October 31st - November 1st
The 2003 season ended, a little on the early side, with a weekend at (where else) a O'Malley's Pub. Friday night (aka 'Halloween') saw the first-ever costume party at O'Malley's, with patrons and band-members alike clad in some fairly interesting outfits (some more predictable than others). Mary as "alternate-reality Mary" (a sure-thing), Rachel as... a can-can dancer (to be expected), Tara as a vampire (UTTERLY foreseeable), and Mark as Charlie Brown (good grief!). Some of the stand-outs were Kurt as Morpheus, Charles as a burgermeister, Quinn as a lion, and Dan as a Renaissance Festival patron (what a stretch!). With all the friendlies out on Friday for the Halloween bash (or so we thought), we expected Saturday night to be rowdier than normal. But there were plenty more where they came from, and they showed up on Saturday too... which made the evening all the more enjoyable. It was good to see Bill, Marion, Roger, Ed & Gayle, Gene (and all the others too numerous to mention). It was a great season-ending.
WESTON IRISH FESTIVAL
The past weekend at the Weston Irish Festival brings to three the number of three-peats for the band this season. Despite a little rain on Saturday, a great slate of bands and Sunday's beautiful weather made the weekend perfectly enjoyable. Tullamore shared the main stage with headliners Jiggernaut, Connie Dover, the Dublin City Ramblers, the Elders, Donnybrook, and Shenanigans. Bob Reeder was the perfect host, seasoned and gracious, and the Festival he and Sean O'Malley produced was a hit for its fourth year running.
The band enjoyed the privilege of playing for the wedding of Sarah (Rachel's sister) and Mike (Rachel's sister's new husband). It was simply breathtaking. The wedding... not the music. The music WAS pretty good too... but the wedding was what was breathtaking - a beautiful outdoor service at the Hawthorne House in Parkville. It was a rather emotional event for the band - not the wedding itself, but rather the rehearsals leading up to it. Fortunately, we had stocked up on Xanax. Also don't miss an opportunity to try out Rachel's new nickname - Pincushion. Seriously though, congratulations to Sarah and Mike, and their families, and best wishes.
Walking down the stairs into O'Malley's Pub, it felt like it had been far longer than the month since our previous visit. But after shaking the dust off our garments, the show kicked into gear and pretty soon, everybody was having a grand old time. There were some small antics with the sound-system - nothing unheard of to the stalwart O'Malley's patrons. And the old-reliables showed up on Friday (no doubt on account of the Kansas City Renaissance Festival being in high gear), which made for it being an overly-rambunctious Friday night (considering the Combined Arms Center at Ft Leavenworth was back in the swing of things). Saturday night was a little smoother, both sound-wise and crowd-wise.
September 12th-14th The
DUBLINER / OHIO RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL
It was time for the band's annual pilgramage to the Ohio Renaissance Festival, the extra long weekend we spend carousing in Cincinnati. This year we started extra early, heading out Thursday night (stopping over at the Strobl home in St Louis, of course) so we could get into town early Friday afternoon, in time for a performance at The Dubliner, Cincinnati's Irish Pub. This pub is (essentially) home to our friends Roger, Robert, Kathy, and Aaron (aka Roger Drawdy and the Firestarters. A little good word from them, a little bit of surfing by Dave Crowe, and voila! a great night in a new venue for us. PLUS an invitation to come back anytime... who could ask for anything more. We weekend-ed at the Fox estate (of course), and were kept up-to-date (and well-supplied) with the artistic endeavors of young Miss Ellen Fox. We got our fix of friends and fun out at the Faire, having the opportunity to catch up with Doug and Dave (The Swordsmen), Jonathan (Theatre in the Ground), Craig (of Farrington), Bob (Ford), Ray and Jeff (Minstrel Woode), and Bryan, Daniel, John, and Dingo (the boys of Scotland Rising). It was great to see Mary, Ellen, and Dennis. And honorable mention to David (and his company all weekend), and to Jonathan (and his extra-special home-movie).
ST CATHERINE'S IRISH FEST
St Catherine's Irish Fest, in West Dundee IL, was the destination this past weekend for the band's third appearance in as many years. It was a fun weekend, replete with visits with old friends and great music. The band got into Chicago-land late Friday evening, staying in the home of Gordon and Christine Lyons (notwithstanding Gordon being out-of-town at a gig of his own... the audacity!). Saturday featured an early performance, a lot of visiting and shopping, listening to some of our area favorites - Donnybrook, the Larkin Brothers, and Cooper, Nelson, and Early - a good dinner, some karaoke, and a great night's sleep at the Crowne Plaza. Sunday featured an early performance, and a blast from the past for Mark - hooking up with high-school friend Jim Leitzel... PLUS a healthy stint on the highways heading back to KC. It was great to see Curt, Tim, Walt and Mary, and all the gang from Donnybrook.
