We couldn't think of a better place to finish our season than at O'Malley's Pub. Sean, after all, accounts for probably 40%-50% of our gigs... so when he flashes his boyish grin at you and asks to play on New Year's Eve... well how can you say 'no'? The evening was a multi-cellar bash, with Bob Reeder ringing it in upstairs, and Tullamore in the bottom cellar. Folks were lined up at 6:00 in anticipation of an evening of great fun. And what fun the evening was - a perfect end to the 2002 season!
The band waltzed into O'Malley's Pub expecting a fairly sedate, weekend-after-Christmas crowd... the kind of crowd you might find in the living room during a house concert. Boy were we wrong. Friday night's crowd started out like that, but were whooping it up before the night was even half-over. And Saturday night's crowd was a blowout from the word go. (Of course, they all knew we would be there because the schedule had been updated by then, thank you.)
O'Malley's Pub never fails to be a rewarding gig... whether it's a special event (like St Pat's or the Irish Festival) or the typical Friday/Saturday performances on a cold, late-Autumn, November weekend (like this past one). Folks come out to O'Malley's for some good music and a fun glass-or-two of beer (or a couple of litre-mugs of Harp and three Car-Bombs... Pat...) and Sean always delivers. A quiet-start on Friday turned into a moderate crowd by the height of the evening. Saturdays rowdy bunch stretched the limits on Sean's sound system. And a tiny reproach for Mark for not updating the web-site's schedule in time to get the regulars out in force. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
The band had the privilege of making an appearance, this past weekend, at the very recently opened Castletown Geoghegan in Belleville IL. Kevin, Tom, and Ed Gagen have done an excellent job in putting together an altogether attractive pub and bringing Irish cuisine and music to Belleville. Being just a stone's throw away from St Louis, we had the pleasure of running into a handful of our modest (but growing) contingent of fans in the area - Jim Slack and friends, Sara (Rachel's sis) and Mike, and Bob Cunningham and another handful of AOH friends. And (of course) Lloyd Camp. Mark had been battling a bad cold for the previous week, and was good for about 45 minutes of voice for each night... but the girls were able to take up the slack and carried the weekend off nicely - they never realized they knew so much Irish music. The music was received well, and we anticipate the pub to become a regular stop for us in years to come.
McPHERSON SCOTTISH FESTIVAL
The McPherson Scottish Festival was the last stop in the band's Fall run and the model of finishing on a high note. Beautiful weather and a picture-perfect site were the setting for the ninth anniversary of the Festival. The band got to share the Glasgow Tent stage with Alex Beaton, a folksinger and fingerstyle-guitarist of inestimable talent with more than his share of charm and wit. Holding down the Edinburgh Tent stage were recently-made friends and outstanding vocalists, Navan (Joan, Sile, Elizabeth, and Paul), and incomparable harpist, Sue Richards. Saturday night's ceilidh was a fun time, CD sales were aplenty, and we made a couple handfuls of new friends, including sound-man and entertainment-mastermind Chuck Vetter and his family. And we even got a visit from (surprise!) Lloyd Camp.
WESTON IRISH FESTIVAL
Sean O'Malley's Weston Irish Festival was a raging success for the second year in a row. After last year's mid-October chill, Sean had the Herculean task of trying to find an ideal weekend for his young festival amid a Fall schedule loaded with heavyweights. Despite holding the Festival opposite Winfield's Walnut Valley Festival, he lost none of the momentum or audience from last year... AND he brought in more music from around the country. Faces familiar to the Festival - like Tullamore, the Prodigals, the Elders, Shenanigans, Brigid's Cross, the Blarney Brothers, Ellis Island, Bob Reeder, and Sean McRactagan - were joined by new additions like the Fenians, the Young Dubliners, Donnybrook (it was great to see the gang, and Walt and Mary), Cavan, and Todd Menton. The weather was superb, and great music rocked the house on all three stages.
