Carthage man lines up international acts for intimate shows.
CARTHAGE – High atop Winter Hill, at the end of a narrow, winding dirt road is an unlikely spot for some of Canada’s and Ireland’s finest musicians and dancers to perform. But there it is.
The 100-seat hall above a warehouse and overlooking the White Mountains is ready to host such performers as Cape Breton’s Derrick and Melody Cameron, and Prince Edward Island’s Cynthia MacLeod and Gordon Belsher, among many others who are scheduled to perform during the coming months.
Celtic music is Phill McIntyre’s passion. He’s the owner of the warehouse, a home atop Winter Hill and New England Celtic Arts.
McIntyre, who has roots in the Isle of Barra in the Scottish Hebrides Islands, has been an auctioneer and salvager of auto parts for decades, but now he’s ready for his first early retirement, he said on Thursday. And providing a venue for performers from Atlantic Canada and other Celtic-rooted places seemed like the natural thing to do.
“We’ve been traveling to Celtic music festivals in Canada and Scotland for a number of years, and I’ve developed relationships with festival organizers to build a network in the Celtic music world,” he said.
What he is providing to people from throughout western Maine is a chance to see and hear some of the acts that are on their way to or back from Celtic festivals at larger venues in such cities as Boston, Bangor, New York and Milwaukee.
His will be house concerts, he explained.
That is, the musicians and dancers, many very well known in their native lands, need smaller venues between weekend performances at larger sites. Concerts take place during the week, usually on Tuesdays or Thursdays.
“This is a low-budget, no-budget opportunity for performers to perform in an intimate setting for people who appreciate their music and artistry,” he said.
House concerts, which he said are very popular in Canada, involve artists performing in front of small crowds ranging from 30 to 100 people, then being housed by the host.
In the past, McIntyre has housed performers on their way to larger venues. But now he has decided to provide a hall for larger audiences. The artists will still stay with him and his wife, Jan.
He does no advertising and takes little or no part of the admission costs, which are low at $8 in advance and $10 at the door. The money, he said, is for the performers.
If interest grows, with more than 100 people attending the performances, then he said he could book the groups into other venues, such as Nordica Auditorium at the University of Maine in Farmington, which he has done before, the Franco-American Center in Lewiston, or some similar site.
But that isn’t the purpose behind a house concert.
“What I want is 80 to 100 people in an intimate setting,” he said.
MacLeod and Belsher are scheduled for the first house concert on May 4, followed by the Camerons on May 18. Other Celtic acts already scheduled are Grada from Ireland on June 8, Cape Breton Tradition on June 20 and Beolach from Cape Breton on June 27. Others will be scheduled later.
All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m.
“I love the music so much, I have to be surrounded by it,” he said.