RECORDING WEEKEND w/KRISTEN
Being a teacher, and this being Christmas Week, we took advantage of Kristen’s vacation to fly her up (noticing a theme here?) to rehearse and to go into the studio to do some demo-work. It was another couple of great couple days in the studio overall. Again, Kristen was masterful, and George captured some great work. It was one-day shorter than the previous visit, so Kristen was gone almost as quickly as she arrived.
RECORDING WEEKEND w/KRISTEN
Being a teacher, and this being Thanksgiving Week, we took advantage of Kristen’s vacation to fly her up and go into the studio to do some demo-work. It was a great couple days in the studio overall. Kristen sang and played splendidly, and our go-to sound-engineer George Hunt captured it all. The final day was punctuated by a big band-dinner at Siki in Lee’s Summit (that’s really why we’re a band… so we have an excuse to go eat at great restaurants). This was a driving weekend for Kristen, and she hit the road the next day with another such weekend planned for December.
WESTON IRISH FESTIVAL
Rachel remained in town to perform with the band at the Weston Irish Festival, and the threesome was joined by alumnus Rachel Bowerman-Deering. As has been the case the last few years, we performed Saturday and Sunday afternoons (even though the Festival opens on Friday evening).
The Festival had an incredible line-up this year… over a dozen great international, national, regional, and local acts that included the Elders, Searson, Barleyjuice, the Screaming Orphans, Rathkeltair, the Wild Colonial Bhoys, Eddie Delahunt, Connie Dover, Damian McCarthy, Bob Reeder, Flannigan’s Right Hook, Chance the Arm, Ellis Island, Connacht Town, and the Kelihans.
Saturday, we arrived about 1:00 and headed down to the upper cellar (the Pub Stage) to catch the entirety of Eddie Delahunt’s set with Gabriel Reyes. We took the stage after him and performed for a veritable wall of patrons, and then turned over the stage to Mick and Dave (Ellis Island). We listened to them for a while, then went downstairs to catch the remainder of the Screaming Orphans’ set, then went outside to mill around and visited with Craig and Deanna Scotland. Then we went home (with a brief stop at Kato Japanese Cuisine on the way).
The next day, we were back out to Weston for the final day of the Festival. We arrived at 1:00 again, and made our way down to the bottom cellar (the Hall Stage) where the throng was gathering for Connie Dover’s annual offering at the Festival. The crowd ate up Connie’s performance (ably enhanced by Kelly Werts). She handed the reins off to us, and we nailed a great performance for a rowdy crowd, and then turned over the stage to Flannigan’s Right Hook. We caught half of their set, then went outside and caught half of the Elders’ set, and then headed home. Until next year.
Our performance in Weston ended our performing season, AND we weren’t done yet for the year.
LIVE IN CONCERT: TULLAMORE / TANNAHILL WEAVERS
Rachel flew into town for one of the biggest events of this season – our joint concert with Scotland’s super-group, the Tannahill Weavers. The Tannies have long been Mark’s all-time favorite Celtic band, and they became ongoingly linked with Tullamore with the occasion of Phil Smillie taking on the post-production of Tullamore’s recordings. We first appeared in concert with them in October 2013, and this Saturday’s concert was a welcome reprise of that performance.
Nearly 200 people turned out at All Souls Unitarian Univeralist Church for the night of great music. Tullamore took the stage first, and trotted out their newest toys – all of which adoringly received by the audience. After a brief intermission, the Tannahill Weavers took the stage. There were, of course, exceptional as ever. After a stellar set, we joined them for a couple of numbers that wrapped up the performance. Then it was over to McCoy’s Public House (and the Foundry) for the after-party. A great time was had by all in attendance.
A special thanks to Roy Gullane, Phil Smillie, John Martin, and Lorne MacDougall. Also to Jack Phillips and Judith Cady for their work in making All Souls available, and to Steve McBride for his expert work as sound engineer.
