RavensFire, a local group that’s toured Ireland twice, plays traditional Irish music, folk songs, instrumentals and originals. The band includes Larry and Melissa Schmidt on guitar, whistle, mandolin and vocals; Judy Havelick on bodhrán and vocals; and her husband, Guy, tending to the band’s technical needs.
“Being entertainers, it’s part of the lifeblood in our veins to be able to play our music for real people,” Melissa Schmidt said. “These days when we can’t have our beloved friends up close, doing our shows online is the only way we have to connect.”
Schmidt, mandolinist and vocalist with RavensFire, answered a few questions for 507 Magazine readers.
How has your band been impacted by the pandemic?
Well, even with few shows and concerts, we’ve been very lucky to be able to be together with our families. Our combined grandkids are musical, too, playing collectively: piano, violin, marimba, flute, saxophone, guitar, kazoo, and other various innovative percussions. And of course, singing. We’ve been teaching them all sorts of songs: old traditional sea shanties, folk songs, and original tunes. One of our grandsons recently delighted us by writing a good new song. We also did a few fun garage and porch concerts during the summer, where friends could gather and hear us outside.
What are some of your favorite songs to play around the St. Patrick’s Day holiday?
The RavensFire Band performs year-round, and we do lots of different kinds of music. But during March, we love to pick up the traditional Irish folk songs. We love the simplicity and energy of the old songs and melodies. Folk songs are about ancestry, history and memories, and should be kept alive and well. It’s really quite impossible to say which songs, out of all the great many we know, that we like the best, but just a few of our well-known old favorites are “Whiskey in the Jar,” “Danny Boy,” “Cockles and Mussels” and “Wild Rover.” The lilty-jaunty pennywhistle tunes and fast-furious mandolin-guitar-bodhrán reels get everybody revved up. There’s something addictive about Irish music. And we’re hooked.
What are some St. Patrick’s Day traditions you enjoy?
Eating and drinking. Foaming pints of Guinness and Harp, little golden sparkly glasses of Jameson’s whiskey, and thick, dark bottles of hard cider. Wolfing down lovely, greasy, hot fish and chips, steaming shepherd’s pie, buttery, creamy colcannon, thick, juicy slabs of real Irish bacon with eggs, and fresh-baked soda bread. And best of all, gathering around a blazing fire with a large crowd of noisy, happy friends, playing and dancing, and singing our heads off till the wee hours.
If you go
What: RavensFire virtual concert
Where: Streaming on Riverside Concerts’ Facebook and YouTube accounts at www.facebook.com/riversideconcerts1 and www.youtube.com/user/riversideconcerts.
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 17