Dead Celt Society more than music

Originally Published March 14, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated March 13, 2013 at 12:02 p.m.
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From the left, George Hardin, Phree Nelson, Scott Parker and Richard Douglas of the Dead Celt Society perform at Hibernia Irish Tavern in Little Rock. The group will be among the participants in the Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas’ St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Little Rock and North Little Rock on Saturday.

— While St. Patrick’s Day approaches and some people get ready to go to Irish or Celtic music concerts, members of the Dead Celt Society are getting ready to play one of those concerts.

The Dead Celt Society was formed to honor David Summers, who died suddenly in 2006.

Some of Summers’ friends, now members of the band, gathered at McCardles Irish Pub in Hot Springs to celebrate the life of their friend a year after he died. While they were in Hot Springs, members of the group played Celtic music together — just as a one-time thing.

After playing together, the friends didn’t want their band days to be over, so they officially formed the Dead Celt Society in 2008.

The Dead Celt Society is made up of Richard Douglas on bass, Phree Nelson on lead vocals and fiddle; Scott Parker on drums; and George Hardin on electric guitar, mandolin and tin whistle. While most of the band members are Bryant residents, the band practices at Calvary Chapel in Bauxite.

The band allows its members to get in touch with their Irish heritage through music, and performing offers them the opportunity to connect with their audience.

“People come up and tell me [at shows] where their ancestors are from,” Hardin said.

Douglas said almost every time the band finishes a show, a member of the audience comes up and shares stories of how the band’s music inspires others to discover their heritage.

Douglas said communicating with the audience is his favorite part of being in the band.

“I really like talking and interacting with the audience,” Douglas said.

The Dead Celt Society plays songs that get audience members involved as they sing along with the musicians. Douglas said the band has always interacted with its audience by talking between songs and sometimes gears parts of the show to children by incorporating puppets and children’s songs. Also, the band sometimes takes requests for songs or asks questions of the audience during a show.

Hardin said many Celtic bands play a lot of the same songs, but the Dead Celt Society plays them in a different way. Hardin said having the fiddle in the band allows for more diversity in its music.

March is a busy month for the Dead Celt Society. Although the band often plays at Hibernia Irish Tavern and Dugan’s Pub in Little Rock, being in the Dead Celt

Society also gives the group

a way to give back to the

community. The Dead Celt Society has played for birthday parties and performed fundraisers for various causes.

The band will be on the last float in the Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas’ St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Little Rock and North Little Rock on Saturday.

“We’re going to be play-

ing music the whole way,” Douglas said. “It won’t be acoustic; we’ll be playing electric Celtic music.”

The band will conclude the parade with a performance outside Dugan’s in Little Rock’s River Market District, then will perform later that night at Hibernia Irish Tavern.

Douglas’ time with the band has allowed him to meet people across the state, and he said that anytime the band performs, everyone in the audience is part of the show.

“When we’re here, you’re a part of the Dead Celt Society,” Douglas said.

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501)244-4307 or

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