St. Patrick’s Day is still almost a week away, but in true Newfoundland style, we’re starting the celebrations early, with one of Ireland’s own musical families, no less.
The Harrington Brothers will perform with D’arcy Broderick and Middle Tickle for three shows over the next week: at the Holy Heart Theatre in St. John’s tonight, at the Sheila NaGeira Theatre in Carbonear Tuesday and at the Regional Arts Centre in Ferryland on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17.
Richard, Robert, Derek and Paul Harrington, born and raised in Dublin, have been singing together since they were children. After a tour of Canada in 1970, Derek decided to move to Toronto, while his brothers formed The Irish Travellers at home. While Derek performed with and arranged for the Jimmy Carton Band on this side of the pond, Richard, Robert and Paul — then just a teenager — sold out venues on their side.
After a two-month stint in Boston, Paul left the band and the Irish Travellers were no more.
Robert went on to have a successful career with other ballad groups. He passed away in 2003.
Richard left the stage to pursue a career as a master printer.
Paul, well-known in Ireland for winning the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest, has released a number of solo records — including last year’s “Songs,” containing covers of some of his favourite tunes, like Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are” and Lionel Richie’s “Easy” — and performed as a vocalist in the Michael Flatley production “Celtic Tiger.”
Derek, still living in Toronto, has produced several albums for Jimmy Carton and produced three award-wining CDs for the Irish Descendants.
The brothers came together to produce the album “Monto on the Rock,” recorded partly in St. John’s and partly in Ireland, in the early 1990s. Since visiting this province numerous times over the years and falling in love with it, the Harrington Brothers released another Newfoundland-inspired CD, “Cape Spear,” in 2010.
The CD was based on poems written by Derek’s friend Patrick Sullivan, also an Irishman living in Toronto.
“Patrick had a love for Newfoundland, and a particular love for Cape Spear,” Paul explained to The Telegram. “Lyrically, he’s very sharp. Derek took the poems on as a project to set them to music, and later on, I went out (to Toronto) to put some shape on some of the songs. Now, they’ve taken on a bit of a life here.”
Of the 14 tracks on the CD, most are written by Sullivan and Derek; some with the help of Paul. “Lovely Mary Ann,” which is receiving local airplay, was written by Sullivan with Derek, Paul and Richard, and two songs, “Sally Gardens” and “Bunclody” are traditional tunes, arranged by the Harringtons.
“It’s the first time I’d collaborated with either Derek or Richard on an original project, and it came together rather well and I’m delighted,” Paul said.
One of the songs on the album, called “The Ties That Bind,” could have been the title of the CD, he explained.
“That really explains the album more, because that’s the living thing, the collaboration: Irish people, Irish music and Newfoundland music,” he said.
Despite his many years of visiting Newfoundland and singing of its beauty, Paul admitted the closest he’s come to seeing Cape Spear for himself is a poster hung in the space where the band’s been rehearsing in St. John’s.
“In the years I’ve been coming out here on and off, I have managed to visit places like Bay de Verde and Bay Bulls; I’ve gone out on boats, whale watching, and, in fact, I might even be an honourary Newfoundlander: I did kiss a cod fish once,” he said with a laugh. “Alas, Cape Spear has eluded me, but now is the time to visit, for sure.”
Paul said the brothers are looking forward to performing with Middle Tickle and Broderick. The two bands mix well together, Paul reckons.
“I love (D’arcy’s) touch and he’s got such a gentle way about him. My brother Richard is quite a formidable force and has quite an Irish ballad singer presence. I’m probably at the other end of the scale, and Derek is somewhere in the middle. I would like to think the show will feature quite a contrast, and a lot of dynamic.
“I’m really looking forward to it. We’ve been rehearsing, and apart from having too much fun, it’s going really well. It’s shaping up really nicely. Hopefully people will come out and say hello.”
Tickets for The Harrington Brothers, D’arcy Broderick and Middle Tickle show at Holy Heart Theatre are $35 and are available by calling 579-4424, while tickets for the Carbonear performance are $34 and are available by calling 596-7529. Tickets for the Paddy’s Day show in Ferryland are $30 in advance and $35 at the door, and are available at Riverside Restaurant, Ferryland Foodland, or by calling the Southern Shore Folk Arts Council at 432-2052.
The Celtic Fiddlers, a group with more than a dozen members, ranging in age from 13 to 30, accompanied by piano, mandolin, tin whistle, bodhran, accordion, bouzouki, guitar and drums, are also starting their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations early with their “Celtic Gala” at St. Peter’s Parish Kelly Centre this evening at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets for the event are $30, and includes a three-course dinner theatre performance with a BYOB dance to follow. Tickets can be bought by calling 364-7193 or 745-0944.
The Fiddlers will continue their Paddy’s Day celebrations with a show at Bridie Molly’s at 1:15 p.m. Sunday, Elizabeth Towers Wednesday evening at 6:30 p.m. and Shamrock City Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m.