Roanoke Celtic band Kinnfolk performing at Radford Highlanders Festival

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 7:40 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The Radford Highlanders Festival is Saturday, Oct. 9. Along with the Highlander heavyweight games, descendants of traditional clans showing off their heritage and lots of vendors, there’s going to be music.

WDBJ spoke with one of the headliners, Kinnfolk, about what traditional Celtic music is all about.

“To buy my lover a sword of steel,” Julie Kinn sings in a YouTube video of one of Kinnfolk’s performances.

Whether a sorrowful balled or rallying cry for war, Celtic music has deep emotional roots.

“The singing tradition was typically passed down by women while men were off to war; women are preserving a lot of the language and songs,” Josh Kinn said.

He and his wife, Julie Kinn, are the voices behind the Celtic band Kinnfolk.

“It’s a really terrible pun on his last name which became my last name earlier this year,” Julie said. “We’re officially Kinnfolk now. We’re married.”

Together they sing traditional Celtic music and infuse it with their Appalachian surroundings.

“We’re playing Celtic Music in Virginia,” Julie said. “We’re not in Ireland or Scotland so we try to be aware of the history therein, as well, which is great. It’s fun.”

“And one of the great things about living in the Appalachians is we have access to old-time music, which is a direct descendent of Celtic music after it migrated to the Americas,” Josh said. “So we can really see that historical connection and hopefully add a little tiny piece of that to our music too.”

Kinnfolk will be performing at Saturday’s Highlander Festival in Radford. The event is free and family-friendly.

“There’s a lot of Celtic jewelry,” Josh said. “For folks who are getting into kilt-wearing, there’s accessories and kilts for sale. There’s sheepherding demonstrations. You’re going to have a good representation of all the traditional Highland games there.”

“The big famous one is basically when you try to toss a big telephone pole and try to flip it over in the air,” Julie said.

And you’ll be able to see Kinnfolk center stage several times throughout the day along with fellow Celtic group SYR.

“Within our shows, if we can get people to laugh and cry and that has happened, we’ve done our jobs,” Julie laughed.

For more information on the Highlanders Festival, click here.

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