If you head out to hear The Irish House Party Friday, March 1 at Raue Center for the Arts in Crystal Lake, musician Declan Quinn promises one thing.
“Once you are inside the theater you will experience the real warmth and fun of a traditional Irish house party. It’s the perfect antidote, I’d say, to a rough winter,” Quinn said.
Quinn – who sings and plays Irish flute and tin whistle – is one of the founding members and producers of The Irish House Party, which runs nightly in Dublin.
“Originally, a traditional Irish house party was associated mostly when people were emigrating from Ireland. A lot of these people would have been heading to America,” Quinn said. “Neighbors and friends would call to the house the night before the departure. A meal would be had, tunes would be played, songs would be sung and dances would be danced on the stone kitchen floor.”
These parties were great fun and the coming together and sharing of music, song and dance has always been an integral part of Irish tradition. They are one of the main reasons that Irish music, song and dance have survived so strong to the present day, Quinn said.
“The Irish House Party show recreates this atmosphere. When the show begins, you really feel as if you are at a proper Irish House party. You are entertained by All Ireland champion performers and also get to experience our indigenous Irish instruments such as the Uilleann pipes and bodhran. It’s a very interactive show, and the audience will enjoy the banter,” Quinn said.
The upcoming appearance at the Raue will be the sixth time The Irish House Party has played the northwest suburban venue. It will be be acts’ only Chicago area appearance during March, otherwise known as St. Patrick’s season.
“We have really built up close ties with the people at the Raue, and we always say it is like our second home,” Quinn said. “There is such a strong connection between a lot of people in the Midwest and with Ireland, but we have also made so many friends with people who have no connection at all with Ireland but still love the music and dancing.”
Heading to the Chicago area has left another impression on the act, per having been here for the polar vortex winter a few years back.
“We had never experienced snow like that before. I remember being very impressed with the how it didn’t bring Chicago to a standstill,” Quinn said. “Lots of people still made it out to our gigs, and I remember seeing snow plows everywhere on the roads. I think we only have two snow plows in total in Dublin.”
Still, being from Ireland, Quinn is no stranger to the wicked ways of Mother Nature.
“We once performed at a music festival on the Aran Islands. These are small Islands off the west coast of Ireland,” Quinn said. “Some of your readers might be thinking cocktails, palm trees and pina coladas, but these islands are basically just rocks. It poured rain the whole time, although the five sheep who managed to brave the weather seemed to enjoy our concert.”
While they might not play to sheep in Crystal Lake, The Irish House Party also will be heading to Prairie Ridge High School during the day March 1 to present workshops on Irish music to students.
This will be the fifth time Irish House Party members have led such sessions at the school. Quinn said live music is a great way to get students’ creative energy flowing and fuel their enthusiasm for the learning process, while providing a break from regular schoolwork.
“With all the commercial, same-sounding music on the radio these days, it is great to go into a school to perform traditional Irish music. Many students have never seen instruments such as the Uilleann pipes or bodhran, and it is very rewarding to give them a little bit of background or show them some simple Irish dancing steps,” he said.
Joining Quinn for The Irish House Party show in Crystal Lake will be Dubliners Eugene Quinn on guitar, vocals and bodhran and Tommy Martin on Uilleann pipes; champion Irish step dancer Shannon Zofkie, who was 2017 South Side Irish Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Queen; and fiddler Kevin Buckley, who hails from St. Louis and who frequently plays at that city’s premier pub, John D. McGurk’s.
Raue Center for the Arts is located at 26 N. Williams St., Crystal Lake. The Irish House Party show there March 1 begins at 8 p.m., and tickets start at $20. For more information and to buy tickets see http://www.rauecenter.org.