Possible second performance
How beloved are the Irish Rovers in the Maritimes? Well in advance of their performance on Sunday, Oct. 13 at Th’YARC, the show sold out.
If enough interest is shown for a second performance (200 names required) the theatre may be able to book an additional show.
The band is retiring from roving in 2015, finishing up 50 years on the road. That’s an extraordinarily long time for a group to stay cohesive. Musicians don’t always get along with one another.
George Millar, who first played as an Irish Rover in 1963, comments on that problem.
“I’ve always found that to be a shame,” he said.
“Whether you’re in Celtic, or Country music or Rock ‘n Roll, you get these great groups coming out and they get a hit or two and then all of a sudden they’ve broken up because they have musical, philosophical differences.
“I’m saying to myself, couldn’t they have figured that the hell out before they started?”
Liking each other, respecting the music and each other is crucial. He compares it to a marriage.
“You’re together on the road for six weeks and maybe one morning you might say good morning and one of the others might growl at you. So you sort of give them space. Everybody’s not in the same jolly mood every morning. You have to learn when to back off a wee bit or when to get firmer with each other.”
Millar says he loves coming back to the Maritimes and is pleased to see more young people picking up the fiddle.
He sees the music as infectiously happy and upbeat.
“You can’t help but clap your hands, stomp your feet or have a bit of a smile on your face. That’s the secret of Celtic music,” he said.
During the 1970s, the Irish Rovers hosted CBC's, The Irish Rovers Show, which ran for six seasons.
In the 80s, the group hosted several "Super specials" for CBC and also starred in their second national television series, The Rovers Comedy House, a seven-part CBC series of Irish music and comedy.
From 1984 to 86, The Rovers starred in their third television series, Party with the Rovers.
Millar laughs when the TV series are brought up, saying that he feels sorry for the people of the Maritimes in some ways.
“Because they had to watch the Irish Rovers. There was only one channel. You had to watch us, and then the Beachcombers and Disneyland.
“We definitely had a built-in audience,” he said.
The Unicorn was one of many hits for the band. The lyrics are buried deeply in the minds of many. Millar says it’s one of those magical little songs, like Puff the Magic Dragon by Peter, Paul and Mary.
“Those types of songs will be here 100 years from now. I can see people sitting around a campfire singing them but I don’t think they’ll be singing too many rap songs, mind you.”
He says he’s looking forward to playing at Th’YARC.
“At the end of the night, if they’re whistling the Drunken Sailor, then I think I’ve done my job properly.”
The Irish Rovers will also be playing in the United States, Australia and New Zealand on their farewell tour.
The band is bringing Celtic Radio host Hamish Burgess with them to gather Maritimes music for his radio show that broadcasts worldwide on the web.
Those interested in Irish Rover tickets ($43.50) for a second show, call Th’YARC at 902-742-8150.