December 31stWe brought the 2009 season to a close, ringing in the New Year at Waxy O'Shea's. The pub was full when we arrived to set up, so there was no small amount of concern for where all our fans and friends would sit as they arrived. But folks rotated out as they finished, tables opened up, and there was room for all as they arrived (even if it was in the dining section). It was a great evening and a great crowd with plenty of surprises... Sandy and Mary Kay were in from Concordia with Mike, Richelle, Rick, and Victor; Ray and Beth were, once again, up from Emporia as was Bob down from Cedar Rapids; Phyllis; Dan and Norma; Pat and Carol; Lloyd; Neil; Jim; Lyle, Ron and Lisa; Joan Moore (who was also there playing the bagpipes); Dale; Scott, Lori, Debbie and Jeff; Aaron and Michelle; Janie, Allison, Kathleen, and their gentlemen; Bryan and another handful of partyers. A special nod to super-server Erica and host-extraordinaire Vince. It was an incredible night from sound-check to Auld Lang Syne.
December 11th-12thThis past weekend at O'Malley's Pub was the last one of the season for us. It was a pleasant weekend overall, despite the poor weather and the sheet of snow and ice that blanketed the parking area and drive. Friday night was understandably on the slow side. Bob was down from Cedar Rapids, and Gene was on the scene. Otherwise, the crowd was fairly thin on regulars. But the response from the crowd was far from thin. What they lacked in size, they made up for in energy and enthusiasm... and it was a really good night, start to finish. Saturday night was fairly heavy and noisy, despite a lot of attention being drawn away on account of a house-concert in Kansas City by Three Pints Gone (down from Milwaukee). The high point of the evening was the celebration of Mark's 50th birthday. On the scene spearheading the party was Charity and Carmen, joined by Kurt; Danny and Beth (up from Rolla); Ray and Beth (up from Emporia); Bob; Jason and SueAnn; Jim; Rusty; and Dan and Deb. There were the predictable black balloons, and old-fogey presents, props, and jokes... and a LOT of once-in-a-lifetime celebrating. It was a great night, and a great weekend overall.
November 21stWe returned to Shawnee Mission's new(ish) Irish pub, Waxy O'Shea's, this past Saturday evening, and our second performance there was as heavily-attended and enthusiastically- and energetically-received as its first. We tried some innovation - plugging into the pub's sound-system rather than setting up mains. The efforts included some hairy set-up (running cable across the ceiling), and were met with decent success and mild setback. The premise proved promising enough to be incorporated into the regular set-up considering that it got the music into the dining rooms AND our crowd regularly spills over out of the bar and into the dining rooms. So all things considered, the venture was more of a success than not. Kudos to all who showed up, including Pat, Carol and Mike; Dan, Norma, Jen, Ken and Jake (who had to go home early, being under 18 and all); Bryan and Favi; Bob, down from Cedar Rapids (gotta love it!); Scott and Louise (down from Maryville); Lloyd; Dale; Phyllis, Vicki, Kandi, and Alex; Mike and Karen; Jason; Rachel and Lee; Scott, Richard and James; Lori and Debbie; and David and his folks... not to mention the incredible service of Lori, Keri, and Vince. An exceptional night!
November 7th-8thIt was a banner weekend with our first appearance at the Austin Celtic Festival. The weekend began with a flight to Nashville. Waiting in the gate, we met up with two other musicians, Joyce and Matthew, who were also flying (instruments-in-hand) home to Nashville... which brought the number of instruments carried on to five, and made all five musicians a plague for the rest of the travelers (and their carry-ons). After a brief layover in Nashville, we were on our way to Austin. We were picked up by Mark's brother, Bruce, who drove us back to his house in Round Rock - where we would spend the remainder of the weekend with him and his wife Lupita. After much visiting and plan-making, everyone turned in.
