Emerald City
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Say this fast ten times:
Eclectic Celtic
Eclectic Celtic
Eclectic Celtic...
Never mind if your tongue gets twisted, it's better to hear, not say, Emerald City Celtic Eclectic band. If you're not quite sure about the meaning of Celtic Eclectic, you will be when you hear the Allentown-based band that is winning a wide regional following.

Everyone expects to hear a Celtic band play lively Irish music and soulful ballads. Emerald City easily meets audience expectations in that regard.

What the audience doesn't expect is to hear a Celtic band play an Italian tarantella, a Polish polka or the Jewish Hava Nagila -- all with a touch of Celtic. One also doesn't expect to hear fiddling in the middle of Mozart, to hear Danny Boy in the middle of the Pennsylvania Polka, or to hear the refrain of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in a classical medley that moves effortlessly into a traditional Celtic ballad.

Just as improbable as their music are the musicians themselves. One doesn't expect to find Nora Suggs, a classically trained flutist, pairing with a prize-winning fiddler in the person of LA Williams. Add in the multiple talents of world percussion specialist Moe Jerant and vocalist Greg Geist, and it blends into one harmonious "ain't-it-fun" style.
"We all bring something different to the table," says Moe. "Our musical diversity gives us an edge."
That diversity means the audience can expect the unexpected when Emerald City takes the stage. Most of all, expect the unexpected fun they bring to every type of musical arrangement.

The band's popularity extends far beyond St. Patrick's Day. They are regularly booked to perform throughout the year at festivals, special performances, and private parties.

And those who hear them will no longer have to wonder about the meaning of "Celtic Eclectic!"

- P. Mihalik, East Penn Press, 2005


"Celtic eclectic" is how Emerald City likes to be described. Rooted in traditional Celtic music, the ensemble features a fusion of influences ranging from world music, folk and rock to jazz, classical, and country. Audience members may hear a Beatles tune, Pachelbel's "Canon," or the theme song from "The Addams Family" television show, woven into the group's medleys.
Based in the Lehigh Valley, the musicians in Emerald City are all accomplished in various musical genres.
"We've played together in various bands in various combinations over the years -- it's definitely a collaborative effort," Suggs said.
The group plays at festivals, live music venues and private events. This spring they will open for the Strawbs and Fairport Convention at Allentown's Mayfair Festival of the Arts. - K. Gross, Bucks County Herald, 2005


A supergroup of sorts, Emerald City is comprised of local talent: Nora Suggs is of classical ensemble SATORI fame; Moe Jerant is a well-known world drum instructor and leader of area drum circles, Greg Geist comes from several rock bands, and LA Williams is an area fiddle contest winner.
"Everybody brings different letters of the musical alphabet to the table," Suggs says, "and we come up with some wonderful words. If you take a little bit of every kind of music you can imagine and dump it into a blender, what spills out is Emerald City."
The Emerald in Emerald City's name comes from the Irish tunes and rhythms that flavor all the band's music. And the City was chosen because their music is not all traditional folk-fiddling, but rather urban and contemporary. The title also reminds the group of "The Wizard of Oz." "Our music is a little like the yellow brick road -- you never know where it's going to take you," Suggs says.
- K. Main, Bethlehem Express-Times, 2005


Flutist Nora Suggs is describing her new band and its "Celtic eclectic" sound.
"It's as if we took all these different musical subgenres and ran them through a blender, then spilled them out with an Irish accent."
There's a little rock, a little country, a little bluegrass, a little folk, a little classical, a little polka, and a whole lot more in their compositions. The group strings together some songs for fun, but bases its choices on musical rules of structure and harmony.
Don't get it?
Here's a couple of examples: Emerald City plays a medley with "The Sailor's Hornpipe (the theme from "Popeye"), "Yellow Submarine," (the Beatles) and a traditional Irish whaling song. A composition created for Das Awkscht Fescht is a Pennsylvania Irish polka -- the blending of "The Pennsylvania Polka," "Danny Boy," and the "Irish Washerwoman" jig.
Listeners must pay attention to songs or they'll miss snippets like the "Addams Family" theme.
Emerald City was formed in 2003 by members of another Celtic band and the addition of newcomer Greg Geist, a rock guitarist and singer. He's the one responsible for songs like the band's rendition of Uriah Heep's "Lady in Black." Nora Suggs brings the classical touch, LA Williams brings folk, and drummer Moe Jerant brings a world music background.
The band also does nice three part harmonies -- only Suggs doesn't sing. "It's safer with me out of the mix," she says laughing. - J. Duckett, Morning Call, Allentown, 2004


Imagine a cozy Irish pub a few days before Christmas. A genial gentleman spins tales of Christmases past and holiday traditions from the old sod; a band plays Christmas songs and Irish airs on whistle and bodhran, while patrons jump up to dance an energetic reel or high-stepping fling.
That is the concept behind Emerald Star, the weekend's new Celtic Christmas production created by ArtsQuest.
As the house band of the fictitious Emerald Star pub, Emerald City will entertain with popular Christmas songs, as well as traditional Irish jigs, reels and hornpipes.
This four-year-old "Celtic eclectic" band approaches Celtic music with an urban flair. The group -- classical flutist and pennywhistle player Nora Suggs, world music drummer Moe Jerant, folk and Celtic fiddler LA Williams and rock guitarist Greg Geist -- is known for its signature medleys that can include anything from Mozart to klezmer to "Follow the Yellow Brick Road."
Three band members also sing, giving the group a wide range as well as allowing them to sing in three-part harmony. - K. Lauer-Williams, Morning Call, Allentown, 2006


Discography

Emerald City -- The Celtic Eclectic Band (2005)

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Bio

Based in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, Emerald City plays music for the 21st century – an exciting swirl of Celtic tradition in today’s smaller world. Drawing from rock, blues, jazz, folk, country, classical, and world music genres, Emerald City’s talented musicians blend and bend traditional Celtic music into their own unique, eclectic style. Fiddle, guitar, flutes, pipes, whistles, mandolin, vocals, percussion and more --it’s not just music for St. Patrick’s Day anymore…...

Greg plays guitar, mandolin, and banjo, and sings lead and harmony vocals. His background encompasses rock, folk, and country music, and he has played with a number of popular Lehigh Valley bands. In Emerald City, Greg joins his first Celtic band, and brings his particular fondness for Bob Dylan and the Beatles into a new arena....where he can wear a kilt!

LA plays fiddle, mandolin, banjo, and guitar, and also sings both backup and lead vocals. His is a familiar face around the Lehigh Valley’s music and theater scene, and he has performed with a number of area groups. LA has won numerous fiddling contests, and has recently brought his expertise to competition-judging as well. Well-versed in fiddling of all types – Celtic, bluegrass, country, contradance, and more – LA also offers a wide range of British music hall repertoire, and an occasional outburst on the trombone.

Nora plays flute, piccolo, and pennywhistle. She has been active as a classical recitalist and chamber musician for over 20 years, and also works as a studio and session musician. Nora is a founding member of the Lehigh Valley’s classical chamber music ensemble SATORI, and has toured England, Canada and Japan as well as the United States. She also teaches at Moravian College’s Music Institute and the Lehigh Valley’s Community Music School, plays with Two Part Invention, a flute/classical guitar duo, and is studying shakuhachi, a traditional Japanese flute.

Moe plays drums, percussion, and guitar, and sings both lead and backup vocals. A graduate of East Stroudsburg University, she is always in demand as a session and recording musician, and has performed extensively with area rock, jazz, country, classical, and folk musicians. Moe is currently exploring world percussion instruments and rhythmic traditions, and teaches a popular series of workshops and drum circles.