OHIO RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL
The weekend we spend at the Ohio Renaissance Festival is always a fun one - due (in equal parts) to Mary's connections in the area (having performed at the Festival for a few years with Bully Ruse), to the good friends we've made in the few years we've been appearing as guest musicians for the Festival' Irish weekend, and to the generous hospitality of our Cincinnati family (Dennis, Mary, and Ellen Fox). A fun Saturday of performing was followed by a fun Saturday night at The Dubliner for some good dinner and great music by Roger Drawdy and the Firestarters. Sunday's sets were followed by some quality time with Doug Mumaw (The Swordsmen), Jonathan Crocker (Theatre in the Ground), and Robert "Buzz" Pinkerton (the Firestarters), and our annual pilgrimage to Lebanon's Ando sushi restaurant. Highlights of the weekend included running into a score of friends - Craig Broers, Dave Wooley (the other half of The Swordsmen), Bob Ford, Ray Smeltzer and Jeff Rooks (Minstrel Woode), and the entire gang from the Tartan Terrors - PLUS superfans David Peak (thanks for the hats!), Justin Donie, and Lloyd Camp (of course).
ST CATHERINE'S IRISH FESTIVAL
The band made the long drive back to West Dundee IL this past weekend for an encore performance at St Catherine's Irish Festival (formerly the Fox Valley Irish Festival). Indoor and outdoor music stages and a couple of dozen food and craft vendors combine to make this modest Irish festival one of the most pleasant in the Midwest. The band opened the outdoor stage Saturday at noon and closed the indoor stage that evening, turning in two well-received performances. The only unfortunate part of the day was missing a great performance by Donnybrook because of our overlapping schedules. These folks are an establishment in the Chicago area and beyond, and can really move an audience with their great dynamics and performances. The band enjoyed the hospitality of Curt Duval for the weekend (where else would we stay?), and were happy to have the opportunity to hook up with some of our old friends (Gordon & Christine, Jesse & Mary Lou, and Dave & Kathie).
O'MALLEY'S PUB / BROOKSIDE IRISH FESTIVAL
Labor Day Weekend turned out to be a fun mini-marathon, made even more fun by the arrival of Mark's brother, Bruce, from Austin. It began with a Friday night performance at O'Malley's Pub. With it being the start of a holiday weekend, and considering the Chiefs were playing their last exhibition game at Arrowhead, it was a pleasant surprise to find the crowd not as razor-thin as we had expected. Quite the opposite, as a matter of fact. It didn't take long for them to get into the spirit of the music and make the evening a fun one.
Saturday afternoon marked the band's debut appearance at Kansas City's Brookside Irish Fest. Nestled between two of the area's favorites - KC's own balladeer, Bob Reeder, and Christine O'Riada's Academy of Irish Dance - the band turned in a performance leaving the crowd hollering for an encore. More great music was on the way, however, as the Festival played host to Eileen Ivers, Flogging Molly, the McCabes, and other favorites like the Elders, John Morris, and Bosko.
Saturday afternoon, it was back up to Weston for dinner at the America Bowman, and another night of fun at O'Malley's Pub. Sean had rented out the bottom cellar for a wedding-party, so the performance was in the cozier upper cellar (which he has been remodeling of late). Adding to the fun of the evening were several couples who had seen us earlier that day at Brookside and hadn't gotten their fill. The attentive and responsive crowd added the finishing touch to an already-great weekend.
PEORIA ERIN FEIS
The band's return to the Peoria Erin Feis couldn't have been more gratifying. John and Bill and company really put on a great festival that boasts a half-dozen stages and features nearly three dozen acts fitting neatly into the RiverFront, Peoria's beautiful, breezy Festival Park. We had the pleasure of spending half of Saturday afternoon with Sean McRactagan (whom we see on a regular basis at O'Malley's Pub). And we had the good fortune to hook up with Joan, Sile, Elizabeth, and Paul - the four outstanding vocalists that make up the group Navan - for some good visiting and late-evening jamming. (Seriously, make it a point to check this group out... they are definitely worth hearing!) And what would a festival 350 miles away from home be without a visit from one of our best friends and fans, Lloyd Camp? We had barely shown up Saturday morning, and gotten our gear carried to the stage, when Lloyd appeared out of the blue. It was great to see a familiar face, and it's building that kind of rapport that makes performing so rewarding.
