We turned in another performance a the Texas Scottish Festival this past weekend, our eighth there in as many years. The festival is the largest Scottish music festival in the country drawing about 40,000 in attendance, and this year's show featured a stellar line-up that included
Ed Miller and John Taylor,
Jil Chambless and Scooter Muse,
Murder the Stout,
Piper Jones Band,
Margaret Lyle Gravitt and Jim McCrain,
Seamus Stout, and
in addition to Tullamore.
And the beginning of a new era for the band - that of operating as a band from two locations (no doubt old hat for many bands, but new to us). Mary and I took a lunchtime flight from Kansas City down to Dallas. Rachel, on the other hand, who now lives out in Norfolk with her flyboy Kip, took some dark-thirty flight that bounced around half the eastern-US until she ended up in Dallas. As it turned out, however, her fiddle didn't arrive on the same flight as did she... so we had to improvise, overcome, adapt. Bob (Harmon) was there to pick all of us up, and we piled in his car and took off. On the drive over to UTA and Maverick Stadium, we reached out to Deanna and Ros (two highly-effective women in Texas' Celtic-music community) to locate a fiddle to be borrowed, and in minutes Rachel had the blessings from John Taylor and the use of his fiddle for our Friday evening set. We arrived at about 4:30 as David Shaw was completing setting up the sound-gear at the Glen Finnan tent. We got all unpacked, set-up, and tuned - with John arriving in the middle of that and getting his fiddle for Rachel. We took the stage to sound-check, and played an extra-long hour-and-a-half set for the folks who came to the early Friday set. We ended our set as the Opening Ceremonies and the Calling of the Clans began down on the field. The Ed and John began their set for the evening. Somewhere in the middle of that, we headed out to the car, packed up, and headed off to Pappadeaux for a great late-dinner of Cajun food and peach bellinis. Then we drove back to Bob's and bed.
The next morning, we were up bright and early for a 10:00 AM set, off to run through McDonald's for breakfast, and then over to the stadium. We set up and played our morning set for a good crowd, and then turned the stage over to Margaret and Jim. The other Glen Finnan musicians began to arrive, and we visited with all of them in turn. Margaret turned the stage over to Jil and Scooter - who played a great set and handed off the stage to Ed and John in turn. Somewhere in between the Jil/Scooter and Ed/John sets, the Great Musician Melange began (whcih would last all weekend). We played another set after Ed and John, and then Jed took over. And so we would rotate like this all the way through Jed's 8:00 PM set - the last set of the day on our stage. By that time the Lassies Galore set had begun on the Glen Coe stage... and Rachel and Mary went over to participate and do a couple numbers. But seeing as how I wasn't (and still am not) a lassie, I got onstage with Jed, and we did a lot of the duet material we did on our Ireland tour. Afterwards, we all went over to the Glen Coe stage for Fiddle Faddle the closing jam of the night. There, all the acoustic musicians at the Festival crash the stage and play for two stupendous hours. Then we packed it in, headed back to Bob's and hit the hay.
Sunday morning, we had a slightly later start (by an hour)... giving the opening set to the Kirking of the Tartans service. We took the stage for the first of our two Sunday sets, performed a great set, and then Margaret and Jim came on. For the next six hours, we would rotate through all the musicians twice, with everybody sitting in on each others' sets. A great afternoon. We made a couple more passes around the grounds - visiting with some folks and some vendors, listening to some bands on the other stages, and in search of food. We came back to steal some stage-space from Ed and John, and then I did half a set with Jed and his son Jamie, then we played our second set - joined by Jil, Scooter, John, and Jed. Jil and Scooter played one more set, then John Taylor hosted a set by himself. In the middle of John's set, Brian McNeill came over from the Glen Coe stage with a parade of patrons and we all conspired for one more big grand jam to end out the day. After making all the appropriate goodbyes, we packed up and headed off to the airport... and flew home as a threesome.
