With Dan Beer's passion for Celtic music, one might suspect he hails from the Maritimes.
He does not.
Beer said he was born and raised in Fraser Valley, but his appreciation for that culture, and especially the music, has long fascinated him - so much so, in fact, that he married a girl from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, 27 years ago.
"I have been drawn to Celtic East Coast for a long time," he said.
Ironically, the lifelong Langley musician never considered writing, singing, or performing Celtic tunes until his daughter promised her Grade 3 teacher that daddy would pen a tune about sailing ships.
Feeling somewhat obligated, the industrial forklift sales exec agreed. He wrote Mariner's Tale a decade ago, and that opened the flood gates for him to explore a whole new genre of music.
"I loved playing it, and embraced the genre," Beer told the Langley Advance. "It led from there."
About four years back, the Rankin Family and Great Big Sea fan joined forces with two friends and fellow musicians - another Langleyite, Dave Mercer (lead guitar and Celtic banjo), and Abbotsford's Marc Andre (percussionist and vocal), to create a Celtic band.
"The band name is The Seabillys - hillbillys by the sea, if you will," Beer explained. "We are a Celtic band but acknowledge our roots from rockabilly, pop, and country."
And while each member of the band regularly plays with other groups, they all still come together an average of half a dozen times a year - as The Seabillys - to play their distinct blend of "salty" music.
One of those limited performances happens this weekend, at Saturday's Cranberry Festival in the heart of the village of Fort Langley.
"We all love music," said Beer, now 52. "The Seabillys keep the energy level high and fun. Mark is the jokester and will try to make me laugh within a song. Dave is the serious musician with the most god-given talent. I like to sing, write fun songs, and have fun. And we enjoy sharing with an audience."
Beer started singing with the church choir at the age of eight, and still sings there. And through the years, he garnered a wide range of experience in multiple genres and venues.
But now he spends much of his time writing country music with a definite Celtic lilt.
It might be grasping, but Beer said he feels Irish. His father was from southern England, Cornwall, and Wales. His mother's family was English and Scottish.
"There is some Irish in there, as well," he insists.
So in addition to playing other genres of music, from pop to country, Beer said he gets his fix of Celtic tunes by playing most Sundays in White Rock, at S'laintes By The Pier, from 2 to 5 p.m. with Brian Best and the Irish Folk Session.
"It helps me learn the traditional Irish tunes," said Beer, who has gone on to write a lot more Celtic-inspired tunes, one of which he'll be performing with his two daughters on Saturday.
The Seabillys will be on the Cranberry Festival main stage on Glover Road, from 1 to 2 p.m. on Saturday, and Beer will be inviting his 19-year-old daughter Devon (who got this started all those years back) and her older sister 22-year-old Celina to perform Ugly Truck.
It is one of Beer's Celtic-inspired songs, which he co-wrote with former Langley City fire chief Jim MacGregor.
The Seabillys will also be performing at the Herring Sale in Steveston on Nov. 24, in aid of children with cancer.
"I love to play for charity events," he said. "I wrote a song called Its Not About the Money, where all of the proceeds from the CD sales go to World Accord, a Canadian non-governmental organization that does great work in Honduras and other places, working with rural communities, schooling, and clean water."
@ Copyright 2013