Rachel had stayed in town for the week in between Buffalo and Tulsa – where we were now on the way to for the Oklahoma Scottish Festival. This commute was a little different in that band-bestie Phyllis Robinson was joining us for the weekend. We arrived in the middle of a set by our Oklahoma City friends, the Flowers of Edinburgh. They turned in a high-power set, then turned the stage over to Jed Marum. We joined Jed onstage for a few numbers, and then he handed off the stage to us. After our set, we headed over to the Southern Hills Marriott – where the Festival was putting the musicians up. Not wanting for the night to be over, Jed conspired to have our foursome join him for karaoke at Remingtons Sports Bar… and we did a great job of showing the world that musicians who perform at festivals are just as capable as anyone else of screwing up songs at karaoke!
The next morning brought another round of McBreakfast before heading over to the Festival. We kicked things off on the Rock Tent (woo-hoo!), and then headed back to our ‘home’ at the Folk Tent – where we’d have another day of rotating through the great line-up there. Between sets, Phyllis took us to a few choice locations in the Park for an impromptu photo-shoot. And we also took the time, Sunday, to play bocce with friends and fellow-musicians. We closed out the music at the Folk Tent, and then we headed home. It bears mentioning that the trip home included a stop at Braum’s. That is all.
A big shout-out to our Oklahoma (and even Texas) friends and fans who turned out this weekend… too numerous to name (or even remember at the ripe old age of 55). You know who you are, and we appreciate your support and your fine company!
(Worth noting, the band also took the opportunity this weekend to release word of their next big endeavor, their Celtic On the Caribbean cruise that will feature Ed Miller, Jed Marum, Kendall Rogers, and Richard Kean. Check it out and get yourself booked!
SOUTHWEST MISSOURI CELTIC HERITAGE FESTIVAL
Rachel arrived in town Friday evening for our annual pilgrimage to Buffalo MO for their Southwest Missouri Celtic Heritage Festival. The next morning, we piled in the van, made a brief pit-stop from some McBreakfast, and then made the two-and-a-half hour drive to the tiny hamlet of Buffalo for what would be the 13th installment of their annual Celtic Heritage Festival.
We arrived just after 10:00a to an awaiting Kevin Church – our favorite Osceola friend, fan, and roadie – who helped us schlep our gear over to the pavilion where we’d be performing. The line-up featured the usual suspects… Fraoch (who was already onstage performing, EznDIL (Michael Nancy Micham), Jon and Heidi Reneau (and Scotty Fox), Deryl Dickerson, Stormy Weather, Tom Meehan, the Flower O’ Scotland Dance Troupe, the Shamrock Irish Dancers, and the Central High Kilties.
We turned in a couple of sets and listened to some great music. Late in the day, Lee and Lee Ann Worman arrived – just as we were kicking off the big jam that would wrap up the day. Then we headed over to the Maple Street Grill, gang in tow, for a great dinner. After dinner and goodbyes, it was over to Mockingbird Farm for some late-night visiting with the Wormans, and then to bed. The next morning brought a home-cooked breakfast, our annual walkabout of the farm, some more visiting, and then our trip home.
REHEARSAL WEEKEND w/KRISTEN
A weekend of fun as we flew Kristen into town for a weekend of rehearsing. Rehearsal was great, and interspersed with visits to the Kansas City Irish Festival and the Kansas City Renaissance Festival, as well as to Panda Express, Streetcar Named Desire, Chipotle, and Sama Zama. Then Kristen headed back home.
It doesn’t take a lot of time for the sands to shift. Life happened for Kelly and the demands of the band became untenable, and we had to bid her a sad farewell. With the closing of that door, a wonderful window opened in the form of Kristen Jensen. It was a stroke of great fortune to have access to yet another talented fiddler and vocalist. We’d seen Kristen performing with Al Cofrin in Early Grey In the Morning, most recently last September at the McPherson Scottish Festival. In addition to her work with Al, Houston’s Kristen is an alumnus of Poor Man’s Fortune, and performs regularly with the Gypsy Dance Theatre.
After some conversations by phone, we flew Kristen up Kansas City for a face-to-face interview/confab/audition. Pleased with the outcome (and having arranged for our photographer Robbin to be on-hand that weekend), we headed down to Lawrence for another photo-shoot. We hit all the regular places (you all no doubt know them by now), wrapped it all up in a few hours, and magically ended up at Yokohama Sushi (again). Are you sensing a theme? Dinner wouldn’t be complete without dessert, so a stop at Coldstone Creamery became a must-have. We then had a contented drive back to KC and got some much-needed rest.