KANSAS CITY IRISH FESTIVAL
The inaugural year for the Kansas City Irish Fest was (unfortunately) nearly washed away in a l-o-n-g weekend of hard and heavy rainfall that (fortunately) also washed away the drought that had been drying Kansas City up for several weeks. The band had been hoping for a great performance to crank up Saturday evening's showcase of music on the traditional stage, but the day's... festivities... were called off a few hours beforehand, and the music resumed shortly afterwards at the Hotel Phillips. As this festival was a merger of the Westport and Brookside Irish festivals, we're hoping that the Kansas City audience keeps a whetted appetite for next season's Irish Fest, which will (undoubtedly) be the raging success this season was hoped to be.
PEORIA ERIN FEIS
The band returned, for their third season running, to the Peoria Erin Feis for a weekend of good fun and great music. A stop-over at the Strobl homestead (Mary's folks) on Friday night helped split the drive up, getting the band into Peoria Saturday afternoon well-rested. The day's performance at the South Stage, Riverfront Park's pavilion, was a smashing success. From there, it was on to see new friends, the Kells (Eddie, Brian, and Kim), and old friends, Navan (Joan, Sile, Paul, and Elizabeth), then it was over to hear Liz Carroll & John Doyle before calling it a night. A great meal at Jumer's Restaurant (Peoria's favorite restaurant for over 38 years) preceded some roof-top jamming with Navan, and then it was off to bed.
The next morning brought some fine dining at McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts, then an early-afternoon set at the North Stage before making a round of quick goodbyes and heading back to Kansas City. It was great to have a brief visit with our friends from Donnybrook (regrettably, we were unable to catch their set). And it was good to see the Elders up (from Kansas City) for their debut performance at the Feis. Other noteworthy appearances included Ireland' Rig the Jig and the Prodigals, and Cleveland's Brigid's Cross. Honorable mention to Lloyd Camp (of course), and to John Martin (for possessing the intestinal fortitude to have us up for a third year in a row)... bless you both.
It was up to O'Malley's Pub this past Saturday night to play for the wedding reception for Stacey Smith and Todd Churchill. The lower cellar was about as packed as it has ever been (with the exception of St Patrick's Day and the Weston Irish Festival, of course), all of them there to celebrate the day's nuptials. The night was replete with traditional sentimental toasts (and the not-so-traditional ribald toasts), the to-be-expected teasing (by family and friends alike), the obligatory fun-at-the-expense-of the wedding party, and a lovely song-and-a-dance for the bride and groom. Every wedding reception should be like this.
INDIANA HIGHLAND GAMES
The band's second season at the Indiana Highland Games left little to be desired. A leisurely drive to St Louis to overnight with Mary's folks was followed, the next day, by another leisurely drive to Ft Wayne. We arrived at the site (the Concordia Lutheran Seminary), helped get the stage and instruments set up, and went to the home of Linda and Ron Phillips, Festival Directors and our hosts for the weekend. Then it was back out to the site for a few hours of music for Friday night's ceilidh, which was followed by a pleasant, late-night visit with ALL the folks at the Phillips' home. Saturday brought a couple more sets at the entertainment tent and a lot of shopping. The it was off to the home of Deb and Frank (friends of Mark's brother, Bruce, who, coincidentally, was up from Austin to round out the visit. A few rounds of Frog-a-ritas preceded a cook-out and some good-natured fisticuffs with Deb and Frank's pug-children. AND a viewing of the pilot episode of The Lone Gunman. Then it was back to Chez Phillips to sleep it off before the long, sad return-trip to Kansas City. Honorable mention to Janice, Laura, the guys from Mother Grove... and Lloyd (of course). See you next year, Ron and Linda.
May 3rd-4th, 10th-11th, 17th-18th
OKLAHOMA RENAISSANCE FAIRE
After having made a guest appearance for just one weekend last year, the band returned for the full run of the Oklahoma Renaissance Faire, and quickly settled in. A few shows a day at the Castle's Black Boar Pub (in all its indoor, air-conditioned glory), sharing the floor with the Bedlam Bards and Boru's Ghost... getting it going at the Royal Smoker, along with the Knameless Knights, the Bilge Pumps, Commedia Sans Arte, Bruce the Bruce, the Purple Roses of Cairo (hubba hubba), and the Bedlam Bards... a few games here and there of bocce... and playing a number for the Last Huzzah (wonderful, as always, Jeremy)... it was quite the busy schedule. Fortunately, we were able to pick up some much-needed R&R afterwards, dining and partying with Terry Elton, Bryan Wendling, the gang of Scotland Rising (Bryan & Amanda, Daniel, John & Holly, and Dingo), our new friends from Boru's Ghost (Audra, Russell, John, and Van), and the whole Hee-Haw gang from the Bilge Pumps (Mike, Craig, Preston, E, Patrick, Robert, Evan, and Danika and Debra). It was nice to see Ruby and Sam, Jonathan, Amber, Ray and Beth, Lorna, Donna... and Lloyd (of course). All in all, it was three great weekends!
