The Celtic Society of the Monterey Bay (CSMB) had its origin in 1989 when Tam Paterson, then host of 'The Eagle's Whistle' on KAZU, announced a meeting at The White Cockade in Boulder Creek for those wishing to form a Celtic Society. About a dozen people showed up. Well, there are precedents for beginning ventures with only 12 disciples. Get-togethers at various private residences followed with local musicians providing entertainment.
The real “heart” in the formation of the CSMB was inspired by local musicians and their followers, who had nowhere to showcase their talents, and – in their undying love of the music, and Celtic tradition, wanted to share it with others. After several years of playing sessions, and house concerts and the odd booking, they decided to officially form a group who could promote the Celtic Culture around the Monterey Bay, and start running folk clubs in the area, with the express intention of making Celtic music a household name.
They did everything legally, and the name CSMB was registered and a bank account opened, with money donated by enthusiastic supporters that considered it was so fantastic – just having anything official going on.
The people “behind” the movement back then really deserve a mention in the grand scheme of the formation of the society – for – who knows, - without their input, the CSMB might not exist today, as the great success it has become.
Initial President was Brid Caveney, a multi instrumentalist musician who had played extensively in most of the Celtic Nations of the World, before moving to California in the early 80’s.
The very first ever Celtic Society newsletter was sent out from the Caveney household – in Marina CA, by his wife Bronwyn, who was at the time working for a printing firm – who sponsored the project. It appeared in the Spring of 1991 where it was announced, "our aim as a Society is to keep alive Celtic tradition and promote same in the community." It was also noted in the first newsletter that monthly sessions were being moved to The Elkhorn Yacht Club in Moss Landing. Other “officials” at that time were Suzanna O’Sullivan, who took on the treasurer’s job. Her (then) husband Jimmy played the highland pipes, and there was an incredible depth of local musicians who helped get the CSMB up and running.
It was at The Elkhorn Yacht Club that The Celtic Society presented their first concert on Sunday, April 12, 1992 by the Irish singer Michael Black.
The group developed several venues in the area, including the “O’James Folk Club” at the Grovemont Theatre in Monterey, before moving “Out of town” and setting up the folk club at the Elkhorn Yacht Club in Moss Landing. Before they could actually afford to book “Major “guests, they had many great “sessions” at the venue, and continued their love of the Celtic traditions.
With the setting for sessions gradually moving northwards, with McCarthy's Restaurant ( now The Britannia Arms ) in Aptos succeeding The Elkhorn Yacht Club as the venue, concerts began to be organized in the Santa Cruz area as the most convenient central location for the increasing number of people interested in attending events from the South Bay area.
The first of the Santa Cruz concerts took place at The Kuumbwa on Tuesday, December 14th 1993 by Andy Irvine with an opening set by Martin & Jessica Simpson. This was a co-production made possible by the generous financial support, supplementing the meager bank account, by Lisa Eckstrom and Lynda Fotheringham ( R.I.P. ), both of whom continued to help enrich our lives with future co-productions and individual productions.
In the early 90’s, Bob Breheney took on the gauntlet of keeping the MBCS name alive, and taking it to new level. He has contracted many great stars to play in our area, and the title CSMB is very much alive today. Recently, the CSMB incorporated in California as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. This provides opportunites to apply for grants and to eliminate any taxes the society might owe.
From this beginning, The Celtic Society has arranged concerts by many performers and groups. Check them out on Performers page via the links page.
Sadly, Tam Paterson, founder of the Celtic Society of the Monterey Bay, passed away in the summer of 2011.