EVERETT — What do people think when they find out Geoffrey Castle plays an electric six-string violin?
“Often they picture something that’s not too pleasant,” Castle said. “But I’m a different breed of cat. The electric violin’s tone is full, balanced and beautiful. And because I have two extra strings, I can produce the sounds of an orchestra, a guitar and other string instruments.
“Most importantly, I don’t need a microphone. It gives me more flexibility to have fun on stage.”
If you want to find out what this special instrument sounds like and what its owner is all about, attend Castle’s classic Celtic Christmas Concert on Saturday evening at the Historic Everett Theatre.
“It’s a great family show,” Castle said. “Even for teenagers.”
The concert will feature performances by the Seattle Irish Dance Co., two Seattle Opera singers, an all-star band that includes Darin Watkins and Eric Robert, guest singer Kellee Bradley and drummer Alan White.
“I’m really excited about Alan,” Castle said. “He played with the rock group Yes. He played in the Plastic Ono Band and on John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ and George Harrison’s ‘My Sweet Lord.’ He’s been nominated six times to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”
The concert is about the music that predated the commercialization of Christmas, Castle said.
“We’re leaning on melodies that are 800 or more years old, but the sound is modern and high energy, and the Irish dancers are dazzling.”
Christmas is Castle’s favorite time of year.
“I have so much fun playing this music, but it’s for only one month,” he said. “I want it to last all year long.”
Castle, who grew up in New York and attended Columbia University, went from busking on the streets to performing in the Tony award-winning Broadway production of “M. Butterfly.”
A theme of Castle’s career has been to change people’s preconceived notions of what’s possible on a violin. He’s a pioneer on the electric six-string fiddle. Along with his solo career, Castle has joined forces with the likes of Blues Traveler, all of the original and current members of Heart, members of Queen and Buddy Miles.
He’s called the Puget Sound region his home since 1995. He and his wife, Shannon, live in Kenmore.
“I was looking for a parking place in Brooklyn. I couldn’t find one, so I started driving west,” Castle said with a laugh. “My favorite part of my place is the driveway. Really, I am proud to call the Northwest home. All of my buddies in New York are jealous. My folks still live in Manhattan, so I go back and brag about this place.”
The Northwest is the right place for Castle, he said.
“It’s a really strong community appreciating the kind of music I am doing,” he said. “It’s one of the most innovative places for the arts in general. Without an audience and their support, the arts can’t flourish.”
Which brings up the topic of music education in schools, a topic dear to Castle’s heart. He’s done a lot of school assembly shows, workshops and fundraisers.
“Music is more important than anything you can do in school; you can’t measure it with a standardized test,” he said. “When you take music out of school, you take the soul out of the school and you are left with a factory full of kids who don’t know why they are miserable.
“Cutting the arts to save money is the single most stupid thing you can do. It’s like cutting down an apple tree that bears fruit every year.”
Castle hopes to see a lot of kids at his concert Saturday.
“I’ve always been amazed at the level of enthusiasm at these Christmas concerts,” he said. “It’s a love fest. It’s awesome.”
If you go
Geoffrey Castle’s Celtic Christmas Concert
8 p.m. Dec. 10, Historic Everett Theatre, 2911 Colby Ave.
Call 425-258-6766 for tickets, $15 to $30.
CDs available for sale at the show. More at www.geoffreycastle.com.
Castle also will perform the concert at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17 at the Northshore Performing Arts Center, 18125 92nd Ave. NE, Bothell. Call 425-298-3449 for tickets, $25 general, $22.50 seniors, $15 students.