Christmas by the pint

The Irish Rovers produce a new holiday album, television special

The Irish Rovers have a local connection: George Millar has lived in Nanoose Bay now for 19 years.

The Irish Rovers have a local connection: George Millar has lived in Nanoose Bay now for 19 years.

You won’t be seeing members of The Irish Rovers on the slopes of Mount Washington any time soon.

The band attempted skiing recently while filming a Christmas show in Banff Alberta and George Millar admitted it wasn’t pretty.

The vocalist and guitar player who calls Nanoose Bay home said growing up in Ireland didn’t provide many opportunities for skiing and at this point in life he’s too old to take up the sport. The musical ambassadors just wrapped filming of the television special which will be released in 2012. An Irish Rovers Christmas was filmed at some spectacular locations in Banff and Millar said it was a real eye opener.

Dave Irwin, one of the original Crazy Canucks gave the band ski lessons but Millar said they were all bad.

“It’s not easy. We were buffoons. I thought we were more athletic. People who recognized us said we were awful. We don’t have mountains in Ireland.”

He said they had fun doing the outdoor shots, but they were much better in the aprés ski pub scenes.

“That was more to our liking … when we were surrounded by pints of Guinness.”

This year the group celebrates 45 years as recording artists and to mark the achievement, the lads are back on the small screen with a PBS television special Home In Ireland, which was filmed entirely on location.

They are also releasing their first Christmas album in over a decade. Merry Merry Time of Year is already in high rotation at many radio stations in Canada and the U.S.

The up-tempo CD has a mix of traditional Christmas songs and their trademark rollicking Irish numbers including, Christmas In Killarney, Must Be Santa, Christ The King, Christmas At The Ale House, The Marvelous Toy, Down Among The Bushes Of Jerusalem, and Three Jolly Rogues.

Production duties were handled by Millar for Rover Records. The CD was recorded at Rick Salt’s Lois Lane Studios in Nanaimo and Wilcil McDowell Studio, in Northern Ireland.

Millar, who has written most of the Rovers’ original music over the years, was born and raised in Northern Ireland, but has lived in Nanoose Bay for 19 years.

He said he will be spending more time at his home here in Oceanside in about three years when the band retires after 50 years of making music.

“In 2015 we will call it a day. It takes a while to wind things down,” he said.

Millar said the logistics of touring have become overwhelming after 9-11 and the band is getting tired of being on the road.

“There are nine of us traveling and 28 pieces of equipment so it becomes tiring and expensive touring.”

The band has wrapped up its tour of Nova Scotia said the band is winding down their 2011 Christmas tour of Eastern Canada and the U.S. and Miller will be home for the holiday.