This past weekend, we made our annual pilgramage to the Norman Medieval Fair, the 17th time we've performed there. We got an unusually-early, late-Thursday-afternoon departure out of Kansas City - hitting I-35, fed, by the time we are usually meeting at Mary's in Raytown. We made it to the home our friend and host, Ron Deluca, by about 10:30, and had a nice visit before turning in. |
We began our Friday morning with our typical MedFair routine of running by Homeland for lunch foods, then McDonald's for breakfast, then on to Reave's Park. This year's line-up included Tullamore,
Bob, the Incredible Juggler, and
Smee, the Singing Executioner on the Unicorn Stage;
Barely Balanced, and
Black Oak Shillelagh on the Gryphon Stage;
the Bilge Pumps,
Royal Gauntlet, and
The Talents of Avalon on the Camelot Stage; and
Emerald Flame and
the Merry Sisters on the Troubador Stage.
Friday was (unofficially) Kids' Day (a dream-come-true for a Celtic band). The sound-man was just setting up his equipment as we carried our instruments and our own gear to the stage. We said hello to Brian (Bob) and Al (Smee), and to Ann Marie (the director) who took a few minutes to arrange getting our tent located and put-up. Smee led off the stage, then Bob, and then us - which we did four times around over the day... and Saturday and Sunday as well. The day turned out to be fairly lucrative for Kid's Day, and when it was all over, we went out to dinner at O Asian Fusion with Dennis, Jenny and Jay, Tanya, and Ben. Then, after everyone was fat and happy, we went back to Ron's.
Saturday began in the same fashion - with stops at Homeland to McDonald's. It was a fairly chilly day, one that required a stop at Walmart to purchase sweatshirts before heading out to the site. Friends and fans turned out right and left - and would all weekend long. The day was spent, in equal parts, performing, walking around the site and checking out various performances, playing Stretch and Bocce, and hanging out in the tent relaxing and eating. After our final performance of the day, we got a group of us together - the three of us; Ron and Richard; Delbert and Sherri; and Amie, Jeff, and Kaylee (from Turtle and the Hair) - and had dinner over at Johnny Carino's. It was a great dinner with a lot of great visiting, at the end of which we followed Ron back to his house for some shut-eye.
Sunday morning saw one last reply of the morning routine before ending up back at Reave's Park. It was still chilly, but only slightly less so. We spent the day trading sets with Smee and Bob, dropping in and watching friends perform, visiting with our favorite crafters, and hanging out with our favorite friends and fans. We only had three sets for the day as Ann Marie had bagged our last set so we could get on the road early to get back to KC at a decent time... but the day had gotten so blustery that the fair was called shortly after our third set ended (such is the risk with outdoor festivals). With the assistance of the handful of folks hanging around, we packed up, loaded the van, and made the six-hour drive home.
We got our uallach on this weekend with our performance at the Kansas City Rogues Gallery Spring Hoolie. The twelfth installment of this tradition was the largest, and brought in many folks who have never been to the hooley before. I made it a two-guitar night to minimize on capo-switches for the benefit of moving from one side of the set-list to the other as it made its way around the room. We arrived around four... the Rogues Gallery was already there in conclave (as it were). We busied ourselves with setting up. The Hooley had long ago outgrown the small room at VFW Post #7397, so the folding-wall divider was left open and it didn't take long for the crowd to spill into the bar. It was great to see so many folks there from the Kansas City Renaissance Festival... while we don't perform there anymore, it IS where we got started, and it's a treat to be able to stay connected to that group of fine folk - both as friends and performers. We played for a couple hours, took a small break while Scott Garten did a few a capella folk songs, did our obligatory solo pieces (Dan's perpetual request/demand), and then finished up the night with another hour-or-so of music. Then we packed it all in and hit the road.
