IRISH JIG: Lovers of live music and unpredictable entertainment will be flocking to the Mildura Arts Centre to see Celtic rock band Murphy’s Pigs in their one-night only performance on Sunday week.

By JOHN DOOLEY

VOTED Australia’s number one Celtic Rock band in previous years at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, Brisbane-based ‘Murphy’s Pigs’ are on their way to our region to perform a one-off concert at the Mildura Arts Centre on Sunday, January 19. 

Billed as an evening of Celtic heritage laced with larrikinism by a band described as “Celtic by nature and pigs by choice”, Mildura audiences will be in for a riotous night of organised chaos, according to the band’s co-founder and musician-singer, John Graham – PICTURED front and centre.

“Coming to Mildura is pretty exciting for us. Being on the road is great fun, and the band has taken us to places we’ve never been and given us a lot of experiences we wouldn’t otherwise of had, including coming to Mildura,” John said.

The unique band performs a range of Irish and Scottish songs, as well as some great Australian-Celtic folk songs, including some originals, and may even treat the Mildura audience to some French-Celtic songs. 

“Predominately the songs we do are Irish, because they are a lot easier to understand compared to the Scottish ones, which are written in the ‘Lowlands Scot’,” John said.

Formed in 2005 by Brisbane police officers and part-time musos John Graham and Peter Vincent, Murphy’s Pigs would eventually evolve into an 11-piece ensemble, plus a sound engineer, with John Graham not missing one gig since the band began.

Murphy’s Pigs have performed at some impressive locations and events, including the world’s largest Celtic festival  ‘Festival Interceltique de Lorient’ in France, the Tamworth Country Music Festival, the Woodford Folk Festival, the Gympie Music Muster, the Australian Celtic Festival, to name but a few. 

They have twice been awarded ‘Artist of the Year’ (2013 and 2016) at the Australian Celtic Music Awards.

People often ask the band where the name came from, and the answer lies with fellow founder Peter Vincent, whose mother would often use an expression when referring to the Irish nature of someone – ‘Michael is as Irish as Murphy’s Pigs’. 

Because Peter came up with the name, his contract stipulates that he can’t ever be sacked!

Prior to coming to Mildura, Murphy’s Pigs will be performing at the 25th Annual Organs of the Ballarat Goldfields Fine Music Festival, whose Artistic Director is Sergio de Pieri, brother of Mildura restaurateur Stefano de Pieri. 

At the behest of Mildura businessman Geoffrey Paterson, who is the brother of band member Gregory Peatey, the three convened over a glass of vino at Geoff’s home one night, and devised the plan to have the band perform at the Ballarat Festival, and then travel onto Mildura. 

With the exception of Peter, who has just retired from the police force, all the musos still work, and include four police officers, an excavation expert, a project manager, a school principal, a chief surveyor and an IT specialist with the ATO.

Another band member works in a music store. 

John, who is a detective in a child protection investigation unit, said that preparing to go on stage for a concert can be more stressful than his police work, but is ultimately a release. 

“I’ve been in the police service for 30 years, and until the first song is under way and the band has settled and the sound engineers aren’t panicking, we’re all on our toes, but after that… it’s a great release,” he said.

Like all the band members, John’s repertoire is diverse, and he can turn his talents to playing a variety of instruments including the guitar and banjo, as well as the Greek bouzouki, and the Irish frame drum, known as a bodhren. 

“The bouzouki might be Greek, but back in the 1960s, some Irish musos, Donal Lunny and Andy Irvine, changed the tuning of it from the traditional Greek sound to create a really distinctive ‘drone’ similar to the bagpipes,” John said. 

The band consists of guitar, mandolin, banjos, violin-fiddle, bouzoukis, pedals, accordion, bag pipes, bodhren, kit drum and base, which makes it both visually good, and a unique listening experience. 

“We also stand out from other bands because we all wear suits, and when we walk down the street in Tamworth, we have people crossing the street to have CDs and articles of clothing signed,” John said.  

“We’re not just a pub band, we’re an 11-piece ensemble – an orchestra really – and the present band has been together since 2017, and in that time we’ve only had four practice sessions, and only three of those have had all of the musicians present, such are the logistics of getting everyone together. 

“We don’t try to arrange too much in advance, and so every time we get on stage, it’s different for us and really exciting because none of us really know what’s going to happen – it’s organised chaos!”

Murphy’s Pig’s are coming to Mildura courtesy of major sponsors Oz Loans Mildura, Trentham Estate Wines and Mildura Cruises, and will be at the Mildura Arts Centre for one performance only on Sunday, January 19, commencing at 7pm. 

Tickets are available online at milduraartscentre.com.au. Adults are $60, while student and concession tickets are $55.