Though Tokyo might not seem like a stronghold for Celtic music, local quintet Skelpin reports otherwise. In 2005, the band did a three-month stint at Disney's Tokyo Sea theme park; the band was asked to return to headline this year's Tokyo Irish Music Festival, held on March 16 and 17.
The group's front woman and fiddler Patric Petrie describes Skelpin's previous visit to Japan: "We had people who showed up for every show and who would wait for us at the train station on our way home. It didn't matter if they had never heard Irish songs. They're just a very sophisticated audience that loves all kinds of music."
While the band's mix of traditional Celtic sounds and flamenco music is unique, it's likely that the Japanese are impressed with Petrie's manic performing style. She recalls the night her skirt flew off mid-twirl during a performance at downtown's St. Patrick's Day street fair: "I was in the middle of playing a fast tune, jumping all around, and couldn't stop to grab it."
At a corporate gig in 2006 at the Embarcadero Marina, Petrie's wirelessly miked fiddle slipped from her hand as she danced. Because she was still in motion, Petrie inadvertently dropkicked the instrument into the audience. No one in the crowd thought to catch it; everyone moved out of the missile's way. "It was like watching the Red Sea part," Petrie says with a sigh. "I'll never forget the sound it made when it hit the concrete."