Gaelic Storm

Celtic

 

After a start playing monthly gigs for friends at Santa Monica’s O’Brien’s Tavern in 1995, the band’s popularity skyrocketed when it appeared in James Cameron’s Titanic as the Celtic party band in the ship’s steerage. Unlike so many other bands that were unable to sustain a career after receiving near-blinding initial exposure, Gaelic Storm has amassed a large, loyal and ever-growing following. After three studio albums on Virgin/EMI early on, the band has since flourished in an extreme DIY fashion by not only launching their own label, Lost Again Records, and releasing their albums themselves but also by designing all their own album art, posters and advertisements, and spearheading all their own merchandising, book-keeping and marketing. Gaelic Storm is a truly self-contained entity; an indie model for the new music industry that knows its identity and audience, and stays in close contact with its fans.

Once they hit stage, however, its all about the music. According to band guitarist-singer Steve Twigger, “We are first and foremost a live band. We got together to play music. To enjoy ourselves and enjoy being out with the audience. As the world has gotten darker, people have come and found us as a means to escape.”

The band takes a distinct pride in the fact that its music and performances are a celebration of Irish culture as well as a medium of connection for many of the 36 million Irish-Americans who have at least some Irish blood in them. “I brought a few friends over from Ireland for the Irish Festival in Milwaukee,” band singer Patrick Murphy recalls with a chuckle, “and after three days of seeing people with elaborate Celtic knot tattoos and Irish flags on their shoulders, these guys were in shock about the amount Irish pride people displayed here in America.”

Yet while Gaelic Storm plays Celtic music that hearkens back to the traditional music of Ireland, they are hardly traditionalists, adding modern sounds and drawing influences from American rock and pop as well as music styles from around the world. This is a band with its feet firmly planted in the present, appearing on two EA Sports Games and their song “Kiss Me I’m Irish” has been used in a Hallmark greeting card in 2008. The band has made countless television and radio appearances, and there are official videos and heaps of fan-posted live YouTube clips (often with the crowd singing as loud as the band).

The quintet has seen a few members pass through its ranks over its 12 years together, but at the center of the band are Patrick Murphy (Cork, Ireland) and Steve Twigger (Coventry, England). As the main singer, accordion player and resident Irishman, Murphy is generally the recognizable face of the band and his knack for storytelling is the inspiration for many of the band’s songs. Guitarist and vocalist Twigger is the primary songwriter in the band and produced Cabbage, with co-production by percussionist Ryan Lacey (Pasadena, CA), who has been a member of the band since 2003. Pipes and whistle player Peter Purvis (Ottawa, Canada) joined Gaelic Storm in 2004 and violinist Jessie Burns (Suffolk, England) came onboard in 2007. The band’s line-up has remained unchanged for the past two album releases and the chemistry is apparent both in their studio recordings and their high-energy live performances.

The mythical Irish lass has been with them since ancient times, but the band updates her story on a rave-up called “Red Hair, Green Eyes.” Far from being a mystical green-eyed angel in the mist, this Irish femme fatale plays “violin with a bayonet” and has “long legs and the devil inside her.” While that song finds the band at its most rocking, the tradition is anchored by four instrumentals (“Blind Monkey,” “Jimmy’s Bucket,” “Crazy Eyes McGillycutty” and “Buzzards of Bourbon Street”) that highlight their instrumental chops and roots. “Northern Lights” has a gentle Jamaican bounce that shows the band is capable of reaching well beyond the traditional Celtic stomp. Playing up the American side of the band’s influences is a soulful cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Cecilia,” which captures the song’s original yearning tone while adding Celtic and country music flair.

“We made a promise to each other that the day we stop having fun, we stop,” Murphy says. “If it becomes work or a hassle, just stop. And at the end of every year we look back and go, “Wow, that was a great year.” We just keep looking forward to the next year because each year it gets better and better.”

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THU 10/11, 7:30pm click to purchase tickets
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“Numbers like ‘What’s the Rumpus?’ and ‘Kiss Me, I’m Irish’ are steeped in the Celtic traditional melody, but fused with the band’s unique blend of world rhythms.” – The Daily Herald

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