Of all the ethnic festivals that take place in Milwaukee over the summer, one of the best for music is Irish Fest. The music runs the gamut from the most traditional of fiddle tunes to Celtic tinged rock, and many of the bands playing there see scores of fans on their feet, passionately singing and dancing along with the music.
Many fan favorites, bands like We Banjo 3, Skerryvore, and Eileen Ivers, return to the fest again and again. There are also bands making their first trip stateside, like Ireland's Brave Giant, who are making their U.S. debut at this year's festival.
The group started out as a cover band in Longford, Ireland in 2011. They started writing their own songs and last year, released their EP - Lordy Lordy.
Their sound can be described as Indie with a touch of Celtic, influenced by their diverse musical interests and experiences.
"That's the thing about trad and Celtic music, there [are] so many branches to the tree... You have heavy rock bands like Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly and bands like this, going another direction as well," says Emmett Collum, the group's drummer.
The group is excited to debut their unique take on Celtic tunes at this year's fest. They agree the band thrives in live shows, where they're able to share in the energy of the performance.
"Definitely live shows is what I enjoy most because you’re literally feeding off that energy of a crowd - of a good crowd. There’s no better buzz, I don’t think, as a performer or an entertainer that you can get. It’s just, it’s brilliant," says Podge Gill, one of the guitarists and vocalists.
Brave Giant is made up of Collum and Gill, along with guitarist and vocalist Mark Prunty and Ross McNerney on the banjo and mandolin.