BARTLETT & WEST - MAD FOR PLAID
We ended our season this year with a private performance for Bartlett and West Engineers. The event was an appreciation banquet this Topeka-based firm holds annually for their clients. This year's theme was 'Mad For Plaid', and the banquet featured a performance by a small contingent of pipers and drummers as well as a couple of sets from ourselves. The buffets were exceptional as was the decor, and all of the attendees appeared to have a grand time. And in departure, we were favored with over 25 yards of tartan (some of which is being turned into kilts as we speak... watch out!). And so passes Season-9 for Tullamore.
September 2nd - October 16th
KANSAS CITY RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL
This season marked our first appearance at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival in five years, and what a return it was! To start with, the weather was great. Yes, there were four very hot days, and three days that bordered on cold and/or wet. But you have to expect that from a festival that runs from late-Summer to early-Fall. The rest of the time, it was beautiful. We had a fairly enviable schedule that gave us time to make an appearance at the Feaste of Fooles and the Royal Cigar Smoker, as well as to take in a couple of shows each day. In addition to having the chance to touch base with some of the old regulars, like Jem Moore, the Jolly Rogers, Bob, the Incredible Juggler, Terry Elton, Queen's Gambit, John Mallery & Family, and Dr Dumpe, it was great to see some acts that are new (or newer to the Festival) like the Limey Birds, Mental Pause, and Prometheus Io, and to rub shoulders with some of the guest acts like the Brobdingnagian Bards, and 3 Pints Gone. For two of the weekends, Rachel was unable to perform... so Rachel and Tara filled in for some rewarding nostalgia-filled moments. Overall, it was a great run with much fun to be had by all.
Our performance this past weekend, at O'Malley's Pub, was our first since Neil announced, in mid-July, that he was leaving us. Describing Neil's schedule as 'spread too thin' was optimistic at best. Neil had many irons in the fire, any two of which would've been a big bite for a mere mortal... man-of-the-family, full-time-student, competitive-pipe-band-member, etc, etc, etc. And while his departure is saddening, it's not surprising. Anywho, this past weekend's performance was an inspiring look forward for us, as we surprised ourselves (and everyone else) at what we were capable of doing as a trio (again).
O'MALLEY'S PUB / CELTIC BLOCK PARTY
It was a great weekend for Celtic music around Kansas City. For us, it started out Friday night at O'Malley's Pub, where an unusually large crowd (for a Friday) had gathered. Knowing it was going to be a long weekend, everyone was rationing their energies, preparing for the long haul. Charles and Kristine Shumway made an appearance, with Kristine dancing for the beyond-enthusiastic audience. Neil's Mississippi belle, Mary Rose Worthington, was also there. A piper in her own right, she joined Neil onstage for a few tunes. At the end of the night, Neil and Mary Rose took off like two bats out of Hell so that they might get back to Kansas City and get a (literal) few hours of sleep in before being out at Wyandotte County Fairgrounds, at daybreak, for the Kansas City Scottish Highland Games, where they were both competing. We'd hoped to return to the Games again this year, but couldn't make schedules work. So it was only a long day for Neil... and the rest of us showed back up at O'Malley's rested and refreshed. And if Friday's audience was the bar for enthusiastic, then Saturday night's crowd was red-hot. AND Mark managed to stay on his feet the entire night.
Sunday afternoon, it was out to Brookside for the 3rd Annual Celtic Block Party, a fund-raiser held by Governor Stumpy's and Locks and Pulls for Operation Breakthrough. Jim Cosgrove and Fireside preceded us, and we had a kicking set that managed to end right before Mother Nature turned rather nasty and emptied the heavens on the benefit, easily washing away any hopes that Ellis Island and the Elders had to perform. It was rewarding to be able to be a part of the benefit despite its hasty conclusion. And we look forward to a kinder, gentler turn for next year.
Solomon once said "There's nothing new under the sun." He evidently wasn't at O'Malley's Pub this past weekend where everything was new... new band, new proprietors, and new tribulations for the sound system. It was the new line-up's first outing to the pub, and the Rachel and Neil were quickly exposed to the highs and lows of playing in the cellar. Friday night's crowd was appropriately lower-keyed, which definitely helped with the plethora of PA adjustments that needed making. That gleaming silver lining of Neil's multi-instrumental ability (heck, he's a band by himself!) has its own nominal dark cloud around it vis-à-vis amplifying his little hodgepodge of instruments (with the exception of the great-pipes, which, God knows, need no amplification). Kudos to Kenny "Three-Left" Hyland who showed up to help EQ us as well as to do some photography. The extra-curriculars ran well past 1:00, but the sound was tweaked to near-perfection (which should pave the way to countless smooth-sounding O'Malley's gigs), and the pictures turned out great (from what we hear)... expect to see them on the web-site soon.
