Sligo tunes into St. Patrick's Day
Posted March 13, 2009
Stephanie Arellanes
David Burns and Gordon Rustvold of the Sligo Rags, performed live in the Davenport Dining Hall in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. The Sligo Rags calls itself a Southern California Premiere Celtic Folk Band. Rustvold plays the bass and Burns plays the acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin, and is also the vocals. The event was hosted by the Campus Activities Board on Wednesday.

If you had exchanged the Powerade and pizza slices for a pint of Guinness and a meat pie Wednesday, you may have thought you were in Ireland.

But in reality you would have found yourself in the Davenport dining hall, tapping your foot and bobbing your head to tunes from the band Sligo Rags.

“It got me exited for St. Patrick’s day,” said Ashley Dompier, a sophomore psychology student.

Hailing from Orange County, the band mixes a traditional Irish sound with hints of Bluegrass, Jazz and Rock sprinkled all over. The sound, which may seem new to some, was a perfect fit for the group members.

“We all came from different musical backgrounds,” Michael Kelly said, who plays the fiddle as well as sings the vocals. “Our bass player Gordon (Rustvold) I met playing jazz, and guitarist David Burns was doing bluegrass and folk.”

The group began playing small gigs and doing pub shows, mainly at the Molly Bloom in San Clemente. Kelly, who studied classical violin, moved to California with the intent of playing country music.

While bouncing around and playing a host of shows, he hooked up with a few people he met who played Irish music.

“After that, I never looked back at country,” Kelly said.

Sligo Rags takes its name from a traditional Celtic song called “The Irish Rover.” Sligo, a region in Ireland, is known particularly for their textile production.

Students too seemed to enjoy the overall change of settings for lunch. Far away from the regular tunes played in Davenport, Sligo Rags treated all in attendance to up-beat melodies, accompanied perfectly by the bands percussionist Eric Hartwell.

Not found playing your standard drum kit, he adorns instead tribal drums and a few symbols, which he uses mostly his hands to play.

The event was put on by Campus Activities Board.

“I liked it. It’s music you don’t hear everyday,” said Kaitlin Eckert, a junior child development major . “It got me in the spirit of St. Patrick’s day.”

Kelly said March tends to be the busiest month of the year for Sligo.

Besides the normal shows, the band receives requests to host parties and events to celebrate St. Patrick’s day.

The band will play three shows around the Los Angeles area on March 17, including a corporate party for Yahoo!

David deBos can be reached at

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