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Gaelic Storm brings Celtic rock to Englert

BY JORDAN MONTGOMERY | FEBRUARY 16, 2012 6:30 AM

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In 1997, Gaelic Storm, then a small pub band, was hurled into the international spotlight. And at the time, band members feared going on a national tour would ruin their intimate relationship with their fans.

The Celtic band will perform at 8 p.m. today in the Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington St.

Admission ranges from $25 to $35.

Gaelic Storm was content playing shows in pubs around Santa Monica, Calif., where the band began. But everything changed when the group gained international attention after performing as the "steerage band" in the blockbuster film Titanic.

"The phone was ringing off the hook," Steve Twigger said. "We really didn't want to go on the road because we were having such a great time as a local band at the pub. We thought taking our show on the road would ruin us, so we very carefully tiptoed out there, trying different venues across the country."

The positive response to Gaelic Storm was overwhelming. The group has toured nationally since 1997, and it has ventured abroad to perform across France, the United Kingdom, and Japan.

Tonight will not be the first time the band has performed in Iowa City.

"It's going to be a packed house," said the Englert's Nathan Gould. "They are a really fun show, they have played here in the past, and Iowa City loved them. They put a unique and modern spin on traditional Irish music, and they get people dancing, which is always great."

Twigger attributes a portion of the group's success to the kind of Celtic rock they perform.

"We provide, accidentally I think, a middle ground," he said. "There are great bands out there, like Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys, that are a bit harder-edged. And there are great traditional and softer folk bands. We have all the energy of a rock show and all of the musicianship of a folk band. We get 4-year-olds, 80-year-olds, and blue-haired teenagers all at the same show."

Like most bands, the Gaelic Storm musicians say they do their best to create an experience that is the most fun for themselves and their audience. But there are some steps the band takes that most other bands don't.

"We sign autographs after every show no matter how long it takes," said Patrick Murphy. "And we invite the audience to the local pub, and we hang out with them after the show. If I had gone to see my favorite band, I would have loved to have a drink with them."

After 15 years of touring throughout the world and nine studio album releases, the band's outlook has remained the same.

"We made a promise to each other that the day we stop having fun, we stop," Murphy said. But every year we look back and go, 'Wow, that was a great year.' We just keep looking forward to the next year, because it keeps getting better and better."


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