‘Rovers’ storm Kent one final time


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Katherine Nix

The Irish Rovers made a stop at the Kent Stage as part of the band’s farewell tour on Friday, March 7 and played to a sold out crowd.

The Toronto-based, Irish-born band has been touring for more than fifty years and this was their second performance in Kent, with the first time in 1970 just after the May 4 shootings.

“I had seen PBS specials but not a live performance,” said Tom Simpson owner of the Kent Stage. “Their concerts are huge Irish music love-fests.”

The Irish Rovers include George and Ian Millar, both from Ballymena, Wilcil McDowell from Larne, Sean O’Driscoll from Cork, Fred Graham from Belfast, Geoffrey Kelly from Dumfries, Scotland, Morris Crum from Belfast and Gerry O’Connor from Dundalk.

George Millar said the band pays tribute to traditional Irish groups like the Clancy Brothers and the Chieftans, but he is also a fan of the newer Irish bands such as Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys.

“These groups have added a touch of rock and roll to traditional Irish music,” Millar said. “I think it’s great to see and hear the music keep going and change to appeal to a new generation.”

The band is ending their touring days due to the difficulties touring presents, said public relations manager Jennifer Fahrni.

“The daily slog of the tour takes it out of you,” Fahrni said. “It’s really a treat when you can spend more than one night in a hotel before moving on. These guys have been doing it for years, and I mean long tours. Right now we’re on the road for 2 months before we break.”

Touring was easier when the band was younger but they did not like being away from their kids so much, Fahrni said.

The band is finishing up in the US before heading to New Zealand in the fall and then beginning their final stint across Canada.

“Ireland and the UK are also calling,” Fahrni said. “So who knows? It keeps growing.”

However, just because the band is no longer touring does not mean they are going to stop making music and performing.

“They’re not retiring by any means,” Fahrni said. “Just putting an end to the daily grind of touring. After it’s wrapped up at the end of 2015 they’ll be available for big shows, corporate events and festivals. Who knows? Maybe Vegas will call.”


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The band just released the album “The Irish Rovers: 50 Years,” a triple CD compilation, on March 4 which includes songs from the band’s first album released in 1966 as well as new songs including a tribute to St. Patrick, “Raise a Glass to St. Patrick.”

“St. Patrick embodies something of the Irish people themselves who have spread throughout the world and brought with them that tenacity, that undying affection for their green land and that love of the craic, dance and song,” said songwriter Colin Magee in a press release. “I can’t think of anyone better than The Irish Rovers to deliver that message.”

The album also includes a tribute to “Titanic.”

“Being from Northern Ireland and born on April 14, the legend of the Titanic has been with me all my life,” Millar said. “It took the labour of 15,000 Irishmen to build her – she was the pride of Belfast.”

Millar said the band members remember what got them started — the music — and that is what has kept them together since the 1960s.

“Don’t let your ego get the best of you,” Millar said. “Keep playing.”

Contact Katherine Nix at [email protected].