Each summer, Warren Wilson College conducts the Swannanoa Gathering - seven weeks of summer workshops in various folk arts. The band had the good fortune to attend Celtic Week and, in doing so, had one of the times of our lives. In addition to taking some great workshops, we had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of some fantastically talented teachers and friends - Jack Beck, Ed Miller, Margaret Bennett, Meighan Carpenter, Gerry O'Beirne, Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin, and Paddy League (to name a few). The days were long and busy, each evening brought a different concert or dance, and the nights abounded with sessions. It was difficult to tear ourselves away at the end of the week. (And we're already looking forward to next year.)
The halfway point of the season found the band spending the weekend at its most consistent venue to-date - O'Malley's Pub. And just when it seems that doing that regular gig couldn't get any better, Sean turns around and surprises you by beginning to carry Newcastle Brown Ale by the bottle. Friday night was rather subdued - evidently the CAC (at Ft Leavenworth) was cycled out. Saturday night, however, more than made up for it. Kenny (volunteer sound-man and bassist for Shenanigans) was there and joined the band on-stage for a few numbers (as well as doing a solo number on his own... any guesses?). A great weekend.
MEGHAN & DANI'S HOUSE CONCERTS / OHIO IRISH FESTIVAL
Another big performing weekend began Friday evening with a house-concert in Indianapolis put on by Meghan and Dani. These two folk-music aficionados open their home to folk music performers and fans from around the Great Lakes area. The band had a pleasant evening performing to a living-room jammed with over two-dozen eager listeners, and converting a couple handfuls into fans we'd be seeing later in the season. After the show, it was on to Cincinnati to spend the evening with our friends at Chez Fox. Dennis, Mary, and dearest Ellen open their home to the band whenever we're passing through the area, and this time came all the way up to Indianapolis to see the show.
The next morning, we took the road to Olmstead Township, OH to join a few dozen other bands for the Ohio Irish Festival. The Festival is held at the West Side Irish-American Club on the southwest fringe of Cleveland (and it is the humble opinion of the band that every city needs an organization like the Club). There was great entertainment to be found, including some personal favorites like Silver Arm, the New Barleycorn, Changeling... some new friends - Roger Drawdy and the Firestarters... and some old friends - Shenanigans - who virtually made the trip out there with us and were featured performers as well.
The band ventured into unknown territory this past Friday evening as they headed over to Wyandotte County Lake Park to provide the music for the wedding of Jennifer Rector and Keith Benjamin. Keith and Jen had seen the band on several occasions at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival, and wanted to have their music be a part of their special day. The wedding and reception were held at James P Davis Hall, and was an absolutely lovely affair. And being a proud Scot and scion of Clan Cameron, the affair was awash in red and green, and replete with good Scotch whisky (Glenfarclas 105 among others). Of course there was the requisite anxiety of having never having performed at a wedding before... and it all came off quite famously. Mark thought it best to wait until after the reception had ended to let the girls know that the couple (and many of the guests) were music professionals. Well played, Mark... well played.
Going on six year's now, at the first hint of summer, the Lawrence Brewers Guild conducts theLawrence BrewFest. Homebrewers from all around eastern Kansas, get together at Clinton Lake for a day of food, fun, music, and beer-tasting (of course). The band had the chance to play the festival this year, courtesy of Richard Deviney - a friend that they made at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival the previous Fall. A good time (and some darn good beer) was had by all.
O'MALLEY'S PUB / WESTPORT IRISH FESTIVAL
Memorial Day Weekend was one of the highlights of the season. The weekend began with a lively Friday evening at O'Malley's Pub, and Ft Leavenworth's finest were there in force.
Saturday was day one of the third annual Westport Irish Festival. Traditional Celtic-music greats Connie Dover & Roger Landes, and Celtic-rockers Seven Nations shared the stage with a handful of other regional favorites like Tullamore (of course), Eddie Delahunt, Shenanigans, the Elders, Gabriel's Gate, and the talented youngsters from the O'Riada Academy of Irish Dance.
From Westport, it was back out to Weston for another big night at O'Malley's Pub with all the friends and fans who managed to tear themselves away from Midtown to come out and spend the evening at the pub. Sunday morning came bright and early and found the band heading downtown for a fun-filled appearance on Kansas City's own Celtic Crossings radio show, hosted by Joe Farrell and Pat O'Reilly, at 1190 AM, KPHN.
May 5th-6th, 12th-13th, 19th-20th
OKLAHOMA RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL
The Oklahoma Renaissance Faire is one of the band's longest-running gigs. This year, the band was the main attraction at the Black Boar Pub, the Castle's indoor, air-conditioned pub. The three weekend run gave us time to touch base with our friends and fellow performers - To The Hilt, Smee and Blogg, Terry Elton, Bob - the Incredible Juggler, Red McWilliams & Russ Doden, and the Bilge Pumps. And we were also able to hook up a bunch of our Oklahoma friends and fans.
