UPDATE: The Sound of Thunder: A Conversation with Ryan Kelly of Celtic Thunder and a DVD/CD Giveaway

UPDATE: The winners for our DVD / CD giveaway are: Janine W., Jennifer E., Pamela S., Pattyann M., Ruth B., and Kathie S. They have been notified by e-mail.

Celtic Thunder singer Ryan Kelly knows that if he ever forgets his lyrics, he just has to look out into the audience and thousands of Thunderheads (what fans of the Irish mega-group are called) are there to help him along. "We know that if we go onstage and make a mistake, everyone in the audience is going to know it," he tells us laughing, "because they know all the words, they're always singing along. It keeps us on our game; we can't fake a line or mumble an ending."

Fans helped to fashion the group's set lists for this tour. "We've been touring since 2008," Kelly tells us in a pronounced Irish accent. "We've made eight or nine albums, so we have a lot of material out there. As sort of a treat to our fans, we asked them what songs they wanted to hear us do. We took their requests and made sort of a greatest-hits-tour set list."

Kelly quickly adds, "I do want to make it clear, often when you hear about a group doing a greatest hits tour, that's an indication that things are coming to an end, and that couldn't be further from the truth for us. We just spent several months putting together our next show."

In order to make room for that new material, Celtic Thunder is retiring some of their standards from their stage show. "It's a wee bit of an end of an era because we'll be saying goodbye to some of our favorite songs, but at the same time we're looking forward to bringing in these new songs."

Kelly, who speaks with a thick Irish brogue (and says charming things like "a wee bit"), sings with flawless American pronunciation. We ask if stepping in front of a microphone somehow magically changes his accent. "If I sang with my own accent, the people wouldn't have a clue what I was singing about," he says laughing again. "Actually, it's not something that I do intentionally; it's just something that I've always done. I notice that if I sing an Irish song, a bit more of the accent creeps in. But in general, I'm just trying to make sure people can understand most of what I'm singing."

Well known for his solo performances of "Every Breath You Take" and "Black is the Color" during the stage shows, Kelly says a highlight for the members of Celtic Thunder is meeting with their fans after each show. "With this tour, these are the songs that we love performing and that the audience loves, so it's been a joy every time we've stepped on stage. But then again, it always is.

"The relationship be us and our fans is pretty uncommon. We're very accessible. We love the meet-and-greets. In these times, it's difficult for people to spend the money to go out and see a show. When they come to see us, we want to give them the whole experience. It doesn't just end when the curtain goes down. We love speaking to them, hearing what songs they like. I don't believe that happens at every show people go see, but it happens at each of our shows."

Celtic Thunder performs at 8 p.m. on November 11 at Bayou Music Center, 520 Texas. For information, visit the group's website or call 713-230-1600. $35 to $75.

US readers, to enter our contest to win a Celtic Thunder Voyage CD or DVD, please send an e-mail with the words "Celtic Thunder Voyage" in the subject line to olivia.alvarez@houstonpress.com. We'll select six random winners on Friday and notify them by e-mail. Sorry, US readers only.

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