The next day we were over at Chapman’s Recording beginning the work of recording Kristen and importing her work into our demo material. After a day of highly-satisfying work (and with more to come at a later date), we headed over to Korma Sutra for some great Indian food, and then up to the airport to leave Kristen winging her way back to Houston.
We made our way over to Lawrence KS for a photo-shoot with our new fiddler/vocalist, Kelly Bohling. We came across Kelly playing in the band Scarlet Town, and had a conversation with her about taking on the role of fiddler and third vocalist. Kelly brings a panoply of performing experiences to the band… besides Scarlet Town, Kelly performs with Oread Strings, the Dahlia Piano Trio, the Lawrence Community Orchestra, and Dorian’s Wheel. We’re utterly pleased with Kelly’s game as well as her willingness to fill Rachel’s big shoes.
We met with friend and photog Robbin Loomas for a circuit through all the aesthetically pleasing places in Lawrence. After a few hours of shooting we ended up at Yokohama Sushi for a great meal, and then headed our separate ways.
IRELAND TOUR 2015
The odd-numbered years have become the years for traveling… and this year’s travels began with a trans-Atlantic flight – along with 51 of our friends, family, and fans – for our fifth international tour and third bus-tour. With a travel-day in each direction, the 9-day/7-night format has become our go-to schedule. The 55 of us began assembling at JFK mid-Saturday, and that evening boarded Aer Lingus flight 110 bound for Ireland. Six and a half hours later, we landed at Shannon Airport just after sunrise – we were literally the only travelers in the airport. We met up with our driver/guide, the ever-witty, brilliant, and gracious John Costelloe (back by demand) – who welcomed us, got us all accounted-for, and got us and our luggage all stowed on the bus loaded. (And whose ministrations would make the tour simply unforgettable.) And then the tour-proper began!
The tour took our group to Lahinch, Kilrush, and Listowel; Foynes, Limerick, and Dromoland; Cashel, Blarney, and Cork; Cobh, Midleton, and Kinsale; Waterford, New Ross, and Kilkenny; Castledermot, Hollywood (really), and Glendalough; and Dublin.
We had the pleasure of visiting such sites as the Cliffs of Moher, the Foynes Flying Boat & Maritime Museum, the Rock of Cashel, Blarney Castle, the Blarney Woollen Mills, the Cobh Heritage Center, the Old Midleton Distillery, Kilkenny Castle, and the Glendalough Monastic Site. And we performed at John B Keane’s Pub in Listowel, Cleere’s Bar & Theatre in Kilkenny, and O’Neill’s Pub in Dublin.
And it seems every time we turned around, afternoon or evening, the group was found ducking into whatever pub was close by... John B's in Listowel, Shannigan’s in Dromoland, Michael Ryan’s in Cashel, Christy’s in Blarney, the Oliver Plunkett in Cork, Cleere’s in Kilkenny, O’Neill’s in Dublin, and O'Donahue's in Dublin.
Besides all of the incredible sites, all the performances, and all the public-houses, there were a few stand-out moments on the tour.
The first of these moments was Sunday evening in Listowel. Listowel is the sister-city of Shawnee KS… and for as long as we’ve been performing for the Irish-American Club of Johnson Country (formerly of Shawnee), we’ve been making the acquaintance of the small company of Listowellians who come to visit Shawnee around St Patrick’s Day, chief among them being Damian Stack. We’ve become great friends with Damian over the years, and that friendship was at the source of our first visit to Listowel in 2007, and again in 2011. The town has found a place in our hearts – our home away from home in Ireland – on account of the friendships we’ve developed there (Damian and Joan Stack, Billy Keane, Seán Moriarty, Dennis O'Mahony, and Mickey MacConnell). It’s a genuine treat to be there with them, and this was our third visit there. After catching dinner wherever we could find it, most of the group braved the jet-lag and headed over to John B Keane’s Pub. Between the pub’s regulars and our group, it was pretty much standing-room-only all night long. The performances were acoustic… so the highly-motivated folks in the group got to hear the music, and the slowcoaches got to enjoy the atmosphere. We turned in a very-warmly-received set, and then took a break. Then Mickey MacConnell stepped up and performed a most excellent set of his own. When his set was over, he invited Claire Fennell to perform “Isle Of Innisfree” while he accompanied her. Then Billy Keane stepped up and recited one of his poems – “The Starman” – a very lovely tribute to his father, John B. And then We played one more set – at the end of which everybody joined together for the pub’s traditional closing number, “The Black Hills Of Dakota”. Any other place in the world, folks might call this a fine concert... in Listowel, they call it Sunday evening. (Much appreciation to Curtis for capturing these moments on video).
