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St. Patrick's Irish Show set for March 14 at AAAA Theatre

Illustration courtesy of Mikko Cowdery

Skilly and Duff and Crew, who are also known as Mikko Cowdery and friends, will bring their 4th annual St. Patrick's Day Show to the stage of the Alexandria Area Arts Association (AAAA) Theatre next weekend.

There will be two performances of the show, which is set to take place Saturday, March 14, at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for kids, and are available at the box office, 618 Broadway, Alexandria, or by calling (320) 762-8300.

The group originally got together five years ago to stage a St. Paddy's Day show to benefit the Evansville Arts Center, but it immediately became evident that the group would need a larger venue, and so, the following year, they moved the show to the AAAA Theatre, where it has become a downtown Alexandria tradition.

In addition to the St. Patrick's Day event in March, the group has also staged October shows for the past two years, which they call St. Paddy's Day for Snowbirds, and the profits from those shows go to United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties

And this year, the group performed a benefit concert for St. Agnes School in Osakis last month.

Cowdery said that the shows have become noted for their originality and showmanship.

"We create a pub onstage and fill it with anywhere from a dozen to 20 excellent Irish musicians. We've had everything from harps and harmonicas to tin whistles, bagpipes and bouzoukis," said Cowdery. "We've had dancers and story-tellers, old troopers and youngsters. There's always a lot of variety, and folks tell us it's as much fun to watch as it is to listen to.

One of the performers who has been with this group from the start is fiddlin' Sam Steidl, a 15-year-old violinist from rural Alexandria.

"She's an exceptional musician," said Cowdery. "She has an uncanny mastery of her instrument matched with a natural feel for Celtic music. In a few years she's going to make a real mark in the music world, and the people of this area will be proud to have known her during these formative years."

Cowdery's grandson, 12-year-old Brett Cowdery, made his stage debut at last year's St. Patrick's Show, where he received a standing ovation for his rendition of the Irish classic Wild Rover.

Another youngster to be featured at this year's show is Lily Satterlee of Sauk Centre. At the age of 9, Satterlee won second place in a singing contest at the Minnesota State Fair, and joined the Irish music group just in time for last fall's United Way show. Cowdery said she gave a memorable performance of Molly Malone.

Old-timers, or "seasoned musicians" as they prefer to be called, include Cowdery of Osakis; Chuck Wencl, Michelle Wencl and Terry Kennedy, all of the Alexandria area; and Bruce Kelly and Annie O'Flynn of Elbow Lake.

There will also be a special guest appearance by the "Gibbons Lads," longstanding Irish musicians who also happen to be the grandsons of noted prizefighter Tommy Gibbons, who once had a training camp on Lake Osakis.

Tommy Gibbons was the only man to ever go 15 rounds with Jack Dempsey - a fight in which Dempsey won by a decision.

"We love the Gibbons Lads," said Cowdery. "They're great musicians and can do double duty as bouncers."

He added that the shows always blaze new trails of creativity, in spite of their celebration of old and familiar songs.

In addition to the shows, this group is working on creating a musical outreach program to bring music of all kinds to underserved areas of the community. Anyone interested in finding out more about the outreach program may contact Cowdery via e-mail at