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Gaelic Storm ready to kick up heels at the Englert Theatre in Iowa City
25 years after ‘Titanic’ and 2 years after COVID, Celtic band back on tour
Steve Twigger's hair-trigger temper went off in March of 2020. Gaelic Storm’s vocalist-guitarist was flipping out since shows were being canceled because of the coronavirus.
He compared COVID to the Dr. Seuss tale, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
“The (expletive) virus is stealing Christmas from Irish bands,” Twigger said at the time. “March is Christmas for Irish bands, and what’s happening now can’t be worse. I hope we can play the Englert. I hope they don’t take that away from us.”
That concert and performances in front of audiences were taken away from Gaelic Storm — and recording artists around the world — the rest of 2020 and much of 2021.
If you go
What: Gaelic Storm
Where: Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington St., Iowa City
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 4, 2023
Tickets: $34 to $39.50; englert.org/events/
Band’s website: gaelicstorm.com/
“I remember so well how bad it got,” Twigger recently said by phone from his home in Austin, Texas. “We were about to play our last shows of that year in Chicago. I remember calling you from there hoping that we would be able to play Iowa City, but it wasn’t in the cards.”
Gaelic Storm didn’t perform in front of an audience for 18 months.
“But we made the best of it,” Twigger said. “I turned my house into a television studio. We did livestreams and we connected that way with our fans. We did a lot of free shows and we did three ticketed concerts that were very successful. We kept it going. I had no idea how we would accomplish that, but we did.”
Gaelic Storm — which also includes vocalist-accordion player Patrick Murphy; djembe, doumbek, surdo and ukulele player Ryan Lacey; pipes player Peter Purvis; and fiddler Natalya Kay — finally is returning to the Englert Theatre on Saturday night, March 4, 2023. In a way, time has frozen for the band, since the core of the group is intact and the most recent album recorded by the act remains 2017’s “Go Climb a Tree.”
“We haven’t moved on and completed an album, but we have a lot of material already,” Twigger said. “We were working on an album during the pandemic but we shelved it.
“We’re dusting off the material we have, but there’s no super rush to put out a new album. We have so much music that we can play over 10 hours worth of songs. We’ll play some favorites and hit fans with all sorts of tracks.”
Gaelic Storm is adept at crafting offbeat, amusing and fiery tunes, such as the amusing “The Night I Punched Russell Crowe.”
“That song, like a lot of our tunes we write, comes from something that really happened,” Twigger said. “Murphy was a bartender in Santa Monica. A lot of movie stars would come into this Irish pub he worked at. Anyway, there was no smoking. Russell Crowe was there. He lit up a cigarette and wouldn’t put it out. Crowe got kicked out by Murphy and punches were thrown.”
Gaelic Storm’s blend of Celtic and Scottish music ranges from the traditional to the contemporary. The band’s tunes run the gamut from incendiary rave-ups to tender ballads.
“I like the barnburners and I also like the slower songs since I sing most of those (the latter),” Twigger said. “It’s about balance, and I think we bring a lot of balance to the table.”
Gaelic Storm had quite a start, since the band appeared as the revelers performing in steerage in “Titanic,” one of Hollywood's biggest blockbusters that has been making the rounds of Corridor theaters again to mark its 25th anniversary.
“That was really cool,” Twigger said of the film. “But it was so long ago. It was certainly an experience.”
Twigger is thrilled the world is back to relative normal and his band can once again perform and not worry about dates being canceled.
“I don't take anything for granted anymore,” he said. “Things look good now, but you never know what tomorrow will bring. I’m just grateful that we’re playing all of these great venues again, like the Englert.”