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Orthodox Celts performing live in Banja Luka
Origin Belgrade, Serbia (formerly Yugoslavia)
Genres Irish folk, Celtic rock
Years active 1992 – present
Labels Take It Or Leave It, ITMM, Metropolis Records, Automatik
Associated acts Roze Poze
Orthodox Celts is a Serbian band which plays Irish folk music combined with rock elements. Despite their unusual sound the band is one of the top acts of the Serbian rock scene and has influenced several younger bands, most notably Tir na n'Og and Irish Stew of Sindidun.
The band started their career performing traditional Irish songs and, gradually, introduced more and more of their own material (lyrics mostly written by the band's frontman Aleksandar "Aca Celtic" Petrović, music mostly written by band's violinist Ana Đokić). All their songs are in English, but the group has composed some purely instrumental songs as well. The band traditionally celebrates St. Patrick's Day with a large concert in Belgrade. The band also traditionally performs on the Belgrade Beer Fest, and is the only act that has appeared on every Belgrade Beer Fest so far (except Belgrade Beer Fest 2004, when a part of the program was cancelled due to technical problems
During the mid-eighties, Roze Poze drummer, Dušan Živanović wanted to form a band which would perform the cover versions of Irish folk songs. Even though he had partially managed to fulfill this idea in Roze Poze, in 1992, Živanović took up playing the accordion and, with Ana Đokić (violin) and Dejan Lalić (mandolin, banjo, tin whistles), formed a band which performed occasionally at clubs. The band had the first official public appearance on Saint Patrick's day at the British Council in 1992. The following year, vocalist Aleksandar Petrović, also known as Aca Celtic, joined the band and they started performing more often. The rest of the lineup featured Vladan Jovković on guitar and Dejan Jevtović on bass.
The band released their first self-titled album in 1994, featuring cover versions of twelve Irish folk songs. Among the covers appeared the songs "Nancy Whiskey", soccer anthem "A Grand Old Team", "The Wild Rover", "The Irish Rover" and others. The band presented the album live, mainly in Belgrade's KST. The band also had acoustic sets in chamber arrangement. At the time, the band started writing their own songs, keeping up with the existing musical style. The recording of their performance held at Synagogue in Novi Sad on September 15, 1995, with the Latin American music band Pachamama, was released on a split live album Muzičke paralele (Musical Parallels) in 1996.
For the next album, The Celts Strike Again, the band, beside the cover versions of traditional songs, included two of their own songs, "Drinking Song" and "Blue". As guests on the album appeared actress Ana Sofrenović who did vocals on the track "Lock Lommond", Vampiri vocalist Aleksandar Eraković did backing vocals, Stočari member Branko Vitas played banjo, Pachamama member Miljan Mihaljčić played the traditional instruments and Renesansa member Žorž Grujić played zurla and Serbian bagpipes. Three promotional videos were recorded for the album, for "Drinking Song", "Star Of The County Down" and the title track. The later also appeared on the Radio Index various artists compilation Nas slušaju svi, mi ne slušamo nikoga!.
In 1997, the band, with Madame Piano, performed at the Budva music festival with the song "Galija". The song appeared on the official festival release. At the time, the band presented their new member, Dejan Popin (tin whistles), and started working on their new release. Green Roses, released in 1999, featured sixteen songs, half of which were traditional covers and the other half, their original songs. The album was produced by Aleksandar Radosavljević, and as guests appeared Dragoljub Marković (keyboards), Aleksandar Eraković and Goran Stojković (backing vocals). Promotional videos were recorded for the tracks "Rocky Road to Dublin / Down The River", "Merry Sisters", "Far Away", and the title track.
In 2001, Metropolis Records rereleased Orthodox Celts debut album on CD, and as bonus tracks appeared the songs from the live album Muzičke paralele. The following year, the band released the fourth album, A Moment Like The Longest Day. The album featured the songs written by Đokić (lead vocals on "Can You Get Me Out"), Petrović, new bass guitarist Dejan Grujić and Colette Ioanniduoi. The album featured only one traditional cover, "Humors Of Scariff". Block Out member Nikola Vranjković produced the album, and the band moved to a more rock-oriented sound than on the previous releases. Promotional video was recorded only for the title track. In 2002, Orthodox Celts performed on the Exit festival alongside Shane MacGowan, and Petrović appeared on the stage with MacGowan performing "The Irish Rover" with him.
In 2007, the band released their fifth album, One, Two... Five, through Automatik records. The album, produced by Nikola Vranjković, brought eleven songs, two of which are covers of traditional songs, and one of them being a cover of the Thin Lizzy song "Sarah".
In 2009, Ana Đokić left Orthodox Celts.
In June 2011, American entertainment promotion agency Bounce the Cat Productions started an internet petition for bringing the band to the United States. The band is currently working on their sixth studio album.
Photo: Saša Stojanović