The hot summer's hiatus from gigging was briefly interrupted by a weekend at O'Malley's Pub that was the busiest the band has seen the pub to-date (with the exception of St Patrick's Day and the Weston Irish Festival). Friday night's over-capacity crowd left no doubt that the Combined Arms Center at Ft Leavenworth was in full swing. And despite a thinner-than-usual turnout of Tullies on Saturday night, the crowd overflowed up the stairs and landing. They were plenty boisterous and responsive (and kept the band well-lubricated). A fun time was had by all.
O'DOWD'S LITTLE DUBLIN
Last night was Tullamore's first time to perform at O'Dowd's Little Dublin on the Country Club Plaza. Ordinarily a hot-spot for Kansas City's favorite Dubliner, Eddie Delahunt, O'Dowd's has been looking to other Irish musicians to fill the bill while Eddie gets back on his feet after his recent hospitalization. A gremlin in the sound system hampered the mains for the first set. But a little fancy footwork during the break got the band on-line for the remainder of the night. The O'Dowd's crowd was thick, and quite responsive after they could hear. And it was rewarding to see the few handfuls of regular fans who showed up to lead the crowd on.
INDIANA HIGHLAND GAMES
The meadow of the Concordia Lutheran Seminary was the site for the Indiana Highland Games. With Friday evening's reception and Saturday's festivities, the Fort Wayne Scottish Cultural Society painted the town blue and white. There were competitions galore (heavy athletics, pipers, drummers, pipe-bands, and Highland dancers) and exhibits of all sorts (celtic harps and fiddles, storytelling, country dancing, and sheep-herding). Tullamore had the pleasure of sharing the stage at the entertainment pavilion with Arvil Bird & Friends and Janice Furtner & Friends, and enjoyed the opportunity to take in the kind hospitality of Ron and Linda Phillips, who graciously put us up for the weekend.
O'MALLEY'S PUB / WESTPORT IRISH FESTIVAL
Memorial Day weekend got off to an early start this past Friday evening at O'Malley's Pub. The evening was uncharacteristically placid, with the ambience seeming more like a house-concert than an evening in the Midwest's coolest pub. By about two-thirds of the way through the evening, the crowd had gotten all-but-as-good-as to-the-point-of-being on-the-verge-of pushing-the-envelope-toward more-or-less disorderly. Kind of. That lasted all of thirty minutes - at which point that couple left and the evening returned to uncharacteristically placid.
Saturday began with an afternoon set at the Westport Irish Festival, now in its fourth season. The music was exceptional, and there was enough and then some, with Clandestine, Cherish the Ladies, and Tom Landry & the Paperboys, and regional favorites like the Elders, Rowan, Bob Reeder, Jonathan Ramsey, Shenanigans, the Jolly Rogers (in their Irish festival debut), and the O'Riada Academy of Irish Dance.
Saturday night, it was back out to Weston for a Saturday night at O'Malley's Pub, and a night that more than made up for Friday. Way more. The Tullies (for lack of a better word) were out in force, and their enthusiasm lit the crowd up. The next morning, Mark was on the Red-Eye to Chicago to stand up for Gordon Lyons (of WMT fame) as he took Christine Findley for his bride (in a beautiful service, by the way). It was a truly memorable Memorial Day weekend.
