Salsa Celtica’s synthesis of Afro Latin Salsa with Scottish and Irish traditional music has taken the band and its music on a remarkable journey, from the village halls of Scotland to music festivals around the globe. A potent blend of virtuosity and energy, Salsa Celtica is a respected force on the world music circuit.
2014 is shaping up to be an exciting new chapter in the band’s story, with a new studio album, The Tall Islands, a return to Celtic Connections, a UK tour and a debut performance in Colombia – yet another landmark for the Scottish salsa band that made it big in Latin America.
“These Scots are hot!”
“Passion, energy and virtuosity”
“What gives Salsa Celtica an edge over the home-grown competition is the collision of South American exuberance and British folk roots.”
“The tight Cuban piano and percussion kick off an exuberantly good-time salsa track that seamlessly weaves in a Scottish reel on fiddle and pipes.”
“Music to be quietly appreciated or furiously danced to”
There is a vast ocean between the cold, windswept coasts of Scotland and Ireland and the shores of the Caribbean Sea and Latin America, yet for nearly two decades Salsa Celtica have a forged a link between Celtic and Latin cultures.
This culture-crossing collective started out in Scotland’s compact, fertile music scene in 1995, a hotbed of young players and bands coming together at jam sessions, intent on reinventing Celtic music with global influences. Uniquely in this scene they were a world music band intent on creating original salsa with a Scottish influence. Releasing their first album, Monstruos y Demonios (1997) the band started touring the village halls of Scotland’s Highlands and Islands and appearing at UK jazz and Celtic festivals.
Surrounded by a renaissance in Celtic culture ensured the bands rich knowledge and passion for their home culture. The band’s love of salsa and Afro Latin American culture has seen them travel several times from Scotland to Cuba (Havana and Santiago) and New York to spend time soaking up the many elements of salsa music and culture first hand.
After another such trip to Santiago the band returned to record their second album The Great Scottish Latin Adventure (2000) which took them global and made their name in the very places that inspired the music. It’s remarkable that a group of Scottish musicians could make records that climbed not only the salsa charts but become firm favourites on dance floors from New York to L.A, and Colombia to Venezuela. It is testament to their genre crossing abilities that have also achieved popularity and recognition in the Jazz and world as well as their own Celtic music scenes.
The band’s Latin adventures continued when they headlined New York’s Lincoln Center before 3,000 delighted Nuyoricans, spending a week lighting up the city’s salsa clubs before heading to LA to do the same. Their third album, El Agua De La Vida (2003), rated one of Billboard’s top ten Latin releases of the year, and the acclaimed El Camino (2006) which was nominated for four Radio 2 Folk Awards, propelled them onto the worldwide festival and touring circuit.
A live album, En Vivo En El Norte (2010), featuring guest roles for Altan’s melodeon player Dermot Byrne and New York salsa trombonist Joe De Jesus, who has played with everyone from Tito Puente to David Byrne, captured the band’s amazing energy in concert.
In 2014, Salsa Celtica will release their 5th studio album, The Tall Islands, with new material composed and developed on a back to roots “village hall” tour of Scotland’s Highlands and Islands. The band went back and dug deeper into their collective Celtic and Latino DNA and shared group history to distil a rich and soulful collection of tunes that point to an exciting future.