By Maddy Vitale
Audience members should be prepared to bring a box of tissues to the Celtic Tenors performance Sunday, July 22 at Ocean City’s Music Pier.
At one point they will be listening to a song so powerful and beautiful that it will bring tears to their eyes, and in the next song, the tenors will have concert goers laughing hysterically.
“A lot of people say, ‘You took us through a whole range of emotions,’” James Nelson, a member of the trio, said in a phone interview Friday. “We might sing about a goat one minute and then sing a somber song like “Remember Me” the next.”
Nelson, along with Matthew Gilsenan and Daryl Simpson, all from Ireland, make up this unique, talented and fun trio. They continue to gain popularity and a wider international fan base year after year since they formed in 1999.
And something they want to impress upon some of the American public who may not be familiar with the Celtic Tenors, that they sing a wide range of songs.
“We have an eclectic mix,” Nelson explained. “We don’t take ourselves seriously. People think because of our name, we just sing Celtic songs and that is not true.”
For two hours the star trio will take concert goers in their debut at the Music Pier through very moving Celtic harmonies, a capella performances, Irish songs, pop and classical tunes. In addition to the trio will be Celtic Tenors Musical Director Brian McGrane accompanying them on the piano throughout the show.
Over the years, the Celtic Tenors have heard warm words from fans after the shows, Nelson noted.
“We hear from people, ‘I dragged my husband to the show and he loved it,’” he said with a laugh. “We also hear, ‘Oh, my grandmother loves your music.’”
The dedicated fan base from America, the Netherlands, Germany, Canada and most recently Australia, is growing and changing.
“We are seeing younger fans than in the past,” Nelson said.
With over 1 million copies of their albums sold, the Celtic Tenors does not seem to be slowing down.
“I can’t believe we are still doing this,” Nelson said. “Our tour dates for 2019 is by far, the busiest, we have ever had.”
And it comes just in time for their new album that will be out January 2019.
“I keep thinking I’m getting too old for this,” he remarked of the hectic seven months of touring each year. “We have a full tour in February and March in the U.S. and April in Canada. The following Christmas we are back in the U.S. We have two big tours in 2019.”
They perform large shows to festivals. Two that Nelson said they really enjoy are Irish Festivals in Ohio and Wisconsin.
“They want to hear a lot of our Irish music there, so that is what we do,” he said.
Overall American and Canadian fans like to hear their eclectic mix of songs at their concerts.
The trio delivers.
They have released numerous albums over the years, some focus on classical. One, released in 2015 titled “Timeless,” consists of a collection of songs from the 40-plus something musicians’ youth. Their renditions of songs by Dolly Parton, Bob Dylan and Bob Denver, make for an interesting musical journey.
“We try to put our harmony behind the songs,” Nelson said. “We try to put our stamp on it.”
Their Christmas CD is a compilation of their favorite classical pieces including “Silent Night” and “Joy To The World.”
In the world of music – especially on the international front – it would seem hard for the Celtic Tenors to distinguish themselves from other notable trios.
Hearing their performances, it is no surprise that they do more than distinguish themselves as world class tenors.
They know their fan base. They know their venues and they absolutely know their music.
“We have been doing this for most of my adult life,” Nelson said. “We love it and as long as our fans love what we are doing, we will keep doing it.”
The Classic Tenors performance presented by the Ocean City POPS at the Music Pier begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $25 to $35. For tickets call (609) 399-6111 or visit www.oceancityvacation.com/boxoffice. For more information about the Celtic Tenors visit www.celtic-tenors.com.