This past weekend at O'Malley's Pub, turned out to be one of those try-out-everything-new weekends. Development of material is a slow but steady process for the band, and we go through spells where not much comes out. THEN it seems like all the new material comes out at once. Of course we made the requisite reminders... "We're gonna do something we've NEVER performed in front of an audience." That's kinda like apologizing in advance... you know... just in case. The good news is everything was pleasantly received, and we're one notch closer to having material for the next CD in order. (Yes, that was "next CD", so cool your collective jets.)
In the back room of the VFW Post 7397 in Lenexa KS this past Saturday evening, friend and fan Dan Robertson got a couple of dozen friends together for an intimate performance to celebrate the birthday of his wife, Norma. If you were there, you'd have gotten an idea of who we mean when we refer to the O'Malley's Saturday night regulars. They are the core of our Kansas City fan-base and have, themselves, become a circle of friends. It was request-night all night long... and as it was a quiet venue, we ended up doing a lot of the material we can't ordinarily do at O'Malley's. It was a fun night all in all. And Norma... "Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you..."
This weekend' celebration of Tartan Day, represented a couple of firsts for the band. It was the first time we performed in celebration of Tartan Day (the anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath and the day our nation celebrates the Scottish influence on America). It was also the first time we performed at a gig partly of our own making. Born out of a long-winded phone-call between Mark and Steve Denny (band-friend, Topeka-piper and MHAF-trouper), Steve took the plan to fellow conspirator Henry Spangler, and they coordinated a three-night fund-raiser for the Midwest Highland Arts Fund. Thursday night found the band at Jeremiah Bullfrog's in Topeka KS... a nice bar and grille, with a separate room for live music. (It was nice to see Ray and Beth up from Emporia KS, and Greg and his better half.) Friday night took us to the 'Up' at the notorious Lawrence KS hang-out Johnny's Up and Under. And Saturday night was a no-holds-barred hoolie at Molloy Brothers Irish Pub where notable appearances included Gordon Briggs (sponsor, from Scottish & Newcastle), the Fantastic Five (Steve, Henry, Jeff, Mark, and Cliff) who worked long and hard all three nights), no less than half of the KC St Andrews Pipes and Drums, two handfuls of Kansas City's Highland Dancers, and even a couple Irish step-dancers. Honorable mention to Dawn (all the way down from Endwell NY); Joseph & Mary (all the way from St Louis MO); Grant & Jane; David; Roger; Steve, Mark & Alice; Scott; Jeremiah; Michelle; Madison; Heather; Kristi; Mark P (and friends); Dan, Pat, and Mike... and Lloyd (of course).
Another weekend at O'Malley's Pub, another weekend of fun too crazy to be had. Friday night's crowd was boisterous (the polite word for 'noisy'). Saturday night's crowd was so ready-to-have-fun that they were almost giddy. It was the kind of night where you could attempt (virtually) anything on-stage... and succeed. Which made it a fun night, for the band as well as the crowd.
SCOTTISH HERITAGE FESTIVAL
The band returned to Edmond OK's E C Hafer Park to perform at the Scottish Heritage Festival this past weekend - an annual festival put on by Scott Barger and the United Scottish Clans of Oklahoma. This season, we shared the main stage with the Tartan Terrors and Scotland Rising, the new pipe-and-drum venture founded by friend and entertainment-coordinator Bryan Blaylock. Also this season, we had the opportunity to play for Saturday night's ceilidh and Sunday morning's Kirkin' o' the Tartans. It was good to see Lorna, Donna, and Brett (some of our faithful Oklahoma fans), and honorable mention to Lloyd (of course) who dropped in from KC. And kudos to Jim Waddell for his masterful sound-design.
ST PATRICK'S DAY @ O'MALLEY'S PUB
The St Patrick's Day festivities this season centered around O'Malley's Pub, which started out early with a Saturday evening (March 15th) bash that included Bob Reeder and Red McWilliams. The crowd was big and lively, upstairs and down, throughout the night. The St Pat's 'routine' (as it has now come to be known) began with breakfast al fresco at Browne's Market while taking in the pleasant melodies and golden tones of Shenanigans. After an hour of that, it was down to the River Market to hook up with the O'Malley's float and cruise through the Kansas City St Patrick's Day Parade (where we were featured on TV no less than four times... woot!). Then, it was back out to Weston for a late lunch at the America Bowman restaurant before heading downstairs for another marathon St Patrick's Night performance at (you guessed it!) O'Malley's. It was a great night, although it wasn't as crowded as it was last year... but hey... it was Monday night after all.
O'MALLEY'S PUB / ROBERT BURNS BANQUET
The 2003 season got off to a busy start with a performance at (where else?) O'Malley's Pub. It was a Friday-evening-only appearance (on account of our performance in Wichita on Saturday evening), so our Saturday-night regulars showed up to battle the Ft Leavenworth Friday-night regulars for the good table spots. It turned out to be a great evening with a nice mix of congenial and rowdy.
Saturday, it was down to Wichita for our first Robert Burns Banquet ever. Andy Aitken and the Scottish Society of Wichita presented a wonderful banquet... complete with readings of the Bard of Ayr's poetry, a great dinner, haggis, Highland dancing, Scottish country dancing, some piping... and us (of course). Congratulations to Andy on the organization of such a great event.