The second of these moments… was our stay at Dromoland Castle. We were originally slated to stay at Adare Manor… and when Michele Hammond saw Dromoland Castle become available, she jumped on it. The Castle lies just north of Newmarket on Fergus, and was a happy surprise. Built in the early 19th-century, the Castle was the ancestral home of the O’Briens, the Kings of Thomond whose lineage goes back 1,000 years to Brian Boru, the only High King of Ireland. It is the fourth to stand on the site – including the original 15th century tower-house – and is now a 5-star luxury hotel. From Listowel, we drove along the Shannon Estuary, making a stop in Foynes to tour the Flying Boat & Maritime Museum (and have some Irish coffee)… and then completed the short drive to Dromoland, arriving there in the early afternoon. Folks checked into their rooms, and then set off for one of the many splendiferous activities that lie in wait for them at the Castle… golf, falconry, skeet shooting, archery, the spa, the pool, the gym, the gardens, or simply exploring the Castle. Afterwards, everyone
Finally, we'd like to acknowledge everyone on the tour. First, there’s our driver and guide, John Costello… and there aren’t enough great words in the English language to convey the kind of fellow John is and the impact he had on the tour. Charming, generous, gracious, witty, thorough, knowledgeable, and consummately professional… he made the tour a relaxing one, he made Ireland come alive for everyone, and he was a genuine pleasure to be around for the week. And then there’s the biggest, bestest bunch of family, friends, and fans… traveling companions extraordinaire who made the week most rewarding… Michelle, Kurt, and Kip most of all… and then Charity, Barbra, and Karen; Dotty, Vicky, and Doug; Bob, David, and Dan; Mike, John, Paul, and Janet; Ron, Taylor, Bryan, and Laura; Delbert and Sherri; Patrick; Michael; Gib, Melissa, Gib, and Tammy; Jason and SueAnn; Charles and Patti; Ivy and Kate; Adam and Laura; Curtis; Dennis and Lorna; Carl and Katy; Regan and Leah; Judith and Scott; Johanna and Julia; Julie; Renee and Jim; and last (but certainly not least) Rachel and Grant. Rachel (our first Rachel) joined the band this time around as a guest artist, and created the tour as a special opportunity to share that experience with her father Grant. It was our pleasure to have Rachel onstage with us for the week, and our privilege to have Grant along.
SACRAMENTO VALLEY SCOTTISH FESTIVAL & HIGHLAND GAMES
This past weekend was a BIG first for Tullamore, namely our inaugural performance in California. The lucky festival was the Sacramento Valley Scottish Festival and Highland Games. We flew out Friday evening, laying over in LA and eventually arriving in Sacramento, driving to Woodland, and checking into the hotel. The next (late) morning we headed out to the YOLO Fairground where the Festival was being held. It was a beautiful site with a huge number of attractions – surprisingly more than one might expect from a festival with only four bands in their musical line-up.
We arrived in time to catch Ed Miller’s first performance on the White Heather (folk) Stage. He completed in time for the parade and opening ceremonies, and we caught up with him, and then took the stage for our first performance. It was just the two of us trading off on the folk stage. Meanwhile, over at the Stirling Pub (rock) Stage, the Wicked Tinkers and the Angry Brians were exchanging sets. After both stages wrapped it up, we joined up for the evening’s ceilidh, and then it was back to the hotel (with a stop at Osaka Sushi on the way).
