Online Staff Report
MONROE, Wis. — After five decades of touring, the Irish Rovers return to the United States with wit, a wink and a smile in their 2014 “Farewell to Rovin’” worldwide tour. Although they are bidding the road goodbye, audiences will have a chance to experience the Irish Rovers’ irrepressible Irish charm and songs that have captivated audiences since 1964.
As one of the most successful and enduring of all Irish folk bands, the Irish Rovers have become cherished music icons, touched three generations of music lovers, and brought Ireland into North American living rooms with their three television series that have spanned over 20 years. They will appear live in concert in Monroe, Wis., at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 22, at the Monroe High School Performing Arts Center, 1600 26th St. The Monroe Arts Center (MAC) is proud to be the only presenter bringing the Irish Rovers to Wisconsin.
It has been a long and magical journey for these Irish lads, and the magic keeps on coming. The last few years, the Rovers have returned to television, sold out concert tours, returned to the radio airwaves, and have garnered rave reviews for their recent Gracehill Fair, Drunken Sailor and Home In Ireland albums. Because of YouTube, their “Drunken Sailor” song received more than 10,000,000 hits, attracting the attention of a new, younger audience and are being touted in the press as “Internet sensations.” Other well-known Rover hits include “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer,” “The Unicorn Song” and “Wasn’t That A Party.” The excitement around the Rovers these days confirms their music continues to hit a chord with fans of all ages.
All the band members hail from Ireland; however, the Irish Rovers were formed in Toronto, Canada. George Millar and his cousin Ian Millar are both from Ballymena, original member Wilcil McDowell is from Larne, Sean O’Driscoll is from Cork, and bodhran player Fred Graham is from Belfast. Joining the Rovers on their Farewell To Rovin’ Tour are multi-instrumentalist Morris Crum from Ireland, Canadian whistle and flute player Geoffrey Kelly (from Spirit of the West folk/rock band), and one of Ireland’s most outstanding fiddle players, Gerry O’Connor from Dundalk, Ireland. They all regularly play on Rovers recordings or tours.
The band agrees that it’s the love of the music and respect for each other that has kept the music coming. “We still get those little nervous butterflies in our stomach before we go on and probably that’s what keep you going, and it’s the little bit of an edge that you need, otherwise you become blasé,” said Rovers leader George Millar. “But touring is a young man’s game. We’ve had a grand craic and been at it a long time, but now we’re leaving the road to the younger bands. We will still be doing a CD now and again and public appearances for festivals and things like that. We’re getting away from the everyday grind.”
Their 2014 release, The Irish Rovers 50 Years, is noted to be the ultimate Irish Rovers collection. This triple compact disc contains more than 70 songs, including a whole CD of new material, greatest hits from 50 years, Rovers singing with their younger selves, earliest recordings, latest recordings, photos from long ago, learning the history of the band from one masterpiece of a cover, and more surprises.
If you’ve been waiting to see this iconic band, wait no longer. Reserved seat tickets for The Irish Rovers are $50, $35, $25 and $20. Tickets may be purchased in person at the box office at 1315 11th St., Monroe, Wis., by calling the Monroe Arts Center at (608) 325-5700 or 888-596-1249, or online at www.monroeartscenter.com.
Posted Feb. 19, 2014