AUSTIN CELTIC FESTIVAL
The next morning began with a special treat as Bruce had gone out (accompanied by Mary) and returned with (the famed) Round Rock Donuts. After a lazy morning, it was over to south Austin for lunch at Güero's Taco Bar. Then it was over to Fiesta Gardens for the Festival. It was a beautiful day. As soon as we arrived, we met up with Deb and Frank (frogaritas). We had quite a bit of time prior to our early-evening set on the Puca Stage, so it was off to see the Festival and listen to the other musicians. After getting instruments set up and taking a tour of the site, we had the opportunity to take in sets by Raising Jane, buille and Téada before taking the stage ourselves for an incredibly receptive audience. We turned the stage over to headliners Ed Miller & Friends (Scooter Muse and Jil Chambless), Pride Of New York and Brian McNeill who closed out the night with a rousing set. Over the course of the day, we had the pleasure of hooking up with Jimi Carpetas (from Hair of the Dog); Tim and Jim; Scott and Tina; Bob, James and Jaime; Michael and Kay; Marilyn; Ed and Janice (down from Dallas!); and Robert, Sharon, Deanna, Michael, and Mary.
Sunday morning started out drizzly, becoming downright rainy by the time we arrived at the site... and while we were performing the first set of the day on the Selkie Stage, neither the rain nor the early set could keep the crowd away. And despite the rain, it was another great day. We hooked up with Brian and Beverly, and Cheryl (Aerie Books); Diane and Larry; Craig and Diana; Dale; Charlie; Robert. We also had the opportunity to spend a good amount of time with other performers at the hospitality tent - Scooter, Jill, and Ed (who followed the band on the Selkie Stage); Laura, LaDonna, Noel, Mark, Andrea (from Raising Jane); Albert; David and Kari; Heather and Jeff; and John Hebley (from NTIF), who had some encouraging words for us regarding our Spring schedule.
It was an incredible weekend overall, with a lot of help from sound-techs Damon and Keith (at the Puca Stage), and Greg and Ryan (at the Selkie Stage). Bruce delivered us to the airport, and soon it was off to Dallas and then back to KC. We're already hoping for an encore appearance in 2010.
October 17thWe made another foray into the unknown this past Saturday night with our debut-performance at Waxy O'Shea's, the latest Irish pub to appear on the Kansas City Irish scene - this one in Shawnee. The pub is the latest offering by Lee Sanford and Bob Ridenour, the duo who brought you Overland Park's W J McBride's, and is the second in the Waxy franchise (behind the Branson restaurant). It's a very attractive restaurant with great food and a great selection of beer on tap. We could hardly have hoped for a better night. It was an SRO-crowd in the bar portion of the restaurant (75), with the crowd overflowing into the dining room portion (where it was understandably harder to hear us). The crowd was loud and responsive, and the friendly faces plentiful. Kudos to Bob (down from Cedar Rapids) who rearranged his fall outings to be able to make it, and to Ray and Beth (up from Emporia). The friendlies list included (but was not limited to) Dan and Norma, Pat and Carol, Mike and Melissa, James, and another few friends of theirs; Scott and Louise; Phyllis, Vicki, and Kandi; Kurt, Michael, and Karen, and Leland; Dave and Tina, Jason and Annie, and Albert; Bryan, Terry and Maureen; Richelle; Gary and Jeannie, and Mike and Tammy; Jason and SueAnn; Adam and Laura; Dale; Rachel and Josh; and Bill, Nancy, Mike and Linda. The pub was a little short-staffed, with a couple of folks having called in, so kudos to Vince, Colin, and Lee for going the extra mile and then some. It was a great night, and Lee was out with his calendar before we had even completed packing up. Look for us there next on Saturday night, November 21st.
October 10thA small word to be said about the cancelled appearance at the city of Lansing's Autumn In the Grove fall festival. In the past week, Lansing has received an inordinate amount of rain. The city waited as long as they could on Friday before determining that the grounds at Kelly Grove Park were too saturated to withstand the traffic the festival would see, and cancelling the festival. It was a disappointment for us as there were several handfuls of folks making plans to see them at this new venue for them AND because we were interested in having the chance to listen to the other band that would be performing that day, Festhaus-Musikanten.
