OSHAWA THIS WEEK: The Irish Rovers say good-bye in Oshawa
Posted on April 26th, 2016 at 7:00 pm
OSHAWA -- Before being asked, George Millar is quick to answer the question: how has this phenomenon known as The Irish Rovers lasted for half a century?
“I haven’t got a clue,” he says from Kingston.
He has more than that.
“We like each other and we like the music so there’s no reason it wouldn’t go on as long as it did,” says the co-founder and band leader.
The Canadian Irish folk group is in the midst of a lengthy farewell tour that will see them play through next year and into 2017. It’s not really good-bye for good: they will still perform at folk festivals and release the odd CD. But the day-to-day touring grind: airport, hotel, show, over and over again, is coming to an end. Slowly.
You can see the Rovers at Oshawa’s Regent Theatre on Nov. 22.
It’s been such a whirlwind that Millar plans on returning to some of the places the band has played, but with his wife, on vacation. You don’t see much of a city or country when you’re on tour and Millar says he’s going back to Australia and New Zealand and Paris.
The Irish immigrants played Celtic music when it wasn’t as popular as it became, and that’s what set them apart, Millar says.
“At first, we were so different,” he says, noting the folk era of the ‘60s was ending, symbolically when Bob Dylan strapped on an electric guitar.
And people liked the music. Even, Millar notes, if they didn’t understand the words. It’s like polka music, he says: you may not know what a song is about, but your toes are tapping anyway because it’s so infectious.
“I think our Irish songs are like that,” he says. “There’s always a nice bounce to it.”
Contributing to the band‘s popularity and staying power is that their music doesn’t cater to a certain age group, as people very young, very old and everywhere in between “like the feeling of a Drunken Sailor-type song,” Millar says.
The Irish Rovers were quickly made Canadian citizens when former prime minister Pierre Trudeau learned they were not since the Canadian government wanted them to be the country’s ambassadors at World Expos. The Rovers had their own TV shows and released a slew of albums over the years, full of rollicking tunes such as Wasn’t That A Party.
It will be a retrospective-type show in Oshawa as Millar says while the band has to play some new songs to keep on their toes, people will be expecting the favourites.
“People are paying for their tickets and you’ve got to keep them happy,” he reasons.
A happy band has longevity, he suggests, noting the band members and their wives and girlfriends recently spent a week’s vacation together at a castle and “it was spectacular.
“Make sure you like each other,” Millar offers to younger bands.
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