Irish band Goitse comes to NoVA just in time for St. Patrick’s Day

The traditional Irish band, whose name means “come here,” makes their Northern Virginia debut.

Photo by Colin Gillen

In America, we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day primarily by drinking a Guinness (or two or three) and wearing green. But if you want to take in a bit more of the culture that the popular holiday comes from, sitting down for Goitse at the Hylton Performing Arts Center will do the trick.

The Irish band has been performing professionally since they graduated together from the University of Limerick in Ireland in 2011. Playing traditional Irish music, the quintet has been recognized as a preeminent band in the genre.

Their performance at Hylton will mark the first time they’ve played in Virginia—on the day before St. Patrick’s Day, no less. We caught up with band member Colm Phelan (pictured above, far left) to chat about their upcoming performance and asked him what makes traditional Irish music so unique. // Hylton Performing Arts Center: 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas; hylton.calendar.gmu.edu; $26-$44

Why did you select the name Goitse as your band name?
Two of our band members, Áine and Tadhg, are fluent Irish (Gaelic) speakers. When we were leaving the charity event (where the four of them first met), both of them were shouting to the rest of us “goitse.” They must have been shouting for a good few minutes before we realized they were talking to us and asking us to “Come here.” So the name just stuck!

How would you describe traditional Irish music to people who are not familiar with it?
Traditional Irish music is music of the people and for the people. It’s dance music, which makes it very exciting for listeners. We like to think of our music as being contagious, energetic music. It’s sure to get your feet stomping and hands clapping.

What about traditional Irish music interested you as a band, rather than more contemporary genres?
In Irish traditional music there are so many subtle details to the tunes. You always feel like you are discovering something new when you listen to someone playing a tune. The smallest change in notation can make a tune sound so different, where sometimes you don’t get the same subtle notes in rock, electronic or pop music.

Have you ever thought of covering a contemporary American song in your style?
Not really, to be honest. It’s something we don’t tend to do. However, we have been told before that Áine’s voice sounds similar to Cindy Lauper, so maybe “True Colors” would be a good option for us.

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