Ballymena Weekly Telegraph 1964 - Irish Rovers Digging out those old folk songs
Posted on May 1st, 2011 at 11:41 am
Ballymena Weekly Telegraph, Thursday, August 20, 1964
THE FOLK SINGING “BOOM” in the States and Canada has proved profitable for three young Ballymena men who form the nucleus of a popular, Toronto-based group who call themselves “The Irish Rovers.”
A few days ago I met one of the “Rovers,” Vic Marcus, who is holidaying at his mother’s home at Raceview, Broughshane, and he told me that although the group was less than a year old they had no shortage of bookings.
“We are only part-time at the minute, but hope to go full-time eventually. We play mainly in night clubs and coffee houses, doing an average of three nights a week. On occasions we do as many as six nights.”
Vic, who emigrated to Canada seven years ago, plays bass guitar in the five-man group and brothers Joe and George Millar, from Ballymena, plays harmonica and rhythm guitar.
The lead singer is a Belfastman, Jim Ferguson, and “odd man out” is banjo player Doug Henderson, who is Scottish.
Manager of the group needs no introduction, Bob Millar, who emigrated from the town 11 years ago. Bob was a founder member of Ballygarvey Accordion Band and he was also instrumental in starting up the Uslter Accordion Band of Toronto, which visited Ballymena two years ago.
“The Irish Rovers” came into being in November last year.
Said Vic: “We were all doing different spots in a variety show for charity and during the interval the five of us got together in a corner and began singing Irish songs. People seemed to like it so we stuck together ever since.”
The group’s repertoire consists mainly of Irish folk songs.
“We do a lot of Clancy Brothers numbers with a preference for the more rousing type of song,” Vic told me.
The popularity of folk music in Canada at the moment can by gauged from thethe fact that the group recently completed a two-week stint at the Royal Alexandra theatre and followed this up with a three night stand at the Port O’ Call, a high class motel.
The group has also taken part in folk song festivals, better known as Hootenany’s. “We often do floating Hootenany Shows on Lake Ontario,” says Vic. “The various groups and the audience got out on the lake in a show boat affair. It is a novel form of entertaiment and one which is proving very popular.”
Vic, who plays soccer for the Ballymena United F.C. of Toronto, has been given the task of collecting songs for the group while on holiday here.