[CANCELLED:] AUTUMN IN THE GROVE
September 26th-27thWe went from one first-ever to another this past weekend with our first-ever appearance at the St Louis Pirate Festival. Held at Rotary Park in Wentzville, it is the autumn sister-festival to spring's St Louis Renaissance Faire, and is set in Martinique's Fort Royal circa 1755. It was our only weekend at the three-weekend show, and what a weekend it was.
ST LOUIS PIRATE FESTIVAL
We had a leisurely Friday night drive out to Wentzville and checked into our hotel. We had kept ourselves updated on the weekend weather forecast (which flirted with grim), and were quite prepared when we awoke to a heavy, humid grey sky Saturday morning. We got out to the site, McDonald's breakfast in hand, barely in time for morning-meeting, and got the lay of the land and how the weekend would go. Our four shows would be under the partial cover of the Marco Polo stage. Some morning rain had done an effective job of shrinking the crowd at the opening gate. After a round of songs there (by 3 Pints Gone, Queen's Gambit, Bounding Main, Shillelagh Law, and ourselves, it was off to the stage (which we shared with Starboard Bound) to get ready for their first set. The rain kicked up pretty hard and washed out the first two sets of the day. We were unprepared to transplant their first set into a shop, but we did so for the second set. The sun had fought its way through the weather by the end of the second set, but by then the damage to the day's attendance was done and all of the acts at the Festival fought for the attention of the limited number of intrepid patrons on the site. The third set was in great weather and we had a tiny gathering. Then the sky unloaded for their fourth set (complete with hail). It was back to dry for the closing celebration on the Pirate Ship stage, and then the day was over. We joined 3 Pints Gone and Queen's Gambit (and 17 other people) for a pilgrimage to the Ameristar's buffet for dinner, and then hauled our full, happy (and hurting) selves back to the hotel for the night.
Sunday was a great day, appropriate for the last day of the show. The crowd was big as were all four of our audiences - with lots of performers in addition to the patrons. We were able to get out and take in some of the other acts. The only act we were unlucky with was Bounding Main, whose schedule closely-enough matched ours as to prevent us from catching any of their sets. We had to settle for what we were able to catch of them at the opening gate and closing celebration - which was quite good. After the show ended, there were goodbyes all around, then back to the van to change and pack, over to Arby's for some dinner to-go, and on the road for a not-too-bad drive home.
September 12thWe flew down to Dallas this past weekend for a short drive up to Denton to perform at the first-ever Denton Celtic Festival. Produced by the Celtic Cultural Association of Texas, and presented at the North Texas State Fairgrounds, the inaugural event presented a slate of national, regional, and local artists including Ed Miller, the Trinity River Whalers, Beyond the Pale, Behan, Seamus Stout, the Jakeys, Heirloom, Cor Gaelige, Liz Covington, and Susan Koskelin (and Tullamore of course).
DENTON CELTIC FESTIVAL
It was a fairly typical Dallas-area gig... with Leah picking us up at the airport, everybody meeting at On The Border for dinner Friday evening (okay, that's not so typical), then over to Bob's for the night. The next (rainy) morning, Leah came by to pick us up, and it was up to Denton. There was a stiff and steady rain most of the day, so attendance was fairly depressed. But there was a lot of great music indoors (where the Ceili stage was as well as most of the crafters and merchandise) and outdoors (where a big pavilion-tent housed the Uisce Bheatha stage). With everything being consolidated in one (dry) location, we were actually able to take in far more music from the other bands than we have at other festivals. The high point of the day was when we joined Ed Miller for a set - it was as much a treat for us as it was for the audience. After the Festival was over, we made their way over to Michael's Kitchen for a late dinner with Leah, Bob, and Mark, and were accompanied by Ed as well as Kathleen (from the Trinity River Whalers) and Richard. Then it was a round of making goodbyes, and 'home' to Irving. Special events in Kansas City on Sunday morning precluded the traditional IHOP breakfast, so Bob piled everyone into his SUV and shuttled us to the airport. And then the flight home.
