- Gaelic Storm
Pat Murphy spent three years drinking (his own admission) at the bars around University College in Cork, Ireland, before bolting for Santa Monica, California -- a place as far removed from Ireland physically and spiritually as one can get and still be in the so-called Western world. That was in 1992. A few years later, Murphy became manager of a Santa Monica pub (O'Briens Irish Bar and Restaurant), proving that you can take a boy out of Ireland, but you can't take the pint from his hand. It wasn't long before a pack of Irish music aficionados, including three other expatriates -- two from England (Stephen Twigger, Shep Lonsdale) and one from Olean, New York (Steve Wehmeyer) -- began jamming at O'Briens. Soon after, Murphy joined them on vocals, and those four, along with fiddler Samantha Hunt, became Gaelic Storm. (Chicago native Kathleen Keane replaced Hunt in 2000.)
The band's break came when it appeared in what the members call a "three-and-a-half-hour promotional video also starring Leo and Kate." You know it better as the film Titanic, with Gaelic Storm as the steerage band. Though their characters were sunk, GS saw its ship come in, via the wild popularity of that flick, resulting in the '98 release of their debut CD. Two more, Herding Cats ('99) and Tree ('01), solidified Gaelic Storm's reputation as one of the more high-energy Irish folk ensembles in the business (although they can still tackle a weeper like "Black Is the Colour"). Sing-alongs, jigs, and reels are their thing, and though a rock and roll attitude permeates, GS has far more in common with straight folk groups, such as the Chieftains and Solas, than it has with such fellow Los Angeles-based Celtic-rock fusion acts as Flogging Molly or the Fenians.