Dorians: Celtic Traditions for Saint Patrick’s Day
Some things are Saint Patrick’s Day musts. Must wear green to avoid pinches. Must enjoy Irish customs and possibly down a dyed lager at a local watering hole.
And another is seeing the Dorians play at Pinch Penny Pub.
That long-standing Saint Patrick’s Day celebration continues with the Dorians performing Friday, March 17 at Pinch. In addition to music by the Dorians, who will play dance music from the Celtic traditions of Ireland and Scotland as well as related tunes from England and North America, Pinch’s menu will feature authentic Irish cuisine.
The current members of the Dorians have been performing together since 1990. The group includes Bryan Kelso Crow on vocals, flute, whistle, and keyboard; Mickey Soltys on fiddle and guitar; Mike Shanahan, who plays the guitar and cittern; and Elana Floyd-Kennett, who sings and plays keyboards and several percussion instruments, including the Irish goatskin drum, or bodhrán, and the djembe.
Crow, a native of Tennessee, said he had never heard of Celtic music until he was in college. He took a trip to Ireland in 1978 and was immediately hooked.
“I learned to play the tin whistle there,” he said. “And then, a few years later, I learned how to play the traditional wood flute, which is similar, except the finger positioning is across and not downward.”
Crow is professor in the Irish Studies program at SIU. He is also a member of the coordinating committee for the Southern Illinois Irish Festival and taught as an exchange professor at the University of Ulster, which is located outside Belfast.
In 1991, Crow launched Celtic Connections as a local radio program on WSIU 91.9 FM, and in July 1996, it was picked up for national syndication. The program can now be heard on more than one-hundred public-radio stations across the country.
Crow cofounded the Dorians with Shanahan, who has studied guitar with Dáithí Sproule, Zan McLeod, and Jed Foley.
The band’s repertoire includes humorous ballads, traditional love songs, and tunes about history and politics. Floyd-Kennett said they have also thrown a few new Americana folk songs into the setlist. Much of the band’s instrumental repertoire features Scottish and Irish reels and jigs as well as slower, melodic tunes.
The group has played all across the region, including stops in Saint Louis, Springfield, Peoria, Champaign, Murphysboro, and Memphis. The Dorians have also performed at the Alaskan Highland Games in Anchorage, and the band was a featured act during the Great Performers of Illinois concert in Chicago.
Floyd-Kennett said she can credit the Dorians’ longevity to how much the band enjoys what they do.
“We like the kind of music we perform,” she said. “That’s the cement of it, I’d say.”
The Saint Patrick’s Day show is a rare, guaranteed day to hear the group play.
“We only play out two or three times a year,” Floyd-Kennett said. “For some, everybody’s Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day. And others, it is because they want to come out and see us.”
Crow said the show will bring its eclectic mix of high energy and tradition.
“It’s lively and you can dance to it,” he said.
For those who wish to continue celebrating Ireland into the weekend, the Murphysboro Chamber of Commerce will hold the annual Saint Patrick’s Celtic Celebration Saturday, March 18 with a five-kilometer walk/run, an Irish-stew cookoff, a parade, and a bags tournament. Festivities conclude with a bocce tournament Sunday, March 19.
For the full schedule, or for entry forms for the walk/run, ride, parade, or tournaments, call the Murphysboro Chamber of Commerce at (618) 684-6421 or log on to <http://www.MurphysboroChamber.com>.
what: Saint Patrick’s Day bash (Irish/Celtic music)
where: Pinch Penny Pub
when: Friday, March 17