Lead by Toby Shippey, Salsa Celtica are an 11 piece band featuring musicians from Scotland, Ireland, Venezuela and Cuba, as the name suggests the band’s musical DNA is a mix of Celtic and salsa. The combined depth of rhythm and melodies these two cultures provide make Salsa Celtica an irresistible force of passion, energy and joy.
From appearing at the Lincoln Centre in New York to sell out shows in Colombia, headlining international Celtic, world and jazz music festivals and celebrating hit salsa records in Latin America, Salsa Celtica’s 25 year career is an incredible story of success and adventure.
To mark this landmark year, Salsa Celtica will be appearing at some favourite festivals, returning to play in Colombia, and will release 2 compilation albums of their music spanning 25 years of recording.
Salsa Celtica are an 11 piece band featuring musicians from Scotland, Ireland, Venezuela and Cuba, as the name suggests the band’s musical DNA is a mix of Celtic and salsa. The combined depth of rhythm and melodies these two cultures provide make Salsa Celtica an irresistible force of passion, energy and joy.
Rhythm Magazine, USA
A short history of a great Scottish Latin adventure
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 released their 5th studio album, The Tall Islands, with new material composed and developed on the “back to roots” “Village Hall” tour of Scotland’s Highlands and Islands. The band dug deep into their collective Celtic and Latino DNA to distil a rich and soulful collection of tunes. The Tall Island was met with public and critical acclaim and the band embarked on a UK and European tour to promote the new record. Also in 2014 Salsa Celtica finally got the chance to play their first and much awaited concerts in Colombia, the gigs were a huge success and are set to return for a full national tour in the near future. The band were very proud that their appearance at Glastonbury Festival won Latin concert of the year at the prestigious Lukas awards.