Four Decades Young, The Irish Rovers Come To The Harris Center

For more than four decades, The Irish Rovers have charmed and entertained audiences around the world. Three award-winning TV series, dozens of recordings, and chart topping hits ("The Unicorn," "Wasn't That A Party," "Grandma Got Run-over by a Reindeer" and more). "Their songs have become anthems of revelry and joy among generation after generation of fans" (Belfast Telegraph). The Harris Center is proud to welcome the beloved band to Folsom.

The Irish Rovers comes to the Harris Center on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. Tickets are $28-$48; Premium $52; 50% Discount Available for Children & Students with ID. Tickets are available online at or from Harris Center Ticket Office at 916-608-6888 from 12 noon to 6 pm, Monday through Saturday, and two hours before show time. Parking is included in the price of the ticket. Harris Center is located on the west side of Folsom Lake College campus in Folsom, CA, facing East Bidwell Street.

"Like the famous Bushmills Irish Whiskey, The Irish Rovers continue to improve with age" (CHIN 97.9 Gaelic Hour, 2011).

On the heels of their nomination for the Irish Music Association's Tommy Makem Award, which honors their philosophy, and traditional approach to Irish music, the Rovers began their "Long Goodbye Tour." The band hopes to sing a proper farewell to all those they have entertained for these many years. After more than 40 albums released in North America and many more internationally, "the Irish Rovers [are] one of the most successful and enduring of all Irish folk bands" (BBC, Ulster 2010).

"Irish Rovers celebrate a bonny resurgence...From the recent resurge in popularity of The Irish Rovers, it would seem the lads themselves have returned to their glory days, and are still charging" (The Morning Call, 2012).

The story of the Rovers begins in 1963 in Canada, where the 16-year old George Millar and 23-year old Jim Ferguson, both new emigrants from Northern Ireland, met in Toronto. They ended up singing together until dawn and the Irish Rovers were born. They performed as a duo until George's cousin, Joe Millar, immigrated to Canada the following year. Joe, who sang traditional ballads and played button-key was recruited as he stepped off the plane. George's musician father Bob Millar, who was also button key accordion player, became the band's first manager. For the next several months he guided the new band, which started their career playing folk song festivals, clubs, and hootenannies.

George, Jimmy and Joe left Toronto for Calgary to stay with brother Will who was singing folk songs at Phil's Pancake House which led to a daily children's TV show, Just 4 Fun. After their first disastrous television appearance, the four Rovers headed off to "Americay", landing in at San Francisco's famous folk club, The Purple Onion, where they ended up headlining for an unprecedented 22 sold-out weeks. The folk clubs of California became the learning grounds for the young Rovers, and (through old-fashioned hard work and a wee bit of Irish luck) they were offered a recording contract with Decca Records.

The success of their debut album, The First of The Irish Rovers, lead to their second album, The Unicorn. At this time, the addition of Wilcil McDowell, enhanced their sound. In 1968, the predecessor of the Juno's named The Irish Rovers, "Canada's Folk Group of the Year", and the following year, they received a Grammy nomination for "Folk Performance of the Year."

Through the 1970's and early 80's, the Rovers brought their magic to television guest starring in several television programs, and then starring in three of their own television series; The Irish Rovers Show for the CBC, also Party With The Rovers, and The Rovers Comedy House. They were also on Global Network in conjunction with Ulster Television in Ireland, which was syndicated around the world. The Irish Rovers brought Ireland into living rooms across North America.

At the start of the 80's, The Rovers' magic worked on another unknown novelty song. "Grandma Got Run-Over By A Reindeer," became an immediate seasonal anthem, and rose to the top twenty within a week of radio play. The Rovers also soared to the top of the pop and country charts with "Wasn't That A Party," which was written by their friend, Tom Paxton, after he witnessed one of the band's famous post-show parties. It has gone on to become an international anthem of good cheer.

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau personally asked the boys if they could "please become Canadian" so that they could officially represent Canada throughout the world. Since then, they have represented Canada at no less than five World Expos. In '93 the band established their own record company, Rover Records as their production of albums wasn't about to slow down, and they desired the freedom that as a younger band they could not afford.

With original members George Millar, and Wilcil McDowell, the band includes John Reynolds and Sean O'Driscoll who have been playing with the band for near 25 years. Will Millar left the group in 1994, and sadly Jimmy Ferguson passed away in 1997. In 2005, Joe Millar retired to the golf course, while his son Ian took up the family ranks. All members hail from Ireland.

Like the Unicorn, the Rovers are legendary and magical, and a good time is guaranteed for all.

"Throughout the years, these international ambassadors of Irish music have maintained their timeless ability to deliver a rollicking, rousing performance of good cheer- one that will soon have you singing and clapping along. Their songs have become anthems of revelry and joy among generation after generation of fans" (Belfast Telegraph, 2010).

The Harris Center for the Arts at Folsom Lake College brings the community together to share in cultural experiences featuring the work of artists from throughout the region and around the world. Built and operated by the Los Rios Community College District, the $50 million, state-of-the-art regional performing arts center boasts three intimate venues with outstanding acoustics, an art gallery, a recording studio, elegant teaching spaces, plenty of safe parking and all the other amenities of a world-class performing arts venue. Each year the Center hosts over 400 events attracting more than 150,000 annually.

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