Martin Nolan and Terry Boyle are performing at St. Andrew’s United Church on St. Patrick’s Day. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Martin Nolan and Terry Boyle bring Irish folks tunes to St. Andrew’s United Church

St. Patrick’s Day concert to feature traiditional Irish uilleann bagpipes

Musicians Martin Nolan and Terry Boyle met on the traditional Irish music scene of Dublin in the 1970s. Always ending up in different bands, the duo didn’t get to play together all that much.

Coincidentally, both musicians ended up meeting and marrying women from Nanaimo, with Boyle joking that while some tourists pick up T-shirts, their wives “went a step better.”

In 1989 Boyle moved back to Nanaimo with his wife while Nolan stayed in Ireland, visiting occasionally. Last year family brought Nolan to the Island for an extended period of time and he took the opportunity to play some shows with Boyle.

This year Nolan is back once again and the duo are reuniting for a St. Patrick’s Day performance at St. Andrew’s United Church. Martin said a portion of the proceeds will go back to the church to support its services.

“The show we put together is kind of what we were doing back in the ’70s…” Nolan said.

“A mixture of traditional Irish dance music and traditional Irish song and Terry’s contemporary folk songs and the usual bit of banter, as we call it, in between giving each other a hard time and giving the audience a hard time whenever we can.”

Boyle plays the guitar while Nolan plays the uilleann pipes, a quieter Irish cousin of the Scottish bagpipes. Nolan said when he started playing the instrument there were only about five people left in the world who knew how to make them. He said a “renaissance” of traditional Irish music in the ’70s helped the instrument become more popular and that nowadays there are thousands of uilleann pipers worldwide.

The musicians say they hope to reach a family audience with their performance, with Nolan emphasizing that “Irish music doesn’t always have to be in a bar and it doesn’t always have to be associated with drinking.”

Boyle said the show will have the intimate atmosphere of two old friends playing old tunes.

“We try to make it almost like a kitchen concert … where we’re playing almost to each other and the audience are watching us enjoying ourselves and then getting that sort of enjoyment out of it as well,” Boyle said.

“Our primary aim of the night is to entertain but also for us to have fun and I think the fun spills over into the audience,” Nolan said.

“We just enjoy playing together anyway, regardless of whether we have an audience or not, and it’s about letting people see that.”

WHAT’S ON … Martin Nolan and Terry Boyle perform at St. Andrew’s United Church on Saturday, March 17 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children under 16. Available at Tom Lee Music, Yours and Mine, Sweet Somethings and at the church office.

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