TRAVERSE CITY— Northern Michigan will get a head start on its St. Paddy’s Day celebration when Irish — and Irish American — bands perform in separate venues around the area March 2-4.
“March is crazy,” said Jim Perkins, of Finvarra’s Wren, which is booked solid this time of year. The family-based band — a Detroit-area and North American Celtic festival favorite — plays at Mills Community House in Benzonia on Saturday, March 2, and at Sleder’s Family Tavern in Traverse City on Sunday, March 3.
Likely to be on its playlist are tunes from its 2012 album, “Dancing Mad In The Midnight Air,” recorded live at Ann Arbor’s The Ark.
Perkins credits the not-just-for-St. Patrick’s Day-anymore popularity of Irish traditional music in the U.S. to a better understanding of its many forms. Back when he was a young folk-turned-Irish pub player, he said, “people didn’t seem to know what traditional music was.”
“When they thought of Irish music, they thought of straight-ahead Irish pub drinking songs of the Clancy Brothers type. But it’s got a little of the edges rubbed off and it’s become smoother now,” he added.
He calls his band’s “very American” approach “Irish American traditional music,” or music listeners might associate with Irish country people.
“They call it kitchen music because they get together in the kitchen and play,” he said. “There it’s the center of social life in the homes or in Irish pubs. It’s social music.”
Not surprisingly, music also was the center of social life in Perkins and wife Cheryl Burns’ home. While the Farmington couple played together in the original Finvarra’s Wren — he on guitar and she on lap dulcimer and bodhran — their children danced with the group and learned to play their own instruments.