To say it was a busy St Patrick's Day weekend is the understatement of the year coming from a Celtic band. The weekend began with a special Saturday-afternoon appearance at O'Malley's Pub... a totally off-the-cuff performance borne out of a chance conversation between Mike Coakley and myself while I was bemoaning the misfortune of the Emma Chase Music Hall - a venue in Cottonwood Falls KS where we've performed the last couple years in conjunction with St Patrick's Day, and who's fallen on tough times. Mike was ready, willing, and able to pick us up for an afternoon set prior to the evening performance by Chance the Arm. We happily snatched up his offer and turned up Saturday afternoon. They had played Friday night, and their gear was still out on the stage when we arrived. I Tetris-ed it into the keg-elevator/missile-silo behind the stage... and with them being a 7-piece band with a drummer, that was no small feat. We played a great set to an audience that started out loud and went up from there. Mega-kudos go out to Dennis Fulks who came up from Hellngone OK to see us for the weekend - what a treat! |
Sunday saw us making another visit to one of our favorite 'venues' of our season - St Patrick's Parish in the farm-community of Emerald KS. This would be our tenth such outing to perform for their annual fundraiser - a dinner (corned beef and cabbage) and raffle. It was 2004 when Joan Gagnon first contacted us to come play for them, and we fell in love with the event and the community of folks... and with the exception of one year, we've been there season. We've made a lot of friends there, and eaten a lot of exception farm-cooking. This year was no exception. There were plenty of people who came to dinner, and there was plenty of great music, singing along, and dancing. When we were done, we wrapped it all up, packed the van, and drove home.
Monday, we were back at O'Malley's Pub for their colossal St Patrick's Day celebration - the biggest in the Kansas City area. This year's bash would feature Tullamore,
Chance the Arm downstairs on the Hall Stage, and
Bob Reeder upstairs on the Pub Stage all evening long.
Rachel Bowerman joined us for the afternoon, and we played to a big, animated crowd. There were plenty of friendlies there, even in the early afternoon... Jacob and Megan (celebrating their 14th anniversary); Kim and Adam; Mike and Gayla; Marion and Diane; Randy... and it turned out to be a great set. We turned the stage over to the Kelihans, and packed our gear up. We made our goodbyes, and headed back into Kansas City, stopping for dinner at Kato Sushi (what else would we eat on St Patrick's Day?), and then heading home.
Our performance this past weekend at the North Texas Irish Festival was our seventh at the Southwest's banner festival... and it was their 32nd anniversary of the Festival. We flew out of Kansas City late Friday morning and arrived at Love Field in the early afternoon. Super-friend/fan/roadie/shirpa Bob Harmon picked us up and hustled us over to the hotel. We missed out on staying at the Festival-hotel - there was a huge response to the announced line-up that caused an unusual run on the hotel, so we ended up at the Holiday Inn (and we barely got rooms there). Kip is back from deployment in Afghanistan, and accompanied Rachel in from Norfolk, so seating in the Pilot was tight. We dropped off our gear, changed, and then headed over to Fair Park. We arrived with enough time to carry on with a leisurely set-up... we checked in to Instrument Check-In, took our gear over to the Shanachie Stage and set it up. We were the first band to perform on the stage so we were able to leave our instruments and gear there to acclimate while we roamed around the site and said hello to people. David (Harmon) turned up at some point, and joined the entourage. We returned to the stage and played a nicely-attended set. It was our first time to perform on that stage... theatre-seating, far away from the noise of rock bands and concrete floors... one of the most concert-hall-ish stages at Fair Park. It was a great set, and we were followed by Don Gabbert - who turned in a great set of his own. Afterwards, we visited a while, then packed up. checked our instruments and gear into Instrument Check-In, and headed back toward the hotel. We stopped at In-N-Out Burger for a late dinner on the way, and then hit the hotel and the hay. |
The next morning we got up, got ready, and headed over to one of our favorite Dallas restaurants - Henk's European Deli & Black Forest Bakery - for a leisurely breakfast. And then over to the Festival - where the crowds were huge. We had two sets - at 3:30 and 8:00 - on the Cashel Stage, so our day was spent zig-zagging back and forth between the stage and checking out the music. We took a few minutes to detour over to the southeast gate to meet up with Bruce (my brother) who had driven up from Austin for the day to hang out... and then began moseying around the site, taking in the music of
Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy , and
Both of our sets came of nicely (they rocked), and with that we were done performing for the weekend. We continued meandering around, and visiting with folks and listening. Eventually, Bruce headed off for his return trip to Round Rock, and we checked most of our stuff in to Instrument Check-In and headed back to the hotel. Mary kept her dulcimer with her for reasons that will soon become obvious. When we returned to the hotel, the girls (for various reasons) begged out of heading over to the Festival Hotel for getting in on the sessions and socializing, so Bob drove me over there and dropped me off. I spent most of the night hanging out in the lobby, having drinks with Ed and Nora, Craig and Deanna, Jil and Dan, Ros and Paul, Matthew, Rodger, and Albert. It was a great visit that eventually thinned out, and Jil and Dan and I milled about listening in on some sessions. We finally found one Jil wanted to join. I listened for a while and then headed downstairs and caught a ride back to the Holiday Inn.
