If electric violinist Geoffrey Castle has his way, he will always play the Wilde Rover.
Since 2008, Castle has entertained patrons at the Irish restaurant in downtown Kirkland with his unorthodox approach to Celtic music with his six-string electric violin and an assortment of veteran and rookie musicians.
Throughout the years, the crowds have been big and small and fellow musicians on stage have come and gone, but Castle has played nearly every Monday night for the last six years and has no plans on stopping.
Castle is unabashed in describing Monday evenings as “the best party in the universe.”
“I can’t think of anything better that is going on a Monday, certainly in the Seattle area,” he said.
Castle said he first started playing at the Wild Rover when the restaurant’s owner at the time arranged for Castle and a fellow musician, Dan Connolly, to play on Mondays. Originally, it was intended to last a month. As time went on, however, Castle said he and Connolly, a songwriter and guitarist, discovered they struck a chord with the patrons.
A combination of elements helped make those nights a success, Castle said, one of which is the lineup of musicians who have played alongside him over the years. The other element is the unconventional approach to playing Celtic music, which Castle said is a middle ground between Irish folk reels and modern, Celtic punk rock bands like Dropkick Murphy.
“We do our own spin on things,” he said. “It’s like what if the Beatles played Irish music? We basically take the idea of ‘Celtic music’ to mean anything that ever happened in an Irish bar anywhere.”
Castle also has a six-string violin, which enables him to play Irish tunes more like an electric guitar. A New York native, Castle aspired to be a rock star, but also loved playing the violin. However, the violin did not offer the same range as the guitar, which is capable of playing deeper notes. Castle had a violin created with a sixth string, whereas traditional violins only have five strings.
Aside from Celtic Mondays, Castle has toured worldwide and released several albums, including “Streets of Inwood: Celtic Soul.” He also promotes music in the education system.
Along the way he has accumulated plenty of fans, including Karen Lawrence, a Kirkland resident who has acted as Castle’s publicist for over a year. She said she was first introduced to Castle’s music several years ago while at the restaurant.
“I was blown away by the talent,” she said. “I had to have everyone hear him play.”
Lawrence said she looked for a publicist for Castle from several friends but eventually decided she wanted to take on the role herself.
For Castle, the Wilde Rover almost became his living room. When people want to meet or speak to him, they know where to find him on Monday nights.
“It’s the longest steady gig I have ever done,” he said. “I have a lot of clients and people who run festivals, people who run casinos, and they come out to the Rover to hear me play, so I end up doing a lot of business there.”
Much of what makes Celtic Mondays work is the spontaneity and lack of organization, he said. The band has never come up with a name, and Castle is the only musician who has continually played on Celtic Mondays after Connolly left for Afghanistan to work as an explosive ordinance disposal trainer.
The current band lineup includes Brooke Lizotte on the keyboard, Steve Boyce on vocals and bass, Jason Edwards on the drums, Edgars Kleepers on the vocals, and Connor Dunworley on the guitar and vocals.
“Basically what’s been fun about it, every single Monday I get together with my friends and play music,” Castle said. “We just get together on Monday and play. It’s all for the joy of playing music. If there’s five people or 500 people we’re having fun and it doesn’t really matter. It’s really about being in the spirit of the music.”
Geoffrey Castle’s music and albums can be found at www.GeoffreyCastle.com. The Wilde Rover is located at 111 Central Way.