August 7th-8thWe returned to the stage at O'Malley's Pub this past weekend only to discover that we had, coincidentally, managed to line ourselves up against Elisha Israel and AZ-ONE, a Kansas City-based Reggae group who were there performing in the third Weston City Limits outdoor concert. Mark is just going to have to study the Weston Irish calendar more closely when he books O'Malley's gigs. It was a great weekend nonetheless, with a big crowd turning out on Friday night, and a huge crowd that showed up for Saturday's performance. All the regulars turned out one night or the other (some both), including Dan and Norma, Pat and Carol, Scott and Louise, Marion and Diane, Sean and Jennifer, Mike and Meaghan, Bob (down from Cedar Rapids), Lloyd, Gene, Gordon, Tara, &c. Saturday night's performance was especially lively. We went as long as the crowd was willing to go. It was about 11:20 before people started looking at their watches and figuring out that there wasn't going to be a break and began slipping out. Quite the sinister plan.
July 10th-11thIt had been nearly five months since our last appearance there proper (meaning an entire weekend rather than a long set on St Patrick's Day, so the crowd was more than ready when we showed up at O'Malley's Pub for what would be only our third weekend there of the year. It was a hot weekend, and not even the fifty-five feet of earthy insulation would keep it from being sweaty business down in the bottom cellar. Friday's crowd was fairly big. And Saturday's was surprisingly big notwithstanding our being short our most regular of regulars, the Rogues Gallery (who were playing down in southern Missouri at the White Hart Renaissance Faire) AND being lined up against Blue Voodoo, the Kirksville electric blues quartet, who were there performing in the second of four concerts comprising the second annual Weston City Limits outdoor concert series.
June 12th-13thAfter having missed them last year on account of the Scotland tour, we returned to Riverside's E H Young Riverfront Park this past weekend to perform at the Kansas City Scottish Highland Games. We had the privilege of appearing on the Pavilion Stage, opening for the Elders on Friday night, and for Tartanic and the Young Dubliners on Saturday night, and sharing the stage with Mother Grove, Kelly, Flannigan's Right Hook, the Shortleaf Band, the Kelihans, and Bob Reeder.
KANSAS CITY SCOTTISH HIGHLAND GAMES
The weekend began with the arrival of Dennis and Ellen Fox - friends of the band from Ohio - who were visiting Kansas City so Ellen could tour, and interview at, the Kansas City Art Institute. They conveniently scheduled their visit to coincide with the Games. The four (Dennis, Ellen, Mark, and Rachel) headed out in the direction of the Games, meeting Mary and Phyllis for an early-Friday dinner at Applebee's before heading up to Riverside. We began setting up as soon as we arrived at Riverfront Park. As Tartanic had only just arrived, we went ahead and sound-checked. We stayed close during Tartanic's sound-check and energetic set, and then took the stage for a kicking set of our own. We gave up the stage to the Elders who rocked the remainder of the night away. We made a pass through the festival-site and then headed home.
Saturday involved an earlier departure for the site to make room for more time visiting. The intention of 'earlier' was around lunch-time. It ended up being not quite that early, but we were still able to catch part of Mother Grove's set and the entirety of the set by the Shortleaf Band. This evening, our set would be before Tartanic's rather than afterwards. And then the Young Dubliners were up with a hugely-rocking set of their own. We wouldn't make it back out for Sunday, but it was great while we were there.
June 5th-7thAfter an idle May, we made our third consecutive appearance at the Texas Scottish Festival which was, far and away, our best. The weekend began with an extra-early Friday-afternoon flight that was arranged to enable us to perform a Friday-evening set, should the need have arisen. The flight was on Southwest, and the gang was about 60 people back in the choose-your-own-seat boarding process... so the outlook wasn't brilliant for being able to stow the instruments in the overhead bins. But indomitable flight-attendant Debra Warbritton rose to the challenge, and a few rows of overhead-bin-Tetris later, there were two completely-empty bins ready to take in the three instruments. Kudos to the plucky young lady for taking on that challenge - it utterly altered what could have been an ominous start for the weekend. Leah picked us up at Dallas' Love Field around 3:00 in the afternoon. As it turned out, there was no Friday-evening set scheduled for us, so we had a leisurely late-afternoon dinner at On The Border with the entire Tharp clan, plus Bob. After some heavy eating, Bob took Mary back to Chez Harmon where she undertook several hours of economics homework while Leah took Mark and Rachel out to the Festival for some music-listening and laid-back socializing (the kind that is hard to come by during an actual performing-day).