The next morning, we had breakfast over at IHOP, and then went in different directions. As we had finished performing for the weekend on Saturday, Mary opted out of being at the Festival on Sunday and David took her to the airport. Rachel and Kip and I went with Bob to the Festival. After all... it's not every weekend that you get to hang around at the biggest Irish festival in the Southwest and listen to some of the best bands in the Celtic music... on a totally free day. The down side was that the day turned out to be a blustery one, and the temperature shot down to the low 40°s... what folks WERE there crammed indoors, and other folks stayed home. Fortunately, between Saturday being so gorgeous and the impending bad Sunday weather, it seems everybody turned out on Saturday. We listened to
the Trinity River Whalers,
the Town Pants,
the Máirtín de Cógáin Project,
the Makem & Spain Brothers,
Solas, and some more
before having to pack it in and head to the airport. We thought we would catch a bite to eat on the way... only to find that great intention thwarted as every place we stopped at was closed. We eventually ended up just getting dropped off at the airport and grabbing some food there before flying home.
The DFW Metroplex comprises our second-largest fanbase, and they all turned out this weekend. There are far too many names to remember, let alone list. Suffice it to say - it was great to see you all, to visit with as many of you as we had the chance to, and we hope to see you again ASAP! (That would be at the Texas Scottish Festival in nine short weeks!)
We just can't stay away from O'Malley's Pub - this past weekend was proof enough of that. It was a fairly mild mid-winter's, Valentine's Day weekend... and of course where else would we be than playing at the pub we LOVE to play at? It was a fairly slushy drive - while there was no snowfall, we had just gotten a few inches. Friday night's crowd was a surprisingly big one - punctuated with the appearance of some old-reliables and some brand-newbies. Shout-outs to Michelle (grrrr!); Garry, Lloyd and Bob (down from Cedar Rapids); SueAnne and Jason, and Mike; Gib and Melissa; Rich and Kathleen, and Ron; Marion and Diane, and Mike and Gayla; Big Steve; Andrew and Katie; Amy; Jolene and Bobby, and Suzanne; Adrienne and Sean; Megan; Aaron; Todd; Doyle and Victoria; Jim and Debra; and Emily. And to Aaron, Kristen, Holly, Laura, Steve and Dillon - who ably took care of the crowd. The end of the night was extra-special as Suzanne came up on-stage, took the guitar, and whipped out a few songs of her own... on-and-off accompanied by Mike (Coakley). Bob came home and spent the night in the guest room. |
Saturday night was a big night, with a rambunctious crowd. I was battling a tired voice and an over-indulgence in last night's audience-generosity (rounds sent up to the stage). But the crowd was eating it up and singing along all night long. The special events of the evening were a pre-arranged song requested by Tom Alger for his fiancee Mary, to whom he proposed afterwards... and the celebration of FOUR birthdays up on the landing with Mary and Rachel. Shout-outs to Dan and Norma; Larry and Sandy; JR and Dana; David and Jaimie; Bob (again); Fred and Angela; Sonya and Kurt; Brian and Amie; Amy, Jake, (both celebrating birthdays), Mikey and Monica (who danced all night); Jessica and Kimberly (the other two birthdays); Tom and Mary; and Jack (who gave Rachel a CD). And kudos to the wonderful bartenders and servers - Aaron, Austin, Kristen, Meredith, Steve, Dylan, Hollie, Big Steve, Mike, and Corey. A great weekend altogether! AND we'll be back up at O'Malley's twice in a month - on Saturday night, March 15th, and again on St Patrick's Day. See you all then!!
