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On a snowy St. Patrick’s Day in 1983, Boulder radio station KGNU first broadcast a “Saint Patrick’s Morning Sound Alternative.” Since that time, KGNU has hosted thousands of hours of Celtic music through the now-weekly program called Seolta Gael, the annual St. Patrick’s MSA and random cuts of Celtic music on Musica Mundi and other programs, as well. That first show was also “two radio stations ago,” meaning that KGNU has broadcast from two different studios since that time! The first show was delivered using only vinyl records on turntables, whereas today CDs are giving way to mp3 and .wav files. The first show was not taped or otherwise recorded, and is now zinging through the universe, fast approaching the star Gamma Pavonis (really!). Today every KGNU show is now podcast for two weeks after airing. To use another measure of antiquity, KGNU broadcast that first Celtic music program 11 full years before the very first performance of Riverdance in Dublin, Ireland.

The show has gone through some personnel changes over time. While Karl Kumli hosted the first show, and still finds time behind the microphone, Celtic music savant Louis Krupp (who brought Runrig and a wild array of other, seldom-heard bands to the air) and Maeve Conran have moved on, save for rare and treasured guest appearances. But a star-studded lineup of the KGNU Celtic Air Force now brings extra diversity to Seolta Gael. Shay Dunne, Stevyn Prothero (Ironfeather), Fergus Stone and Pat McCullough all share mike time and each brings a particular take on the old, new and evolving Celtic Traditions. Seolta Gael now airs weekly at 7PM on KGNU.

Predictably, the artists whose music is in the lineup has changed, as well. That first set list included music from the Clancy Brothers, Clannad, the Bothy Band, the Chieftains and the Dubliners. Only Clannad and, to a lesser extent, the Chieftains, are still active as performing ensembles, and individual musicians from the Bothy Band, and Clancy relative Robby O’Connell are still touring. Today, new Irish “super groups” like Altan, Danú and Solas are joined by emerging greats such as Mairtín DeCógáin and Téada, as well as artists from the other Celtic traditions of Scotland (e.g. Capercaillie, Dougie McLean), Wales (Plethyn), Canada (Great Big Sea and Natalie MacMaster) and the USA (Gaelic Storm and the Elders). Of course, KGNU features local groups such as Skean Dubh, Colcannon, New Time Ensemble, Gobs O’Phun, the Indulgers, Angus Mohr, Tradition Tartans and Tears, Agee & Sousa/Bodha, Leachman & Krimmel, Pandora Celtica, and many more.

To celebrate three decades of “ceol agus craic” KGNU will be presenting the Thirtieth Annual KGNU St. Patrick’s Sound Alternative from 9:30AM until noon on Friday, March 15. You can listen live at 1390AM in Denver, 88.5FM in Boulder, 93.7FM in Nederland and around the world, on the web, at http://www.kgnu.org/ht/listencomp.html . In addition to music, there will be concert ticket and music premiums, and much more! Join the oldest, regular, on-air St. Patrick’s Day Celebration at KGNU!

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