Chieftains gig is a lucky break for local fan

Kerry Gibson

Kerry Gibson looks forward to performing with the group he's revered for two decades. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Kerry Gibson, who was born on St. Patrick's Day, will get an early birthday present Friday night. At some point during the evening, he'll step onto the Stephens Auditorium stage to sing backup for one of his favorite groups -- The Chieftains.

Gibson, a communications specialist with the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory, says he loves all things Irish and has been a fan of the Dublin-based folk group and their Uilleann pipe-playing leader Paddy Moloney since the late 1980s.

Backing up The Chieftains

  • Ames Chamber Artists
  • Kerry Gibson, Ames Laboratory
  • Connie Hardy, ISU Extension and Outreach
  • Tim Hoekstra, Ames
  • Karen Mullaney, Gilbert
  • John Pleasants, ecology, evolution and organismal biology
  • Barb Schendel, Ames
  • Iowa State Singers, Iowa Statesmen
  • Zoe Bardin
  • Marcus Cross
  • Dustin Galvin
  • Jacob Rigdon
  • Jenna Sandquist
  • Eliza Smith
  • Seth Wilharm

Several other Iowa Staters -- faculty, staff and students -- as well as Ames area singers will join Gibson on stage. James Rodde, the Louise Moen Endowed Chair in Music and director of choral activities, assisted Iowa State Center officials in finding local talent to provide the chorus for two songs on The Chieftains' program. Rodde plucked singers from two Iowa State groups -- the Iowa State Singers and the Iowa Statesmen -- and the Ames Chamber Artists.

Spring break provided a lucky break for Ames Chamber Artists, Gibson said. Because the band's March 13 performance is the Friday before break, Rodde wasn't able to find as many students.

"He asked our group if anybody wanted to sing," Kerry said. "I jumped at the chance."

Gibson and the others have been practicing on their own, acquainting themselves with the songs they'll perform -- "Shenandoah" and Elvis Costello's "Long Journey Home." They'll meet the band just a few hours before the performance for a sound check and rehearsal.

Birthday wishes

Singing with The Chieftains is "going to be a blast," Gibson said. But he admits, if fate allows him a couple more birthday wishes, a Paddy Moloney autograph on the liner notes of his favorite CD album and a photo with his folk hero would be frosting on the cake.