WEEKEND — Geoffrey Castle’s ‘Celtic Christmas’ show in Port Angeles on Sunday

Geoffrey Castle's show is the cover story of the  "Peninsula Spotlight" entertainment section in the print edition of the Peninsula Daily News today.

Geoffrey Castle's show is the cover story of the "Peninsula Spotlight" entertainment section in the print edition of the Peninsula Daily News today.

PORT ANGELES — A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominee, three Irish step dancers and Santa Claus.

Those are just three elements of the Celtic Christmas Celebration coming to town.

“I’m bringing the biggest production I’ve ever done out to Port Angeles,” proclaims Geoffrey Castle, the electric violinist who will arrive with nine fellow musicians and dancers — plus the man in the red suit — for the concert Sunday.

Castle’s entourage is a mix of veterans and youngsters. There are the Gothard Sisters, a trio of Irish step dancers and fiddlers.

There is bassist Steve Fossen, recently nominated to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with his former band Heart.

He’s coming to Port Angeles with Somar Macek, the singer from his current band, Heart by Heart.

‘Sumptuous’

It’s to be a “major, sumptuous Christmas production,” said Dan Maguire, executive director of the Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts, presenter of the Castle show.

“I’m bringing in a whole different sound system and lighting system for the room,” added Castle.

The room is the 1,174-seat Port Angeles High School auditorium, 304 E. Park Ave. Tickets to Sunday’s 4 p.m. show are $20 for adults and $15 for children 12 and younger.

Castle, who is based in Seattle, is well-known to audiences across the region for his high-voltage violin.

He’s back on the Olympic Peninsula after selling out the Little Theater at Peninsula College in December 2011, and after performances during the Lavender Farm Faire and Sequim Balloon Festival this past summer.

Irish steppers

The Gothard Sisters, it turns out, are also returning to the Peninsula. Greta, Willow and Solana Gothard, who still live in their home town of Edmonds, were discovered by talent agent Liz Gregory six years ago at the Jefferson County Fair in Port Townsend.

“That was our first stage show that we ever did,” said Willow. Gregory, who’s based in Nashville, gave the sisters her card. “We’ve been with her ever since,” Willow said.

Greta, 26, Willow, 23, and Solana, 17, plan to play the Jefferson County Fair again in summer 2013; in the meantime, the three have been touring the Puget Sound region with Castle.

They have also traveled to Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Glasgow, Scotland, where in 2007 they won second place overall in the World Irish Dancing Championships.

The sisters began taking dance lessons back when they were preschoolers. They went to West Seattle for classes and enrolled in the Tony Comerford School, known around the West Coast for its Irish dancing instruction.

In addition to their “Riverdance”-style stepping, all three sing and play fiddles; Solana plays the Irish bodhran drum while Greta plays guitar.

“I love Irish music; the energy and the joy of it,” Willow says. “I think the audiences really feel that. They leave the theater smiling, and it’s wonderful. I love being able to share it.”

Greta, Willow and Solana’s mother, Lark Gothard, travels everywhere with the group. And the sisters are having a blast, Willow says, with Castle.

“He is the ultimate entertainer. We pick up so many things from him, like how to work with the crowd. He’s funny, and his playing style is unique. He can do Jimi Hendrix on the violin.”

Sunday’s show will be all about holiday cheer, Willow said, and it will be for all ages.

The inspiration for this production, Castle said, springs from his holiday CD “Underhill’s Angel: A Treasury of Songs for the Season.”

When he embarked on the project, he says, he wanted to capture something deeper than the usual Christmas fare.

“So I dug into the past, into that ancient well of Irish and European music that predates the commercialization of the holiday 
. . . some of the songs and melodies are over 800 years old.”

This music, Castle adds, is offered as “an antidote to the hoopla, and to remind people that Christmas is more than getting a good deal on an iPad.”

For Sunday’s Celtic Christmas, Castle is also bringing Eric Robert, the keyboard player on “Underhill’s Angel,” drummer Darin Watkins and percussionist T. J. Morris, plus a five-member production crew.

Ticket outlets include Port Book and News, 104 E. First St., Port Angeles; Pacific Mist Books, 121 W. Washington St., Sequim, and www.JFFA.org.

For more information on this and forthcoming presentations, see the Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts page on Facebook or phone the festival office at 360-457-5411.

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