Irish Minstrels return to the Paramount

Published 7:09 am Tuesday, March 16, 2010

They sing about friendship, fighting and beer.

They sing four-part harmonies and play jigs, reels and polkas.

They use instruments named bodhran and the Irish whistle, and they perform shanties that would make a sailor proud.

The Irish Minstrels, a folk band with an Irish flavor and southern Minnesota roots, will play at Austin’s Paramount Theatre Friday for their annual show during the week of St. Patrick’s Day.

“We do all traditional, folk style music,” said Melissa Schmidt, who plays mandolin and sings. “Some is old, and some is new that we’ve written.”

The Irish Minstrels hail from Spring Valley and consist of Schmidt; her husband Larry; her bother Matt Stier; and his wife Brenda.

All four sing, and all four play instruments.

Larry plays guitar; Matt plays fiddle, while Brenda plays an ancient Irish hand drum called the bodhran. In addition, both Brenda and Melissa also play the Irish whistle.

“We feel it’s very important for people to remember the way old songs used to be,” Melissa said. “Instead of rock n’ roll … we feel it’s important we keep our roots, so that’s what we do.”

The band is a Paramount favorite that’s played in Austin for the last half dozen years. The Irish Minstrels have also performed a pair of tours in Ireland and are fresh off completing their sixth CD, a combination of both traditional songs and originals.

“We’re really happy to have finished that this year,” Melissa said.

Those in attendance can purchase the new CD and will be treated to everything from both happy and sad songs to a healthy dose of sea shanties.

“A shanty is a song that the sailors sang on big ships,” Melissa said. “They sang them in time, which made their work more efficient and more fun.”

Melissa said fun is at the heart of what the Irish Minstrels do, and it’s a band that enjoys playing in Austin.

“We love coming back to the Paramount,” Melissa said. “We’ve been there many times.”

Scott Anderson, operations manager at the Paramount, said the band plays very traditional, great stuff.

“Personally, I like (St. Patrick’s Day), and it’s a lot of fun to have a local band like the Irish Minstrels,” he said.

In three days, get ready for an evening of music, complete with songs about adventure, about love, about the sea and about a certain beverage that’s popular in Ireland.

“(Yes), we have songs dedicated to beer and drinking because that’s the Irish part,” Melissa said.

The Irish Minstrels

Where: The Paramount Theatre

When: Friday, March 19. 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $12 adults, $6 students

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