The next morning, we stopped at the Scottish Restaurant for breakfast on the way to the Fairground (rather than catch breakfast as catch can). We kicked off the music that morning with following us, and then one more set from each of us. And then we were off to the airport.
Overall it was a great weekend. Rachel’s Uncle Rob and Aunt Chris came up from San Diego to meet up with Rachel – which was a lot of fun. Time will tell whether our appearance in Sacramento will open up any doors at other Scottish festivals out West. But all in all, it was a great weekend.
We were back at O’Malley’s Pub in Weston for 104th appearance there (over the last 15 years). Quite a number! It was an extra-special weekend with Friday night being Good Friday and Sunday being Easter… it added just the touch of irreverence you might expect squeezing a couple of nights at the pub in between those two high, holy days. The crowd that showed up on Friday was clearly impervious to such considerations, being big and noisy. That’s how Fridays sometimes go at O’Malley’s. We consigned ourselves to the reality that the night would be a (well-) paid rehearsal, and had enough fun for ourselves and the handful that was into the music. Saturday began with dinner in the America Bowman
Saturday evening before heading downstairs to set up. The pub was mostly full by the time we kicked off at 8:00p. It was a far friendlier crowd on several counts – in the number of friendly faces in the audience, in their responses to the music and toasts, AND in their generosity in tipping the band (both in the tip-mug AND in the drink-tray – Mark was mightily abused by the end of the night). We trotted out a good bit of the material from the new CD – which was well received… even the slower-than-slow “Over the Water To Charlie”. The many helpful hands from the night owls made for light work when the time came to break down, pack up, and carry things upstairs and out to the van. And then we were on the road home.
NORMAN MEDIEVAL FAIR
For the seventeenth time, we piled in the van and hit the road for Norman OK for a long weekend at the Norman Medieval Fair. The Fair, held annually by OU at Reave’s Park, is a fusion of Renaissance festival and county fair… running the unlikely gamut of Crusader’s tents to concessions trailers, and period crafts to amplified stages… and draws hundreds of thousands of patrons and performers from the Rockies to the Mississippi, and from the Gulf to the Great Lakes. This year, the Fair landed on an uncharacteristic last weekend of March – as Easter was the Sunday of the typical first weekend of April.
We hustled out of work as quickly as possible and got on the road, stopping for some grab-and-go dinner at Chipotle before leaving Olathe. Five-ish hours later, we pulled into the home of our dear friend (and host for the weekend), Ron DeLuca. Ron was up late – taking care of some last-minute preparations for his booth at the Fair (Pane In the Glass), and waiting on our arrival. We visited for a bit, and then everyone went to bed.
The next morning, we got up and got ready, headed to Homeland (cooler in tow) to get some foodstuffs for the weekend, grabbed some McBreakfast©, and then headed over to Reaves Park. We arrived at the Unicorn Stage just as Al (Smee, the Singing Executioner) was beginning to hawk his show… and we made our hellos to both Al and Bryan (Bob, the Incredible Juggler) – with whom we’d be sharing the stage all weekend. We set up our instruments and gear, organized the tent, and then went on walkabout to say hello to a handful of other performers – the Bilge Pumps (over at the Camelot Stage); Triskelion (at Merlin’s Stage); and Black Oak Shillelagh, Brizeus, and the Steele Sisters (over at the Gryphon Stage). We returned to find Bryan already halfway through his set, finished tuning, and then turned in our first set. It was a fairly brisk 53°, and our fingers weren’t functioning as well as may’ve liked. The crowd was friendly though… and even though it was Student’s Day, a lot of the local cast turned out to welcome us. We rotated through the line-up four times over the course of the day, interspersed with visiting with friends and fans… and eventually turned in the final performance on the stage at 6:15. After the set, we packed up and headed off to Rudy's Country Store & Bar-B-Q to hook up with the Bilge Pumps, Triskelion, and Einini for a tastier-than-tasty barbeque dinner. Then it was back to Ron’s for some visiting, and then to bed.
