When you grow up in Boston with name of Doherty, you can bet all the Guinness in the world that you're going to learn Irish dancing.
And if you are Scott Doherty, you're going to become the best at it.
Named the 2009 Men's World Champion of Irish Dance, Doherty has toured with both "Riverdance" and Michael Flatley's "Lord of the Dance," but these days the 30-year-old is stepping out on his own.
Doherty has teamed up with Celtic rocker Chris Smith, 32, of the world-touring band The American Rogues, to create the next generation of Irish music and dance world tour - "Rockin' Road to Dublin."
As if on perfect cue in the week of St. Patrick's Day, the international tour stops by the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, March 14. Tickets range from $39 to $54 at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 304-696-6656.
Armed with 14 dancers, eight rock band members and two singers, "Rockin' Road to Dublin" puts a fresh, youthful twist and rock energy into the music and dance that so many people love, said Doherty, who dreamed up the show with Smith, the show's lead percussionist and co-creator, when they were both working as performers in one of the most popular shows at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
"We became like instant best friends and were going to the gym together and just talking a lot about our dreams and what kind of show we would like to be in," Doherty said. "We kind of realized that we had the same dream. I had always wanted to make a cool Irish dance show, and he always wanted to make an epic rock show. and so we infused his rock 'n' roll with my Celtic dancing side. We began planning the whole thing out in our heads, and then it happened."
Doherty, who not only toured the world with both "Riverdance" and Michael Flatley's "Lord of the Dance," but also performed the lead role of "Lorcan" in Gaelforce Dance for its 2012-13 tours of Europe and Asia, said the show is respectful of the traditional music and dance but with its own youthful spice blended in.
"The lyrics of the songs tell a love story that weaves together the music and dance," the show's director, Broadway choreographer Jeff Whiting, said in a news release. "Our goal is to have the audience walk away having had an experience that is entertaining, uplifting and inspirational."
To help Doherty tell the story on the tour is three-time international Irish dance champion Ashley Smith, the lead female dancer. On stage since the age of 3, Smith was crowned the World Irish Step Dancing Champion in Belfast in 2004 at the age of 16, making her the youngest American female ever to win the world title at that time.
"Something that we hear from the crowds every single night is how people love the Irish music, but they also want something new, so we like to say we are not changing Irish dance or music but we are just updating it," Doherty said. "We feel like we have enough taste of the traditional songs and dances that everyone knows - the jigs and reels and the songs that everybody sings around St. Patrick's Day - but we also mix in this rock 'n' roll element. You have never seen anything like our full rock band playing our finale, 'A Nation Once Again,' the unofficial anthem of Ireland. It is as big and epic as it deserves to be. People come not really knowing what to expect, and they come away having seen something that was just different enough to be memorable."
Doherty said one of the reasons the show is so memorable is the sheer energy coming off of the band that includes Smith on drums and percussion; bassist John Baldwin, also of The American Rogues; Keven Eknes, an award-winning guitarist from Norway; Marita May, classically trained on violin from age 5; and Kelly Mills, a five-time winner of the Drum Corps and Percussion World Championships.
"Because Irish dancing is so physical, there are days when you are so tired and you have to push through, but when you have a rock band behind you it is easy to push through," Doherty said. "We have this medley of 1980s rock songs like 'Back in Black' and 'Walk this Way,' and we dance to those. That is probably some of the most fun I've had on stage, and that is something that you don't expect."
If the energy has been good thus far on the tour, Doherty says it feels like it could go through the roof around St. Patrick's Day - a holiday during which a majority of Americans will celebrate, pouring (literally) about $4.4 billion into the economy.
"As it is getting closer, something is in the atmosphere. You can tell it is building up, and we feel it," Doherty said. "Definitely these past couple weeks it is starting to amp up as we get closer to St. Patrick's Day."
Doherty, who hails from Massachusetts where more than 20 percent of the population claims Irish roots, said they love sharing their heritage with everyone and likewise love to feel the embrace of their culture.
"I think the thing about St. Patrick's Day is that it is so fun. Everybody wants to be and everybody is Irish on St. Patrick's Day," Doherty said. "When it comes to our music and dancing, there is something universal about it whether it is one fiddle or a big rock band. That is why this show meshes so well with the rock 'n' roll ... the energy with the tradition in front of a live crowd is something that is electric. I am excited to see what happens when we get to you all on the 14th."
If you go
WHAT:A stop by the international tour "Rockin' Road to Dublin" featuring 14 dancers, eight rock band members and two singers. The show was created by Celtic rocker Chris Smith of The American Rogues and Irish Dance World Champion Scott Doherty.
WHERE: Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center in Huntington.
WHEN: Tuesday, March 14.
GET TIX: Tickets range from $39 to $54 at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 304-696-6656.
THE BAND: Among musicians performing in the show are bassist John Baldwin of The American Rogues; Keven Eknes, an award-winning guitarist from Norway; Marita May, classically trained on violin from age 5; and Kelly Mills, a five-time winner of the Drum Corps and Percussion World Championships.
THE DANCERS: Scott Doherty, the show's choreographer, is the 2009 Men's World Champion of Irish Dance. He made his professional debut in 2005 with the North American tour of "Riverdance," and since has toured the world with that show, as well as Michael Flatley's "Lord of the Dance."
For the tour, Doherty chose three-time international Irish dance champion Ashley Smith to be his lead female dancer. On stage since the age of 3, Smith was crowned the World Irish Step Dancing Champion in Belfast in 2004 at the age of 16, making her the youngest American female ever to win the world title at that time.
Rounding out the cast are other well-known Irish dancers, including Colin Barkell (Celtic Fyre); Mark Chichester (Lord of the Dance); Declan Crowley (West Side Story: Mashup); Bernadette Devereaux (Lord of the Dance); Megan Kirk Drake (Rhythm of the Dance); Patrick Holland (Cherish the Ladies); Billy Kanaly (Riverdance); Emily MacConnell (Rockin' Road to Dublin); Erika Nielsen (Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games); world champion Tyler Schwartz (Celtic Fyre); Ciara Stillson (Celtic Fyre); and Mairead Stillson (Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games).
THE SINGERS: The two lead vocalists in the show are Megan Browning (Harley Boone) and Brett Benowitz (Born Blue)
ON THE WEB: www.RR2D.com; on Twitter @rocknrd2dub; Instagram rocknrd2dub; and on Facebook RockinRoadToDublin.