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Carlton Showband Legacy continues

Gregory Donaghey remembers his first trip to P.E.I. with the group, the Carlton Showband in 1976.

Today’s Carlton Showband consists of Fred White from Cape Breton, N.S., Larris Benoit of Newfoundland, Greg Donaghey of Sion Mills, Northern Ireland, the band’s lead tenor since 1976, Robert Benoit, Aaron Lewis, and Roddie Lee.

“I couldn’t get over the clay. Honestly, it was unbelievable. I said, ‘I never seen this in my life.’ I thought it was great.”

The Irish pop-rock band got back together in 2010 for a reunion tour in the fall of 2010 after over 10 years of absolute retirement. the 2010 tour included two sold-out shows at the Harbourfront Theatre in Summerside.

Their rocket of success was fully launched in 1967 when the band joined “The Pig N' Whistle”, a television show that for 11 seasons was one of the highest rated shows in the CTV collection.

Donaghey said the band had called it quits a decade ago because their hearts weren’t in it anymore. But they were excited to get back together for the 2010 tour.

“The boys couldn’t wait to get back, I couldn’t wait to get back, and now it’s absolutely incredible,” he said. “It felt as if we weren’t even away for a week all together. The band was so tight playing and it was absolutely amazing.”

Donaghey said their last tour has him “chomping at the bit” to start this year.

“To me, the Carlton Showband have the most loyal fans in God’s creation. I swear to God.”

The band will be returning to play in Summerside March 15 at the Harbourfront Theatre, a show all the band members are looking forward to, said Donaghey. The Summerside stop is the only P.E.I. concert in the 2012 reunion tour.

“We love Summerside and that’s why we’re coming back there again. The people are great, wonderful people. That means an awful lot,” he said. “It’s a great atmosphere as well… And if you have a great atmosphere, that’s 75 per cent of the battle for a band.”

Donaghey said the enthusiasm shown by the Summerside and P.E.I. audiences during their visits makes it fun to play here.

“Sometimes the audience is pretty tight and you got to work that much harder to get them. In Summerside I could’ve stood on my head and they would have clapped,” he said. “You can always see how an audience is by how they applaud and Summerside is great… especially after the first applause, you say, ‘Ah yeah, this is a great audience.’”

Fans eager to see the musicians play their classic skits and songs will not be disappointed, said the 66-year-old singer.

“We’ll be doing ‘The Laughing Policeman’, ‘The Kilt’, but we’ll be doing a few different songs.

“Last year people came up and said, ‘You didn’t do such and such song,’ so we’ll do it this year,” promised Donaghey.

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