This past Saturday, it was once again our delight to make our way down to Tulsa to perform at the Scottish Club of Tulsa's annual Robert Burns Supper. The black-tie gala is hands-down one of our favorite gigs of our season (let's be honest... every gig is one of our favorite gigs!), and it was the eleventh time we've played for them. For late-January, it hardly seemed like winter at all as we made the four(-ish) hour drive to Tulsa, pulling up to the Homebuilders Association at just about 3:00. Steve and Eric were there with a few others handling various aspects of set-up. Roger arrived as we were loading-in, and we finished setting up with his help. We tuned, sound-checked, and hustled off to change in time to get back to the stage by 6:00. |
We began playing an easy-going set to underscore the cocktail-hour, then we wrapped up and took our spot at one of the tables. There were maybe eleven or twelve of them (including three or four VIP tables), with about 100-ish folk there, all decked out in their finest tartans, velvets, and satins. The evening began in earnest with the welcome and the entry of the City of Tulsa Pipes and Drums, who played a rousing set (and loud) set. Then there was some more speechifying, and then the presentation of the haggis - replete with a parade of honor accompanied by piper and chef, whickey galore, and a recitation of the Bard's Address To A Haggis. The presentation signalled the official beginning of the dinner. Table by table, folks got up and joined the buffet-line, and took plates of the most delicious food back to their tables. After folks had gotten a good share of the dining behind them, the ceremonies began. There were introductions and welcomes by both Steve and Eric, a toast to the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns, toasts to the lasses and lads, and toasts to Scotland and the US. The variation this year was a celebrity roast of Rabbie with a stellar portrayal of the Bard by Rick Ewing, and a stunning depiction of a mightily-inebriated Charlie Sherwood by Charlie Sherwood. The last little bit of pomp was the presentation of the Crookit Bawbwee and the Silver Thistle awards, and then we took the stage.
It was a great evening, a fun performance with lots of singing along and dancing, and the now-traditional joining-onstage of the SCOT Men's Choir for the singing of Roy Williamson's Flower Of Scotland, a few Scottish country dances, and the singing of Burns' Auld Lang Syne. We broke down our gear and packed the van, made our goodbyes to all who were still there, and headed to the hotel. Shout-outs to Roger; Charlie and Donna; Eric and Donna; Steve and Aleah; Rick and Chris; Vicki and Michael; Derryl and Mary, and Heather; Richard and Kami; William; Stan; Marlena; and Jamey. Sunday morning, we were up and out early, and made the four-hour drive back home. It was a great weekend overall!
This past weekend, we kicked off our 18th season as a band - longer than every Celtic band in the Midwest - with two nights at O'Malley's Pub. It was a mild Winter weekend on the heels of about an inch of snowfall, and the crowd was big and boisterous. As always, Friday night was a very noisy night, with the crowd's attention floating back and forth from the band (especially when the band was doing toasts) to not-the-band. Nights like that are typically worse on the voice for me, and Friday night was no exception - I was feeling it by the end of the night and relying on Rachel and Mary to carry the last 45 minutes. Shout-outs to Bob; Lloyd; Brandi; Mike and Gayla; and Marion and Diane. Saturday night was a very big, busy night. I was stuck nursing my voice all night long, so we were pulling out all the stops with Mary and Rachel singing as much upbeat material as we have for them. The evening was surprisingly free of special events given the size of the crowd. Beyond that, though, it was a great night. Shout-outs to Bob; Bryan and Erika, and Wendy; Allie and Dustin; Brian and Amy; Jack and Angie, and Teresa; Dan and Norma; and Tamara and Jennie. Come see us at O'Malley's on February 14th/15th.