Andrew Mercer

Andrew Mercer

Band goes wild to stage Irish-Celtic celebration

It’ll be a St. Paddy’s Day party, the likes you’ve never seen

It’s hard enough to be living 7,000 kilometres from your home, but to be missing out on one of the biggest parties of the year, well, it’s enough to have a poor Newfoundlander weeping in his pint of green ale.

However, the onset of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in his home province, where all of Newfoundland gets a day off work and school, hasn’t made Andrew Mercer green with envy. Instead, the native of Bay Roberts will be toasting to the patron saint of Ireland right here in his new home of Vernon.

And he’s got a few friends helping him out.

“Our vision started a couple of months ago. We thought it would be neat to do a big St. Paddy’s Day show, and do it with different groups,” said Mercer, who moved to the Okanagan in 2009. “There’s a big Celtic scene in the Okanagan, and I think we could do something here like they do back at home.”

A guitarist and vocalist, Mercer will be leading his band Cod Gone Wild in the big ceilidh (party) at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Friday.

“It’s the day after St. Patrick’s and also the start of spring break, so we thought that night would be best time,” he said. “The Performing Arts Centre is also the only place big enough to fit all of us, and this will be more like a theatre performance, not like something you’d see in a pub. It’s to showcase a different side of the band.”

Cod Gone Wild, which also features drummer Chad “Rhino” Carter, fiddler Pete Kerr, and keyboardist/singer Betty Ann Northup, is bringing along other performing artists and musicians to join them in playing songs from their new self-titled CD.

“We thought it would be a great idea to have a choir join us to sing some songs from the CD, so we fished around,” said Mercer, who landed a big catch.

“I came across Ann Dorval, and contacted her. She was excited about the prospect, and got together 105 of her kids from the Silver Star Elementary School choir, who range from Grade 2 to 4, to back us up for three songs.

Cod Gone Wild have been rehearsing with the choir for the past few months, and Mercer says the kids are ready for the big show.

“The kids are excited. It’s great that they really want to do it, and they truly like the songs,” said Mercer.

Also joining Cod Gone Wild for four numbers will be the Argyll Highland dancers, led by Janet Hackman, and members of the Kalamalka Highlanders Pipe Band, who will open the show.

“Some of their drummers will also be joining us for a couple of numbers,” said Mercer, adding, “It’s been fun working with all these groups.”

A portion of the proceeds from the concert will go toward Sun FM’s Have a Heart Radiothon, which will benefit the child and maternity unit at Vernon Jubilee Hospital.

Tickets for St. Patrick’s with Cod Gone Wild, Friday, March 18 at 7 p.m., are $25 for adults and $20 for students at the Ticket Seller in the Performing Arts Centre. Call 250-549-7469, or order online at