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UW-RF To Host Band Featured In Blockbuster Film Titanic

December 18, 1998

By Amy C. Harrell
UW-RF News Bureau

Music fans in western Wisconsin can experience the unique rhythms and mesmerizing melodies of Gaelic Storm that won them a role in the award-winning film Titanic.

The five-piece band will be performing on Feb. 11, at 8 p.m. in the North Hall Auditorium at the UW-River Falls.

The band, which is based in Los Angeles, will be in River Falls for a one-night concert that is sponsored by the Helen and Walker Wyman Concert and Lecture Series. The concert is free to students and $5 to the general public. Tickets will go on sale at the door one hour prior to the concert's start time.

"Gaelic Storm specializes in a mix of fast-paced traditional Celtic music, dance music, and songs all performed with energy and enthusiasm," said Genevieve Williams, music critic from the Internet site,, one of the largest sources of media over cyberspace.

Music critic Ed Hall of Santa Clara, Calif., adds: "The music is so lively it'll just pick you up and improve your mood by about three notches."

The band is composed of five members who came from different ends of the world, and eventually fell together in Santa Monica and became Gaelic Storm.

The members of the band are Patrick Murphy, hailing from Cork City, Ireland, on lead vocals, accordion, spoons, and harmonica; Samantha Hunt, born in Zambia, Africa, on fiddle; Steve Twigger, originally from Coventry, England, on guitar, mandolin, and vocals; Shep Lonsdale from London, England, on African djembe and tupan; and Stephen Wehmeyer, originally from Olean, New York, on bodhran and vocals.

"We were all travelers from someplace else who came together at the pub for the promise of companionship, conversation, and the music of course," said Lonsdale. "It was really inevitable that we'd end up on stage together playing the music that we'd loved so much."

The band's unique style and vigor attracted Titanic producer Randy Gertson. He said he was looking for music to capture the wild, celebratory spirit of the third-class passengers in Steerage Class.

After submitting a demonstration tape, Gaelic Storm won the role of the "Steerage Band," which appeared in one of the film's most upbeat and exciting scenes. Their music provided the perfect atmosphere to accompany the wild celebration of the immigrants in the lowest class of the ship.

Lonsdale said that filming the movie was an amazing experience. "We all felt a little awestruck about the immigrants who had sailed and died on Titanic," he said. "In some way playing this music was a testimony to them. Even though they didn't survive the crossing, their cultures did, and the music continues to thrive in the New World."

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