On March 31, Mount St. Mary’s University hosted the Celtic Concert in the Knott Auditorium from 7 to 9 p.m. The concert was organized by the Frederick County Public Library and sponsored by the C. Burr Artz Trust. Typically, the concert happens every year during the month of March, as it is the month of St. Patrick’s Day, with a different Irish band playing each year. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the concert did not take place in 2020 or 2021. The concert has been held at the Mount since 2009, according to Maureen Plant, Director of University Operations.
When Thurmont Regional Library Branch Administrator, Amy Whitney was asked why the concert takes place every year, Whitney said, “it’s become so popular, so it’s become a tradition to do it.”
The band that played this year was a Pennsylvania-based House of Hamill. The members of the band are Rose Baldino (fiddle player and vocalist), Brian Buchanan (singer, guitar and fiddle player) and Caroline Browning (bass and vocals).
Baldino and Buchanan were originally in bands of their own, Burning Bridget Cleary and Enter the Haggis respectively. In 2014, bad weather resulted in two of Baldino’s bandmates being able to fly in for a show. To save the show, she approached Buchanan, knowing he was part of another band, gave him a guitar and they went on stage. Four years later, something similar occurred when two of House of Hamill’s hired bandmates had their flights canceled on the way to a Colorado festival. A local musician, Caroline Browning, joined them for the weekend and the House of Hamill gained a third member.
The Celtic concert filled Knott Auditorium with an audience of various ages. Although the crowd was made up of mainly older individuals, there were some children in attendance with their parents, and a few Mount students. The audience as a whole seemed to truly enjoy the music that the House of Hamill provided that night.
A decent number of the songs they played were from their third and newest album titled “Folk Hero.” Their album is “a mix of original and traditional tunes and songs,” as Baldino explained. She also noted that “it’s cool that they’re bringing Irish Music every year to a college and allowing people to come in and take part.”
Something that consistently presented itself was that they want people to enjoy their music. Buchanan emphasized that in general, Irish music is meant to be enjoyed. While many of the songs themselves are dark in context, the music has a higher energy that can make the song much more cheerful. “We don’t want anybody to leave one of our shows feeling down and mopey and pensive and introspective. We tend to want it to be a bit of a party,” Buchanan remarked.
It was mentioned during the show that the band will be heading over to Scotland the week after. Now that COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted from many aspects of life, Hose of Hamill will be touring more. The next time that they will be in the area will be in late June when they and Buchanan’s other band play the Celtic Fling in Manheim, Pa.