“We want to sizzle, not fizzle.”
That’s how Ian Byrne explained the decision to make 2018 the final year for the Elders, Kansas City’s most popular and successful Celtic-rock band. It will be the band’s 20th anniversary.
“I’ve been thinking about it all year,” said Byrne, the band’s lead singer and percussionist. “I’m turning 60 in December and I’m thinking to myself, ‘How long do I want to keep on doing this?’
“The band has never sounded as good as it does right now. But I didn’t want to not be able to do it. I didn’t want to hit the point where I was getting tired of it.”
The Elders were founded in 1998. Byrne joined the band after original lead singer Michael Bliss left the band in 2000. The band has gone through several personnel changes. Its current lineup: Byrne; multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Steve Phillips, Norm Dahlor and Brent Hoad; drummer/percussionist Kian Byrne (his son); and fiddler Diana Ladio.
Byrne said the decision was made about six weeks ago.
“I said we really needed to think about the future and the ending,” he said. “Everything has to end. Great things can’t go on forever. And I want our ending to be great.”
Byrne, who came to America from Ireland in 1987 and became a U.S. citizen in 2009, will have plenty of ways to fill the time. He owns a successful and growing custom woodworking business that already keeps him mighty busy. He spoke to The Star on Wednesday from Flagstaff, Ariz., where he was overseeing a big project.
“I’m flat out seven days a week,” he said.
He also plans to focus on hobbies and family. He has a 4-year-old grandson (Kian’s) and his daughter is expecting in June. His is married to Kathy Quinn, a reporter for Fox 4.
“I want to start doing some painting,” he said. “I love it. I love messing with the oils and acrylics. I want to make more time for the family. And my business is doing really well. So I’m thinking about the next 15 and 20 years of my life and the best way to spend it.”
The Elders will perform this weekend as guests of the Kansas City band Making Movies, who are headlining a show at Knuckleheads on Saturday. The Elders will headline its own show at the RecordBar on Dec. 29.
In 2018, the Elders will do the usual: visit festivals all over the country, make their annual pilgrimage to Ireland and headline their annual shows in Kansas City — the Hoolie in March and the Kansas City Irish Fest on Labor Day weekend.
Byrne said there are already plans for the band’s finale, starting with the Plaza Lights Ceremony next Thanksgiving Day. And end-of-the-year show is also in the works.
“We’ll probably still do some recording and maybe a special showcase now and then,” he said. “But no more getting on bloody planes and flying off to festivals all over the country.
“We’ll go out on top, when things are good.”