Saturday was a more hospitable day – angling up to about 75°. The morning started out mostly the same with brief visits to Homeland and the Scottish Restaurant. We arrived as Al (Smee) was taking the stage, and commenced the rotation with Bryan and ourselves. The crowd was huge, and we saw way more than our share of friendly faces. There was time in the middle of the day for some bocce, and later in the day for some ‘stretch’ (if you don’t know, come to MedFair next year and ask Mary). After the day was done, we made our annual pilgrimage to Johnny Carino’s with about a dozen-and-a-half friends an fellow-performers in tow. After a great meal and some equally great socializing, it was back to the Deluca estate for some shut-eye.
The next morning, we were up and at it once more with a stop under the Golden Arches before heading back for our last day at Reaves Park. Sunday was just as lovely as Saturday was. The early crowds were predictably thin (with many people still being at church), but the afternoon crowds got big. We made a point to get around the site to be sure we connected with everybody one last time, and cut our day short after our third set to get on the road back to Kansas City. We made it as far as Guthrie before making our traditional dinner-stop at Arby’s and Braum’s (can’t leave Oklahoma without a cherry limeade with lime sherbet). Then we got back on the road for the long drive home.
It was a fine Irish day to behold – about 55° and drizzling lightly – as we made our way over to Lenexa’s VFW Post 7397 for our annual Spring Hoolie. The all-request, anything-goes extravaganza is thrown by Dan Robertson and the Rogues Gallery of Kansas City, and is the sole remaining event we do that keeps us in regular contact with our friends from (and roots in) the Kansas City Renaissance Festival. And it’s always a great gig for just that reason.
Mark arrived about 4:30 to get a jump on setting up to find the Rogues in conclave. Mike Patterson stepped out and helped unload the van, and then left Mark to set up. Mary and Rachel arrived about an hour later and helped finish up. Rogues, Roguettes (?), and other friends and fans of the band began arriving around 6:30, and the Hall was fairly filled by the time the music began at 7:00. Mark had both the Taylor and the Guild on-hand as the show would be completely request-driven, and he didn’t want to spend a lot of time retuning the guitar back and forth between capo-settings.
The Hoolie was very well-attended – with the crowd spilling into the bar. Inside the room, they were mostly well-behaved. Out in the bar… well… you know. The set-list completed its circuit of the room through around the room once, and we took our break. Returning from the break, we took the time to deliver our solo-numbers – which is Dan’s request. Then we finished up the night doing whatever we darned-well pleased. At the end of the night, a small handful of generous folks stuck around and helped break down and load up the van. And then home.
ST PATRICK’S DAY – O’MALLEY’S PUB
It was a perfect Spring day as we headed up to Weston MO for our ‘regular’ St Patrick’s Day gig at O’Malley’s Pub. Corey and Mike had a pub full of performers and patrons – from before the cows leave and ’til they come home.
Bob Reeder, the Irish Energizer Bunny, was on the schedule from noon to midnight in the upper pub – no small feat. For the endurance and stamina he shows, one could easily imagine a Cyberdyne Systems T-800 Model 101 underneath that wool vest and cap (albeit one with a friendlier disposition). But no… it’s ALL 100% Grade-A Bob.
Downstairs on the Hall Stage, it took four bands to do what Bob was doing singlehandedly upstairs. We arrived just after the Kelihans had kicked off the opening set… and set up all our gear, went up to give a quick wave to Bob, grabbed some lunch, and visited with some of the friendlies that were hanging around. The crowd was already quite thick. After their 2-hours, the Kelihans wrapped it up, and we made as quick a changeover as we could manage… and then kicked off our set. We played for another couple hours for a crowd that grew to packed and loud over the course of or own 2-hour set. Rachel Bowerman joined us as a guest-performer for the set… and of course Mike joined us onstage for his obligatory performances of Fields Of Athenry, 10 Minutes Too Late, and Danny Boy. We handed the stage off to Connacht Town in another fairly quick changeover, lugged everything out to pack the van, and then came back in for a little more visiting and listening. Connacht Town was still going strong when we left (and would end up playing a 4-hour set before turning the stage over to Chance the Arm – who would finish out the night playing until midnight. Meanwhile, we headed off for the ULTIMATE St Patrick’s Day celebration – sushi dinner at Kato Japanese Cuisine. Right?!? And what a great dinner it was!
