Kids take to Irish jigs in free concert

March 10, 2019

Mila Armstrong, 7, stood at the edge of the black-and-white checkered dance floor in the ballroom, waiting for the Irish music to start.

“I’ve never been to a place like this,” she said, wearing a green shirt with rainbows on the sleeve and shamrocks on the shoulders.

She and her family came to KPBX’s annual free Kids’ Concert: Celtic Dance Party on Saturday, featuring the Irish band Floating Crowbar, because they frequently listen to Irish music at home, said Mila’s dad, Gordon Armstrong. More than 500 people came to the concert at Riverside Place Auditorium, where people clapped and danced along to the music.

“I like the sound and the beats,” Mila said about Irish music, but about dancing to it, “I’m kind of nervous.”

Kathy Sackett, events director for KPBX, said the Celtic Dance Party falls in the perfect time of year for people to feel the urge to dance.

“This time of year, in particular, everyone’s restless,” Sackett said. “This year we’ve had a hellish February and cabin fever has struck, and that’s one of the reasons why we do this concert in March. We know kids need to move and people need to move.”

Sackett said Celtic music is a type kids love to dance to.

“It’s a really intricate and interesting music that speaks to our souls,” she said. “Kids love it.”

Families danced together and kids watched the Irish dancers on stage and tried to imitate them by tucking their arms to their sides and kicking their legs in the air.

KPBX has been hosting Kids’ Concerts since 1993. Multiple times a year, the radio station will host concerts at different venues with different kinds of music.

“Out of all the Kids’ Concerts, this is one of the most popular,” said volunteer Matt Copley, who was in charge of stroller patrol Saturday.

James Hunter, a member of Floating Crowbar, has been playing with the band since 2010, a year after it was formed. Originally from England, he’s a linguistics teacher at Gonzaga, but plays Irish music on the side. He said playing for kids is different.

“This is a riot,” Hunter said. “ … most of what we play is Irish dance music, and it’s got a very predicable feel even if the tunes go all over the place. So the kids just get all excited about it. That’s really nice.”