by Lorie Lewis Ham
St. Patrick’s Day is almost here so it seemed like a perfect time to interview local Irish band Celtic Alchemy. So recently I chatted with one of their founding members Paddy Myers.
KRL: How would you describe the band and the music you play?
Paddy: Predominantly Irish but as the band has evolved we are venturing in a lot of different directions from Spanish to Classic Rock to Scottish and American tunes. We are a collection of a lot of different characters coming together to have a little fun and in turn hopefully our audiences will have a little fun.
KRL: When and how did the band first come to be?
Paddy: In 2013 after I did a one-man show for the Rogue festival called “an hour with an Irishman” which covered a lot of different songs played in pubs in Ireland it was suggested I form a band to flesh out the sound. There were not a lot of Irish bands playing in and around Fresno so possibly we could fill that void.
KRL: Who is in the band and what do they play?
Paddy: Since we formed the band in 2013 we have had 12 different members through the years mainly due to availability of the members. Most of them play in other bands of different genres and we have had gusts artists sit in to sing with us. Listed in order of appearance since 2013:
Alice Ryan, octave mandolin, vocals and Irish dancing on a 2ft by 2ft wooden square
Mark Ryan, fiddle
Bob Embry, accordion Irish pipes, viola
Don Priest, bodhran and various percussion including spoons and frottoir
Terry Barrett, fiddle
Larry Cusick, fiddle, flute, uilleann pipes
Robnert Bennett, banjo
Dean Lloyd, penny whistle, accordion, button accordion, bodhran
John Fowler, mandolin, guitar and vocals
Ed Hull, electric bass and tuba
Suzaan Botha, fiddle and vocals
John Bennett, bass and vocals
Amy Ryan, guest vocalist
Abigail Jurcak, guest vocalist
Tammy Cowger, guest vocalist
Paddy Myers, guitar and vocals
KRL: When did you first start playing music?
Paddy: I messed around with a guitar in my teens and then got a little more focused once I stopped playing rugby in my thirties.
KRL: What is everyone’s “day job”?
Paddy: It varies from retired music teachers, retired teachers and professors, piano tuner, current music teacher, lawyer, retired beer salesman, student, actress, prison guard, court reporter.
KRL: Are you all from Fresno?
Paddy: Mostly, I’m from London with Irish parentage and Suzaan Botha is from South Africa.
KRL: Are you mostly an acoustic band or do you also sing?
Paddy: I play acoustic guitar and sing but our band is predominantly acoustic with a little help from our speakers.
KRL: What is the story behind the band name?
Paddy: I wanted it to reflect the different genres we cover with emphasis on Irish tunes so the name seemed to emphasize that.
KRL: Where all do you play and how often?
Paddy: Monthly at Gazebo Gardens, Groggs Irish Pub, Tioga-Sequoia brewing, Barrel House Brewing, Tolosa winery (SLO) School House (Sanger) On the Edge Coffee House (Clovis), Sequoia Brewing Co north and tower locations, Fowler Library, Windham senior living, Fig Garden Swim and Racquet, Madera Rotary.
KRL: How often do you rehearse?
Paddy: A lot. You have to in order to update the set list and so we don’t play the same material over and over.
KRL: Do you have any CDs?
Paddy: Yes, from a gig at Frank’s Place a few years ago. We are working on a new one.
KRL: Do you write any of your own music? If not, what are some of the songs you perform that we might recognize?
Paddy: Whiskey in the Jar, Whiskey on a Sunday, Rocky Road to Dublin, Foggy Dew, Danny Boy.
KRL: What do you like best about being in Celtic Alchemy?
Paddy: The camaraderie of playing with really good musicians who are willing to play with me.
KRL: Who are some of your musical influences?
Paddy: Luke Kelly and the Dubliners, Chieftans, Paddy Reilly, Ronnie Drew.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Paddy: Thank you for your interest in our band we really appreciate it.
KRL: You are very welcome! Are you doing any special concerts for St. Patrick’s Day?
3/10 Sequoia Brewing north 3-5 p.m.
3/12 Groggs Irish Pub 7-10 p.m.
3/13 Windham 3-4.30 p.m.
3/14 Yosemite Lakes Park clubhouse 5-8 p.m.
3/15 Fig Garden Swim and Racquet club 6-9 p.m.
3/16 Madera Rotary 2-5 p.m.
3/17 St Patrick’s day Sequoia Brewing Co Tower 3-5 p.m. and 8-11 p.m.
You can learn more about Celtic Alchemy and where they will be playing by liking them on Facebook.
If you love local theatre, be sure to check out our new Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. The first 16 episodes are now up! You can check the podcast out on iTunes and Google Play, and also on podbean. Also check out our other theatre articles and reviews in our Arts and Entertainment section. A new episode just went up this week. Paddy has also been featured on two of our podcast episodes!