OKLAHOMA RENAISSANCE FAIRE
The chance to perform at the Oklahoma Renaissance Faire this year nearly eluded the band. Nearly. Rachel is graduating from Friends University (woo-hoo!) on the second weekend of the Festival, and Jane (Rachel's mom) is graduating from Graceland University (woo-hoo!) on the third weekend of the Faire. Fortunately, Red McWilliams (who'll be performing those two weekends) had a conflict for the first weekend, and the band was able to step into his slot on the schedule. So this past weekend was two breezy, balmy Oklahoma spring days at the Castle of Muskogee. And on top of the festival fun, we spent a great deal of time with a couple performer-friends, Terry Elton and Bryan Wendling, as well as the Bilge Pumps, Boru's Ghost, and Tom Campbell. And we were able to connect with those Oklahoma fan-friends who were unable to make it to Norman. We ran into Robin Murphy, who gave us (great) news that Sean was on his feet and back at work. We also ran into Danny and Beth Reardon, and are glad to learn that they have become part of the Astral Sea family.
The weekend at O'Malley's Pub turned out to be pretty fun. Friday night went like this... the 8:15 crowd was small and mellow, the 9:15 crowd nearly filled the pub, the 10:15 crowd was utter pandemonium. The monitors barely reached above the crowd noise - one would've thought it was St Patrick's Day. But it was a fun crowd nonetheless. Saturday's crowd was big from the get-go with lots of regulars having lots of fun (including Dan and Norma who were celebrating their anniversary). And Sean wanted the band to remember to announce his upcoming Lewis & Clark Expeditionary Shindig... but by the time the second set started, no one in the band could pronounce it.
NORMAN MEDIEVAL FAIR
After two seasons of perfect weather, April showers put quite a damper on the Norman Medieval Fair. Friday was a pleasant breezy day day, and there was a surprisingly good adult audience despite it being Children's Day. Saturday turned cool, wet, and blustery. And morning thunderstorms prevented the Fair from opening on Sunday. Still there was much fun to be had. We whiled away the hours (as many as we could) with the Rogues, Smee and Blogg, and the Bilge Pumps. And we had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of Boru's Ghost, a band we had never heard before. It was nice to see all of our Oklahoma fans turn out, despite the weather. And we noticed that the duo of Donna and Lorna has turned into the trio of Donna, Lorna, and Laura. Sushi at the Golden Rice (Oklahoma City) was stellar (as usual). And we discovered another gem of a restaurant in the Taste of India in Norman. Go there someday.
SCOTTISH HERITAGE FESTIVAL
The United Scottish Clans of Oklahoma rewarded themselves for six years of hard work by moving this season's Scottish Heritage Festival to Hafer Park in Edmond. The huge park afforded lots of room for the pipe bands, Highland dancers, and athletes, as well as for two music stages. It was a pleasant treat to run into fellow performers/friends Tom Campbell (there with his band and students), Bryan Blaylock (coordinating entertainment, and congratulations on your upcoming nuptials) and the Rogues (along with their new addition - Nelson Stewart). And we made some new performing acquaintances from the band Smithfield Fair (out of Baton Rouge LA). It was also a treat to run into a few handfuls of our OKC friends who came by our sets. The music was well-received, and we were invited back for yet another season on the main stage. As always, our OKC visits include overnight stays at the Cashius Myers estate and sushi dinner at Golden Rice (with the Rogues - minus Lars). It was a great weekend. (Yes, we realize how much like a broken record we sound saying "It was a great weekend." But it was... we just have a lot of great weekends.)
ST PATRICK'S DAY @ O'MALLEY'S PUB
St Patrick's Day began with the band taking in the famous seasonal breakfast over at Browne's Market, where Shenanigans happened to be playing. Afterwards, it was down to the River Market again to hook up with the O'Malley's Pub float. Some last minute preparations were conducted, a couple dozen people boarded the float, and it was off to the Kansas City St Patrick's Day Parade. The day warmed up quite nicely, and the parade was (as always) stupendous. From the parade, it was out to O'Malley's Pub for an early evening performance for hundreds of people jammed into those cellars to 'observe' St Patrick's Day. The music also included Ellis Island, Bob Reeder, and Nine Mile Burn. St Patrick's Weekend should always be so fun.
