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Wake the Dead

The Portland Observer noted that if you take eight classic Grateful Dead tunes, add seven seasoned musicians who groove to a joyful Celtic rhythm, blend it with a healthy dose of love for both, you've got the Celtic Grateful Dead jam band Wake the Dead. St. Clair Productions will present the band in concert at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 10, at Havurah Shir Hadash, 185 N. Mountain Ave., Ashland.

Wake the Dead band members include Maureen Brennan on harp; Cindy Browne on bass; Danny Carnahan on fiddle, octave mandolin, vocals and guitar; Kevin Carr on fiddle, pennywhistle and Irish pipes; Sylvia Herold on vocals; Paul Kotapish on guitar and mandolin; and Brian Rice on percussion.

Wake the Dead began in 2000 when three veteran Celtic performers who shared a love for the Grateful Dead began weaving the two genres into something new. Carnahan, Kotapish and Brennan assembled seven seasoned Celtic, jazz and new acoustic players and recorded "Wake the Dead" as a lark. The CD contained nine songs originally popularized by the Grateful Dead and each retooled in unexpected ways. Grateful Dead Records took one listen and immediately signed the band, releasing the CD nationally.

What no one at Grateful Dead Records knew, though, was that the band didn't exist and the members had never performed together at the same time. Agreeing that it was the most fun music they had played in years, the band began rehearsing in earnest to perform live. Soon, the band was playing to sold-out houses in the Bay Area.

A second CD "Buckdancer's Choice" was released in 2002 and in 2007 "Blue Light Cheap Hotel" was released.

Harpist Brennan is equally accomplished in both early classical and folk harp. She has toured the U.S. and Canada in a variety of ensembles, including Paradise Lost and Kingfisher, and has entertained on cruise ships for more than 14 years. She teaches at workshops and harp conferences throughout North America.

Browne has been a touring musician for more than 30 years, playing bass in jazz, classical and ethnic folk groups. Her most recent work has been with Mimi Fox and The Webster Sisters with Scott Nygaard. She directs the jazz ensembles at Las Positas College in Livermore.

Carnahan was half of the duo Caswell Carnahan in the early '80s. He then toured with Robin Petrie for over 10 years, recording 7 albums and earning two NAIRD Indie awards and a Grammy nomination.

Carr is best known for his work with the contra dance and concert band The Hillbillies From Mars. He also teaches extensively at music camps and workshops.

For 16 years Herold toured and recorded with the Bay Area swing trio Cats and Jammers. She also was a member of the Django Reinhardt-inspired Hot Club of San Francisco.

Kotapish has been performing for more than 20 years, most recently with Kevin Burkes Open House, The Hillbillies From Mars, the Quirks and other Northern California-based acoustic groups. He is an editor and feature writer for Acoustic Guitar Magazine.

Rices drumming specialty is Brazilian and Cuban music, though he also plays Spanish flamenco, klezmer, jazz, folk, Celtic and Balkan. Besides Wake the Dead, Rice performs with Mike Marshall and Choro Famoso, Antonio Calgero Quartet, Michael Smolens Earplay Jazz Quartet, the Dann Zinn Banned, Potaje, and the pickpocket Ensemble.

Tickets are $20 in advance, $22 at the door, and $10 for youths 12-17. Children under 12 admitted free.

Call 535-3562

The Celtic Grateful Dead jam band mixes Dead tunes with Celtic and other acoustic sounds. - St. Clair Productions