From neighbourhood pubs to outdoor festivals, house parties to concert halls, Michael Kelly, David Burns, Gordon Rustvold and Eric Hartwell, aka the Sligo Rags, have been performing regularly throughout the Southland for the past two years. While the Rags stay true to the original intent of the traditional tunes they play, they are not afraid to be innovative. The addition of bluegrass-style flat-picking and world music rhythms to these time-honored songs creates a unique brand of Celtic music.
It is fiddle player Kelly who can be credited with bringing this versatile group together. In 2002, after learning several Irish songs with another group, Kelly fell in love with the music and decided to put together his own band. After seeing Burns and Rustvold performing at separate shows, Kelly convinced them that a combined effort was worth a shot.
Since the birth of their signature sound, the Sligo Rags have been building their fan base by playing shows as often as possible. They have recorded two full-length CDs, But all four bandmates agree that despite the hard work, the long days and even longer nights, there’s nothing else they’d rather be doing or any other music they’d rather be playing.