NORMAN MEDIEVAL FAIR
This year's run of Norman Oklahoma's three-day Norman Medieval Fair was the best in a decade. The weather was a bit on the breezy side but was, otherwise, fantastic. And the crowd was enormous. The weekend at Norman has become our most reliable opportunity to get together with the Rogues (as it has become a regular stop for them as well). And as if they couldn't be more entertaining onstage, they went out of their way to be doubly entertaining offstage - ask Lars about his antics that weekend... We also had the opportunity to share the stage with Harmless T Jester and the Bilge Pumps. We were quite pleased to see that Ron DeLuca, a good friend and one of the founders of the Glengarries, had risen to the station of King. And a lot of our Oklahoma friends turned out. It was, overall, a great weekend.
Eventually, you get to the point where you've said all the good things you can say about a venue, and then you start sounding like a broken record. Being as how the band plays O'Malley's Pub eight or nine times a year, this record is plenty broke. O'Malley's is also our proving-ground for our sound system, so Friday night started out slowly while the kinks were worked out of some new toys. The modest crowd turned into a pretty rowdy throng by a quarter til ten, and stayed that way until just about midnight. Saturday, the old reliables showed up, and the entire evening was quite grand.
BELOIT COLLEGE / MOLLY'S PLACE
One of the most rewarding weekends in the band's three years together began with a performance at the Java Joint - the coffeehouse venue in Pearson Hall at Beloit College. The converted faculty lounge was filled to capacity with students (and others) who came ready to listen to appreciate good Celtic music, and their enthusiasm was greatly appreciated by the band. The night flew by, and the band drove into Mount Prospect (a northwest-Chicago suburb) to enjoy the hospitality of friend Curt Duval.
The next day, it was over to Curt's gaming store, Games Plus, for a tour and some shopping (of course). Lunch at Geno's East (the home of Chicago deep-dish style pizza) preceded sitting through a showing of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (a must-see). Then it was a short jaunt to the home of Brian and Diane Leo to perform for their house-concert series, Molly's Place. Among the few dozen friends and fans in attendance were a few handfuls of friends we haven't seen in quite some time, which made the evening that much more enjoyable. The long drive back to KC was saved for Sunday, after crashing in Mokena.
ST PATRICK'S DAY @ O'MALLEY'S PUB
Saturday morning, it was down to the Hallmark Building to meet up with the O'Malley's Pub float for the Kansas City St Patrick's Day Parade. St Patrick's Day was a beautiful day, and riding on Sean's float was a hoot. The weekend's festivities concluded with an early evening performance in the upper cellar at O'Malley's Pub. The rabid St Patrick's Day partiers were doing the sardine-can scene in the bottom cellar, while the folks who wanted to hear and participate were upstairs. It was a large, friendly, vocal bunch, and they made the evening a lot of fun.
HIGH NOON SALOON
St Patrick's weekend turned out, once again, to be a big bash. It all started Friday evening with a set at the High Noon Saloon in Leavenworth KS. A private party for the officers with Combined Arms Center at Ft Leavenworth quickly turned into Irish karaoke night. Host John Durnin came up to the stage, at the beckoning of the band, to lead the party with a rousing performance of 'The Wild Rover'. He then immediately went about the room drafting 'volunteers' to sing their fair share. The die-hards stayed late, the band later still...
The lowest cellar at O'Malley's Pub is open, and is officially the 'main room' for the music. It's a very handsome venue, kudos to Bill Hull and Sean O'Malley for their craftsmanship. If you haven't had the opportunity to take it in, you should make one. This was the band's first performance in the bottom cellar since last season's St Patrick's Day bash. And Friday night's turnout was nearly as big... and loud. After wrestling with the PA and the dynamics of the room, the music got into a groove and all was forgiven. And the sound was perfect for all the regulars who showed up Saturday night.
'Out of the ordinary' would be the words to describe our latest coffeehouse concert. Springfield MO's Drury University played host to the band for an unusual Tuesday performance on an uncommonly mild February evening. Good sushi at Haruno preceded an even better evening at Drury's coffeehouse. A few dozen students and handful of friends turned out and made this evening of good music so much more enjoyable.
The band reached its first milestone this week with the addition of a fiddler to the line-up. After two weeks of incessant dialogue, meetings of minds, comparing of notes, and a few practical jokes, Amy Weeks agreed to round out the line-up as the band's fourth member. Amy is busily working herself into arrangements, and the band is excitedly looking forward to her debut at the Westport Irish Festival on Memorial Day Weekend.
The 'official' start of the season came early this year with a fun weekend at O'Malley's Pub. The January weather was uncommonly pleasant... up to the day of our performance in Weston, at which point Old Man Winter reared his head and and did everything he could to keep people home. But the crowd was undaunted and showed up in scores both evenings. Friday evening, we had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of an Irish army officer, John Durnin, who came up and sang for his buddies (and the rest of the crowd). And half of our regulars from Saturday night showed up on Friday. All in all, it was quite the fun weekend.