We found ourselves, appropriately enough, in the bottom cellar of O’Malley’s Pub as we finished off our tenth season. The late-October weekend was predictably brisk. Friday night’s modest-sized audience got a shot in the arm with the arrival of Susi (from Queen’s Gambit, up from Tulsa) and Wendy and Vicki (two of the three MentalPause broads). Mark had been fighting off a cold during the second half of the Fall run and had to pace himself for the entire weekend, so the girls took up the slack... doing a lot of the banter, calling for the toasts, and pulling out songs from [wherever you pull out songs from]. The crowd was sympathetic and attentive, and all was right with the world. Saturday night saw the last assemblage of the year for the Rogues Gallery and Miscreants Table (Dan and Norma, and Pat and Carol). They wasted no time in infusing the big Saturday crowd with their... enthusiasm... and gave no mercy to Mark and his flagging voice. Scott Garten treated everyone to a handful of guest-numbers as did Mike Coakley. It was a big night, and a fun one - a great end to our biggest season to-date. Kudos to all the friendly faces who showed up over the course of the weekend and brightened our evenings, including... Chris and Dave, Scott & Louise, Mike, Larry, Marvin and Connie, Patrick and Missy, Mike and Louise, Greg and Bonnie, Dan & Sherri. And Lloyd (of course).
WESTON IRISH FESTIVAL / CELTIC HERITAGE FESTIVAL / TIPPERARY INN
This past weekend was the highlight of the year for us. It began with a Friday evening appearance on the Hall Stage at the Weston Irish Festival. By the time we arrived at O’Malley’s, Ellis Island was already taking the Courtyard Stage for their first set of the evening. We disappeared into the deep recesses of the pub to take the stage in the bottom cellar. It was chilly outside, but inside the crowd was warm and we were hot. Sadly, it was to be our only set for the Festival, and we were missed over the remainder of the weekend... but it was a lot of fun while it lasted... and there was a lot of great music to be had, including the Young Dubliners, the Elders, Seven Nations, the Mickey Finns, Connie Dover, Brigid’s Cross, Switchback, and Máirtín Dé Cógáin.
Saturday morning, we hot-footed it to the airport for a way-too-early flight to the DFW Metroplex, where we performed at the Celtic Heritage Festival in Bedford, and the Tipperary Inn in Dallas. We were met at DFW by longtime friend and fan, Leah (who carted us around most of the weekend)... and after a couple of stops at Murphy’s Music (for some gear) and On the Border (for some lunch and some excellent service from Romeo), it was over to Leah’s for a short visit with Will and the kids, and then out to the Celtic Heritage Festival. Notwithstanding the occasional misting, Saturday’s weather was perfect. Our first set was on the FWICA Stage (Ft Worth Irish Cultural Association). We arrived in time to catch sets by Michael Harrison & Linda King, and Paisley Close. After the first set came a great deal of visiting followed by some eating and shopping... then it was over to Leland’s Celtic Stage for another set. Both sets were met with unexpectedly enthusiastic responses from the audiences. After a little more visiting, Leah hustled us off to the Tipperary Inn, where we quickly set up and played for the evening. Again, we were treated to an unbelievably warm reception from the audience. It was a big night for the pub as well, and the staff generously let on that we should expect to be welcomed back whenever we’re in the area. After the night was over, Mark (Whitlock) and Bob chauffered us back to Chez Harmon for a (far too short) night’s rest.
The next morning, it was over to IHOP for the mega-breakfast with the superfan-gang, and then back out to the Festival. Sunday was downright rainy, and we arrived in time for the church service. Then there was just enough time for one more set on the SCMA Stage (Southwest Celtic Music Association) before being hustled to the airport by Leah. It was a great weekend in every context - musical, professional, and (most of all) social. A special thanks to the family, friends, and fans who made this weekend so much fun - Bruce and Lupita, Thea, Kathy and Jim, Peter, Jenny and Wally, Leah and Will (and Robert, Josie, and Kay-Lee), Bob, Mark, Guy, Tony, Wendy and Bill, Roger, Lloyd, Delbert and Sherri, Jay, Stewart and Becky, Charles, Jeff, Linda, Chris and Liz, and Bob. We know there were more of you, but you know what they say about the memory being the first thing to go... And a very special thanks to Craig Lutke and the Bilge Pumps for letting us borrow some of their sound gear for the gig at the Tipperary Inn.
