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Irish fiddler Kevin Burke is always tickled to play in Tucson.

“I often think this kind of music we play is typically wet-weather music,” Burke said in a phone interview from Portland, Ore., his home for more than three decades. “It appeals to my sense of irony when we play somewhere like Arizona.”

Burke was in town a year ago, performing a set with London-born musician John Carty.

He returns to Tucson as a founding member of the Celtic Fiddle Festival, which is on its second leg of its 20th anniversary tour.

Burke started the Celtic Fiddle Festival with Scottish fiddle player Johnny Cunningham in 1993 as a way to showcase their different styles of play.

“We thought it would be an interesting thing to do,” Burke said. “Irish and Scottish fiddle playing sound similar, but when you get down to the details, they are quite different.”

After Cunningham died of a heart attack in 2003, Quebec fiddler André Brunet took his place.

“Members of Johnny’s family encouraged us to continue,” Burke said. “They thought the last thing Johnny would want would be for us to pack up because he was not there.”

The group is touring off of its 20th anniversary album, recorded in Brittany in 2013.


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