TEXAS SCOTTISH FESTIVAL
The next day got off to a fairly quick start, with our needing to be over to Maverick Stadium by 9:30 so we'd be ready to start at 11:00. It was already hot and humid (the weather would eventually reach the low-90s). The band shared the Glen Uig Tent with Jed Marum & Friends (Jamie Marum and Don Gabbert); Hugh Morrison & Kendall Rogers; Beyond the Pale (Gordon and Christy McLeod, Betsy Cummings, and John Delaney); Seamus Stout (Jan Cermak, Billy Harmony, Damon Swindall, and Jarrod Fay); and Marc Gunn. It was a great day that included a lot of visiting with not only the musicians from at the Glen Uig Tent, but from the other stages as well - Brian McNeill, Ed Miller, Clandestine, Jiggernaut, and the Scottish Rogues - AND all of the friends and fans who showed up (which meant a LOT of visiting). After the music ended on the Glen Uig Tent, all the musicians ended up over at the Glen Finnan Tent for the closing sets of the day, the first one being the Lassies Galore set. The set was a traditional showcase for all of the women-performers, but they accepted the necessary evil of having men be onstage as the number of said women-performers had dwindled over the last few years. It was a lot of fun, and when that set was through, it was time for the final set, Fiddle Faddle - another traditional set for all of the fiddlers among the slate of musicians. At this point we bowed out to go have a dinner (Indian food) with Al (Clandestine), Leah, Bob, and Mark. From there, it was back to Chez Bob for a much-deserved night of rest.
The next day, it was back out to the Festival for more music, more visiting, more fun, and more visiting. Not much more to say - it was a lovely day-2 for the Festival. Everybody who didn't make it on day-1 showed up on day-2. We played a noon set, made a couple passes around the site to touch base with folks, booked a performance at the upcoming Denton Celtic Festival (to be held in September), made half of their goodbyes, played a 4:00 set, then made the other half. Then it was off to the airport with Leah and the flight back to Kansas City.
April 25thFor the seventh year running now, we returned to the VFW Post 7397 in Lenexa to perform at theRogue's Gallery Spring Hoolie. This Spring tradition consists of our most devoted regulars turning out for an acoustic all-request set sponsored by Dan Robertson. Ordinarily, our set-list goes around the room once or twice with folks requesting whatever they please. We threw everyone a change-up this year with the set-list being pared back to only those pieces that have been formally arranged. That list was accompanied by a pair of dice. Each person could either select a request from the set-list or roll the dice, which results could be found on the List Of Chance. This list contained the less-commonly performed pieces broken down by genre (modern songs, a cappella songs, crying-in-your-beer songs, McGuire Brothers songs, rebel songs, and band's choice). It was a fun change-up... we'll see if it lasts to next year. In any case, we performed until the list made it around once, and then took a break during which each of the us performed our obligatory solo-numbers. Mary started off with her a cappella rendition of Jed Marum's Desolation Island. Rachel followed with her takes on Jason Mraz's Life Is Wonderful and John Prine's Angel From Montgomery. Then Mark was up with Tom Lehrer's So Long, Mom (A Song For World War III) and Brian McNeill's Prince of Darkness. All of the numbers got great responses, and then we assembled for the second set, which was a bit shorter (because that's just how everything times out). The wrap-up was followed by another 30-odd minutes of standing around and visiting, and then it was time to go home.
