MusicMusic Features

Repent at Leisure Offers St. Paddy’s Day Sounds

University of Georgia computer science professor Dan Everett and wife Kate Blane started the traditional Irish group Repent at Leisure when their daughter took up Irish dancing as a teenager. They kept gigs “low-key,” holding practices at home and performing at the Saturday farmers market for veggies in the guitar case.

In the past seven months, the band has gained six new members (and is still growing) and has played consistently around town. Next week, the band will play several shows to mark St. Patrick’s Day, with stops at the Athens-Clarke County Library on Sunday, Pouch Pies on Tuesday, Kumquat Mae Bakery on Thursday and Madison County Library on Friday.

The eight-piece act features an accordion, banjo, conga drum, bass guitar and rhythm guitars that mix into songs reminiscent of old Irish pub days.

“These guys are so talented, it’s like a Walter Mitty trip for me to play with them,” says Everett, referring to the adventurous fantasy life of the main character in James Thurber’s 1939 short story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” remade into a 2013 film starring Ben Stiller.

The group’s name comes from a proverb that reads, “Marry in haste, repent at leisure.” The line stems from a 16th Century English play; Shakespeare, Lord Byron and James Joyce made puns about it in their works. The moniker inspires jokes about marriage, apologies and regret, but Everett explains that it’s simply an “exotic, old-timey” name with a “cool ring to it.”

About a year ago, Everett recruited singer-songwriter Liam Parke, who worked as a songwriter with Solid Hitbound Productions in Detroit in the 1960s but only recently got back into playing music after a several-decade break, to serve as vocalist for the group. When Everett and Blane left for an eight-week road trip last summer, Parke brought more members into the fold.

These guys are so talented, it’s like a Walter Mitty trip for me to play with them.

“When we returned, it was a totally different band, and I like it,” Everett says. “I never thought we’d do any of this, and Liam has really given us a public face.”

As Parke explains it, the members “stumbled into each other.” He heard Joe Mauldin, a University of Georgia poultry science professor, playing blues harmonica at Hendershot’s one evening and asked him to attend a practice. He happened upon Jared Price, a University of Georgia writing tutor and street musician, playing the accordion downtown one evening; Price joined after hearing that guitarist Rick San Miguel was part of the group.

Parke found Michael Crawford, a banjo player, at The Globe’s Traditional Irish Music Sessions series. Finally, he pulled in Kevin Shulhan, a local drummer who plays African and South American beats.

“It’s interesting playing with these guys, because I’ve adapted to Irish music even though I play the conga,” says Shulhan, who developed an interest in Celtic music when traveling with a Renaissance festival, selling ocarinas. “It’s fascinating to change my style.”

In addition to the group’s Irish standards, Parke has recently written several original songs for the band that incorporate two- and four-part harmonies, inviting Athens musician Jessica Fore to rehearsals to add another voice. Repent at Leisure plans to release a 10-song CD in coming months, featuring some traditional favorites and a few originals.

“My grandfather was an Irish entertainer, and most of my family does some type of entertainment,” Parke says. “It’s great to be back into singing and songwriting after a hiatus.”

The group practices weekly at Nuçi’s Space and gathers at Everett’s house on a regular basis, where they make a pot of soup and some salads and then bust out their instruments for an impromptu performance in front of the fire. The band organically rolls from one song to the next, evoking the atmosphere of an Irish band gathered around the hearth.

“Even the sad songs are fun,” Crawford says. “It’s the Celtic style of music. They celebrate everything in life, even the difficulties.”

For the full listing of St. Patrick’s Day music, see the Calendar.

WHO: Repent at Leisure
WHERE: Athens-Clarke County Library
WHEN: Sunday, Mar. 15, 3 p.m.

WHO: Repent at Leisure
WHERE: Pouch Savory World of Pies
WHEN: Tuesday, Mar. 17, 8 p.m.

WHO: Repent at Leisure
WHERE: Kumquat Mae
WHEN: Thursday, Mar. 19, 6:30 p.m.