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Published March 13 2013

Poitin brings Irish flavor to FM’s Finest

FARGO – Not surprisingly, Poitin has a busy weekend planned.

Known for its rocking rendition of Irish tunes, the band – which gets its name from a word meaning “illegal homemade whiskey” in Irish Gaelic, pronounced ‘pah-cheen’ – has a concert every night leading up to St. Patrick’s Day.

Tonight, Poitin kicks off that busy stretch with its turn at FM’s Finest, a concert series sponsored by The Forum and music promoter Jade Presents.

Poitin got its start in 2001, when a musician wanted to start an Irish music band in Fargo-Moorhead. He took out an ad in The Forum and five people responded, including Jim Haney. The founding musician moved on, but Haney, the singer/guitarist and mandolin player, remains the front man.

Poitin’s first concert was at O’Leary’s Pub in Moorhead. There, the newly formed group played traditional Irish jigs, reels and ballads unplugged, but soon realized their style was going to have to change.

“We quickly figured out we would have to ‘amp up’ to play stand-up gigs in busy taverns,” Haney says.

Since then, the band has put out four albums, and Haney estimates they have a playlist of nearly 200 songs that they play live.

“It is a mélange of our own blending of Irish and the traditional music of the Red River Valley,” Haney says. “We play it amped up pretty high, and with a heavy kick.”

That style translates well to the band’s live performances, which Haney describes as “high-energy,” and “over-the-top.”

In the 10-plus years that Poitin has been playing, Haney says, one particular live date stands out as a highlight – playing on stage with the F-M Symphony Orchestra at the Fargo Theatre for the Celtic Christmas Concert last year.

The band has also played at the Minnesota Irish Fair in St. Paul for the past few years, which Haney says has been a “real delight.”

The seven members of Poitin hold a wide range of jobs, ranging from funeral director to professor. The band rehearses extensively year-round, Haney says.

Poitin recently completed their fifth album, called “Banks of the Red River,” which is a collection of Irish songs written and arranged by the band. The album is being released this month.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535