Dutch Merrick
John MacAdams, left, Nancy Johnston, Simon Watkins and Dave Champagne, members of Craicmore, a Celtic singing group, will perform at the Covey Center for the Arts in Provo on Saturday.

PROVO — The Covey Center for the Arts presents Craicmore: Celtic Yuletide Celebration, featuring joyful, heartfelt seasonal songs like "I Saw Three Ships," "The Wassail Song" and "Sleigh Ride," along with traditional Scottish and Irish music.

In addition to the music, the celebration will include a half dozen engaging, funny word vignettes ranging from the Celtic origins of mistletoe to "Mrs. Fogarty's (not so delicious) Christmas Cake."

Band members Nancy Johnston, John MacAdams, Simon Watkins and Dave Champagne call themselves a "contemporary traditional Celtic band." The three male voices blend with Johnston's in delivering sparkling four-part harmonies, creating a sound that's full and yet sophisticated.

Formed in 1992, Craicmore moved from performing at small local street fairs, museums and libraries in the early '90s to main stage performances at prestigious folk festivals, Scottish and Irish cultural events and concert halls throughout the western United States. Of note are five consecutive years of performances at the classic "Fremont Street Experience" (Las Vegas' huge St. Patrick's Day celebration), and a 14-concert appearance at the International Music Festival in Shanghai, China. Throughout its 12-concert tour of Montana, Wyoming, Nevada and New Mexico, Craicmore received standing ovations. Craicmore's music has also been heard on NBC's "Days of Our Lives" and CBS's "Without a Trace."

Craicmore's approach is framed by abiding respect for the material, but maybe more important is the musicians' sheer joy in the music and willingness to take chances.

Johnston says, "Celtic music is a living tradition that continues to influence and absorb other traditions. For example, I sing a walking song in Scots Gaelic backed by a shruti box, a classical East Indian instrument. Its raspy drone is a perfect fit with the song."

As a group, Craicmore draws their words and music from the traditional music of Ireland and Scotland and claim influences as diverse as the Afro Celts, Chieftains and Pogues, rock, and Australian indigenous music.

If you go . . .

What: Craicmore Celtic Yuletide Celebration

Where: Covey Center for the Arts, 425 W. Center, Provo

When: 7:30 p.m., Dec. 8

Cost: $10

Phone: 852-7007