Well known Celtic rockers to perform at Cooldog
By Joanna Wilson
Their members hail from five countries across three continents. Their music fuses traditional folk with classic rock, made on instruments including drums, guitar, bass, fiddle and — are you ready for this — a custom-made, double-necked electric mandolin.
They are Tempest, and on Sunday, Aug. 21, they are coming to Cooldog Concerts near Kenton.
Paul Gumerman, who hosts the house concert venue with Beth Fizzell, connected with the Celtic rockers through Cooldog favorite Full Frontal Folk, who introduced him to Tempest. He was delighted to discover they had a free Sunday in August while in the area. “[If they weren’t here for the Philadelphia Folk Festival], we would never have been able to book them,” he said.
A longtime fan of Celtic music, Gumerman was blown away by their unique sound. “It’s very, very powerful stuff,” he said.
Caught in Virginia between gigs, Tempest’s founder/lead vocalist/mandolin player and Oslo, Norway, native Lief Sorbye talked about the northern California-based band’s sound and origins.
In 1978 Sorbye arrived in California, where he made his American debut as a street musician performing traditional acoustic folk. The following year, he joined a band and toured Europe and America for eight years before forming Tempest with drummer and Cuban native Adolfo Lazo.
“I put it together with a purpose, to fuse rock ’n’ roll with traditional music … It’s a way of updating traditional folk music,” he said. “At the time no one was doing what Tempest did. Now a lot of people are dabbling in this kind of thing and that’s a good thing.”
Named Tempest after a traditional Irish reel — and because, “That’s how I felt plugging in after playing acoustic music for so many years,” Sorbye said — the band is a melting pot of members as well as musical influences. In addition to Lazo and Sorbye, there’s Ariane Cap, a female bassist from Innsbruck, Austria; fiddler Michael Mullen of Fresno, Calif.; and guitarist Ronan Carroll, who comes from Dublin, Ireland.
Reviews describe the band’s live shows as “bawdy, brash and brilliant,” and note its “mad, high-energy mix of Scottish, Irish and Scandinavian traditions filtered through driving rock and roll.”
That’s purely intentional. “Even if we take the music seriously, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Our stage show is a lot of fun,” Sorbye said.
Opening for Tempest will be Niki Barr. Known for playing “pure and simple” rock ‘n’ roll and not following trends, the 21-year-old from Denton, Md., will play an acoustic set. For more about Barr, visit www.nikibarr.com.
Concertgoers are encouraged to bring a lawn chair or blanket, covered dish to share, sunblock and bug spray. Tempest also will have CDs for sale at the show.
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