April 3rd-5thIt was like performing at three different fairs this past weekend as we drove down to Oklahoma to perform at the Norman Medieval Fair. The first fair was Friday, children's day, when the site is replete with kids, out in droves to see the Fair. And boy, do kids love magicians, and jugglers, and acrobats, and the joust, and pirates or what?! Something we've learned in the past twelve years, though, is that kids (as a general rule) just don't get into Celtic music... and that's putting it nicely. So Friday's fair turned out to be one of getting one song into each set when three-fourths of the audience would get up and leave - which just does wonders for the ego. There is, however, an up-side to Friday's fair - that being that it is also reconnect-with-everyone day. So at the Unicorn Stage, we had the pleasure of hooking back up with Skip (Harmless T Jester); and Miranda and Steve (Arabesque). As we ambled about the site, we were also able to reconnect with Bruce, Susi, Nikki, and Becky (Queen's Gambit); Craig, Dave, Ted, Christopher, Patrick, and Nathan (the Bilge Pumps); Emma Grace, Clarissa, Lolita (Willie's Wenches), and Malcus; and Brian and Beverly (Aerie Books). After Fair was over, we were joined by Jeremy and Skip for a tasty dinner at Gaijin Sushi, a very good (albeit tiny) sushi restaurant in Norman. After an evening of fun and fine food, we called it a night and headed back to the hotel.
NORMAN MEDIEVAL FAIR
Saturday's fair saw great weather, huge crowds, big audiences, and lots of CD-sales and money in the hat... one might say it came close to being a perfect day. It was warm but not too warm, breezy but not windy, and there was a ton of people in the park... including all of our Oklahoma friends and fans - Delbert, Sherri, and Jeremy (again); Lorna and Donna; Vicki; John, Cathy, Ashley, Taylor, and Sean; Brett; Ruby and Sissy; and Brian Price even turned up with his wife Bridget. After the day ended (and some cleaning up), Delbert, Sherri, and Jeremy treated us to a lovely dinner at Johnny Carino's, an altogether pleasant evening. Then it was back to the hotel for a good night's sleep.
Sunday's fair was ninety... that's 45x2... that's 45° with 45-MPH winds... and that, my friends, is cold. It was speakers-blowing-over-with-their-stands, tents-around-the-site-torn-up-and-mangled windy. We did our first set in the Aerie Books tent courtesy of Brian and Beverly. They came out to find Miranda and Steve huddled at one corner of the stage trying to perform. The temperature did go up a little, but never enough for the day to even remotely approach comfortable. Such is the life of performing at outdoor festivals. At long last the day ended, goodbyes were made, checks gotten, clothes changed, vans boarded, and we made the long drive back to KC.
March 20th-21stWe made the year's first quarterly appearance at 'the Dallas pubs' - our clever shorthand for the Plaza Pub and the Tipperary Inn. (ed. As it would later turn out, this would actually end up being our only appearance at the Dallas pubs, as the Tipperary Inn would shortly-afterwards be closing its doors, and we'd end up behind the curve in trying to find open Saturday nights at Trinity Hall to offset Fridays at the Plaza Pub.) Fortunately, this was unknown to us at the time - as no doubt there would've been no shortage of tears Saturday night.
PLAZA PUB / TIPPERARY INN
As it was, Leah picked us up at the airport, and after a short detour delivered us to thePlaza Pub. We set up and performed to what was nearly a packed house. All of the regulars turned out (even Tony, whom we hadn't seen in several visits... which, looking back on it, seemed to be ironically good timing). Then it was over to Chez Harmon to take advantage of Bob's ever-kind hospitality. The next day involved a rather relaxed start before rounding us up and heading over to the Olive Garden (hey, you don't fix it when it works), and then back to Bob's for some lazy socializing before heading over to that last performance at the Tipperary Inn. It was a much-larger-than-average crowd that began showing up very shortly after we arrived (which is saying something since we arrive at least two hours early to set up our gear so we can relax before the show). They were a lively, responsive, appreciative bunch which made for a great night. Back to Bob's, then up the next day, and (everybody together now) off to IHOP for the traditional send-off breakfast. Little did we know...
