Uncle Bard & the Dirty Bastards started performing 12 years ago.

At the time, the members were playing in different bands, but they decided to join forces for a single show in memory of a friend gone too soon, said Silvano Ancellotti, who plays guitar for the Dirty Bastards.

To make the experience even more meaningful, Ancellotti said, the musicians wanted to challenge themselves by doing something they always loved but never dared to attempt: playing Irish music.

"Looking back, we could say that single show has been successful enough to take us into a musical journey able to overcome our expectations in every sense," Ancellotti said.

Uncle Bard & the Dirty Bastards is an Irish folk/rock band, but its members are not from Ireland -- they are from Italy.

The band is just one of the international bands to be featured at the Dublin Irish Festival, scheduled for Aug. 2 to 4 in Dublin's Coffman Park, 5200 Emerald Parkway. For more information about the festival, go to dublinirishfestival.org.

Despite the festival's name, music featured on the band's several stages comes from a variety of countries.

This year's festival will feature about 35 local and regional bands and about 20 bands that either tour internationally or hail from countries other than the United States, said Alison LeRoy, Dublin's director of community events.

Such a strong tradition of Irish bands can be found from around the world that Dublin event planners do not care if the bands featured at the Irish festival are not from Ireland, LeRoy said.

"It's more about the quality of the music," she said, that determines if a band is asked to perform.

Although staff members try to see each band live, when that's not feasible, they can watch videos or make decisions by recommendations, she said.

A festival setting requires a certain amount of energy and personality from its performers, LeRoy said, and how a band interacts with a crowd and the energy it brings are most important.

In some cases, bands with Irish sounds have been shaped by experiences abroad or by a tradition of Irish music that began at a young age.

With the Dirty Bastards, it was the former example.

Although the band is based in northern Italy, its members, "in one way or another, lived or spent too much time in Ireland," said Lorenzo Testa, who plays banjo.

For brothers David and Duane Keogh of the Town Pants, their West Coast Celtic roots rock was inspired by their childhood.

The Keoghs grew up in Ottawa, Canada, with a family that was half Irish and half French -- and equal parts musical.

The brothers said they idolized their father, Lorne, who was a singer.

"The way the women looked at him when he sang was something else," David Keogh said.

Whereas the brothers grew up with a musical Irish influence, their bandmates adapted to the sound.

Bass player Riley Zimmerman is from Pittsburgh; drummer Jeff Tripoli is from Syracuse, New York; and fiddle player Johanna So is from Fairbanks, Alaska.

A classically trained violinist, So said her first foray into Irish music was when she joined the Town Pants when the brothers were looking for a new fiddler.

A similar musical upbringing was the case for sisters Cassie and Maggie MacDonald. Irish music was an important part of their family life in northern Nova Scotia, which, they said, has a great deal of Scottish and Celtic influences.

The duo play traditional Celtic songs along with more contemporary tunes that still fall into the Celtic genre.

This will be the third year the sisters will play at the Dublin Irish Festival, and Cassie MacDonald said the fest is sort of a family reunion.

"It's really like coming home to us," she said.

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah