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Donald B Penzien - CeltFest Mississippi

Founder and Director

USA

Don Penzien is the founder and Director…and sometimes acknowledged as “the heart and soul”…of CelticFest Mississippi. He is a Michigan native with strong roots in Irish culture and an affinity for Celtic music, and upon relocating south he found Mississippi sorely lacking as per it’s appreciation of the Irish and Scottish traditions native to many of the state’s founders. So in 1992, he rallied interested parties from around the region to join forces in organizing what has evolved into a much revered celebration of Celtic music, dance, and heritage. CelticFest Mississippi is a festival of volunteers, relying on donations of time and talent from its directors and staff as well as many of its performers. CelticFest has garnered a reputation as a ‘musicians’ festival’, a favorite among its performers, and an increasingly rare gem featuring traditional Celtic music. Although Don recently relocated to North Carolina (where he works as Professor of Anesthesiology at Wake Forest), he
continues to serve as the Director and Performer Coordinator for CelticFest.

Don also has long been a top-flight performer of Irish traditional music. He frequently is on the road playing concerts and festivals with Gailfean (featuring All-Ireland winners Brian Conway, John Whelan & Máirtín de Cógáin), The Máirtín de Cógáin Project, Jil Chambless, Ed Miller, and Beirt le Chéile (featuring Megan Irby). He’s performed in the past with Captain Mackey’s Goatskin & String Band (Jimmy Crowley, Máirtín de Cógáin & Valerie Plested), and Legacy (Plested & Justin Murphy). Along the way, he’s shared the stage with the likes of Randal Bays, Tim Britton, Siobhan Butler, Donie Carroll, Sean Clohessy, Pauline Conneely, Tony DeMarco, Kevin Doyle, Mike Dugger, Shannon Dunne, Bridgette Fitzgerald, Jim Flanagan, Rose Conway Flanagan, Ken Fleming, Brian Hart, Shannon Heaton, Heather Martin Bixler, Martin O’Connell, Patrick Ourceau, and Caitlin Warbelow.

It was the never-ending traditional music playing at the Irish pub he frequented while earning his Ph.D. (clinical psychology) in Athens, Ohio that inspired Don to play. It was back then that he began his exclusive use of the “DADGAD” guitar tuning with tips from such notables as Zan McLeod and Daíthí Sproule. Widely recognized for his reserved backing style, Don’s dexterous work on guitar provides solid, driving rhythms to traditional tunes as well as perceptive and sensitive accompaniments to songs and airs. When called upon, he also adds whistle, bodhran and vocals to arrangements.

And if there’s an Irish trad. tune session anywhere nearby, odds are, you’ll find him there.

Erick Bickerdike - Chester Playhouse

Michelle MacLean - Riverfront Jubilee

Julia Train - MROC

Peter Mowat - Deep Roots

Malory Beazley - Creamery Square

Lori Holman - Marigold Centre

Linda Boyle - Irish Fest LaCrosse

John Daley - Milwaukee Irish Fest

Fred Gilbert - Rock n' Rhum Festival

Deborah Trask - Lunenberg Folk Harbour

David O'Leary - Evergreen Theatre

Marcin Bąkiewicz - Antyradio

Lisa Gleave - Mermaid Theatre

Errin Williams - Harmony Bazaar

Erin Cooper - Irish Fair of Minnesota

Chad Shipman - Iowa Irish Fest

James Walsh - Iowa Irish Fest

Raye Myles - Hantsport Music Fest

Kevin Guptell - Hantsport Music Fest

Vincent Degiorgio - Cymba Music Publishing

Brad Machry - True North Records

Erin Benjamin - Music Canada Live

Jodie Ferneyhough - CSS Rights Management

Stacie Huckeba

Heather Gibson - NAC Presents

Marta Kutermak - KAYAX

Ben Pearlman - Collective Concerts

Jeff Propson - Oshkosh Irish Fest

Marianne Anderson - CMRRA

Tim Hardy - SOCAN

Victoria Shepherd

Patrick Zulinov - Hyvetown Music

John O'Brien Jr - Cleveland Irish Fest

Doc Freeland - Sparta Celtic Festival

CJ Freeland - Sparta Celtic Festival

Maura Krushinski - Pittsburgh Irish Festival

Ed Follis - Kansas City Irish Fest

Nan Krushinski - Pittsburgh Irish Festival

Tom Petrone - Pittsburgh Irish Festival

David Lowery

Jan Aylward Burrus - Kansas City Irish Fest

Stephen Dilks - Kansas City Irish Fest

Chris Zahrt - Michigan Irish Festival

Laura Holmes - Michigan Irish Festival

Debbie Smith - Michigan Irish Festival

Mike Wiley - Irish Fair of Minnesota

Vaidas Stackevičius - M.P.3 Music Agency

Emma Milzani - Academy Music Group

Suze Casey - Calgary Folk Club

Keli O'Neill Wenzel - Kansas City Irish Festival

Linda Clark Klibowitz - Milwaukee Irish Fest

Magdalena Jensen - Chimes

Jeff Ksaizek - Milwaukee Irish Fest

Ilya Bortnuk - Light Music

Ed Ward - Milwaukee Irish Fest

Rodney Yeaple - Penn-Mar Irish Fest

Mary Yeaple - Penn-Mar Irish Fest

Phill McIntyre - New England Celtic Arts

Agnieszka Wojciechowska - Inne Brzmienia Art’n’Music Festival

Rafał Chwała - East of Culture - Different Sounds Festival

Tony Duckworth - PIAS

Danny Simons - Grand Hotel van Cleef

Stefan Kazaryan - Connected Agency

Jörg Tresp - Devil Duck Records

Anna Kopaniarz - Off Festival

Shane Matthewson - MKM Management Services

Donald B Penzien - CeltFest Mississippi

Mary Coffey - Indy Irish Fest

Marty Cahill - Syracuse Irish Festival

Alison LeRoy - Dublin Irish Festival

Lora Knowlton - Colorado Irish Festival

Michael Lange - Mad Gael Music Fest

Steven Payne - CelticFest Mississippi

Kathleen Ryan - IrishFest LaCrosse

Marcin 'Groh' Grośkiewicz - U Know Me Records

Emi Barabasz - What's There

Nick Hobbs - Charmenko

Paweł Trzciński - Distorted Animals

Radek Chudzio - Progresja Music Zone

Craig Walsh - SAIT Students' Association

Benji Rogers

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