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Searson bringing back its high energy ‘Canadian-Celtic’ show to North Country Goes Green festival


Searson is serious about Watertown.

The Canadian band has built a loyal following at the North Country Goes Green Irish Festival. Since 2005, Searson has performed six times at the festival, attracting raucous crowds that enjoy the band’s high energy style that includes step-dancing and fiddling.

Searson returns for this year’s festival, performing two sets — from 9 to 10 p.m. and from 11 p.m. to midnight — on Friday at the Dulles State Office Building. In a switch from its usual location on the 11th floor, Searson will perform on the first-floor stage. The concert is free with the $6 festival admission.

Searson was a late addition to this year’s North Country Goes Green Festival schedule, said event co-chairman William K. Archer. That’s why the band will play on the first floor stage Friday night.

“We had an opportunity to get them,” Mr. Archer said. “We had already booked a group on the 11th floor.”

“We love coming to Watertown,” band member Erin Searson said in a phone interview from her home in the Ottawa Valley in Ontario. “Everybody makes us feel so welcome, and they are definitely always ready to party.”

It’s a popular time of year for Searson, which performs at several Irish and Celtic festivals. But the band, Miss Searson said, is kind of a paradox.

“People want to put you into a slot,” she said. “We play a lot of Celtic festivals, and that’s fantastic for us. We love playing them. But we’re not up there doing traditional Celtic songs.”

Searson was created about 15 years ago by Mike Searson, the father of original band members Erin, Colleen and Heather Searson. Mr. Searson, who was the band’s guitarist, now works behind the scenes and helps Erin with band management and bookings.

Heather Searson, on bass, no longer tours with the band.

“She decided she wanted a change,” Miss Searson said.

Searson’s lineup consists of Erin on keyboard, Heather Searson on fiddle, Danno O’Shea on drums and Oriana Barbato on bass guitar.

Erin began playing piano at age 5 and Colleen started fiddle lessons when she was 9 years old.

Miss Searson said the Ottawa Valley has a rich history of fiddle music and step dancing. The Searson sisters, along with their father, dived into that culture and were soon playing live gigs at Celtic taverns and pubs in the Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal areas.

The band, which has released seven albums since 2002, has always focused on its original songs at concerts. Searson’s latest album is “Fade and Shine,” released in 2012. The 16-song album has five instrumental tracks. But you would need to listen closely to find Celtic influences in many of the songs.

But in the band’s live shows, Celtic, Scottish and various other styles can be heard. Yet all the music is original. Over the years, fans have realized this and shouted requests for the “same old” traditional Celtic songs have, for the most part, ended, Miss Searson said.

“We knew those songs as kids, but we kept branching out,” Miss Searson said. “Now people are asking for our own songs.”

Keeping Searson original is key for the band, she said.

“We decided that when we started touring, we didn’t want to do cover songs — we didn’t want to do what a lot of other bands were doing,” Miss Searson said. “We were either going to write our own music and write tunes that we love to play or we weren’t going to do it. To be in it for the long haul, you have to play music that you love.”

In the past 10 years, Searson has toured throughout Canada, the United States, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, Portugal, Switzerland and the Caribbean. Along the way, Miss Searson said, somebody once described the band as “Canadian-Celtic pop.”

“It’s high-energy fiddling, dancing and singing,” Miss Searson said. “We like to get up there and sweat it out on stage, connect with the crowd and have a lot of fun.”

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