When Billboard’s World Music Chart No. 1 favorite Gaelic Storm plays at 7:30 p.m. March 8 at Tornstrom Auditorium, it will mark its second Brainerd appearance. A crowd favorite at venues like the Milwaukee Irish Music Festival, the band plays more than 200 shows a year.
For Central Lakes College Cultural Arts Series producer Patrick Spradlin, it was a “no brainer”’ to bring the band back to Brainerd.
“After the show last year, I was asking audience members where they were from,” Spradlin said. “We had people from Rochester, Duluth, Minneapolis, Fargo and four rather exuberant fellows who had driven several hours from the middle of South Dakota. I knew then that Gaelic Storm would be coming back.”
Gaelic Storm’s newest album, “Cabbage,” held the No. 1 position on the Billboard World Music Album Chart for three consecutive weeks in 2010. “Cabbage” is the follow up to their 2008 independent release, “What’s The Rumpus?” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard World Chart. The band broke into the music world’s consciousness with their appearance in James Cameron’s blockbuster film “Titanic” as the third-class Irish band. Besides their incredibly busy touring schedule, Gaelic Storm recently partnered with Southwest Airlines to give away tickets to see the band at a Milwaukee festival, and promoted the band on the airline’s website. Gaelic Storm manager Matt Maher said the band’s fan base aligns with Southwest’s customer base.
“You go to their shows, and the crowd is made up of firefighters and police officers and plumbers,” Maher said. “Those people fly Southwest.”
The Hallmark Corporation commissioned a Gaelic Storm song “Kiss Me I’m Irish” to use as a musical St. Patrick’s Day card.
“Their music has such a broad appeal,” Spradlin said. “It’s not just for Celtic music fans. They really have a style that is all their own.”
According to the band’s website it describes Gaelic Storm’s music: “As many hundreds of thousands of record buyers and live music lovers know, Gaelic Storm is ‘a whirlwind ruckus’ (Village Voice) that tours over 200 days per year and play high-energy, foot-stomping, feel-good music. ‘Cabbage’ is further testament to the band’s contagious energy, combining influences from rock, bluegrass, Jamaican, African and Middle Eastern music that may surprise those expecting purely traditional Celtic music. The quintet’s new release once again showcases Gaelic Storms signature acoustic sound with a brand new batch of crafted story-songs and driving instrumentals.”
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 of Cork, Ireland and Steve Twigger of 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 of Pasadena, Calif., who has been a member of the band since 2003. Pipes and whistle player Peter Purvis of Ottawa, Canada, joined Gaelic Storm in 2004 and violinist Jessie Burns of 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.
“We are first and foremost a live band,” said Twigger. “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 power of their live performance is what impressed Spradlin the most.
Spradlin said, “I’d heard their recordings, and I’d seen a YouTube clip or two. But it wasn’t until they hit the stage at the Tornstrom last year that I fully understood what this band is about. They really are incredible musicians, and they give a great show. No wonder those fellows drove all that way from South Dakota to see them.”
“We made a promise to each other that the day we stop having fun, we stop,” Murphy said. “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.”
Gaelic Storm performs for one show only. Tickets are $25, $20 and $15, and are available from the Central Lakes College Theatre Box Office at 855-8199. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.clctickets.com and at the door on night of performance.