March 17thWe celebrated St Patrick's Day by taking part of the mini-festival of music at O'Malley's Pub. We kicked the day off with a 12:00-4:00 set in the bottom cellar and had a big crowd... AT NOON, ON A TUESDAY. It was epic. Queen's Gambit, up from Tulsa, made their first appearance at O'Malley's, pulling a late-afternoon set in the upper cellar before giving way to perennial favorite Bob Reeder. Meanwhile, in the bottom cellar, the instrumentally-versatile duo Ellis Island, down from Omaha, took over the stage from us for an early-evening set, and then yielded to Connacht Town who rocked the night away ending out the bash around 1:00 AM. It was an incredible turnout, with over 600 people in attendance over the course of the day. On a Tuesday...
ST PATRICK'S DAY @ O'MALLEY'S PUB
March 13th,15thThis past weekend, we continued the tradition of the Pre-St-Patrick's-Day-Three-Fer... only this year, it was just a Two-Fer.
IRISH AMERICAN CLUB OF JOHNSON COUNTRY / ST PATRICK'S CHURCH
The weekend started early on Friday afternoon with our return for our fifth appearance for the Irish American Club of Johnson County. This year the soirée found its way back to the Town Hall in Old Shawnee Town, and we were honored to be performing for the mixer once again. Damian Stack, friend and fellow conspirator, was back over from his home in Listowel, but this time he was the only Listowellian visiting. The party was quite pleasant and the music well-received. We sat down to eat during the program, which featured the typical recognitions, presentations, and good humor. We played one more set which ended up with a larger audience than it normally has by the time the party ended. Kurt had arrived partway through the second set, so he joined us as we went out to Johnny's Tavern with Damian and a small handful of folks for a late dinner.
Ordinarily, on the Saturday night of this weekend, we'd be playing at St Patrick's Parish in north Kansas City, but this year, the parish had their event on the 7th instead of the 14th, and the we were down at NTIF, so we handed off that gig to the Shortleaf Band. On to Sunday...
After missing a year, a happenstance for which we're still upbraiding ourselves, we returned to that magical little farm community of Emerald KS for a performance at St Patrick's Church and their annual fund-raiser dinner. This would end up being our fifth performance there in six years. And to be entirely honest, we don't really return for the performance... we return for the incredible corned beef dinner and delicious pies. The crowd enthusiastically welcomed us back, and the show was on. The crowd was very appreciative as we played through the first set. At last, the break arrived and we sat our impatient selves down to the dinner that awaited us. Afterwards, we played a second set, and finished the show to very gracious applause. We packed up amid friendly conversations and promises to see them again next year... and believe it - we won't miss next year.
March 6th-8thIt was very gratifying to be invited to return to the North Texas Irish Festival, and we were super-excited getting on the plane and flying to Dallas. The Festival is one of the crowning moments of our season, and it was a genuine treat to be onstage alongside performers the likes of Máirtín de Cógáin, Fanaí, Wolf Loescher & Mark Kenneth, Johnny B Connolly & Jeff Moore, the Trinity River Whalers, Shift, Arabesque, Jigsaw, and the Irish Rogues.
NORTH TEXAS IRISH FESTIVAL
The weekend began with Leah meeting us at the airport and whisking us over to the host hotel, (the Radisson) so we could drop off our luggage and head out to the site. (Like last year, we'd be staying at the hotel for the Festival, and commuting back and forth on the shuttles.) We arrived at Fair Park, headed over to the Cashel Stage, and began setting up our gear and tuning. After a great set by Fanaí, we took the stage and played a great set of our own to a surprisingly large crowd. After we wrapped up, we took in half of the set by Loescher & Kenneth before taking to wandering around the site and meeting up with a friends, fans, and fellow musicians. Eventually, we piled in the van and Leah drove us back to the Radisson where we had a late dinner with Leah, Bob, Mark, and Michael (from Spriggan). After dinner and a little piddling around the hotel, it was off to bed.
