For a long time, it looked like Tom Petrofsky would follow his musical dream alone. Tom is a lifetime musician. As a young man in the 1960’s, he and a friend headed off to San Francisco in search of the great bands of that era.
Unfortunately, they made the trek from Tom’s college in Connecticut to the West Coast a few days before the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969.
“We got to Haight-Ashbury and all the bands were gone,” says Petrofsky, though the experience led to a spiritual awakening that’s guided his life ever since.
But his four children – Seth, Joel, Gabe and daughter Miriam – didn’t share a passion for music.
“It’s every parent and musician’s dream to have their children involved,” he says. “I did my best to coax them into performing or playing, and I couldn’t get any response out of them. Then, finally when they were in their teens and early twenties, suddenly everybody started playing instruments – completely apart from me. Then we began to really enjoy playing together.”
That, combined with a shared love for the Celtic rhythms of Prince Edward Island, where the family has lived since relocating from New Hampshire in 1989, created the spark for the Sky Family band.
The Sky Family stops at Claremont’s First Baptist Church Sunday night at 6 for an open-to-the-public appearance. Petrofsky calls their performance revue “Fiery Faith & Fiddles” – it’s a hybrid of “Riverdance” energy and evangelical fervor.
Sunday’s special “Celtic Christmas” show features “lots of rhythm and harmony,” says Tom – and plenty of step dancing.
The group consists of Tom on lead guitar, fiddle and piano, Seth on bass, Joel playing lead fiddle, flute and saxophone, Gabe on guitar and drums and Miriam, the youngest child, playing piano.
Everyone sings and dances.
“Gabe is our lead dancer, Miriam can keep up with him almost,” says Tom. “The rest of us kind of fill out.”
He adds, “if you saw Gabe dancing and you put him next to the lead dancer in ‘Riverdance,’ the ordinary person couldn’t tell them apart.”
“Celtic Christmas” is divided into two 45-minute segments, one consisting of the fast-paced Irish music the group plays year-round, the second filled with Celtic-flavored holiday songs like “What Child Is This?”
The show also includes several humorous and inspirational skits.
Neil Knudson gave the show high marks when they stopped in Middletown, Connecticut. “The quality of the songs, musicianship and step dancing is stunning,” he said, noting that the spiritual component is not heavy-handed.
“The gospel is presented in a clear, down-to-earth manner which does not make the listener feel as though they were being manipulated or put on the spot,” said Knudson. “The Skys truly have a wonderful, effective, and unique ministry.”
The Sky family also performs Friday and Saturday at the Hunger Mountain Christian Assembly in Waterbury, Vermont.
If You’re Going:
The Sky Family
First Baptist Church
56 Main Street, Claremont
Tickets: $12/adults, $10/seniors, $8/children $40/family
Call 542-2344 for more information