MIDLAND SCOTTISH-IRISH FESTIVAL & HIGHLAND GAMES
We added another festival to our CV this past weekend with our debut-appearance at the Midland Scottish-Irish Faire. Hosted by the Celtic Heritage Society of the Permian Basin, the Fair is the largest Celtic festival in west-Texas, and our appearance there began a conversation at the Texas Scottish Festival last May with David Roy Raney. Our appearance there meant that we would, regrettably, miss our annual appearances pre-St Patrick’s Day gigs… but so it goes. We took a Friday early-afternoon flight into Midland’s airport by way of Dallas. We arrived Friday evening, were picked up (and would be chauffeured around all weekend) by friend and fan Brad Atwood, and hustled off to dinner at Dickey’s Barbeque Pit, and then on to the Country Inn & Suites.
Saturday morning, Brad picked us up and drove us the entire 2 miles to the Midland County Horsehoe Arena, and we arrived as Rickey Pittman was getting into the thick of his set. Besides Rickey, we would be sharing the stage with Jed Marum, Red McWilliams, and The Rogues – plus the Thorn & Thistle Pipes & Drums who’d be performing around the Arena. We made our ‘hellos’ to everyone and began setting up. Jed followed Rickey before turning the stage over to us. Then we performed and handed off the stage to Red and The Rogues in turn. And then it began all over again. We toddled off to grab some food from the Oz Highland Farm, and then came back to the stage. As Rickey was wrapping up his second set, Red went off to a classroom to conduct a Scotch Whisky Tasting with Mark in tow – which had him nearly miss the downbeat of Tullamore’s second set. After the second round of sets from everyone, a big circle of- chairs was made on the floor in front of the stage, and the musicians came down for the evening’s ceilidh (more of a song-circle – as most of the musicians there were vocalists). Then we wrapped up and headed back to the hotel.
It being a one-day Fair, the next morning was a lazy one – with a late start, breakfast at the hotel, and then a final trip with Brad back to the airport and home.
NORTH TEXAS IRISH FESTIVAL
This past weekend, with all due thanks to Connie Ener, we paid our 8th visit to the North Texas Irish Festival – the largest Irish festival in the Southwest and one of the gems in Dallas’ offerings of cultural events. The Festival features 10 stages of great regional, national, and international acts… and this season was no different. This year’s line-up featured Lúnasa, Paddy Keenan, Eileen Ivers, the Screaming Orphans, Seamus Kennedy, Carlos Núñez, Open the Door for Three, and Matt and Shannon Heaton; and included the Piper Jones Band, Flashpoint, Tröen, Jiggernaut, Poor Man’s Fortune, the Trinity River Whalers, the Selkie Girls, Behan, Vintage Wildflowers, and another dozen-and-a-half bands.
We caught a mid-afternoon flight in to Love Field, and were expertly collected and chauffeured around by friend and superfan Bob Harmon. We had a leisurely go of getting to the hotel, dropping off luggage, and getting out to the site as we were performing the 9:30 set on the Cashel Stage. We arrived at Fair Park, making a bee-line for Instrument Check-In, and then headed over to the Automobile Building – where our friends Al and Kristen (Earl Grey In the Morning) were turning in their last two numbers. They finished as we unpacked, and we visited with them for a while… and then set up while the Tea Merchants performed their set. When they were done, we took the stage and performed for a nicely-sized audience (for a Friday night). Afterwards, we broke down, visited with a couple handfuls of friends until no one was left in the building, headed back toward the hotel, grabbed a quick late-dinner at In-N-Out Burger on the way, and then got to the hotel. The girls went to bed, and mark stayed up visiting with folks down in the bar until 1:00-ish, and then went to bed.
