DANBURY, Conn. -- You can take a trip to Ireland this weekend without leaving town if you head to the Greater Danbury Irish Festival at the Ives Concert Center.
About a dozen Irish bands will be performing Friday through Sunday at the event.
One of the bands -- The "Mighty Ploughboys -- is responsible for making it all happen.
New Fairfield resident Patrick Hearty, who is the Mighty Ploughboys manager as well as its lead vocal and acoustic guitar player, has succeeded in bringing Irish bands from all over the world to perform this weekend.
Bands who will be performing include The Go Set from Australia and The Peelers from Canada.
"We are the local Irish band who is trying to revitalize Celtic music," Hearty said. "I want to make the Mighty Ploughboys the ambassadors to all the new Irish-sounding bands that are coming up all over the world."
Also helping Hearty in bringing in the Irish bands is Phil Duckworth, a podcaster and blogger for Paddy Rock Radio in Pennsylvania, a Celtic Rock and Punk Podcast on the Internet.
Through his podcasts and blogging, Duckworth has developed contacts within the Celtic community throughout the world.
Duckworth said today's youth are reconnecting with their heritage. "They want to hang onto their roots. The Northeast is so rich with Celtic heritage. We are the original colonists of the United States -- from the Carolinas up to Massachusetts."
"With Phil's help, I was able to bring these bands to Danbury to expose the world to the new era of modern Celtic music," said Hearty, whose parents were born in Ireland and who grew up listening to traditional Irish music.
"We are trying to make Danbury the focal point of these up and coming Celtic bands. Our hope is Danbury will become a hot spot," he said.
Since all the bands have the Irish connection in common, listeners can benefit by hearing them all perform in the same venue. "Instead of competing with each other, we are working together," Hearty said.
Danbury is a great place to host Irish music groups since it has the venues to support these kinds of shows, he said. "Also, geographically, Danbury is so close to New York City that bands find it an attractive site to get exposure so close to the big apple," Hearty said.
The Mighty Ploughboys, who were formed in 2007, combine old Irish and rock music in their sound.
The Ploughboys will be performing about 15 songs this weekend. Aside from Hearty, members of the band include Sean Finnerty from Danbury, Renato Ghio from Danbury, John Rich from Sherman and Jim Lynch from Brookfield.
One of the songs the band will be performing this weekend is "Fade Away," which was written by the late Mike Smith from New Fairfield, a member of the band who passed away from cancer in 2012.
"This song was about moving from one town to another. Now, whenever I hear it, to me, it is about Mike," Hearty said.
"Over the years, we have learned to fine tune our own sound," he said. "We want to make sure we are keeping true to the traditional Irish songs but putting our own spin on them."
The reason Celtic music has always had many followers is it tells a story of history, Duckworth said. "If you look into the history of the Celts, who came from Ireland. You are going back thousands of years in history. History continues to evolve," he said.
"I just can't stay away from this music. It's in my blood and I can't help it," Duckworth said. "This is my passion."
In addition to music all day long, the festival will also include Irish dancing, kids activities, vendors and food. The hours are: 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
The Ives Concert Park is at 43 Lake Ave Ext., Danbury.
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