional Irish music jam sessions. And this is precisely the kind of music Charmas played in the beginning. But over time, and with some lineup changes, the group has really broadened their definition of what a “Celtic” band can be.
“We do some shows that are real Celtic traditional, like our Christmas shows. Other times we’ll play at Boardwalk Bowl and we’ll do ‘The Distance’ by Cake. I’ll play the guitar riff on the bagpipes,” says fiddle and bagpipe player Elise MacGregor Ferrell. “We also know a lot of sea shanties.”
In addition to Ferrell, the band includes Aaron Clegg (vocals, flute, sax), Jim Powell (vocals, guitar), Mick O’Briain (vocals, bass), and Devin Lara (drum kit). Richard Dwyer (vocals, low whistle, bodhran hand drum) is a frequent guest.
Often times, audiences won’t experience every side of Charmas at a single show. It’s the venue/setting that dictates what kind of material they’ll bring. Depending on the night, they might seem like a totally different band.
“We play at wineries and we just play instrumental, beautiful music and some gentle love songs and people love that. If they saw our rock show, they’d be like, ‘what?’ It’s just a little schizophrenic,” says Ferrell.
In this tradition, Charmas have a very unique show set up for this coming Valentine’s Day. They are billing it as a sort of anti-love show, or as they call it “Songs From Cupid’s Blacklist.” Within the context of traditional Irish love songs, it makes sense.
“In almost every Celtic song, the lovers are murdering each other, or it doesn’t come out well—the hearts are always broken. We’re going to do both dark comedy songs and some really beautiful songs, but the love doesn’t turn out too happily,” Ferrell says. “We do a beautiful song where the guy is trying to cross the Annan River to his lover, but he drowns. That’s how Celtic songs go.”
INFO: 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14. Don Quixote’s, 6275 CA-9, Felton. $12/adv, $14/door. 335-2800.