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River City Brass goes Celtic for upcoming series of concerts

| Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
George Balderose, head of the North Side’s Balmoral School of Piping and Drumming. Credit: River City Brass

March tends to be dominated by the Irish festivities of St. Patrick's Day, but James Gourlay and River City Brass are finding a “Celtic Connection” that also includes Wales, Scotland and the Appalachians.

The band's upcoming series of concerts will span music from the Welsh “Men of Harlech” to “I Walk the Line,” the hit by Johnny Cash, whose ancestry traces back to County Fife in Scotland.

“If that isn't a ‘Celtic Connection,' I don't know what is,” says Gourlay, general manager of the band.

The concerts will feature music that spans the ocean in other ways, too. Besides traditional favorites of the Celtic nations, the songs will include some country-western hits because, Gourlay says, that music is rooted in the Scots-Welsh-Irish immigration.

The concerts also will feature side-by-side performances of the brass band and area youth bands, as well as Irish dancing by Melissa Barton and Aaron Wolf and singing by detective Richard Manning from the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office.

One of the bigger elements of the show, however, will be the appearance of Brian Donaldson, who once was pipe major of the Scots Guards and now teaches at the St. John's Northeastern Military Academy in Wisconsin.

He is a friend and colleague of George Balderose, head of the North Side's Balmoral School of Piping and Drumming, and they will perform together.

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 412-320-7852.

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