Dervish does Dayton

Emerald Isle-style at Stivers

By Benjamin Smith
Photo: Irish folk outfit Dervish  returns to Dayton for a performance at Stivers School for the Arts on Friday, March 22

Although Dayton arguably contains more lepers than leprechauns, most Gem City citizens will leap at the chance for a little Irish entertainment, especially during the month of March. Enter Dervish, a trad/folk band from northwestern Ireland that has enchanted audiences since 1989. Presented by Cityfolk – Dayton’s famed traditional arts organization – Dervish will perform the penultimate show of their current tour at Stivers School for the Arts on March 22. Lead singer Cathy Jordan spoke to the Dayton City Paper about touring, Dervish’s new album – and … um … skeletal remains.

First round is on us, Cathy. What can we pour you? 

Either a cold bottle of Heineken or a large glass of rioja. – Cathy Jordan

Dervish’s current tour started on March 1 in Green Lake, Wisc., and ends on March 23 in Hartford, Conn. Do you prefer spending a month on the road or time in the studio?

They both have enjoyable aspects. Being in the studio is the creative side of what we do. Composing the structures and arrangements of the songs that we choose to play is hard work, but it’s very rewarding in the end, especially when it comes to performing the arrangements and seeing how audiences react to them. However, touring can be tough … traveling long distances with very little sleep. Great concerts make up for all the long journeys. – CJ

Does Dervish mostly cover traditional Irish songs, or does the band write some of its own material?

What people tend to forget is that even though the material may be traditional, we compose all the song intros and breaks and the arrangements are unique to the band. We also write our own material and have recorded original songs on Dervish albums and solo records. – CJ

The band will perform in Mount Vernon, Wash., on March 17. How wild can a Dervish show get on St. Patrick’s Day? 

It’s always great to play a concert on St. Patrick’s Day in the U.S., as it’s the one day of the year when everyone is Irish and not afraid to flaunt it. It’s like “Green Christmas” and the atmosphere is always electric. Good, clean, green, Irish fun, I’d say. – CJ

A few days later you’ll perform in Dayton, and not for the first time. What was the band’s previous visit to our city like?

The last time we were in Dayton we had so little time, we didn’t get to see anything except the venue and the hotel. This time I hope to rectify that; I’m open to suggestions as to what to see and do. What I do remember, though, is performing a great gig for lovely people. – CJ

This tour supports and promotes the release of new album The Thrush in the Storm. Tell us a little about the record. How were the recording sessions? How does this album differ from previous Dervish albums? 

I must say this was a very easy album to make; it only took three days to record. Of course, we had a lot of preproduction done [early] and we had performed all of the material on stage beforehand. This made the recording process so much easier, as all the “teething problems” had already been sorted out. The Thrush in the Storm sees the band going right back to our roots, playing pure traditional music and uncovering as many previously undiscovered gems as we could find – which gets harder and harder as the years go by – and as more and more musicians and singers pull songs from the “well.” – CJ

There’s a track on The Thrush in the Storm called “Snoring Biddy” about a man who murders his wife. Did this lady snore that much? I need details.

“Snoring Biddy” is about a man who had the misfortune of marrying the laziest woman in Ireland. There were cows to be milked, pigs to be fed, laundry to be done … and she was in bed asleep and snoring. In the end, the poor man did the only thing he could have done, in his opinion: murder her and throw her in the bog! – CJ

Apparently you play “the bones.” What kind of bones do you use for percussion purposes? 

Cow ribs! – CJ

Bones, songs about murdered wives … exactly what kind of show can Daytonians expect?

Don’t worry – no one will die. Except, you could die dancing. – CJ

Dervish performs on Friday, March 22, at 8 p.m. at Stivers School for the Arts’ Centennial Hall, 1313 E. Fifth St. General admission is $25. (Some service fees will apply.) Senior, student, explorer and group sales discounts may be available. For tickets, call the Cityfolk Box Office at 937.496.3863, or visit For more information, visit

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