George Donaldson is standing in the rain in Philadelphia talking on his cell phone in a thick Scottish burr about Celtic Thunder. He's one of five male vocalists from Ireland and Scotland in the group whose first CD shot up to No. 1 on the Billboard World Music Chart in March 2008 after making a popular debut on U.S. public television. The band's tour comes to the Peoria Civic Center Theater at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
George Donaldson is standing in the rain in Philadelphia talking on his cell phone in a thick Scottish burr about Celtic Thunder.
He's one of five male vocalists from Ireland and Scotland in the group whose first CD shot up to No. 1 on the Billboard World Music Chart in March 2008 after making a popular debut on U.S. public television.
"It's a busy schedule," Donaldson said last week of Celtic Thunder's national U.S. tour. "We're in Philadelphia tonight and Baltimore tomorrow. We just recorded a new show in Toronto five weeks ago."
The tour comes to the Peoria Civic Center Theater at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
It will be Celtic Thunder's first time in Peoria, although the group has been on the road for more than a year since opening in Dublin. The tour has six weeks to go before heading home.
At 41, Donaldson is the oldest of the vocalists, while the youngest is Damian McGinty, 17. Keith Harkin, Ryan Kelly and Paul Byrom round out the quintet.
"I'm carrying the torch for Scotland," said Donaldson, who grew up in Glasgow. The other members have Irish roots.
The show is the brainchild of producer Sharon Browne, who also created the popular Celtic woman ensemble. Renowned Irish songwriter and musician Phil Coulter is Celtic Thunder's musical director and composer.
"Coulter is a legend in Ireland, the only non-American composer for Elvis Presley," Donaldson said. Coulter wrote Presley's "My Boy," which Donaldson sings in the show.
With its wide range of styles and music, including touching ballads, traditional Celtic songs, pop classics by the Eagles and the Moody Blues, Andrea Botticelli and Coulter originals such as the "Irish Rugby Football Anthem," the program has a multi-generational appeal, Donaldson said.
"I have an 8-year-old daughter, and she likes it, too," he said.
Celtic Thunder brings with it a full band, including piano, string quartet and - of course - bagpipes.
There's also expert choreography, dramatic lighting and special visual effects, Donaldson said. With its emphasis on the five male vocalists, however, the show differs from the many Irish step-dancing extravaganzas.
Celtic Thunder's self-titled debut CD from its TV special dominated the Billboard World Music chart until it was knocked off its perch by the second Celtic Thunder release, "Act II," in September 2008. The first CD spent 44 weeks in the top five ranks on the Billboard World Music Chart and was named World Music album of the year for 2008.
Theo Jean Kenyon can be reached at (309) 686-3190 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- What: Five male vocalists from Ireland and Scotland who perform a mixture of touching ballads, traditional Celtic songs and pop classics.
- When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
- Where: Peoria Civic Center Theater.
- Tickets: $40, $45, $55 and $65. Call (800) 745-3000.