Pandora Celtica BOTB 2012

by Rodger Hara

The Colorado Irish Festival Battle of the Bands that began on April 11th, fittingly enough, at the Sheabeen Pub in Aurora where the very first Irish Festival was held, finished with a grand flourish on June 20th at Stoney’s on Capitol Hill where Pandora Celtica was crowned the winner over a field of nine other talented local Irish Bands.

On the first night, Pandora Celtica’s tight a capella harmonies won a highly contested event, narrowly winning out over the uber-energy Celtic pirate sound of Potcheen and the more traditional and rock-tinged music of Chancer’s Hooley.
The next contest on April 25 at The Exchange Tavern in Westminster saw four bands with the multi-instrumental group then known as Parting Glass and now known as Haypenny Bridge coming out on top over Boulder’s newest Celtic rock band Delilah’s Revenge, the hard-driving Bogside and the more traditional sound of Mulligan Stew.

In the final preliminary round on May 9th at Scruffy Murphy’s Irish Pub in LoDo, El Paso County’s Ceol Ceili was the winner over Star Edwards & Kingbeat’s rock and roll Irish set and the bluegrass-flavored traditional sound of Juice O’the Barley.
Of the groups that didn’t advance, Delilah’s Revenge had the highest score from the judges (who included Doug Pooley, Kasey O’Connor, Tom Quinn, Karen Miller, Shelly O’Hara and me) and was the “wild card” band filling the field for the final four.

The first semi-final event on May 23rd at Scotty’s Side Door Saloon in Wheat Ridge matched Pandora Celtica against Delilah’s Revenge. Pandora Celtica, with their legion of faerie-clad fans, prevailed on that night too, although Delilah’s Revenge was handicapped by the absence of their drummer who had been called out of town on a family emergency.

The second semi-final featured Ceol Ceili against Haypenny Bridge, two bands with similar traditional sounds and multi-instrumental styles with Ceol Ceili’s harmonic energy and crowd engagement taking them over the top, setting up a most interesting final with two bands with completely different sounds and styles.

Pandora Celtica’s only instruments are their voices and a djembe, which they used to great effect; Ceol Ceili’s four members play over a dozen instruments among them including acoustic and electric fiddles, tin whistles, djembe, bhodrán, Irish bouzouki, acoustic guitar and flute. Both groups feature voices with similar colors that blend well and the affection and respect for each other within the groups is readily apparent in their performances – all of which made the choice of a winner exceedingly difficult for the judges.
In the end, Pandora Celtica’s a capella sound, that has set them apart from the rest of the bands at every step, tipped the balance for the judges, earning them the $1,000 first prize and a spot on the Main Stage at the Colorado Irish Festival on Saturday, July 14th at 12:30 PM.

Ceol Ceili gained a spot on the stage in the Jameson’s Pub Tent at 2:00 PM on July 14th and the runner-up prize of $500. Other bands that competed and will also play at the Festival include Haypenny Bridge, Mulligan Stew and Delilah’s Revenge.

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