Irish eyes will be smiling at Borders on Jan. 12

by: Contributed photo, Scott Messer, left, and Ken Andresen have been playing Celtic music together for more than a decade and have released a number of albums as part of Darby O’Gill.

Ken Andresen, a member of Darby O'Gill, notes that when he plays accordion, his sound owes more to Steely Dan and Pink Floyd than to any Irish group you've ever heard.

Then again, most popular music on both sides of the Atlantic, from country to folk to rock, contains Celtic elements, he'll say. So maybe he's just completing a circle that encompasses the sounds of rock 'n roll within the sounds of jig 'n reel.

'It's just fun music,' Andresen says of the tunes Darby O'Gill plays. 'It's not what you hear on the radio most of the time. The words are meaningful, mostly true and almost always funny.'

Darby O'Gill, named for the book and movie about Ireland's 'little people,' will be sharing its music at Borders in Gresham Station at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12.

The band has played for more than a decade, and its lineup contracts and expands depending on the gig. At its core is Andresen, who plays bodhran - a Celtic drum - as well as keyboards, mandolin, guitar, violin and clarinet, and his partner in crime, Scott Messer, the front man who plays guitar and bodhran.

The band frequently includes such players as Art Kohnke, Michael McBride, Doug Wheeler and Jared Carter.

Darby O'Gill has garnered both critical and popular acclaim, releasing five albums since 1996, and opening for such Irish acts as The Wolfe Tones and the Irish Rovers, as well as such American acts as The Kingston Trio and B.B. King.

The Jan. 12 show will feature Andresen and Messer as a duo, and requests are encouraged, Andresen says. He notes that the group threw away its set list years ago and prefers having the audience direct a show as much as possible.

Andresen adds that while he and Messer enjoy playing a rollicking pub show as much as the next band, they also like more intimate settings like Borders where they can talk about the songs and introduce a little musical history into their performance.

'As you're playing to crowds like that, you get to play songs that might be a little bit wordy,' he says. 'You can talk to them about where a song came from.'

If you go

What: Darby O'Gill, Irish band

Where: Gresham Station Borders, 687 N.W. 12th St.

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12

For more information: Call Borders at 503-674-3917. For information on Darby O'Gill, visit the Web site: