Irish Rovers coming to Keswick

The Ir­ish Rovers are on the road with their Farewell to Rov­in’ tour. They’ll be stop­ping one last time at the Keswick Theatre in Glen­side on March 11 at 7:30 p.m.

For 50 years, the Ir­ish Rovers have been cher­ished as in­ter­na­tion­al am­bas­sad­ors of Ir­ish mu­sic with three tele­vi­sion series and 15 al­bums be­hind them, and just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, the Rovers are on the road with their Farewell to Rov­in’ tour. They’ll be stop­ping one last time at the Keswick Theatre in Glen­side on March 11 at 7:30 p.m.

“When we first star­ted the group, we nev­er gave any thought to fame or for­tune,” says George Mil­lar, the group’s co-founder, who was born in North­ern Ire­land. “When I met Jimmy (Fer­guson), who had also emig­rated from North­ern Ire­land, I was just 16 and we’d play to­geth­er on the week­ends just for fun. But one week­end we made $25 and I thought we had it made.”

But then, says Mil­lar, 67, the pay got bet­ter and there were more and more jobs. “But we nev­er had any great or long-range plans. We just liked hanging out and hav­ing fun, which is why we’re prob­ably still do­ing it. All the band mem­bers en­joy each oth­er and the mu­sic that we’re play­ing.”

Today, the present lineup of George Mil­lar, John Reyn­olds, Wileil Mc­Dow­ell, Ian Mil­lar, Sean O’Driscoll and Fred Gra­ham con­tin­ues to tour Canada, the United States, Aus­tralia and New Zea­l­and.

Still cap­tiv­at­ing audi­ences since 1964, even touch­ing three gen­er­a­tions of mu­sic lov­ers, is prob­ably due to sev­er­al things, says Mil­lar. “First of all, it’s the mu­sic it­self. Ir­ish mu­sic is so up­beat that people love to clap their hand, sing along and tap their toes. I also think Riverd­ance made great in­roads for Ir­ish mu­sic in gen­er­al.”

Get­ting back to Ire­land as of­ten as pos­sible, Mil­lar says the band’s Ir­ish folk mu­sic is not too pop­u­lar over there where coun­try mu­sic and the mu­sic of the Beatles are heard more of­ten.

“We play tra­di­tion­al mu­sic, some of which is over 300 years old. We spruce them up a bit for Amer­ic­an audi­ences, and Ir­ish pur­ists might not think we’re very pure at all. But I would dis­agree,” he said.

An­oth­er thing Mil­lar dis­agrees with is mak­ing polit­ic­al state­ments from the stage. He says, “We’ve nev­er been a polit­ic­al band. We don’t get in­to the troubled stuff a lot. In fact, my idea has al­ways been that the stage is not for polit­ic­al plat­forms. You are there to en­ter­tain people, and that’s just what we do.”

And they ob­vi­ously do it well. With scores of hit re­cords to their cred­it, the ma­gic mu­sic­al jour­ney con­tin­ues with the re­lease of The Ir­ish Rovers 50 Years, a triple CD with more than 70 songs, in­clud­ing their greatest hits span­ning their il­lus­tri­ous ca­reer, pho­tos from long ago, the his­tory of the band, and 13 new re­cord­ings avail­able at all their shows this year.

And today, Mil­lar, a pro­lif­ic song­writer, says, “We still have a won­der­ful time be­ing to­geth­er. I think the com­rade­ship we feel for each oth­er is one of the main things that keeps us to­geth­er. It’s like a good mar­riage. You learn to get along and like each, and you also learn when to back off if someone is not in a good mood.

“And last but cer­tainly not least is our fan base,” he con­cludes. “They have been won­der­ful to us all these years, and per­form­ing live in front of them is a big part of our suc­cess and our joy. I’ll miss that but I know we’ll still be around some­where. So keep an eye out.”

For tick­et in­form­a­tion, call 215-572-7650. ••

You can reach at .

comments powered by Disqus