The Saltwater Celtic Music Festival is set for July 14 and 15 at Thomas Point Beach in Brunswick. Numerous, top-notch acts including Carbon Leaf, Enter the Haggis, Black 47 and The Screaming Orphans will perform. Having chatted with three of those four mentioned bands, I wanted to learn more about the Screaming Orphans and discovered they are four siblings — Joan Diver (drums, bodhran, lead vocals), Angela Diver (bass, violin, vocals), Marie Therese Diver (keyboards, accordion, vocals), and Grainne Diver (guitars, vocals), from Bundoran, County Donegal, Ireland. They recently released two new CDs, “Lonely Boy” and “The Jacket’s Green,” that are decidedly different, musically speaking. They also split their time between their Irish home and an apartment in New York City and it was from that latter location that I got to chat with Grainne (say “gron-ya”) Diver about her group’s history and what they’ll be doing at the Festival this year.

Q: Have you played in Maine before?

Diver: We played at the Saltwater last year and it was wonderful.

Q: It would be nice to get you into Portland — it’s such a nice city.

Diver: Yes, we toured with Sinead O’Connor years ago and we actually sang in Portland.

Q: When you sent me your two newest albums, I was pleased to hear the traditional adaptations present on “The Jacket’s Green” and the original pop/rock stylings you presented on “Lonely Boy.”


Diver: Yeah, we’re sort of a strange band. We were brought up playing Irish because our mother was in a ceili band with her brothers … (she) was an Irish ballad singer. Our dad wasn’t a musician but he had a tremendous love of music and he used to play country albums for us — the old country music like Hank Snow and Hank Williams — from the time we were small; but Da also liked rock music though he would be able to tell you any bands … and he loved country music. So we listened to rock music and pop music along with Irish music. We love playing it all. When we started off first — when we were younger — we just concentrated on the pop/rock music because we wanted to be a big pop band. You see, we’d done the Irish when we were small. When we were kids we used to play the Irish music all the time. Then we started coming to the states and basing ourselves part-time here, that’s when we actually went back to our Irish music. When we lived in Ireland we were never really away from what we are. I mean, we’d heard the songs about immigration, but you can never really relate to that until you actually are away and you start to miss home and you realize what being Irish is. I mean, to be Irish in Ireland is never an issue. You never think about it, you know?

Q: Yes, I think I do.

Diver: Well, the long show of it is when you actually go away you miss your country and you miss the songs — you miss everything about your country — so you actually get a lot fonder of playing your Irish tunes because it’s much more a part of you. So that’s what we started doing here in the states because the Irish has proven so popular, but we also have our pop/rock side. We didn’t want that to disappear, so we said, “That’s it! We’re going to be a band that plays both types of music!” I mean, we might as well because there’s a lot of bands and they only are playing one thing and I say, “Why should we limit ourselves, because we’re able to play Irish and we play pop/rock and there aren’t very many that can do that and actually write rock tunes!”

Q: Now when you hit Saltwater this year, what will you do musically? Do you throw in some of the pop/rock?

Diver: We do, indeed, because we’ve always said that we are what we are and I think we’ve really embraced the fact that we are a band that can play our Irish — and when we’re doing Irish songs we tend to concentrate on the slower songs like “The Jacket’s Green” and “Down by the Glenside” and “Gartan Mother’s Lullaby” because I think songs like that are not heard as much as the sort of regular Irish tunes. But we’ll also slip in “Whiskey in the Jar” because it’s nice to play one that people know. We play quite a few tunes off our “Lonely Boy” CD and then we play some traditional stuff. We find that sometimes the kids that might have been brought along by their parents like it when we play rock because it gives them a chance to hear something that’s not Irish. We like to please every single person that comes there.

Q: Well then, is there anything that you’d like to have passed on to the readers of this article about your return to Thomas Point Beach?

Diver: It was great fun last year and we’re looking forward to this year. But you could just tell them to check out our website and our Facebook page. Oh, and you could also tell them to come out and see us and we’ll all have a good time!

Lucky Clark has spent over four decades writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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