St. Patty's Day isn't for a few weeks, but Celtic-music aficionados can paint Madison green in advance thanks to Gaelic Storm's Feb. 19 concert at the Wisconsin Union Theater. Fans would probably celebrate the March 17 holiday in July if this jigging, ale-swigging five-piece requested it. Gaelic Storm devotees are a pretty dedicated bunch, and with reason: The band puts on a spectacular live show.
Singer and guitarist Steve Twigger says the group's performance chops come from a pure, unadulterated love for the stage: "We are first and foremost a live band," he says. "We got together to play music, to enjoy ourselves and enjoy being out with the audience."
Though the band make their physical home in Santa Monica, Calif., their spiritual home is somewhere between the pubs of Dublin and the green hills of Galway. They channel the musical history of these regions and the last-call antics that fuel storytellers and songwriters alike.
Plus, Gaelic Storm aren't afraid to be saucy; in fact, their shows depend on it. During their last tour, they performed "The Night I Punched Russell Crowe," a tune about the events that unfolded when the Aussie actor lit a cigarette in the smoke-free pub where the band was performing.
Saturday's performance will most likely feature "Just Ran Out of Whiskey," "Raised on Black and Tans" and other alcohol-themed story songs from the band's chart-climbing 2010 album, Cabbage. Concertgoers can even raise a glass to the musicians at this performance: Unlike most Wisconsin Union Theater shows, this one will feature a cash bar stocked with brewskis and wine. Just don't slosh on your neighbors.
Cabbage adds sounds from Africa and the Middle East to the band's tasty sonic stew, which infuses the sounds of traditional Irish instruments like uilleann pipes, fiddle and bodhrán with rock 'n' roll attitude. Also listen for hints of bluegrass and other Americana traditions inspired by the folk music of Ireland and Scotland. This melting pot is a tribute to America's heritage of culture-mixing.