To say they're the world’s foremost practitioners of Celtic and Medieval progressive rock could be meaningless, given the scanty membership of the genre until you factor in just how good they are. Hearing them perform, one is hard-put to say just what kind of music they’re playing — just that it rocks, it screams, it soars, it whispers. Elements of classical, Celtic folk, French Medieval, psychedelic jam band and funk interweave, conflict, and finally coalesce into a stunning, surprising whole. One hears echoes of Loreena McKennitt, Dead Can Dance, the Grateful Dead, Fairport Convention, and the Pentangle.
They're a motley assemblage. There os the beautiful Flower Princess on harp (not the harmonica, the big wooden thing with all the strings) who also plays flute and recorder and sings in a sweet, classically trained soprano. Then there’s the blonde goddess in black velvet, sensuously bowing a purple, cat-headed 5-string electric violin. Does life get any better than this? But wait — in front of a stack of tie-dyed amplifiers, in a bowler hat and John Cippolina t-shirt, pulling a stream of howling, lyrical, psychedelic riffs from a sparkly purple Stratocaster, is a genial bearded hobbit-man who sings in a honeyed tenor. Behind them all sullenly lurk the bassist and drummer, two candidates for Queer Eye who seem to think they’re backing up James Brown or The Clash.
Avalon Rising’s new album, their second, is called Storming Heaven. Clocking in at a CD-maxing 74 minutes, it includes just about everything you’re likely to hear in their current live show, with no less than 6 full-out Celtic rock tune-sets wherein a never-ending assortment of jigs, reels, and other traditional dance tunes are stuck together end to end and raced through like a Hummer on a Grand Prix course, knocking bricks off buildings and smashing statuary along the way. Songs include the lilting Irish Do You Love An Apple, the mystically psychedelic originals Jack Daw and Turning In Time, Papa John Phillips' lost masterpiece Dancing Bear and a handful of traditional British Isles songs.
Avalon Rising Storming Heaven: Like many things that bubble up in an Irish cultural stew, Celtic music is simultaneously blessed and cursed. The music’s passion, angst, and ethereal beauty can be truly astounding, but – like the blues – it can become cliched and almost laughable when embraced by dunderheads and dilettantes. Happily (at least for my ears), Avalon Rising drifts above the curse by being both real and adventurous. The band wisely lets violinist Cat Taylor and flutist/harpist Margaret Davis deliver the major Celtic vibe, and they are absolutely stellar musicians. The duo’s soaring, almost achingly sensual phrasing gives age-old and original melodies near-cinematic impact. (Don’t be surprised or embarrassed if you shed a tear when listening to their plaintive harmonic dances – it just means you’re a living, breathing, feeling person.) The wilder bits are injected by guitarist Kristoph Klover, who employs a bratty Strat tone and an affinity for blues and psychedelia to modernize the standard Celtic formula without tanking the traditional melodic and rhythmic devices that make this music so endearing. Avalon Rising isn’t the most trad or the most progressive Celtic-based band I’ve heard, but it’s certainly the group I’d pick to lift up my spirits or drown me deeper into my Guinness. – Mike Molenda, Guitar Player Magazine
…Meet your new arbiters of cool: Avalon Rising, the Bay Area’s finest Celtic-prog band…
“Avalon Rising plays bright, bouncy Celtic pop — lotsa tunes about shires and maidens and chimney sweeps — with a dark undercurrent of technically precise trickiness, as though the Jethro Tull dudes had been sneaking into rehearsals…The chops and the songwriting on the band’s latest, Storming Heaven, are stellar indeed…” – Rob Harvila, Music Editor, East Bay Express
“…Bands like Avalon Rising are few and far between…Storming Heaven is a jewel, plain and simple…”
“Wonderful vocals by Margaret Davis and Kristoph Klover… This is a seriously talented band — and after 10 years and hundreds if not thousands of shows, they are a tightly knit group of friends. The interaction is seamlcss on every track, leading to a perfect album. And with 15 cuts, you’re getting your money’s worth! …Avalon Rising plays a lot of festivals and was chosen as the band for the official Lord of the Rings fan club Oscar party in Hollywood — if you needed any more proof of how good they are, there you go…one of the year’s best! Highly recommended.” – Michael Sullivan, Editor-Publisher, Here and There Ezine
“A refreshing new-age approach to an old-world style — You’ll be left breathless and fascinated. The basis of this sound is in traditional English, Scottish and (mostly) Irish folk music, and there arecontinental renaissance-era influences filled with those uplifting, bouncy compositions that will have you tapping your feet the first time you play it, and whistling along with the melodies every subsequent time. To appreciate this one your tastes will have to extend beyond just prog and rock. This music applies a progressive spin to retrogressive music and will be appreciated by hobbits and open minded music fans everywhere.”– Duncan Glenday, Progressive Ears
They are loud, they work hard and they are GOOD!”
They rocked Pantheacon with a 2-hour concert — supreme musicianship from all, but especially Margaret Davis. She plays flute, recorder, harp like a demoness, and she sings!! How can a single person have so many talents!! – Richard Man, musician, fan
Avalon Rising inject traditional balladry with a churning rhythm section and a few sprightly touches of good old prog rock to create a sound that’s a mixture of Tubular Bells, Dead Can Dance and that song Pippin sings in the film version of Return of the King. … Storming Heaven is hot off the presses and full of Celtic-jammy vim and vigor. – Sara Bir, North Bay Bohemian
Avalon Rising has been performing in the Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest for ten years at clubs, pubs, benefits, and conventions, and has shared the bill on several occasions with Magna Carta recording artists Tempest. Festival performances include the Squaw Valley Celtic Festival, the High Sierra Music Festival, the Mammoth Lakes Celtic Festival, and the Avery Ranch Folk Festival. Their first, self-titled CD is distributed internationally by Goldenrod, Serpentine Music, and Abyss Distribution, and has received many favorable reviews.
Wets the mind like Irish mist…Clear and bright, up-front and passionate…The musical teamwork is superb. John Wheeler, Harpbeat