Salsa Celtica hit Clitheroe after South America dates

Salsa Celtica
Salsa Celtica

Salsa Celtica, who bring their chaotic fusion of folk music and Latin Salsa to Clitheroe this weekend, are having a hooley after whipping up a musical storm in South America.

The eleven-piece band, based in Edinburgh, began touring the village halls of Scotland and made their debut visit to Colombia last month where they found unexpected success.

“It seems incredible that we can go to Colombia, where salsa is so huge, and to be embraced by them and to play with so many of their big stars,” said trumpeter Toby Shippey, who also plays bongo and cowbells in Salsa’s mash-up sound.

“The whole thing was terrifying. It was like ‘how has it come to this, a group of friends who jammed together in pubs in Scotland, playing in front of thousands of fans in South America?’

“I felt very honoured, because salsa and roots was always at the heart of what we’ve done and they have such a passion and respect for our music.”

Salsa Celtica’s bravely experimental albums have already made it into the top 10 of the Latin billboard charts, and the band now has a fervent following among salsa dancers in Latin America and New York, as well as among British folk enthusiasts.

Colombian TV filmed their performance for a documentary about Salsa Celtica’s impact on South American music.

“We had all these incredible musicians coming up to us, saying we are an inspiration to them, and I was awestruck because salsa is such a serious form of music there,” added Shippey.

“It is a bit scary how much they like Salsa Celtica, and some of the Colombian salsa bands are even doing cover versions of our songs. It is mind-blowing that people in Colombia are going bonkers about us because we went right in to the centre of their world and delivered their music from another country.”

Salsa Celtica’s latest offering, The Tall Islands, has, perhaps, a “rootsier” sound to previous releases.

“To write and rehearse the new material we played a short tour of the Scottish Islands, including Skye, Mull and Lewis. The time we spent together, on the road and water, the places we visited, seems to have resulted in a more folkloric sounding album. We’ve gone back to our village hall folk roots with Tall Islands and it I think it has worked.”

Elsewhere, there are sturdy Cuban vocals from Ricardo Fernandez, and jigs and reels with a Latin flavour. “It is a pot-pourri of sound, and there’s no real strategy about what we do – other than we love music.”

l Salsa Celtica perform at The Grand, Clitheroe, March 30th (£17.50, seated, but room for dancing), box office: 01200 421599.