It’s still three weeks until St. Patrick’s Day and already, Irish eyes are smiling.
Green Music Center in Rohnert Park opens the season for music from the Emerald Isle on March 3 with “A Salute to Ireland,” a concert of Irish favorites like “Danny Boy” and “Toora, Loora Loorai,” sung by The Five Irish Tenors.
There’s more Irish music to follow with The Irish Rovers playing March 4 at the Uptown Theatre in Napa, and “Come Dance with Me in Ireland” scheduled for March 12, with storyteller and Celtic harpist Patrick Ball, at Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater.
On St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, Celeste Ray and the Celtic Legend Ensemble will perform in Santa Rosa at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, and Whiskey Tip in Santa Rosa will host its first “Fifty Shades of Green” celebration.
The Five Irish Tenors bring varied experience to their performances, from traditional Irish folk music to musical theater and even opera.
Embarking on their first major tour since they formed the quintet two years ago, the tenors look forward to reaching an international audience.
The current tour started in Florida and is set to move on throughout the South, the Northeast and Midwest, and on to Texas and California.
“We’re all over, singing the songs that hark back to our Irish history,” said George Hutton, one of the tenors. “A lot of people in the world feel a connection with Ireland.”
The singers travel so much now, singly and together, that they barely maintain permanent residences, but their group is based in Dublin, Ireland.
Troupe members Ciarán Kelly and Hutton took time to talk about their show by phone during a recent tour stop in Myrtle Creek, South Carolina.
“George and I grew up in a small city in the northwest of Ireland called Derry,” also known as Londonderry, Kelly said. “This is our first major tour of North America, so this is the first chance to show our stuff outside of Ireland.”
The program the quintet will perform at Green Music Center will be devoted entirely to traditional Irish music.
“It’s a collection of songs the audience will recognize, but there’s also some relatively new music in there,” Kelly said. “All of it will sound familiar, but it’s a new sound, with our harmonies and the way the music has been arranged.”
Just as the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day often gets more attention elsewhere than in Ireland, the country’s music also sometimes gets more attention beyond the nation’s borders.
“Our audience is actually bigger outside Ireland,” Kelly said. “We’re finding it’s easier to promote ourselves and do concerts across the world. There’s an obvious connection between Ireland and not just America, but other countries, because we have a history of emigration.”
Beyond that, Irish music tells a story, and everyone loves a good story.
“A lot of the songs were originally poems. Something we’re very keen to do in our performances is tell the stories in every song we do,” Kelly said.
“Unfortunately some of the stories are a bit depressing. We have songs about rebellions against the British that didn’t always turn out in our favor. But in the more upbeat numbers, there’s an element of fun. The general Irish personality comes through. We like to have a song, a dance and a drink.”
What: “A Salute to Ireland” with The Five Irish Tenors
When: 7:30 p.m. March 3
Where: Weill Hall at the Green Music Center, Sonoma State University, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park.
Admission: $35 and up
Information: gmc.sonoma.edu, 866-955-6040.
The Irish Rovers: 8 p.m. March 4, Uptown Theatre, 1350 Third St., Napa. $35-$65. 259-0123, uptowntheatrenapa.com.
“Come Dance with Me in Ireland,” with storyteller and Celtic harpist Patrick Ball: 7:30 p.m. March 12, Cinnabar Theater, 3333 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma. $15-$25 in advance; $20-$30 at the door. 763-8920, cinnabartheater.org.
“St. Patrick’s Day Concert, A Celtic Celebration’: Featuring Celeste Ray and the Celtic Legend Ensemble, 7:30 p.m. March 17, First Congregational Church of Christ, 2000 Humboldt St., Santa Rosa. $20. brownpapertickets.com.
“Fifty Shades of Green”: Music by Josh Windmiller, Ashley Allred and Rachel Lark, burlesque by Alexa Von Kickinface, Gold Town Burlesque, Matt Finish and Whiskeyed Hips, plus circus performers, storytelling and standup comedy. 8 p.m. March 17. $15 in advance; $20 at the door. brownpapertickets.com.
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