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Friday, October 24, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 57.0° F  Overcast
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Who needs U2? A guide to Irish bands in Madison: StoneRing

The four members of StoneRing play traditional Celtic acoustic music. Each plays more than one instrument, allowing the group a broad range of styles, from impassioned war songs to Scottish and Irish ballads. Based in Madison, the band has played shows throughout Wisconsin, with a decade of gigs at Milwaukee Irish Fest and the Midlothian Scottish Fair. In addition to its live performances, StoneRing has released four albums, each featuring a broad array of Celtic standards.

StoneRing is playing at the Club Tavern for St. Patrick's Day. The Daily Page queried the group about its plans for the holiday and all things Kelly green. Here's what the band had to say.

The Daily Page: What are your St. Patrick's Day plans?
We will be at the Club Tavern celebrating spring, St. Patrick's Day and our CD release party, not necessarily in that order.

How is the St. Patrick's Day crowd different from those at other shows?
Well, for starters, there usually is a crowd, which is somewhat unusual when you are a youth-challenged band playing Irish music. And they are also unusually full of corned beef and cabbage, hence the good cheer I'm sure.

What is your favorite St. Patrick's Day memory?
For many years a woman named Martha Shannon came to as many of our shows as she could. We would be at all different venues in different towns, and we'd look out at the audience and there would be Martha singing along. We always joked that it was great to have a fan, and we meant it too. Martha's health started to fail, and the last time she came to see us at Irish Fest in Milwaukee her daughters had to help her. She died in January of 2008. Last year at St. Patrick's Day at the Club, we were looking around and missing Martha and we saw her daughters right up near the front singing along.

Do you have any St. Patrick's Day traditions?
After 11 years of being at the Club Tavern, I think that has become our St. Patrick's Day tradition.

How did you get started in Irish music?
Everyone in our band came from different musical backgrounds. I used to play at historical re-enactment events and in fife and drum corps and, as it happens, a lot of that music is Irish music. Who knew?

What do you think is the allure of bagpipers? Why are we so fascinated by kilts and plaid?
It has been said that a gentleman is someone who can play the bagpipes but doesn't. This is not totally fair. Bagpipes have a truly haunting sound because of the double reed in the chanter and the tug in harmony between the chanter and the drones. They are painfully loud but you can't fault them for that. They are meant to be outdoor instruments.

Queen Victoria actually started the fashion for all things tartan and Scottish among people who aren't actually Scottish. I suppose if she was going to leave a fashion trend behind, tartan is better than wearing black and looking grumpy, which was the other thing she was known for.

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