The Orem Library will host Utah County’s Celtic Ensemble in honor of Saint Patrick’s Day on Wednesday, March 11.
The group An Rogaire Dubh will celebrate the holiday by sharing traditional Irish music, dancing and culture.
The group was founded by musician Joe Perry. Perry has Irish roots and developed a profound interest in traditional Irish music, especially the bagpipes. Although he wasn’t aware of his roots until later in life, Perry found that playing music was a way he could connect to his heritage.
“I was adopted and never knew my actual DNA until I started searching for my birth mother to let her know I turned out OK,” Perry said. “I never found her, but the file from the adoption agency had some interesting information. It said father 100 percent Irish, mother’s ancestry Irish, English and French.”
Perry isn’t the only one that feels a connection to his heritage through the music, either. John Gay, a member of the band for the past four years, also finds that music is how he connects with his roots.
“Irish music brings people happiness. When I play or listen to traditional Irish music I feel like I’m getting in touch with my roots, and it’s just an absolute blast,” Gay said. “My favorite thing about preforming is bringing that same happiness and kinship I feel into lives of other people.”
Collin Jensen, another group member, has an Irish ancestor but doesn’t consider himself Irish by blood. Rather, Jensen became interested in the culture after hearing a pipe band perform at a Fourth of July celebration several years ago. After the performance, Jensen began taking lessons from Perry and later joined the band.
“Several months after joining the pipe band, a few musicians in the pipe band would gather before practice started and would bring instruments to jam out to Irish music,” Jensen said. “I’ve always liked Celtic music, so I bought a $15 Irish whistle at a music store and joined in.”
Regardless of their reasons for joining the band, Joe Cammeron, a member himself, believes that each person brings something special to the table. Some members play the bagpipes, some the Irish whistle ,and Cammeron plays the Irish button box, similar to an accordion.
“Every instrument plays a little different, but when they come together it creates synergy. It’s just really cool,” Cammeron said.
The group has performed all over the state and has done several performances at the Orem library and the Central Utah Gardens. It has also performed at the Covey Center for the Arts and the Gateway Mall. Occasionally, the group also performs at weddings, Cammeron’s favorite venue.
Although the subgenre is one that not many people are familiar with, Jensen is determined to spread the love of Irish music to others and share his passion for it.
“My favorite thing about performing is probably getting other people to realize how awesome Irish music is,” Jensen said. “I love seeing the crowd rock out to our music and spreading the ‘Irish Bug’ wherever I can. Irish music is just so fun, emotional and easy to relate to. Anyone can enjoy it — whether you have no musical talent or knowledge at all or whether you’re a classically trained professional.”