COE COLLEGE / AUGUSTANA COLLEGE / CUP & SAUCER
This season's St Patrick's Day festivities raised the bar for how much fun the band could have in one weekend. The l-o-n-g weekend began with a concert performance at The Pub, one of the hotspots at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, IA. Despite being on the verge of spring break, the crowd was ample and appreciative. Lunch the next day at the Irish Democrat Pub & Grille was excellent - it's restaurants like this one that makes travelling to gigs enjoyable. After lunch, it was one last quick stop at the Coe College Union to pick up some of their smart college-wear, and then on to Rock Island, IL.
Friday night's concert at the Java Club, the coffeehouse venue at Augustana College, marked the first time the band has been invited back to a college for a reprise performance. It was quite exciting, for both the (large and responsive) audience and the band. After the concert, Aaron and Trevor (two of the student-associates from the CUBOM office) treated the band to a late dinner at Bennigan's, which was quite nice.
Saturday's drive back to KC was shorter than everybody's most optimistic hopes, and there was some much-needed down-time (for most of us) prior to an evening at the Cup and Saucer, a pleasant little bistro in the River Market area. A few-dozen friends, family, and fans attended (which packed the place). And the performance ended mercifully early for a weekend gig.
This Friday's appearance at O'Malley's Pub was nearly as much of a surprise to the band as it was to the folks who came to see Shenanigans. Unfortunately, Richelle was in much demand at the fire-station and the guys asked us to sub for them. We had the enviable fortune to meet McKenna Murdock (one of the many fine students from the O'Riada Academy of Irish Dance), who comes to O'Malley's to dance when Shenanigans plays there. Much to the amazement of the band and the delight of the audience, she danced all night. You never know what kind of fun to expect in Sean's pub.
WRITE-TO-LEARN CONFERENCE @ TAN-TAR-A
Who'd have thought that a couple hundred English teachers could be so fun. Well that's how it turned out at the Write-To-Learn Conference that was held at Osage Beach's Tan-Tar-A Resort this weekend. The gloomy weather couldn't put a damper on the spirits inside. Watching the Friday-evening banquet being served while we played was tantalizing, but the food was well worth the wait. A few handfuls of teachers couldn't resist the lure of CDs. Some bowling and dancing later that evening rounded the night's fun. And breakfast by the lodge window looking out on the snowy cove was storybook-perfect. God bless English teachers.
METRO ARTISTS CONCERT
The band's appearance at the Missouri Valley Folklife Society's Metro Artist's Concert goes on the books as one of our most significant performances to-date. The concert line-up also inluded the Ironweed Bluegrass Band and Doug Goodhart & Dave Agee for the third installment of what has become an annual showcase of music of all traditions from around the Kansas City region. The few-hundred who attended responded warmly to all of the music, and rewarded the band with a standing ovation. It was a great finish for a great gig.
New year, same old charm. That was the feeling at O'Malley's Pub this past weekend. Old Man Winter was down for the count, so all of the KC fans who took it on the chin (on account of the ice storm) were able to make it out to Weston without fearing for their lives. Friday night's crowd almost filled the bar and was absorbed in the music - it was a good night for Tara to get broken in to the O'Malley's scene. Saturday night was utter pandemonium - from the size and the sound of the crowd, one would've thought it was St Pat's. Always a great weekend at O'Malley's.
FIRST NIGHT COLUMBIA
Despite the fact that First Night Columbia takes place on December 31st, we regard it as part of the new season. After all it was merely hours away from the "official" start of the new season. What's more, it was the first performance that included fiddler Tara McCullough, the most recent addition to the line-up. The block-party provides Columbia's residents with an alternative to the more traditional New Year's Eve bash - in the form of several dozen entertainers flung over a couple handfuls of Downtown venues performing from 6:00 until 11:30, followed by a parade and ending with a midnight fireworks display. It was a great festival, and the capacity crowds at both sets were enthusiastic and appreciative.