Entertainer - Musician - Instructor
Born in the Irish mining community of Butte, Montana and growing up in an Irish family, Liam now resides in Cameron Park CA, and along with his wife Karen Rader, entertains with Irish, Scottish and Celtic music, interspersed with stories and humor. They love to and often go back to Ireland performing and playing music, continuing research of new material and stories for their Irish shows, visiting old friends there, and leading small groups on their "Meet the People" Ireland tours.
At an early age, his family had moved to Southern California, but he never lost his Irish roots. Many hours were spent singing with Mum playing the piano and Liam playing what ever was in front of him. He learned his first instrument, his sisters violin, at the age of 5, and taught himself to play his older brothers trumpet at the age of 6. By the 6th grade, he was proficient in playing all string orchestra and brass band instruments. Through to the 9th grade, the rest of the woodwinds as well as guitar and banjo followed. Most of all, he loved to play his tin whistle he got as a young boy, which he still plays that very one in his shows today.
By the age of 12, to help pay for his own private music lessons, he started to make extra money teaching and tutoring other kids brass and some woodwinds instruments himself. When the circus came to his small town, he played with the band, being paid to play, He was also doing paid performances with accordion, trumpet, (sometimes both at the same time, with a bass drum and hi hat, as a one man band), comedy, and some goofy instruments he learned to play, later including the musical saw. He learned and honed these skills as a young boy by traveling and performing when he could with Harris Nelson, a grand professional entertainer whose family came from vaudeville. Harris was his entertainment mentor. "You learn best from the best, working, and on the road!" Liam always says.
He has been teaching and performing ever since. He taught music in the schools around South Pasadena and LA for a couple of years, but decided he would just open his own music studio so he could take off on tour or be available for the theater and shows and the like. He used his family's business name, "Shamrock Studios" that his Father and brother, who did photography used. Liam opened his music studio using it, and has always kept it.
As a featured entertainer at Disneyland and other places around Southern California, he continued his studies at Pasadena City Collage, Cal State LA, UCLA, USC, and the California Institute for the Arts. He was a free lance musician for theaters in and around LA, and enjoyed acting as well.
Along with his music, as a young man, he worked other jobs off and on as well, including driving trucks, charter, and tour buses, and as a Hollywood tour guide. He drove hotshot crews in and out of fire lines for major forest fires for the Forestry service. His love for horses enticed him to go to a world renowned school to become and worked as a farrier, specializing in hunter and jumper show horses. He went to stunt school and also worked doing lighting for movie sets and theaters, and acting was always a passion for him. After getting his pilots license, he did a tour as a transport and reconnaissance load master and flight engineer flying with the US Navy, and with the USO and special services as an entertainer. He worked with Hewlett Packard for a few years as well. Off and on he worked as a tree trimmer. He loves to climb trees! All this time he always found students as he was always teaching. Then he opened a music studio again, Shamrock Studios, in Lincoln CA. As well as his studio in Lincoln, he also taught in Folsom CA at The Nicholson Music Co, and eventually moved to Folsom and is still teaching for them, 30 years later. Always on the go, his life has been as eclectic as his musical abilities.
Even with these jobs, he found time to keep performing and teaching. And to relax, he enjoyed getting together with friends playing the "Old Irish" in Pub's and the like, playing banjo and often with that "Old Whistle". His family was musical, although he was the only one to make a career out of it.
In 1993, Liam joined forces with other outstanding musicians (often from other top groups) who shared his love for history and the music of the Celts, creating the Celtic Melody Orchestra, and then went on to create the Irish musical group CAIRDE, (Irish for “Friends") with Irish and Celtic Music.
But Liam Irish also performs anything from classical guitar to jazz clarinet, wedding and dinner music to comedy shows in addition to the Irish and Celtic music that he grew up with, as well as the theater. He has always loved working in and with the theater, and is an active member of the
Mosaic Acting Academy near Sacramento CA.
Along with a serious approach to conducting, arranging and organology at Pasadena City Collage, Cal State LA, UCLA, USC, and the California Institute of the Arts, and being a classically trained musician, playing tuba, bassoon, cello and other instruments with a number of symphonies and bands, Liam has made a study of every kind of musical instrument he could find, sometimes creating his own! His experience from this gives him a wonderful insight and view of life, from many different cultures, which is reflected in his music and many different styles of performance. He still performs all kinds of music for different venues, but has returned to focusing on Irish music and shows, presenting a wide verity of music on a variety of instruments from around the world including:
Bagpipes- Uilleann Pipes, * Irish War Pipes * Parlour Pipes * Scottish Highland Pipes,
Tin Whistle * Irish Flute * Banjos, ( jazz & Irish tenor ) * Melodeon * Irish "Box" Button Accordion
Piano Accordion * Bodhrán * Guitars, (Many styles) * Harp * Zither * Glute * Balalaika * Hammered Dulcimer * Appalachian Mt Dulcimer * Didgeridoo * Flutes including Concert, Pan Flute & Native American, "Musical Saw"...and many others.
He continues to teach these instruments, as well as most all Brass, Woodwinds, Piano, Viola and Cello. His CD, "Myst on the Mountain- A Celtic Journey", has been featured on a number of radio programs including the BBC out of Northern Ireland, and can be heard throughout the Republic of Ireland, Scotland, England, Holland and the US. On this CD, Liam blends and layers all the instruments, (played by himself), to create a melodic roadmap that guides you through a mystical journey. It concludes with a story retold by Karen Rader.
He had his own Dixieland band, "The Bourbon Street Chasers", highlighted by the likes of Al Hirt, Pete Fountain, and Teddy Buckner. He has enchanted hundreds of thousands, being featured at Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, Magic Mountain in Southern California, Opryland and the Grand Ol` Opry in Nashville, Libertyland, as well as numerous places around Memphis Tennessee, and throughout the world as a featured entertainer for Special Services. Liam has also played with other groups of different types including various banjo bands, polka bands, big bands, jazz bands, drum & bugle corps, "The Trade Winds," playing West Indies, Island, and South American music, "Slim Pickins', an old time music group, and others.
Along with Irish, Scottish, and other Celtic music and dance, Chinese, Japanese, Native and South American music are also part of his musical studies. All of this gives him a well rounded approach to creating arrangements and musical sounds of his own.
Liam's many talents have been seen on shows including Johnny Carson, Joey Bishop, Art Linkletter, and others. Roy Clark, Al Hirt, and Pete Fountain are among those who have invited Liam to perform with them. He has done many programs for a number of network and cable TV and Radio shows, and has been providing scores and music for a local Shakespeare theater company since 1995. For almost 50 years, he has been doing shows, concerts, festivals, fairs & programs for many different venues and organizations, including school programs. He has MC'ed and hosted a variety of events as well.