(Editors note: In the next couple of months The Celtic Connection will spotlight the bellwethers of the reels and roots music heard up and down the Rocky Mountains. These men and women donate not only their time “on air”, but also the many hours needed to prepare each show. Perpetuating traditions of excellence through their love of music they bring to you a variety of music, from dusting off a long lost golden oldie to introducing you to new contemporary sounds. The series begins with Karl Kumli who hosts the Seolta Gael show on KGNU out of Boulder, Colorado. By day Karl is an attorney at Dietze and Davis, P.C. His practice emphasizes primarily public utility law and water law. He currently is President-Elect of the Boulder County Bar Association and involved with way too many more groups and associations for a mere mortal. On top of it all he is a family man. We asked Karl if he preferred to by interviewed or he could submit his own words. People who know Karl know that he does not lack the gift of the gab. He says he is not Irish ” you be the judge…
Best, Pat M.) Alright Pat, in keeping with the political season, I”d like to make the painful disclosures first. Genetically speaking, I”m not Irish. Not Scottish either. Nor Welsh, Manx, Breton, or Galician. I was born Italian and Swiss, but raised as a very traditional Irish Catholic (my first school was Incarnate Word Academy). In 1962 my family was living in a small apartment. Jack Kennedy was at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I was attending St. Rose Elementary School. And my dad had fallen headlong into the folk music revolution that was sweeping the country. At our place, the old 33-and-a-third rpm LPs were constantly played on a scratchy phonograph. I remember four of them in particular. The first was a multi-record set called “Folk Songs and Minstrelsy,” which featured Tommy Makem singing, “The Cobbler.” Its infectious chorus was just the sort of lilting that is easily memorized by a six year old, oblivious to the ghoulish subject matter of the song. The second was the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem album “Hearty and Hellish.” I knew every song on that album by heart before I entered second grade at St. Rose. St. Rose was just about the epitome of a parochial school of the day. The pastor was Fr. Patrick Mulligan; the associate was Fr. Jerome Dooley and the nuns (Sisters of St. Joseph of Newark) were strict devotees of the penguin school of fashion design. To my six year old ears it seemed every priest or nun I”d ever met was from Ireland. And in those days the Catholic liturgy was still in Latin. I made the obvious connection at that time that people who spoke with a brogue must have done so because they were clergy and had a “Latin accent.” St. Rose had three major holidays: Christmas, Easter and St. Patrick”s Day. All the kids from first grade on learned some sort of a simple reel or set dance as part of the St. Patrick”s Day festivities, which were held in the school gym under Fr. Mulligan”s watchful eye. Fast forward to the early 1970s. We had a young priest at our parish named Simon Twomey. Fr. Simon is a big Kerryman from Killarney. And back in the day he was wicked-cool. It was Simon who turned me on to the Chieftains, the Dubliners and the Wolfe Tones. With that music ringing in my ears I left for college in 1974. And at that point I began to get more serious about my infatuation with Celtic music. I took a year of Irish Gaelic. I learned a little bit of step dancing and set dancing. I began frequenting the bars and halls where the music was played. And then I got into radio. Beginning in 1975 I was hired as a summer replacement DJ for a small network of radio stations in Washington State. There I did everything from pulling a six hour air shift, to commercial production, to reading news, to emptying the trash (as the last guy out of the station at night when we went off the air at night). I played some country, some top 40 and most of all, rock “n” roll. It was heaven. Fast forward again to St. Patrick”s Day 1982. I”d just moved to Boulder and called the local public radio station, the blessed KGNU, wondering whether they”d be playing Celtic music on March 17th. No, I was told, they didn”t have anyone who was familiar with the genre. My own Celtic record collection (this was still before CDs or MTV) had grown beyond a few dozen by this point. I offered to come in and do a show. “Probably not,” I was informed. After all, “you”d have to have a radio license [still a requirement in those days] to pull an air shift.” “But I do have a license,” I replied. And twenty-six years later, it”s still happening. The show has grown and changed right along with the station. It is now part of a World Music series on KGNU called Musica Mundi. I seldom play vinyl anymore ” though the thought of an all-vinyl show is really beginning to take shape in my head. We do lots more live music than in the old days, as KGNU”s new studios are wonderful for that kind of live on-air concert. And we have amazing live show engineers in Fergus Stone and George Figgs. We still do every show live on the air, but the program is also webcast, and is available via podcast for two weeks after it airs. The playlist? Widely varied ” or at least I want it to be. We try to play music from all over ” the Seven Nations and all their progeny ” the Celtic Diaspora (the States, Canada, Australia, Germany and beyond). We try to mix trad (both vocal and instrumental) with Celtic rock, or the rock and jazz influenced stuff. “Within the Celtic continuum, you might hear a range from the good old Clancy Brothers, The Dubliners and Clannad to Flogging Molly, The Dropkick Murphys and Black 47. “Plethyn, Robin Huw Bowen, Dervish, Lunasa, Capercaillie, Old Blind Dogs, Silly Wizard, Poor Clares, Altan, Cherish the Ladies, Great Big Sea, Natalie McMaster, The Chieftains, The Elders and many more make appearances as well. “Guests appear regularly, both via phone and in studio, where the list has ranged from The Chieftains (Paddy Moloney and Matt Molloy), Kevin Burke, to local favorites Colcannon and Skean Dubh. Pat McCullough has even gotten me to abandon my original prejudice against “Danny Boy,” which I thought had become maudlin and overplayed. Of course, the fact that Pat”s incredibly talented wife, Tanya, has taught our girls to sing may have had a little to do with that, as well. In addition to the girls who”ve danced and sung, the eldest of our boys returned last year from a semester of study in Ireland, where he took courses in both the Irish language and traditional Irish music at the University of Limerick. So the Celtic knotwork continues.
I would, however, point out that Switzerland has its own Celtic history. From about 500 B.C. to A.D. 400, several Celtic tribes, especially the Helvetians, were settled in Switzerland. So perhaps I”ve spoken unadvisedly, and am genetically Celtic after all. (Listen to Karl Kumli the first Wednesday of the month, 7-8pm, on KGNU 88.5 fm in Boulder or 1390 am Denver or online at www.kgnu.org)

Leave a Reply



4 + eight =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

© 2015 Celtic Connection Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha