MUSIC BOX: Celtic tunes off-season blues

By on April 29, 2014
The Wild Potatoes host open music sessions monthly in Idaho Falls.
The Wild Potatoes host open music sessions monthly in Idaho Falls.

The Wild Potatoes host open music sessions monthly in Idaho Falls.

JACKSON, WYO – If the recent cold, wet and gray spring has left you feeling a little “under the weather,” perhaps a brew and some music designed to lift the spirit is just what the off-season ordered.

On the first Tuesday of each month, Idaho Brewing Company in Idaho Falls presents The Wild Potatoes, an Irish/Celtic band heralding from Eastern Idaho. The brewery offers 12 house-made beers on tap and a cozy tasting-room feel. Pair it with folk music from the six-piece band and you are sure to feel better when you read your overinflated Facebook feed brimming with photos of friends gallivanting around on tropical paradise beaches.

Starting with whistle player Kevin Young, fiddler Jeff Forbes and guitarist Dave Gianotto gathering for a few one-off gigs in 2009, The Wild Potatoes unexpectedly gained enough traction to bring on a percussionist – Sam Alessi (bodhran, bones). The band began playing first Tuesday monthly sessions at Idaho Brewing Company, adding a second session on the third Thursday each month at the Celt on Broadway, also in Idaho Falls. When founding member Young moved from the Eastern Idaho area, musicians David Combs and Kristi Austin were invited to join, adding accordion and flute to the mix.

The musicians in The Wild Potatoes boast diverse backgrounds. Fiddler Forbes hails from a background of bluegrass, old time, Irish and classical early music. In addition to his percussion role in TWP, bodhran player Alessi also plays guitar and bass, dabbling in song writing when he has the inclination. Guitarist Gianotto grew up playing in a motley selection of bands in Detroit and has been playing in bands in the West for more than 30 years. Combs has played accordion with bands all over the West and is schooled in styles such as Celtic, Scandinavian, contra dance, Oktoberfest, and has recently added the concertina to his musical instrument quiver. Austin plays flute in a variety of folk styles of Northern Europe, North America and classical repertoire.

Join with the band to sing, play, or dance with two sessions each month from 7 to 9 p.m. The first is at the Idaho Brewing Company on the first Tuesday of each month and the second is on the third Thursday at The Celt, both in Idaho Falls. Practice ahead with sheet music available at

Folk song circle in Idaho Falls
It’s a musician’s treat to find other musicians of skill who are willing to sit down and play music for music’s sake. If you’d like to treat yourself (be it as an audience member or a participant) mark your calendar for a road trip to MarCellars in Idaho Falls on a Thursday evening.

Located in historic downtown, MarCellars serves up fine wines and microbrews. Every Thursday night, the establishment is a gathering space for local musicians and music-lovers.

“We go around the circle, and everyone picks a tune to play,” said Sam Alessi, a devoted attendee and founder of the song circle. “People are always worried about whether or not they’re good enough to play, and we always tell them that it doesn’t matter. Everyone has a right to music, and the world is a better place when we make participatory music a part of our culture.”

Show up anytime between 6:30 and 7 p.m. with your instrument and a tune (cover or an original) to play with the group. Contact Alessi at for more information, or visit MarCellars at htpp://

About Madelaine German

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