Biography – Salsa Celtica


Nominees in three categories of the

BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2007 including the Best Live Band Award


Nominees in the Best Live Band category of the Scots Trad Music Awards 2006




‘Just what it says on the tin, a great Scottish salsa band that manages to combine the Cuban charanga sound of flute and fiddles with a Highland blend of flute fiddles and bagpipes…one style flows naturally into another and there is a fizzing instrumental musicianship.

Live, they are a storm.’ London’s Evening Standard


Salsa Celtica is a unique gathering of musicians from two very different musical cultures who stir up a storm by fusing Latin and Celtic sounds into a high-energy mix of unforgettable musical explorations. Once seen, never forgotten, it is music that gets into the blood and blasts away the boundaries that define where musical genres begin and end.


‘A stunning marriage of musical styles...’ The Scotsman

‘Scene stealers...’ The Observer


Salsa Celtica’s remarkable success story began in 1995 in the bars and clubs of Scotland’s Edinburgh and Glasgow. They were an immediate hit with the locals and the newly arrived Hispanic community. After recording their debut album 'Monstruos y Demonios' (Monsters and Demons), Salsa Celtica took their music around the village halls of Scotland, from Skye to Mull, Iona to Barra, Lewis to Orkney, and everywhere in between. After this they headed off to Cuba to hang out with salsa groups, including Son14 and Sonora La Calle, and to generally soak up Afro-Cuban sounds in Havana and Santiago de Cuba. Swapping whisky for rum they were asked to join in at musical / religious "bembe" gatherings and were invited to worship the Afro Cuban "orichas". After acquiring new tastes and skills they returned to Scotland to sign to Scottish label Greentrax and to release two albums ‘The Great Scottish Latin Adventure‘ and ‘El Agua De La Vida‘.


’El Agua De La Vida’ went on to reach number 5 on the World Music Chart of Europe, number 24 in the end of year round-up World Music Chart for Europe and was also their first album released in the US on Compass Records.


‘Not your average salseros , not to be missed’ LA Times, USA

‘Music doesn't get more exciting than this.’ The Boston Globe


The intervening years have seen Salsa Celtica take their music to new audiences, win the hearts of the British media and finally claim their place as one of the UK’s foremost World Music bands. They have performed at the BBC Radio 3’s annual World Music Day in 2004 followed by a sold out show in the Strathclyde Suite of Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall as part of the Celtic Connections Festival which was later televised in the UK on BBC4. Sessions on BBC Radio 2’s flagship folk programme The Mike Harding Show and The Andy Kershaw Show on BBC Radio 3 followed. Their first English tour in April 2004 included a sold out show at London South Bank’s Queen Elizabeth Hall and in September they performed in front of their largest audience to date at the BBC’s Proms In The Park to an audience of 40,000 in London‘s Hyde Park. Between all of this they performed at festivals including Edinburgh Jazz Festival, Dublin’s Temple Bar Festival, Belgium’s Pole Pole Festival, Northern Ireland’s Celtic Fusion Festival and the England’s National Theatre Watch This Space Festival.


2005 built on their rising profile and saw Salsa Celtica tour south of the Scottish border for the second time and also tour Canada in the summer of 2005 as well as playing festivals in Scotland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy and more. They were also filmed for two scenes in the Julie Walters / Rupert Grint movie Driving Lessons released in cinemas in the US and Europe in September 2006 and due to be broadcast on UK national station ITV at Christmas 2006.


Their long-awaited fourth album El Camino was released in March 2006 on Discos Leon. The album release was followed by their most extensive UK tour to date including a London show as part of the La Linea Festival. By 31st March El Camino had reached number 1 on the UK’s iTunes World Music chart. The band performed material from the album on sessions for Andy Kershaw (BBC Radio 3), Radio Café (BBC Scotland) and Loose Ends (BBC Radio 4). Enthusiastic album reviews poured in:


'Salsa Celtica have real emotional range...El Camino's passion, energy and virtuosity suggest that Salsa Celtica's form of fusion has far to go.  A road well worth following.' * * * * * Songlines


‘An album that fizzes with energy and vitality and does honour to music styles that are often hermetic to change.Mondomix


‘The world is waking up to the full potential of salsa – thanks to a bunch of Scots.’ The Guardian


A summer festival season followed which included prestigious appearances at WOMAD Reading, Cambridge Folk Festival, Edinburgh Jazz Festival and the UK Salsa Congress as well as international appearances in Spain and Portugal. In October 2006 Salsa Celtica were the only British band to perform as part of the official showcase programme at Womex in Seville, Spain. While in Spain they heard that the band had been nominated for the Best Live Band Award in the Scots Trad Awards (Scotland). A month later news arrived that Salsa Celtica had received an astounding three nominations in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in the categories best live band, best group and best traditional track for their unique rendition of Grey Gallito featuring Eliza Carthy from the album El Camino. On 31st December 2006 Salsa Celtica will close a successful year with a performance as part of the Edinburgh Hogmanay celebrations.


2007 tour dates:

Feb 22nd Eastwood Park Theatre, Giffnock t: 0141 577 4970

28th Alnwick Playhouse t: 01665 510 785

Mar 1st Albert Halls, Stirling t: 01786 473 544

2nd Perth Concert Hall t: 0845 612 6321

3rd The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen t: 01224 642230

4th The Ironworks, Inverness t: 0871 7894 173

8th Platform, The Bridge, Easterhouse t: 0141 276 9696

9th Zeltic Festival, Luxembourg w:

10th Queens Hall, Edinburgh t: 0870 903 3444

11th Castle Douglas Town Hall, Dumfries & Galloway t: 01387 253 383

13th The Byre Theatre, St. Andrew’s t: 01334 475000

16th Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal t: 01539 725 133

17th The Met, Bury t: 0161 761 2216

18th Victoria Hall, Saltaire, West Yorks t: 01274 588614

20th Phoenix, Leicester t: 0116 255 4854

21st Norwich Arts Centre t: 01603 660 352

22nd Dingwalls, London t: 0870 771 2000

23rd The Komedia, Brighton t: 01273 647 100

24th Trinity Theatre, Tunbridge Wells t: 01892 678 678

25th The Junction, Cambridge t: 01223 511 511

27th South Hill Park, Bracknell t: 01344 484 123

28th Caerleon, Gwent t: tbc

29th Huntingdon Hall, Worcester t: 01905 611 427

30th The Royal International Pavilion, Llangollen t: 01978 860 111

31st Oxford Folk Festival t: 01865 790 739

Apr 1st Civic Hall, Stratford-Upon-Avon t: 01789 207100


For more info contact Terry O’Brien on 020 8671 8014 / 07932 720 058 or email at terry_at_playpen_dot_fsbusiness_dot_co_dot_uk