September 30th - October 1st
KANSAS CITY RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL
It was back out to the Kansas City Renaissance Festival for us this past weekend, and our final weekend out there for the run could hardly have been more pleasant. It was a beautiful Fall weekend (though lovely as Sunday was, Saturday was far lovelier), and the crowds were huge, responsive, and generous. The flotilla down the road at the Kansas Speedway was going "pedal to the metal" (ha!) all weekend long, and the denizens of mid-16th century Canterbury were regaled with 200+ mph of tire-whine floating through across the site. Scotland Rising was there for the second half of the run, taking the stage where Tartanic had been the first few weekends, and it was great fun to see Bryan, John, and Daniel again. We finally broke down and did some street shows, flexing our muscle and showing that we can clog the lanes with the best of them (a special thanks to Jim for letting us borrow his sweet spot on the bridge between Yorkshire Wharf and the Old North Bramble). There were hijinks a’plenty all weekend long. The Limeybirds’ "My Kitty Cat" song plunged the depths of double-entendre at the Royal Cigar Smoker, as did Chuy’s jokes at the Pub Sing. A nice dinner (at Sakura’s) and dessert (at Coldstone Creamery) with Kurt followed Saturday’s performance. Sunday, the Chiefs proved that the weather wasn’t the only hot thing in Kansas City that weekend with their 41-0 shellacking of the 49ers. News of their win made it through the grapevine, buoying the spirits of performers and patrons alike who double as Chiefs fans. There was a joint Jolly Rogers / Limeybirds / MentalPause photo shoot at the Wharf Stage shortly after the gates opened that was more entertaining than all of their shows put together. And a hot, sweaty day ended with a Pub Sing that broke new ground on tomfoolery, and a pleasant dinner with Phyllis at Jose Peppers. There was some nice visits over the course of the weekend from Michael, Dale, Lloyd, Mike and Kay, Gretchen and Sean, Martin and Arielle, and Jim, Julie, Lauren, Gabrielle, Caitlin, and Starla. Highlights for the weekend included Charity’s chase of Mark at Saturday evening’s Pub Sing, and our Sunday afternoon visit with Rick and Richelle, Mike, Sandy and Mary Kay, and Misty, and Genna’s dancing.
McPHERSON SCOTTISH FESTIVAL
This past weekend found us returning to the McPherson Scottish Festival. It had been a little while since their 2002 appearance, but seemed like only yesterday. Notwithstanding a little salt-and-peppering on the parts of Dr Mike and Chuck, it was the same great festival it was four years back. Friday night started out with a Clan Fire Ceremony and the singing of Alex Beaton. Unfortunately, we missed it on account of an equipment snafu (and we owe Kurt Hanover but plenty for his patience, forbearance, long-suffering, and sense of humor in driving to Hellandgone KS to minimize the fallout). Saturday started brisk and turned into a mild, breezy Fall day. We had the great fortune to share the Edinburgh Tent with Masters of the Celtic Harp (William Jackson and Gráinne Hambly). We had met Billy a few years earlier at the Swannanoa Gathering, and the reunion was a pleasant one. Billy and Gráinne delivered the most spellbinding music at the Festival by far. Meanwhile, the Glasgow Tent was buzzing with the music and charm of Alex Beaton, and the magic and expertise of Shadow Creek (Nikki, Kathy, Dave, and Jim), one of Wichita’s aspiring bluegrass bands. Early Saturday evening, all the musicians gathered over at the Holiday Manor ballroom for the evening concert, with Alex kicking off the evening, followed by Shadow Creek, then Tullamore. Gráinne and Billy took the stage to perform on our last number, and remained for their own set. The audience was attentive and appreciative, and the performers made the most of being able to perform free from the... accompaniment... of any nearby bagpiper.
Sunday, was a bright and sunny day with a mild breeze. The audiences were back in force, the music again well-received. We had a pretty fruitful showing with our CD-sales, and the patrons were quite vocal all weekend long with their compliments and face-time with us. When it came time to leave, we couldn’t quite bring ourselves to leave the Festival entirely behind, so we left our CDs there. Of course this was the snafu to bookend the road-trip with, and was followed (50 miles later) with a slightly panicked call to Chuck to make sure the CDs were there. They were. It was good to see familiar faces - Ray, Fred, - and make new acquaintances - Lynn, Bill and Janice, Alistair and Moira, Sean and Alta (congratulations again!), Kristine and Larry, Clinton, Roger, and Mike and Kelly. Special thanks to Chuck and Jeff, the magicians behind the mixers, without whose help we could hardly have sounded so good.
