rockford illinois entertainment guide
Date: 08/18/2005
The Fenians - A Lil' Bit of Ireland Comes To Rockford
by Gary Hill

Looking for a great, fun Celtic rocking time, then Ireland's The Fenians are just what the doctor order. Oh, wait, they're not from Ireland, but rather from Orange County, California. It's easy to believe they call the Emerald Isle home, though. They are bringing their taste of Ireland via California to this year's On The Waterfront festival.

Listening to their music, though, it is readily apparent that there are other things going on in this melange of music than just Celtic sounds, though. Looking at the influences the various members of the band acknowledge, this observation becomes even more apparent. The list includes Irish based artist that one would expect like The Chieftains, The Clancy Brothers and The Clancy Brothers, but it certainly doesn't end there. There are jazz artists on show here (including Stan Getz, Spyro Gyra and John Coltrane), punk rockers (the big three - The Clash, The Ramones and The Sex Pistols among others), progressive rock and fusion acts (like Jethro Tull [with their Celtic leanings, this one is rather obvious], Weather Report and Frank Zappa), hard rockers (Van Halen, Cream and The Who) and a whole lot more. Showing even more diversity in their sounds their list includes such wide ranging musicians as George Strait, Neil Young, The Beatles, Elvis Costello, U2, Queen, Bob Marley and The Wailers, The Byrds, Bob Dylan and Ella Fitzgerald. Even hometown heroes Cheap Trick made the cut. The thing is, while many of these leanings aren't readily apparent a lot of the time, if you listen to the music of the group enough, chances are you'll find most of them here and there. The result is a musical soundscape that doesn't grow overly redundant with repeated listening.

I've had the chance to sample their latest three discs, and I can tell you that the wide range of sounds keeps them from being anything but boring. While you might not like everything this group does, they'll keep you entertained throughout. A few threads run through their sound, though and a strong love of fun is one of the big ones (second only to the Irish sound). Whether they are doing original pieces or reworking of traditional Celtic music, it's obvious that this is one group that knows how to enjoy music and that sense of fun carries through to the listener. In many ways their sound is similar to Celtic prog rockers (and fellow Californians) Tempest, but they seem to take the music with a bit more of a desire to induce smiles and chuckles than that outfit. They do share the instrumentality and musical integrity, though.

So, if you like your music with an Irish bent, and like to have fun, you should really check out The Fenians. For a preview pick up one of their CD's. From what I've seen they are all equally good. If you aren't ready to take that plunge, but still want to sample them, stop by their website In any case, be sure to come by the Ethic Stage on Sunday night to see this fine band (they play at 8:15). You'll dance, you'll laugh, but most of all, you'll have a good time.

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The Fenians
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