When Irish tunes are playing

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St. Patrick's concernt brings smiles and tears

By Ramsey Scott

St. Patrick’s Day can evoke images of green beer, parades and “Kiss me, I’m Irish” buttons. Yet what can get lost in all the noise and revelry is the beauty and emotion of Irish culture.


And there is no better reflection of that than in the music of the Emerald Isle, which was on display Saturday at Littleton’s Bemis Public Library. Tradition, Tartan and Tears, a local Celtic band, played a selection of classic Irish songs in celebration of the holiday.

The band drew about 100 people to the library for a performance that at times had the audience laughing and crying, sometimes during the same song.

“Irish music tells the joys and sorrows of life in every song,” said guitar player Gregg Hansen. “It’s just the expression of the duality of life. … An instrumental song might have a sad title, but the melody is joyous.”

While many of the attendees on Saturday claimed to have some Irish blood, the music crosses cultural boundaries and touches listeners no matter their heritage, said Stewart Brann.

“It shares a commonality with other cultures,” Brann said. “The details are modern, but the feelings are old and deep.”

That commonality means that an affinity for shamrocks isn’t necessary to get swept up in the tunes.

“It’s human. You feel the song inside you,” said Mary Anne McCubbin. “When they sang ‘Danny Boy,’ I just started crying.”

Her eyes weren’t the only ones that teared up at the band’s rendition of the classic Irish folk song. Singer Tamra Hayden said the songs weren’t composed just for entertainment but to chronicle the lives of the Irish people.

“It’s less performing and more a way to remember our ancestry,” Hayden said.

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22 and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine