MILESTONE: The members of Red Deer-based St. James’ Gate are marking 15 years of performing some of the finest Celtic/pop/rock tunes around. Pictured from left are Justin Stewart

St. James’ Gate celebrates 15 years of making music

Popular local band performing at Bo’s in Red Deer this weekend

It’s hard to believe local Celtic rockers St. James’ Gate have been recording, performing and entertaining since the spring of 2000.

That means that virtually every show this year is a kind of celebration of that milestone. Next up are a couple of shows at Bo’s Bar and Grill in Red Deer April 17th-18th.

The guys made their debut back on St. Patrick’s Day of 2000, recalls Justin Stewart (guitars/bouzouki/mandolin/vocals). Rounding out the band are Glenn MacLeod (guitar/mandolin/vocals), Dave Best (bassist/guitarist/bouzouki/vocals), Billy O’Neil (bagpipes/accordion/whistles/vocals), Dwayne Marsden (guitar/vocals) and Brian Buckle (drums).

Their music has absolutely clicked with local audiences from the get-go.

“For a lot of the Maritimers, it’s about bringing ‘home’ to Alberta,” said Marsden. “There’s something about the music that people love. We’re also still kind of unique out here. There are not a whole lot of bands doing what we are doing.”

Marsden, who has been with the band for 14 years and is originally from Ramea Island, Newfoundland, explains that although the band has evolved over the years, they’ve stayed true to their roots. He also recalls upon arriving in Alberta how much he wanted to be a part of a band like St. James’ Gate.

“I remember when I moved out here from Newfoundland and I was thinking, wouldn’t it be cool to do something like this?” The band has brought all kinds of fulfilling opportunities since.

“Looking back, we’ve been from here to there to everywhere in 15 years. And everybody’s lives have changed so much but we’ve all still managed to keep the music going,” he said, adding he’s excited to see where the coming years take the guys as well.

As for marking their 15th anniversary, the band is certainly not restricting the celebrations to one or two shows. It’s a year-long event.

“I think we’ll keep running it all year. Every show we have, we will make mention of it.”

Stewart signed on with St. James’ Gate in 2007. Hailing originally from Cape Breton, he had played with many popular Maritime acts including Kilt, Bruce Guthro, Jimmy Rankin and Ashley MacIssac to name a few.

Part of the appeal of being with the guys – apart from the fun they have together – is also watching how the musicianship of the members has grown over the years, too.

“A lot of these tunes we have been playing for awhile, but we’ve made changes to them over the years and it keeps things exciting and fresh.”

There is indeed a certain timelessness to Celtic music. Some of that springs from the sheer vibrancy and energy of it, no question. “One guy at work, who listens to heavy metal stuff, said that when he listens to us, it makes him want to stamp his foot,” said Stewart.

And from the start, the boys have consistently hit the stage with unrestrained enthusiasm – their passion for the music they perform is infectious, and they’ve remained a popular band across Central Alberta and beyond.

They’ve also been featured at all kinds of events and festivals including the hugely popular East Coast Garden Party and even journeying a couple of times to the Top of the World Highland Games in Dawson City, Yukon.

They have also landed a long sought-after spot at the Canmore Highland Games this September, which is marking its 25th anniversary this year. “It’s the big one that closes up the entire pipe band season,” said Marsden.

Meanwhile, the guys’ latest disc of finely-crated Celtic/folk/rock-flavoured tunes, License to Kilt, was released in 2009. The 14 tracks include nine originals, a few charming traditionals and two superb bonus live tracks (Peter’s Street and Fisherman’s Blues) recorded at The Vat in Red Deer.

License to Kilt was dedicated to the late Jimmy McMullen who was such an enthusiastic force behind the band’s success before his sudden death in July of 2007.

The tune Good Good Man is dedicated to McMullen, and does a superb job of honouring the man who was such an inspired, creative and joyful artist within the band and in his own right. McMullen was all about the music, but he was all about family, friends and community as well.

Prior to License to Kilt, Juice of the Barley marked their third disc in 2006. Ride was released in early 2004 and Serve Extra Cold in 2002.

Meanwhile, the mandate of the band hasn’t changed.

One of the defining characteristics of St. James’ Gate is their ability to have loads of fun with a tune – it’s not just about capturing the essence of a song, it’s about injecting every ounce of energy and soul possible into each piece.

These days, they’re working on another project which can be described as a kind of ‘fan favourites’ collection with a few new tunes included as well.

editor@reddeerexpress.com

 

Just Posted

WATCH: CP Holiday Train rolls into Lacombe

Kelly Prescott performed for hundreds of Central Albertans

Lacombe, Red Deer snubbed from new ambulance list

Lacombe Councillor Chris Ross continues to advocate for added care in Central Alberta

Central Alberta Woodworkers showcase craft at Lacombe Memorial Centre

Guild is the latest to showcase their work at the LMC’s art exhibit

Man wearing bandanna with knife robs Lacombe Circle K

5’3” white male stole cash, cigarettes early on Dec. 4th

Lacombe Ringette Association hopes to bring pro bull riding to city

Fundraiser during Lacombe Days to help support keeping fees low

VIDEO: Light Up the Night Santa Klaus Parade brings festive joy to Lacombe

The Tim Horton’s Santa Klaus Parade in Lacombe brought thousands to the streets

Hawk Tail Brewery ready to open doors

New Rimbey business to begin operation

Central Alberta Theatre kicks off New Year with Cliffhanger

Performances run Jan. 19th through to Feb. 9th at the Black Knight Inn

Tips for managing diabetes over the Christmas season

Primary Care Network staff presented to the Central Alberta Council on Aging

Team Alberta U16 Male roster announced for 2019 Canada Winter Games

The entire Team Alberta U16 Male roster will meet for Christmas Camp in Red Deer on Dec. 19th-21st

Rebels victorious over Swift Current Broncos

New Forwards Brett Davis and Cameron Hausinger showing lots of confidence on the ice

Nuit Blanche Red Deer looking to make a comeback in 2019

Local organization is hosting a Christmas artisan market on Dec. 15th

‘LETTERKENNY Live, the Encore’ lands at the Enmax Centrium Dec. 15th

Earlier this year, the original tour took over venues across the country

One hundred and five trees of Christmas

Red Deer couple decorated 105 Christmas trees to raise money for the Central Alberta Humane Society

Most Read