Still Doing the Irish Folk Music Thing

By Marah J. Morrison

The local County Mayo Irish Band has been engaging in lively performances and pleasing their audiences for over 30 years. The band, formed in the early 1980s, entertains at festivals, Irish weddings and pubs.

Ted Miller, a singer and one of the founders of the band, said he was born to sing Irish songs. He studies Irish history and language in order to understand each song better.

Miller said he knows a substantial number of Irish ballads more than anyone else in the area, and one of the biggest fulfillments he gets out of being a part of this band is performing at large venues.

“Visiting Irish pubs in different places in the world is a lot of fun,” he said. “I’ve been to Irish pubs in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Slovakia, Poland, Costa Rica and Iceland.”

Miller said he enjoys working with other Irish musicians and each of the band members have performed in Ireland separately. He said when the band performed at the pub at Youngstown State University years ago, they had a jam session with a YSU alumnus.

“I’m going to be 70, and 20 years from now I’m probably not going to be playing Irish music,” he said. “I’d like to get other people interested in learning the songs and maybe set up some kind of jam session at YSU.”

Miller said there are not a lot of people in the area that play Irish music full time, and if anyone wants to get a flavor of the band, he recommends coming out to see them perform.

Bill Lewis, who plays banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddle and concertina in the band, said the band has played at numerous shows this year so far. He said last summer, the band played at a number of festivals as well.

“A lot of our shows and a lot of our engagements are private functions,” he said. “People hire us for family reunions and weddings. We do a lot of things like that.”

Lewis said the Irish folk music works best for the band and the phone keeps ringing for them.

Photo courtesy of Bill Lewis

“People still seem to like it,” he said. “We’ve been together for 36 years now and why it’s gone on all of these years, I don’t know. I think it’s a good mix of people and we all have fun when we get together.”

Lewis said there are people who came to see the band a long time ago who are now bringing their kids to their performances, and it makes him feel a little bit old, but it’s a neat thing to see.

“It’s a nice thing, it really is, and this music seems to have an appeal to not just older folks but young people, too,” he said. “Irish folk music is a lot of fun.”

Brad Campbell, vocalist who also plays the keyboard, harmonica and percussion in the band, said the best part about playing Irish music is that no matter where they play, whether it’s 10 a.m. or 10 p.m., there are always people out there having a good time.

“It’s kind of different from some of the other bands I play with because a lot of times when you’re a band and you’re in a bar it just seems like you’re background music,” he said. “With the Irish stuff, you get more audience interaction.”
To learn more about the County Mayo Irish Band, visit their website at http://www.countymayoirishband.com.

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