Saturday was an incredibly leisurely day as our set wasn’t until 8:00p – on the Cashel Stage again. We slept in, woke up and were picked up and taken for breakfast by Kathleen Jackson and Richard Jones to one of our favorite Dallas haunts, Henk's European Deli & Black Forest Bakery (really, everyone should go there at least once). After breakfast, it was out to Fair Park for a day-long exercise in checking out other bands (yay!) and eating Festival food (sigh). We caught some Vintage Wildflowers, some Screaming Orphans, had some lunch, caught some Trinity River Whalers, some Eileen Ivers, and some Behan, and had some dinner before heading over to Instrument Check-In to retrieve our gear and head back to the Cashel Stage for another great performance. When we were finished and packed up, we headed back to the hotel where there was a lot of sessioning going on and even more hanging out in the bar. Mary went to bed, and Rachel and Mark ended up in a really great song-circle – staying up until about 4:30a. Needless to say it was a woefully short night.
Sunday saw Bob picking us up at the hotel and whisking us off to the Park – with a stop for some McBreakfast along the way. The late night wasn’t as much of a chore as it might’ve been given our set was at noon. We had a really great set at the Trinity Stage, giving the stage over to the always-great Lúnasa. We packed it in early, loaded into Bob’s car, and headed over to downtown Dallas to meet the gang of superfans for lunch at Campisi’s. From there, it was back to Love Field and our flight home (and anticipating our return to the DFW Metroplex for our May-appearance at the Texas Scottish Festival).
It was a particularly chilly weekend as we made their way up to O’Malley’s Pub for our first appearance there this season. Friday morning started out at a frosty 0°, and had climbed to a merely-unpleasant 9° by the time we were driving up. Friday night’s crowd was surprisingly NOT tiny. They started out rather restrained, and got livelier as the night wore on. A pre-arranged visit from Rachel (‘One-Point-O’) Bowerman to sit in with us on the bodhrán/cojón/harmónica heightened to enjoyment of all – band and audience alike.
Saturday was a slightly less-freezing day, trading an extra 10° for some sleet. RachB joined us again, and our arrival at the pub was prefaced with dinner at the America Bowman (mmm… crabcakes and cheddar-ale soup). The crowd was undeterred by the weather, showing up in greater numbers than on Friday. It was a great night and a great weekend overall (notwithstanding that driving home Saturday night was rather dodgy).
You O’Malley’s fans – our next weekend up there is the first weekend of April… though, no doubt, you’ll be able to catch us there on St Patrick’s Day as well!
SCOT BURNS SUPPER
We kicked off Season 19 with a pleasantly-predictable weekend with the Scottish Club of Tulsa to celebrate the life and labors of Scotland’s national bard, Rabbie Burns, at their annual black-tie Robert Burns Supper. It was an uncommonly balmy 62° for Saturday’s drive. We arrived and headed straight over to The GAST House down to Tulsa. Rachel was not with us –she flew into Tulsa for the gig (a first), and Aleah picked her up at the airport and brought her by shortly after we arrived. We set up all our sound equipment with barely enough time to dash off and get dressed, and return to begin playing for the cocktail hour.
The Dinner is always a blast… the perfect blend of pomp and pageantry, fun and rapport, great food and drink, great music and dance, all topped off with the poetry of Robert Burns. It was our 9th year down there – and we’ve come to feel like part of their family. This year was no different. After cocktail hour, we set our instruments down and took a seat, and the evening began in earnest. There was some welcoming comments followed by a rousing performance by the City of Tulsa Pipes and Drums. The haggis was piped in, marched around the room, and then eviscerated following a recitation of Burns’ Address To A Haggis. Then each table, in turn, availed themselves of the delicious buffet dinner. After a good part of that was eaten, the Program began – the traditional Toast to the Lasses, the Reply From the Lasses, a Toast to the Heads Of State, and then the climactic Toast to the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns. The Silver Thistle and the Crookit Bawbee awards were presented, and then the music began. We played for almost three hours with some spontaneous dancing here and there as well as some Scottish country dancing. The gents joined the band for a rousing performance of Flower Of Scotland, and eventually we wrapped up the night with Burns’ Auld Lang Syne. When all was said and done, we packed up our gear and headed off to the hotel.
The next morning, we jumped into the van, high-tailed it to the airport to drop Rachel off for her flight, and then made the drive home all the while looking forward to our return to Tulsa for September’s ScotFest.