When the Irish Rovers take the stage of the deCoste Performing Arts Centre on Sunday afternoon the audience may be asking, Wasn’t that a party?
The Advocate caught up with the Rovers’ George Millar for a Q&A in advance of their Pictou stop.
Q: This is your last world tour, what are some of the highlights from your touring career?
A: The travelling itself and meeting all of the different fans all over the world. We travelled extensively throughout New Zealand, Australia, Canada and America and just meeting the fans who keep coming back to see us year after year. You’d think they’d be sick of us by now but they keep coming back, and that’s definitely one of the highlights. And of course we’ve met many great guest stars over the years because of our television show — we’ve met the Johnny Cashes of the world, the Bobby Darins, Roger Miller, the Bee Gees, Andy Gibb … we’ve met an awful lot of great people and they’re just all regular people like we are, all really nice people to meet.
Q: What is/are your favourite song(s) to sing?
A: We could never not sing The Unicorn on stage or they’d probably lynch us! So The Unicorn is probably one of our favourite songs and each night we do it, we do it a little bit different and sometimes we even forget the words and make up new words. But we have fun with The Unicorn and any latest song that we’ve written or discovered that we’re starting to do on the new tour that becomes our favourite song because it’s fresh in our minds and it’s brand new and everybody has a wee bit of butterflies in their stomach when they sing it. In 1968 The Unicorn, this little song we used to sing, hit the world charts. The Beatles were number one and The Irish Rovers were number two and in number three was Strawberry Alarm Clock so to get into those lofty rock and roll charts with a little folk song like The Unicorn was absolutely amazing and probably one of the highlights of our career.
Q: This is not your first trip to the deCoste. What impresses you about this community and that venue?
A: The venue itself is a great place to play and the people who work there are very nice, and of course the fans who come out, they’re very in-tune with Celtic music — the Hector, the ship that landed there with all of the Scottish immigrants, and the avenue with all of the Scottish flags all up and down it — so it’s just a great Celtic feeling and they appreciate the music and we just appreciate playing for them.
Q: What is/are your most requested song(s) to perform live?
A: Everyone wants to hear The Unicorn of course and we will sing it for them every night. But they just like to hear some of the older material and we don’t mind doing the Black Velvet Band or The Orange and the Green and personally, we also like doing some of newer songs and we throw some of them in as well. And we’re always asked for Danny Boy which we don’t sing. I don’t think we have the voices to manage that song, that’s for some of the great Irish tenors like John McCormack or some of those boys.
Q: Anything else you’d like people to know?
A: Yes, this is our 137th year together (laughs) and we now have a brand new CD called Saints and Sinners and when the people see us on the stage they can decide which ones are the saints and which ones are the sinners. And I’ll be wearing a white shirt with a halo so that gives you a hint (laughs).
Visit theirishroversmusic.com for more news.
The Irish Rovers, on River Maine are, from left: Gerry O’Connor, Morris Crum, Davey Walker, Fred Graham, Sean O’Driscoll, George Millar, Ian Millar, (behind) Geoffrey Kelly. ( Hamish Burgess photo)