As summer classes come to an end, so does the Wednesday Summer Noon Concert Series. This year’s concert series featured music styles from around the Pacific Northwest and around the word. At noon on Wednesday, July 29, Gallowglass, a traditional Irish band, will close out the concert series on the Performing Arts Center plaza with the folk music of Ireland.
“The songs are generally filled with mirth and endless sadness,” said Jan Peters, one of the musicians in Gallowglass. “That’s the one thing I love about the music.”
Peters began his musical career as a blues musician, but once he discovered Irish music, he decided to take a break from blues and study traditional Irish folk music.
“On an emotional level, the tunes and the singing just really hit me and so it brings out the best of me as a musician and a singer,” Peters said.
A few years ago Peters took a trip to California where he said he was fortunate enough to meet two talented Irish musicians.
“They liked my response to the music, so I suddenly was given an opportunity to, for the first time, apply my musicality with two incredibly good traditional Irish players. I’d never had that opportunity before, and my love of my music just took over,” Peters said. “I had an instinct for it and they liked how I played right out the gate, so I proceeded to get a serious education, because [Irish music] is very difficult music to play.”
Gallowglass formed as a band one year ago on St. Patrick’s Day. Peters said the bands love for the style of music is what led to the formation of the band. When Gallowglass played Irish music together, they realized that they all like the same kind of material.
“We all liked it so much that I started booking it and we have been actively gigging in the area since a year ago May,” Peters said.
Peters said working with fine players like the musicians in Gallowglass really motivates him to work his hardest, because playing this style of music feels good and is endlessly challenging.
Gallowglass is an Anglicized Gaelic word that means foreign mercenary. The Gallowglass was a clan of people that were northern Scots mixed with Nords, and they were incredibly fearsome warriors. When the Gallowglass clan was forced out of northern Scotland they went to Ireland and worked as mercenaries for the Irish nobility. Once gunpowder was created, the Gallowglass’ jobs became almost obsolete but they became known in Irish culture as trustworthy people. Peters said they decided to use the name of the Gallowglass clan as their band name because like the Scottish mercenaries, they are available for hire and can be trusted to show up and do their work well.
If you are interesting in hearing more Irish folk music, every Monday at Boundary Bay Brewery from 5 to 8 p.m. is an open Irish music session followed by a feature act from 8 to 9:30 p.m.