By Rhia Perkins
Can you claim Irish descendents? Or, would you rather see the band?
The second option is available Friday when the Irish Descendents play MacEwan Hall Ballroom. In the middle of a six-week national tour to promote their first album in three years, Blooming Bright Star, the Celtic band brings their music to land-locked cowboys here in Alberta.
"It’s a little bit different, because [our] line-up has changed," says vocalist Con O’Brien. "It’s a very tight, cohesive group. There’s a little bit of everything for our fans."
Recorded at Great Big Studios in St. John’s, Newfoundland, the album features a variety of local musicians, some involved in hundreds of recordings over the years.
"The level of maturity rubs off on all of us," says O’Brien. "We all came out of the studio experience feeling good."
All of the songs were written in a collaborative process and directed toward the lead vocal. O’Brien was reluctant to choose a favourite.
"I’m in love with all of them. But if I had to pick, I think it would be the last track–‘The Island.’"
The tour has been very successful so far; the Descendents have sold out shows in Toronto and will be playing every day for the next two weeks. Still, they’re especially looking forward to playing on St. Patrick’s Day.
"It’s always a lot of fun," he laughs. "Besides, during St. Patrick’s Day the band is kind of a sideshow, the focus is on having fun."
Playing concerts is one of the band’s favourite things, whether they play to 15,000 people at the G7 conference in Halifax or to 100 people in a small club in their hometown.
"We’ve had some brilliant nights," says O’Brien. "You have a lot of special shows."
Some of their favourite experiences have been on the festival circuit. Starting in June, the band hopes to play extensively in Canada and the U.S.
"We’ve been invited back to three-to-four of the major festivals in the States," he adds. "We hope that this will lead to invitations to new ones."
O’Brien is excited about the level of success Celtic music has enjoyed.
"Some of the bands out there have popularized it to an amazing level," said O’Brien. "With modern technology the way it is, there’s no stopping it. It’s never going to die now. The young people have started to identify with a part of their culture."