Photo courtesy Geoffrey Castle
                                Geoffrey Castle leading the way at a previous show.

Photo courtesy Geoffrey Castle Geoffrey Castle leading the way at a previous show.

‘I live in a world of imagination’: Kenmore’s Castle brings Celtic Christmas revelry to Kirkland

The annual event — by now a tradition for many Washington cities — returns to the Kirkland Performance Center in December.

Electric violinist Geoffrey Castle thinks about Christmas in July.

Not because he’s a devoted House of Holiday customer, not because he’s secretly Mariah Carey, but because each December, for the last 12 years, Castle has successfully taken his Celtic Christmas Celebration show across Washington. Getting ready for the tour — which can assuredly be called a spectacle— requires that its maker never truly put a lid on his creative juices.

“I live in a world of imagination,” Castle said. “So I’m always imagining new things we can do and ways to make the show greater.”

Castle, who is currently based in Kenmore, started doing the shows around the time he released “Underhill’s Angel,” a Celtic Christmas LP from 2007. Whereas many an artist might opt to share their take on the most popular holiday songs to put out an album, it was important to Castle to emphasize the Christmas music popular before the commercialization of the holiday. Some of his tunes of choice date back 800 years. A follow up to “Underhill’s Angel,” “Noel: A Celtic Christmas Collection,” was issued in 2015.

Castle noted that his now-traditional Christmas shows stand out in part because they harken to a time not often spotlit in other similarly themed shows. He also tries to abstain from indulging in the silliness often inherent in seasonal music.

“We’re bringing a spirit of Christmas past, in a way,” he said. “We’re the show of the ghost of Christmas past…Everybody has fun, everybody claps along. But it’s not that corny Christmas that you get all over the place. We are guaranteed not to play ‘Grandma Got Ran Over by a Reindeer.’”

Castle’s Celtic Christmas Celebrations begin this year on Nov. 29 at Omak’s 12 Tribes Resort & Casino (with a tree lighting and Christmas kickoff) and end on Dec. 22 at the Moses Lake Wallentien Theater. Castle will be accompanied on stage by a backing band comprising Steve Boyce, Dan Connolly and Mark Cardenas, with Veronica Olson and Pamela Casella from the Seattle Opera joining. Members of the Seattle Irish Dance Company will be accompanying the musicians as well.

Castle’s Kirkland Performance Center (KPC) stop is the only one on the tour that includes two shows: one on Dec. 12 and the other on Dec. 13. The city has a special place in Castle’s heart, since he lived in Kirkland for several years.

“Even though I live in Kenmore, I’m the self-appointed ambassador for Kirkland everywhere I go,” Castle said. “I love Kirkland, period. Full stop.”

“He never phones it in,” Jeff Lockhart, a personal friend and the executive director of the KPC, said. “He always brings in top-notch shows.”

Lockhart added that Castle has always been a big supporter of the venue, even allowing his talents to be auctioned off at the center’s annual gala.

As has remained the case over the years, fans of Castle can expect that the performances will build on the work done for “Underhill’s Angel” and “Noel: A Celtic Christmas Collection.” While the albums have long acted as a dependable foundation for Castle, he isn’t ruling out doing another Christmas-themed LP.

“I wouldn’t count out recording another holiday CD sometime in the near future,” he said, adding, “It’s not because I have some crass commercial interest in releasing a Christmas CD. I just really like the songs. I like all the material, and I like the spirit of it.”

For Castle, the shows have been consistently emotionally satisfying (“There’s something really powerful about Christmas music in particular that just touches people’s souls”), but something new he’s noticed as of late is that young fans from the early days are now beginning to bring their own kids.

“I’m watching this evolution of my audience through time, and it’s really special,” Castle said.

“It connects with people,” Lockhart said of Castle’s music. “It’s happy and fun and it’s Celtic and folk and rock ‘n’ roll all at once. And you don’t see someone do this on the electric violin that often.”

Once his Christmas tour wraps up, Castle is looking forward to returning to the KPC next March for his St. Patrick’s Day show, which, like his December tour, has become a tradition. He will also be performing in New York City in 2020, and wants to make a trip to Ecuador, where he recently visited. But Castle noted that he likes to keep things loose when planning.

“The invitations keep coming in,” he said. “And you never know where the day is going to take you.”

For more information about the tour, go to www.geoffreycastle.com. For ticket information, go to the Kirkland Performance Center at bit.ly/2CS5BCB.

From left to right: mother-daughter pair and Seattle Opera singers Veronica Olson and Pamella Casella. Photo courtesy Geoffrey Castle

From left to right: mother-daughter pair and Seattle Opera singers Veronica Olson and Pamella Casella. Photo courtesy Geoffrey Castle

Photo courtesy Geoffrey Castle
                                Dancers from the Seattle Irish Dance Company will accompany Geoffrey Castle on tour.

Photo courtesy Geoffrey Castle Dancers from the Seattle Irish Dance Company will accompany Geoffrey Castle on tour.

Dancers from the Seattle Irish Dance Company will accompany Geoffrey Castle on tour. Photo courtesy Geoffrey Castle

Dancers from the Seattle Irish Dance Company will accompany Geoffrey Castle on tour. Photo courtesy Geoffrey Castle

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