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Screaming Orphans primed for pop, Celtic in Scotia

Screaming Orphans primed for pop, Celtic in Scotia

4 Diver sisters to perform
Screaming Orphans primed for pop, Celtic in Scotia
The Screaming Orphans are (from left) Angela, Joan, Marie Thérèse and Gráinne Diver.
Photographer: Provided

There is no headbangers' ball in Scotia tonight -- Screaming Orphans only sounds like a hardcore outfit.

The four Diver sisters -- Joan, Gráinne, Angela and Marie Thérèse -- prefer Celtic, pop and rock to heavy metal. The Orphans are regulars are on the Irish festival circuit, and will return to the Irish 2000 festival in Ballston Spa in September.

First, the young women from Bunduran in County Donegal (Northwest Ireland) will play tonight's session of the Freedom Park concert series. Show time is 7 p.m. Admission is free.

"It is a talking point," Joan Diver (pronounced "div-er," rhymes with river) said of the band's name. "Some people like it, some people are not sure, but there's always a curiosity with it and people are going, 'Oh my God!' It's kind of a hard name and then you're a family harmony band kind of thing.

"I think it really suits us," added Joan, who plays drums and is the band's extrovert on stage. "We're not strict traditional or strict Celtic. We're a blend of something different and we have a harder edge sometimes. I think the power of your music and the power of your performance overrules the name, anyway."

The Diver sisters are looking forward to the Freedom Park show because they'll have more time to perform. The Orphans love their Celtic parties -- they have been booked at 13 Irish and Scottish festivals and fairs through October -- but the gigs are structured to allow most bands only an hour or so on stage.

"We get the chance to play more music, more tunes and stuff like that," Joan said of the stand-alone shows. "We're the type of band that finds it hard to play a short set because we're so varied and we want to play all the different types of songs and tunes and give a really good show.

"So for us, Scotia is great," she added. "This Freedom Park concert gives us extra time to be able to play tunes and songs that people like from our albums. Also, it's a very family-oriented thing. I hope to God it won't rain this year. We have been cursed with the rain."

There's never a problem combining Celtic and pop styles. Diver said she and her sisters play both styles and do not play Celtic traditional tunes and songs in the traditional ways. They play the old songs with more of a pop flavor. The band's originals are more pop-rock.

"The two styles, I think, blend very well," Joan said. "We sell just as many original CDs as we do the traditional CDs, and this is at Irish festivals, even."

Joan and guitarist Gráinne (pronounced "Grohn-ya") will do most of the talking on stage, with Angela keeping busy with her bass and violin and Marie Thérèse concentrating on her keyboards and accordion. Joan is not afraid of the spotlight - she's got energy and charisma. She thinks it comes from her parents, who started their daughters in the music business.

"When I come off stage, go into the car, shut the hotel room door, I'm actually really boring and quiet," Joan said. "I sit and do nothing. I'm like so unexciting, I won't even go anywhere. I have kind of a different personality on stage, I suppose I love to entertain."

That love is sparked by a deep appreciation for fans.

"They come and they spend their money and they drive hours to come and see us," Joan said. "The four of us really appreciate it. We're so thankful for it and so appreciative we can make our living through music and only because of the generosity of our fans ... I always want to give a great show and I'd be annoyed with myself if I didn't give a great show."

Joan said every sister contributes a different energy to the band. She admits that Gráinne is really the boss, on and off stage. And while traveling and performing with siblings is great because someone is always watching out for another, the down side means little alone time because family members are always around.

"We do fight, all the time," Joan said, laughing. "We get up on stage and nobody knows."

She wouldn't have it any other way.

"The four of us together, we make this sound," Joan said. "If something happened to one of us, Screaming Orphans would not exist because it just wouldn't be the same.

"I know a lot of bands can replace members but for us, if one of us goes, that would be it, that would be the end of the Screaming Orphans," she added. "We don't want that. We'll continue on till we're all 90-something - until the bones start crumblin'."

Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124, at [email protected] or @jeffwilkin1 on Twitter.

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