Bruce Springsteen is my favorite musical artist, and I have been fortunate to see him in concert several times. I have many other favorite musical acts – including The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Billy Joel, Tim Moore, The Killers, Jimmy Buffett, and Cat Stevens, to name just a few.
But the other night we got to see Gaelic Storm at the Grand in Wilmington, and I would have to rank them as my second most favorite group, right behind Bruce. This is the second time we got to see this phenomenal Celtic band – they put on a free show last summer under the stars, and as I wrote at the time, it was the best night of the summer.
The band plays an eclectic mix of traditional Irish songs, songs about drinking (I realize there’s a good deal of overlap between those two categories, and many of their songs have a humorous side to them. They also play a wide variety of instruments, and their instrumental songs are a joy to listen to. They play with an obvious love of what they are doing, and that love is infectious.
And just like there are Deadheads and Parrotheads, Gaelic Storm has its Storm Chasers, a loyal and enthusiastic following of fans who help to promote the band and sell its merchandise at its shows.
I have included some videos of the band performing below, but first let me share some background on Gaelic Storm, courtesy of Wikipedia:
Gaelic Storm’s origins can be traced back to 1996, when Patrick Murphy and Steve Wehmeyer joined with Steve Twigger and Uillean piper Brian Walsh to perform at O’Brien’s Irish Pub and Restaurant in Santa Monica, California, of which Murphy was the manager. This led to a number of pub performances for the next year.
In 1997, Gaelic Storm appeared in the film Titanic as the steerage band, performing “An Irish Party in Third Class”. This appearance catapulted them into the touring scene; their performances were met with critical praise and popularity. They have toured throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Japan.
Gaelic Storm continues to tour aggressively, playing over 125 days year. The group has released eight albums since its inception. The band is known for their energetic renditions of traditional Irish music and Scottish traditional music, and for their albums which consistently top the Billboard world music charts.
Gaelic Storm features:
- Patrick Murphy (Accordion, Spoons, Bodhrán, Harmonica, Lead Vocals) moved to the United States after his studies in University College Cork. He served as a manager of O’Brien’s Irish Pub and Restaurant in Santa Monica, California.
- Steve Twigger (Guitar, Bouzouki, Mandolin, Lead Vocals) was born in Coventry, England. In 1986 he met a singer/songwriter from Boston and formed an alternative pop band Woodies. After moving to California, he worked in Los Angeles designing movie posters for the Hollywood studios. He then met Murphy in 1996.
- Ryan Lacey (Djembe, Doumbek, Surdo, Cajón, Ukulele, Vocals, Various Percussion) is a two-time graduate of the Los Angeles Music Academy, first for hands and then for sticks.
- Pete Purvis (Highland Bagpipes, Uillean pipes, DegerPipes, Whistle) is from Merrickville, Ontario. Pete is a Grade 1 piper who toured with award-winning pipe bands including the Braemar Pipe Band and played at 2000 Sydney Olympics).
- Kiana Weber (Fiddle, Vocals, Mandolin) is from Chelsea, Michigan.
OK, so on to the videos.
The first one is a live version one of my favorite songs, although it was not played the other night. It’s about the time Patrick Murphy, the lead singer, punched Russell Crowe in the head. It’s a pretty funny song.
That is followed by an amazing Lego stop animation of the Russell Crowe song. I can’t imagine the number of hours it must have taken to create the video, but it is well worth watching, for both the song and the Lego animation.
Next up is “Don’t Go for the One” about a guy who had one too many and had to face the wrath of his wife when he got home. He has quite the clever excuse, as you will see.
I then found an animated version of this song as well, which is the next video. I wonder if Storm Chasers are responsible for these animated versions of some of the band’s songs.
The final video is meant to just give you a sense of their music playing chops; the video features amazing percussion work, a bagpipe, a fiddle, an accordion, and bodhráns. And a little bit of Irish dancing to boot.
I’m already looking forward to when I can see them again; maybe by that time I’ll be an official Storm Chaser.
If you’re interested in seeing Gaelic Storm, here is a link to their touring schedule.