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Irish band brings house party to Crystal Lake

Published: Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 10:58 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 1:11 p.m. CDT
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CRYSTAL LAKE – Declan Quinn has lived in Ireland his entire life and has yet to see women dressed as if they are in “Lord of the Dance” skipping down the sidewalk or a leprechaun doing a jig.

Irish music carries misconceptions Quinn and his friends in Irish House Party have been shattering for years. And now, for the third time, Irish House Party will bring its award-winning presentation of traditional Irish music to Crystal Lake and the Midwest.

“People kind of think about Irish music in the whole stage show with dancers in costumes and wigs,” he said. “But really it’s very customary in Ireland for traditional Irish musicians to come together at house parties and share music. It’s how music is passed on. That’s the experience we wanted to bring.”

The intimate and interactive show features an ensemble of champion musicians on traditional Irish instruments, such as uilleann pipes, fiddles, button accordions and bodhrans.

Gerry Nolan, who plays guitar for the band, said the group aims to make the audience members feel as if they were at a house party, even bringing people on stage at times or having performers mingle in the crowd.

The permanent show in Dublin even features a couch and recliners to create a living room feel.

“We try to educate and entertain,” Quinn said. “Well, actually entertain and educate.”

The show has exploded in popularity, especially in Dublin where the nightly performance at the dinner-and-a-show venue has become a refuge from the entertainment at the “super pubs” that perpetuate the stereotypes Irish House Party wants to eliminate.

The band has even played with The Wanted, performing the hit song “Glad You Came” on Ireland’s most popular late-night show. Fusing the principles and framework of traditional music with modern music is one of the band’s features, Nolan said.

Local travel agent Diane Rowe was the key to America for Irish House Party, bringing them to Crystal Lake in 2012. Rowe said she fell in love with the band when serving as a travel guide for a trip to Dublin and offered them a place to stay if they came.

The next year when she went back to Dublin the band asked if the offer stood, and Crystal Lake soon became the unofficial home to Irish House Party. In its third year back, the band’s tour has grown to include stops in Chicago, Milwaukee and nearby St. Charles, among others.

The partnership has become so successful Rowe is now listed as the band’s official booking agent for all U.S. shows and still houses the band along with her friend Jill Fritz.

“They’ve truly become a family to me and they have built a nice fan base here in Crystal Lake, too,” Rowe said, adding the band recorded two songs in Crystal Lake for the next album. “The show is just so much fun and funny. You know the Irish have a great sense of humor.”

The band makes sure to have some fun while in the country as well. Quinn, who plays the Irish flute, said they go to Prairie Ridge High School each year to put on a workshop about Irish music and instruments for the students. The group also takes time to enjoy the local cuisine.

“We eat a lot of deep-dish pizza when we’re here,” he said. “It’s our favorite.”

The show is Friday at 8 p.m. at Raue Center for the Arts on 26 N. Williams St. in Crystal Lake. Tickets are $20.

If you go

What: Irish House Party, a Dublin-based band that plays traditional Irish music in the true style of a “house party” setting. They also use their traditional techniques to put an Irish spin on modern music.

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Where: Raue Center for the Arts, 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake

Cost: $20

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