After 50 years of touring and entertaining, the Canadian folk group The Irish Rovers are conducting their 50th anniversary farewell tour, with a performance scheduled at the James Lumber Center for the Performing Arts at the College of Lake County in Grayslake at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 21.
The group's irrepressible Irish charm and delightful songs have captivated audiences since 1964. The Rovers' timeless hits, "The Unicorn," "Wasn't That a Party," "Lily the Pink" and many more strike a chord with fans of all ages. "Their songs have become anthems of revelry and joy among generation after generation of fans," said the Belfast Telegraph.
The Irish Rovers, which formed in Toronto, Canada in 1963, helped popularize Irish music around the world. The U.S. "Farewell to Rovin' Tour" kicked off in California, where in 1966 the lads performed for 22 sold-out weeks at The Purple Onion in San Francisco. After that came a record deal, their first world-wide hit "The Unicorn," and television appearances on "The Smothers Brothers Show," "Mike Douglas," "The Tonight Show" and many more.
The group's new triple-CD release "The Irish Rovers--50 Years" celebrates the band's 50th Anniversary. It features their greatest hits, including original recordings (some dating back as far as the debut album "First of The Irish Rovers") and several new original recordings, including "Raise a Glass to St. Patrick."
But after 50 years of touring, the band is ready to slow down. "Touring is a young man's game. We've had a grand craic and been at it a long time, but now we're leaving the road to the younger bands," says Rovers leader George Millar. "We will still be doing a CD now and again and we'll still be doing public appearances for festivals and things like that. We're getting away from the everyday grind." This final world tour takes the Rovers across the U.S., to New Zealand and Australia and across Canada later in 2014-15.
The Farewell to Rovin' lineup features George Millar, Wilcil McDowell, Sean O'Driscoll, Ian Millar, Morris Crum and Fred Graham as well as whistle/flute player Geoffrey Kelly and one of Ireland's most outstanding fiddle players Gerry O'Connor.
With the last few albums, the band enjoyed resurgence in popularity. With their last CD, The Irish Rovers made international headlines, particularly in Belfast where folks enjoyed the song "The Titanic," commemorating the 100th anniversary of its sinking. The title track, "Drunken Sailor," became a YouTube hit with multi-millions of views. Twenty-five years after their last Canadian television special, the Rovers returned to the small screen with two television specials in the last three years. "Home in Ireland," filmed along the northeast coast of Ireland and "The Irish Rovers Christmas," both broadcast nationally on PBS and the latter also broadcast nationally in New Zealand.
"Irish Rovers celebrate a bonny resurgence ... From the recent resurge in popularity of The Irish Rovers, it would seem the lads themselves have returned to their glory days, and are still charging," wrote The Morning Call.
After the CLC concert, band members will be in the lobby to meet fans and sign CDs and memorabilia. For more information, visit www.theirishroversmusic.com.
Single ticket prices: Regular $39/36/31; Senior/Staff/Alumni $38/35/30; CLC Student/Teen $16; Children $13. Prices include $1 JLC facility fee. The Box Office is open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 90 minutes prior to the performance. For tickets, call (847) 543-2300 or visit www.clcillinois.edu/tickets. Professional touring series performances make excellent group outings, and groups of six or more people are eligible for discounted ticket prices. Call group sales at (847) 543-2431 or email JLCgroupsales@clcillinois.edu for more information.