Saturday night was an absolute blitz, especially since we really didn't send much word out about the weekend. Mark nearly set a record with three Red Hughs, a car-bomb, and eight shots of uisge... but he ended up having to sit for the last number (and be carted home in ignominy). Otherwise, it was a pretty rocking night, with the crowd giving an incredibly warm welcome to the newbies. (By the way, we expect to discontinue the use of the word 'newbies' in another two or three posts.) And a hearty and heartfelt 'congratulations' to Corey Weinfurt and Mike Coakley on their new venture into the restaurant and pub business. We wish them much luck, and encourage all you folks out there to come out and do your best to keep these guys rolling in it.
This past Saturday, we made our way back to the VFW Post #7397 in Lenexa KS for the Kansas City Rogues Gallery's third annual Spring Hoolie (a clever little moniker for Dan and Pat's anything-goes music-and-drink fest). It was the new line-up's first local appearance, so the usual request baton was (respectfully) left in its case. The modest crowd was treated to old standards, new twists on familiar pieces, original music by Rachel, hot piping by Neil, and the usual fare of wit from Mary and Mark. The beer and whiskey flew (as did an arcane concoction purported to be a lemon drop, but tasting more like something you'd be handed on Fear Factor). The die-hard bunch gave an energetic thumbs-up to the new sound (besides offering a few small words of consolation to the newbies at having embarked on a performing journey with Mark and Mary). And we thought they didn't know us...
NORMAN MEDIEVAL FAIR
The debut of the new line-up could not have gone any better. The folks at the Norman Medieval Fair are, surely, our oldest and most familiar audience... considering that many of them have been watching Mark and Mary perform together since 1991. In any case, they are certainly one of the more forgiving audiences - a trait that was not lost on us. Despite turning in a very solid first-time-in-front-of-an-audience performance, the occasional hiccup found its way into the performance. By Sunday afternoon, though, we were running like a well-oiled machine, and generating some of the biggest crowds we've seen in Norman. The remainder of the weekend's highlights were just icing on one huge cake. We had the good fortune and delight to share the stage with Istanpitta (an incredible early music ensemble from Houston area) and Queen's Gambit (a newer, up-and-coming Celtic faire-band from the Tulsa area). Also floating on and off the stage, much to the delight of the band, were the Rogues, the Bilge Pumps, and the Counterfeit Bards. It was a delight to see friends and fans there - far too numerous to name... let's just say everybody except Cash and Lorna (who were sorely missed). Friday night saw dinner with the Rogues at the Border Crossing, and Saturday night with Mike, Mary, Dave, Preston, and Lloyd. All-around, it was an exceptionally-fun weekend.
ST PATRICK’S DAY @ O’MALLEY’S PUB
The St Patrick's Day tradition... random ritual, compelling custom, or gratifying groove... who knows? What we do know is that several years ago, the tradition was born: breakfast at Browne's Market, ride in the parade, play at O'Malley's Pub. And this year was no different... or was it? The mild, breezy morning started out, as usual, at the outdoor breakfast at Browne's Market. The only difference there was the pleasant surprise of being able to share breakfast with the folks from Shenanigans (who usually provide the music for the breakfast). Or course, that didn't stop Richelle and Chris from breaking into tunes inside the market.
Once breakfast was over, it was over to muster at the O'Malley's Pub float for Kansas City's St Patrick's Day Parade. The only difference there was the number of entries that were not to be found... the Parade, though long, was significantly shorter than in years past. Getting through with the parade earlier meant that there was enough time to hotfoot it over to McCoy's Public House for a tasty lunch. The only difference there was that they were charging a cover... at 11:30 AM!?!
From there, it was up to O'Malley's Pub for four hours of bona fide St Patrick's Day madness. Jed Marum was scheduled to hold down the fort in the upper cellar, and Bob Reeder to close out the bottom cellar after we finished up. All of the regulars were there (of course), and it was a grand old time. The only difference there was that this was the last performance for Rachel and Tara, and boy did they make the most of it. That's right, both our newlywed and workaholic have made the unenviable decision to move on... quite a while ago, in fact... we've been exceptionally lucky to hang onto them as long as we have. There were high moments, and heartfelt moments (Danny Boy). But everybody managed to make it through, and we turned another page. (Stay tuned for updates to the site.)
