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Men of Worth are true to Celtic roots

The folk duo Men of Worth, featuring Donnie Macdonald and James Keigher, is set firmly in the traditional end of the Celtic-music spectrum. Macdonald's and Keigher's authentic tunes and songs are so closely connected to their respective Scottish and Irish heritage that Macdonald sings some songs in Gaelic, and Keigher presents pieces from the oral traditions of his native County Mayo, Ireland.

The Siskiyou Institute will present Men of Worth in concert at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 19, at Paschal Winery, 1122 Suncrest Road, Talent.

"Our music has its history in the crofting (small farm) life of our homelands," says Macdonald in a press release. "It was part of ... everyday life, and it came to America with the immigrants a century ago. Now we're playing it again ... to audiences for whom it can only be a generational memory."

Macdonald and Keigher met in 1986 in the Celtic-music scene of Southern California and formed Men of Worth. The two multi-instrumentalists (mandolin, guitar, concertina, bodhran and others) perform soulful ballads and humorous upbeat tunes that are true to their roots.

The duo has about a dozen albums to its credit; the latest is "Great Intentions," released in 2008 on independent record label Mahog Music. The two perform at festivals and concert halls across the country, including the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater in Medford and The Hult Center in Eugene. They also take Celtic folk fans on guided tours to Scotland and Ireland.

A natural progression has led Macdonald and Keigher to offer educational programs in schools. Their presentations include songs and melodies related to emigration, the Gaelic language, historical aspects of Celtic music and its influence on American music.

Keigher now lives in Talent, and Macdonald lives in Sacramento, Calif.

"The irony is that while were brought up in Scotland and Ireland ... we listened the most eagerly to the music of America and not especially to our own areas," says Keigher in the press release. "On our radios, we heard Hank Williams Sr. and Jim Reeves. We wanted to see the Arkansas River, not Loch Lomond, and Reeves' hometown of Carthage in east Texas held more romance for me than the Isle of Lewis.

"Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Crosby, Stills and Nash influenced me greatly," says Keigher.

Nevertheless, Keigher and Macdonald could not escape the emotion and tradition of their homeland's heritage.

"We could not grow away from those sounds," says Macdonald. "So we have preserved them as accurately and authentically as we can in our performances. We entertain people with the real music of our regions. We have an ancient, yet fresh musical story to tell."

Tickets to the show at Paschal Winery cost $20, $15 for members of the Siskiyou Institute. Proceeds will benefit the institute's Artists in Schools program.

For reservations, call 541-488-3869 or e-mail info@siskiyouinstitute.com.

Celtic duo Men of Worth hail from Scotland and Ireland. - Photo courtesy of New Image Studios