The next morning found us making a predictable breakfast excursion with Kathleen and Richard to the El Jordan Café for un desayuno muy magnifico, and then a small detour to Boomstick Comics for what turned out to be just a bit more than window-shopping (Mark bought a souvenir for Kurt - a Jack Burton action-figure). From there, it was back to the hotel to decompress, dress, get instruments and grab the shuttle. After a couple passes through the Festival grounds, it was over to the In the Tradition Stage to catch the last half of a great set by Johnny Connolly & Jeff Moore and begin setting up while Gary Whitaker did some storytelling. Another big, receptive audience attended the Saturday set, which flew by. We gave way to Máirtín de Cógáin whose kicking set we caught half of, then it was off to see another handful of folks - Clandestine, Ed Miller, Behan, and Liz Carroll & John Doyle - before heading back to the hotel. Once there, we got in on the big song-circle for an hour-and-a-half. Mary turned in while Mark and Rachel trolled around to a couple of sessions, and ended up back in the bar playing with Al, E.J., Emily, and Kendall until the bar closed, and finally turning in around 4:00 AM.
The next morning was, understandably, a very late one. We got up and packed, and were picked up by Leah for a ride to the Festival. There was a great deal of visiting, walking around, purchasing, and listening left to be done before our final set on the In the Tradition Stage. Despite a small jaunt to the Festival's product booth on the way out, Mark managed to leave the CDs there. Then it was back to the airport and home... jiggity jog. We're already looking forward to the possibility of a 2010 return.
February 20th-21stWe made our way back up to Weston for our second performance of the year at O'Malley's Pub. This time, the mid-February weather was surprisingly mild and everyone (and we mean EVERYONE) turned out. Friday night saw Scott (who sang during the break) and Louise; Bob (down from Cedar Rapids - yay!); George and Enera; Mike and Gayla; Gordon; Craig and Dori; Gene; Wendy; Russ; Brian; newlyweds Mike and Erin; Cliffton; and Dave, Cricket, and Heather. Saturday saw the rowdier crowd, which included Dan and Pat (of course); Ray and Beth (up from Emporia); Dave, Jeannie, and Lauren; Lloyd and Bob; Sean, Jennifer, Paul, and Kristi; Russ; Sean; Allie; Mike and Meaghan; John, Michelle, and John and Linda; Jack and Angie; James, Jim, Tim, Andrea, Jamie, Deb, Michael, and Phil (who was celebrating his birthday). This had to be one of the biggest collections of regulars that showed up for a not-a-special-event weekend... and it was an incredible weekend.
January 24thThe weather turned nice for a heavy driving weekend as we traveled first down to Tulsa for an encore performance for the Scottish Club of Tulsa's annual Robert Burns Supper. The black tie gala is the Club's premiere social event, and was held this year at the SpiritBank Event Center. We arrived in the early afternoon, meeting friend and fan Roger Ruffner, who would accompany us to the Supper. There was all the usual pomp and circumstance - some great traditional music by Crossroads, some fine piping and drumming by City of Tulsa Pipes and Drums, a tribute to the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns, more wit than you could shake a stick at in the Toasts to the Lassies (and to the Lads), an incredible dinner, whiskey, haggis, music by ourselves, and an hour or so of dancing. It was late in the night when all was said and done, and a lovely time was had by all.
ROBERT BURNS SUPPER / CHRIST CHURCH UNITY
The next morning, we were up and on the road early for the three-hour trip to Christ Church Unity in Springfield MO. Mark and Rachel dropped in on the YOU (Youth of Unity) chapter for the Sunday morning service. After church, the YOU had sponsored a potato-bar luncheon, and then we performed a concert at the church. There was a little over 100 in attendance, including friends Lee and Leann, Kurt (Mary's husband) and Kenny who had driven down from Kansas City, and a couple handfuls of folks from Springfield's folk and Celtic music communities. The concert was very warmly received. After the show, we accompanied Lee, Leann, Kurt, and Kenny to Mijuri - a very nice sushi restaurant. And then it was another three-hour drive home.