Tempest comes to life at The Livery

Published 10:15 am Thursday, April 3, 2014

Tempest will be bringing their special blend of Celtic rock to The Livery on April 6. (Submitted photo)

Tempest will be bringing their special blend of Celtic rock to The Livery on April 6. (Submitted photo)

BENTON HARBOR—Fans of Tempest will be excited to hear that the Celtic rock band will be returning to Southwest Michigan for the first time in two years. While this will be their debut at The Livery, they have played many concerts at The Acorn Theater in Three Oaks over the years.

“We went by there for about eight years on our way from Chicago through to New York,” said Lief Sorbye, Tempest frontman, lead singer and electric mandolinist. “We built up a big following when we were playing at the Acorn, and we really hope that our fans will all come out to see us at The Livery.”

For those who are unfamiliar with Tempest, the band is known for a hybrid of high-energy folk rock, fusing Irish reels, Scottish ballads, Norwegian influences and other world music elements. In fact, they are celebrating their 25th year with this tour, which currently includes 56 stops throughout the United States.

“Right now, we have 56 dates booked for this tour, and there’s more coming,” Sorbye said. “For us, it’s a seasonal thing. We don’t tour that much from October through January. That’s when we kind of regroup, work on new material, plan new recordings and so forth. Of course, we still play on the West Coast during that time.”

Based in San Francisco, Tempest keeps busy even when they are not touring.

“We’ve done 15 studio albums, not including compilations and live albums,” Sorbye said. “We worked with three different record companies before we signed with Magna Carta back in 1995. So we’ve always been lucky that we’ve never had to pay for our own studio time. That’s probably one reason we’ve been able to stay around for so long.”

While Sorbye and Cuban-born drummer Adolfo Lazo have formed the core of Tempest for the last 25 years, the band’s line-up has included a variety of musicians over the years.

“I’ve been really lucky to play with a lot of great musicians,” Sorbye said. “To have a band for 25 years is a pretty big accomplishment in the music industry. Most bands last about two years. New blood always gives us more energy on stage.”

That “new blood” currently includes San Francisco fiddler Kathy Buys, electric bass player Vince Lucchesi and Colorado-born guitarist Gregory Jones. Sorbye has been very happy with the results of the collaboration.

“People can expect a lot of energy on stage from us. It’s a high-spirited, fun combination of folk and rock,” Sorbye said. “Even when the venue has theater seating, people get up and dance in the aisles. It’ll be a really fun time.”

Sorbye and his bandmates work hard to put on shows that will appeal to all sorts of audience members.

“Our music is rooted in that old, folk imagery even though it’s a rock and roll format,” Sorbye said. “So, we’re not just limited to young people or old people, folk people or rock people. It appeals to everybody.”

Whether concert-goers have seen Tempest live or not, Sorbye plans to put on a show that they will remember for a long time.

“If they are fans of the band, they can expect some big surprises on stage,” Sorbye said. “We’ll be playing some older material that goes back to the very beginning of the band. Since it’s our 25th Anniversary concert, we want to make it a special event.”

However, Tempest also plans to bring out some of their new material as well.

“You’ve got to keep the creative juices flowing and put new stuff on the plate. It’s something very cozy to go to a concert and hear all of the songs you love,” Sorbye said. “But, on every tour, we try to bring out brand new material, as well as to rotate some of the old favorites that our fans want to hear.”

Playing new material on stage is one of the ways that Tempest is able to tour so heavily and still record new music during their off months.

“We’re a live band first. By playing them night after night, the songs come alive on stage in front of our audiences,” Sorbye explained. “That way, the audience is also a part of the process.”

After playing a show in Downers Grove, Ill. on April 5, Tempest will take the stage at The Livery, located at 190 5th St., at 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 6. Tickets for the Livery show are $15 at the door, and more information is available at www.liverybrew.com as well as at www.tempestmusic.com.