SHAWNEE IRISH AMERICAN CLUB / ST PATRICK’S IRISH FEST / ST PATRICK’S CHURCH
With St Patrick's Day being in the middle of the week, the weekend prior to St Pat's becomes THE weekend of the year for Celtic bands... and so it was this past weekend. The big weekend began Friday evening at the Town Hall in Old Shawnee Town with a performance for the Irish-American Club of Shawnee. The Club holds an annual reception to recognize friends, award officers, and honor guests from Ireland. We provided the music for the reception, with some special fiddling by young Matthew Krummel. Saturday found us playing at St Patrick's Parish in north Kansas City for their annual Irish Festival. They were joined by folksinger Tom Meehan, the O’Riada Academy of Irish Dance, and the Clanna Eireanne Irish Dancers for a long evening of great family fun. The crowd was quite receptive, and came ready for the food and drink, the games, and the arts and crafts. Sunday it was on to another St Patrick's Church, this one in Emerald KS, to return to the best corned beef dinner and finest collection of homemade pies ever sampled by the band. The dinner and raffle is an annual event held by the parish to raise funds to renovate the church (in general, and for their sesquicentennial celebration in particular), and there were plenty of folks there eating everything they could to make sure the renovation will be well-funded.
COLLEGE OF DuPAGE
Wednesday afternoon's performance at the College of DuPage was a couple of firsts for us - it was our first college performance in of the year, and it was the first time we flew to a gig - thereby establishing that there's nowhere we can't go to gig. We were the featured artist for the Oasis Series - DuPage's monthly open mic session sponsored, this time around, by the Prairie Light Review, the College's literary magazine. Unfortunately, with the flurry of open mic sessions over the past couple weeks, the turnout for the open mic portion of the event was a wash... so we, unfortunately, missed out on getting a taste of the local talent. But it was a fun, well-received performance. And we learned an important lesson that day, one that should broaden our horizons immeasurably - the hammered dulcimer will fit in an overhead bin of a commercial airliner.
DEREK WARFIELD CONCERT
This past Friday, we had the distinct privilege of sharing the stage with one of the icons of Irish music as Derek Warfield and the Sons of Erin returned to National Guard Armory in Kansas City KS with their hallmark performance of the music of the Republic of Ireland. This year's performance by the historian, singer, songwriter, and former member of the Wolfe Tones was sponsored by Kansas City's Padraig Pearse Division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. Christine O'Riada and her world-class dancers made a no-less-than-incredible appearance. And if the audience was a little smaller than it has been in recent years, you wouldn't have known it by their exuberance and response. It was a great night, and a great opportunity to meet up with an Irish music legend.
BURNS NIGHT GALA
For a second year, we made a mid-Winter trip on behalf of the Scottish Club of Tulsa to perform at the Burns Night Gala. It was quite the special night for SCOT, it being the golden anniversary of their grand event. And contrary to being listed as such on their website, we were hardly the featured entertainment. For one thing, the City of Tulsa Pipes and Drums were there... and they came to play. Add to that the wit of Master of Ceremonies Rick Ewing, not to mention his wonderful interpretations of the songs of Robert Burns, and you have a perfect show right there. Of course, the dinner was great... and the haggis wonderful.
ROBERT BURNS BANQUET
It was quite the pleasant return to the Robert Burns Banquet in Wichita. One of the highlights in the annual calendar of events for the Scottish Society of Wichita, this celebration was held in the elegant comfort of the Hyatt Regency. The banquet opened with social half-hour where the band was able to catch up with some of the friends made two years prior. After a welcome and some announcements, there was some wonderful piping and dancing by the Wichita Scottish Country Dancers and the Aitken School of Highland Dance. Then came the obligatory recital of the Address to a Haggis, a presentation on the life and works of the Poet, and a toast to his Immortal Memory. Then an exceptional dinner (complete with four plates of haggis to the band's table) and, lastly, some music by ourselves. An after-party in the hotel lobby followed, which equaled the banquet in enjoyability. And that was it.
IRISH NORTHERN AID BENEFIT
Our 9th season started on a cold, early January Saturday evening, as scores of Hibernians piled into The Daily Limit for a fund-raiser for Irish Northern Aid. But the 10º weather couldn't put a chill on the hot time inside. We were the featured act, and followed after an opening hour of some fine solo work by Rob Gavin. Slated to kick off at 7:00 PM, Rob was obligated to wait until an excitement-packed OT period determined the outcome of the AFC Jets/Steelers play-off game. A near capacity-crowd turned out for the benefit, and they were a lively bunch from the word 'Go' until the last note was sung.