Whistler will be awash in a sea of green this weekend, and what better way to ring in St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) than with a wee Irish jig set to the lively music of local favourites The Splinters.
Juno Award winner Cam Salay and Vancouver fiddler Shannon Saunders have been performing locally as The Splinters for over a decade and will show off their catalogue of Irish ditties during après at the Mallard Lounge Saturday (March 16) and in a five-hour set on Paddy’s Day at the Dubh Linn Gate Pub.
Salay is no stranger to Celtic music, having performed as part of Vancouver folk band The Paperboys since 1991, and was drawn to traditional Irish music since his high school years in Winnipeg.
“My first serious instrument as a teenager was a banjo, so I started drifting towards bluegrass and then quickly from that you hear a lot of Irish stuff,” said the Brackendale resident. “I also started going to folk festivals in high school and they always had these Celtic bands from the U.K. that were fantastic. I loved the style of playing in unison where you’ll have fiddle, flute, banjo or pipes playing at the same time and the same melody in unison. I get a big thrill out of that.”
While the pair hasn’t finalized their set for this weekend, Salay promised a good mix of traditional folk songs and more contemporary material from Irish rock icons like U2 and Van Morrison.
“On Paddy’s Day we’ll pull out a lot of traditional Irish stuff: a bunch of sing-along beer drinking songs,” he said. “You can expect to hear stuff like The Chieftains meets (folk song) Irish Rover meets Dire Straits meets Blue Rodeo.”
While this is the first time The Splinters will play the Mallard Lounge ahead of Ireland’s feast day, they’ve played marathon sets for St. Patrick’s Day revellers at the Dubh Linn before.
“Half the place will be in costume right from noon on; they’re all decked out in their Irish gear. It must be just a good day to celebrate drinking beer,” Salay said. “They start at noon at Dubh Linn so by 11 at night there’s some pretty intoxicated people. I’ve always had a good experience playing with fans. It’s a good time; drunk people are fun.”
Former Whistler resident Salay is riding high after the release of his debut solo effort, Wishbone, last month.
“The response has been great, I’m real happy with it,” he said. “I got some good reviews here and there. People are buying it; it’s on (online music store) CD Baby and iTunes.”
Salay and his bandmate Saunders, who he called “one of the finest fiddle players in Vancouver,” might play a few shows supporting the Wishbone EP in the Sea to Sky this summer, with tentative plans to perform as a five-piece at some local festivals next summer.
Sport your green during après at the Mallard Lounge Saturday for The Splinters performance from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. and at the Dubh Linn Gate Pub from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday.