Frankie Gavin

Irish fiddler Frankie Gavin brings his solo show to the Whiteside Theatre in Corvallis on Thursday night. 

Irish musician Frankie Gavin is in the middle of a solo tour of the West Coast, and he says he's enjoying the chance to regale audiences with his renowned fiddle playing and his stories.

Maybe too much.

Gavin was playing a show in Seattle last Sunday night on this tour, which brings him to Corvallis for a Thursday night show at the Whiteside Theatre. During the Seattle show, he recalled in a phone interview this week with The E, he was talking at some length about — well, about something.

"I thought I probably rattled a little much last night," he said.

Eventually, Gavin got to the point where he asked the audience if anyone had a request. Someone did: "Yeah!" that person shouted. "Play a tune!"

"I said, 'OK, OK, I can.'"

There's not much doubt that Gavin can play a tune: That's what this champion of traditional Irish music has been doing since he was 4, when he received a tin whistle. Music, he said, "just came pretty naturally to me," and it helped that both his parents were musicians.

When he was 10, he started playing the fiddle (he also plays the flute) and has been playing professionally since he was 17. Most recently, he was honored as the 2018 traditional musician of the year at the Gradam Ceoil awards. He's played with The Rolling Stones, Elvis Costello and Stephane Grappelli, among others. He stays busy with new recordings and projects, including work on a symphonic suite honoring Grace Kelly, which he hopes to debut in Monaco sometime in 2020.

He said he's enjoying the spontaneity offered by these solo shows. Even though he scrawls out a set list for each show ("You don't want to draw a blank"), he always has the option to go in a different direction, depending on how he reads the audience. 

Since his early days of performing, Gavin said he's shaken the fear that sometimes went hand-in-hand with waiting to perform. The fear dissipated, though, whenever he strode onto the stage: "Once you get onto the stage, that's your purpose in life, that's what you're supposed to be doing."

Gavin's rented a car to drive himself from gig to gig on this West Coast, and this champion of traditional music is grateful for a modern invention: 

"If it wasn't for GPS, I wouldn't be able to do this," he said. "Thank God for GPS."


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