September 9th-10th, 16th-17th
KANSAS CITY RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL
Our appearances at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival the past two weekends were two of the three we’d be making out there in total this Fall. The first was a fairly gray weekend, with Saturday being rather pleasant and Sunday being drizzly on and off. Rachel was up in Buffalo NY maid-of-honoring for a close friend, so Rachel 1.0 and Tara filled in for the weekend. Saturday was the usual first-day-out-at-fair... getting-back-into-the-routine, catching up with all of the visiting acts, and making a point to catch all the new bits folks had put into their shows. Some of the more noteworthy developments include Lisa Prosser-Dodds as Queen Elizabeth (huzzah!); the Jolly Rogers’ new backstage utopia; MentalPause’s new production numbers; Lezlie Revelle’s latest venture, Maiden’s Whymsie; the Washing Well Wenches; the Limeybirds’ arrangement of "I Used to Work in London"; and Chuy’s new joke. The Royal Cigar Smoker recaptured a sense of familiarity, returning to the Royal Deck and the tittilating and tasteful >snerk< direction of the Lord Mayor’s Company. Saturday evening saw us going different directions for dinner - Mary going with Kurt, Rachel, Tara, Tom and Kelly to Barley’s Brewhaus, and Mark visiting with the Limeys over sushi at Sakura. The highlights of the weekend were an impromptu performance for the Queen in the lane on Saturday morning (one that brought tears to her eyes, and no we’re not that bad), and Bill and Hazel’s visit to the fair Sunday afternoon.
The second weekend, Rachel was back and we were back up to speed. There were a couple of improvements in our schedule... the morning set at Hunter’s Glen (with Tartanic’s pipes and drums going eighteen ways ‘til Sunday 25 yards away) was replaced by a set at the Cup and Chaucer, Canterbury’s coffeehouse... and the afternoon set at Hunter’s Glen (with Tartanic’s pipes and drums...) was replaced by a set at the DaVinci Crane, the perfect location to snag a crowd of people as they were leaving the joust. Saturday started out pleasant and got hot. There were some delightful visits over the course of the day with Sean and Tina, Ray and Beth, and Mike. Dave (Chuy) unveiled a couple of more groaners for the Pub Sing. And that was the day. That evening, two-dozen-plus performers and friends descended on Sakura to get on board the sushi express. That epicurean extravaganza went on for a couple of hours before everyone cried ‘uncle’ and left. Sunday started out mild and became pleasant (notwithstanding Mark leaving his kilt at home and having to go back and get it). The highlight of the day was performing for Astral Sea, and the pleasant visit that followed.
O’MALLEY’S PUB / KANSAS CITY IRISH FESTIVAL
The Fall run kicked off this past weekend with a mildly busy weekend that started Friday evening with a performance at O’Malley’s Pub. The evening started out with some tuning drama and a tiny delay. But the tiny crowd was patient and forgiving, and was presently rewarded. And it quickly grew into a larger, friendly-face-filled crowd. Marion was camped out before the music even began. Anthony, and Jason and SueAnn made an appearance. New faces also included Michael, and Kathleen, Cynthia, and Mike (a different Mike), who were there to celebrate Kathleen’s imminent departure for the Marines, and Jen who was there with a group of friends to celebrate her 22nd birthday. The evening kicked into high gear as we came out of our break, and the crowd remained strong almost all the way ‘til midnight.
Saturday afternoon, we returned to Crown Center to perform at the Kansas City Irish Festival. This year, we played at the Atrium Stage inside Crown Center following some incredible music by Tin Cup Prophette and the duo of Irish accordionist John Redmond and guitarist Mick Heffernan. The stage was not officially on the Irish Fest grounds, but the spirit certainly spilled over to it, and the gathering there responded heartily to our performance. we had the pleasure of some nice visits with Glen Road’s Mike Dugger, Kelly Dougherty and Something For the House’s Scott Moye and Kevin Kiley, along with Kevin’s wife Martha. And it was rewarding to see so many friends in the audience... kudos to Lloyd, Scott and Louise, Kristine and Charles, Michael, Steve, Diane and Peter, Mike and Karen, Todd and Stacy, Sara and family, Jason, Christopher, Judith, and Sandy.
From KCIF, it was back up to O’Malley’s Pub for Saturday night’s performance... but there wasn’t much of a need to rush as the Bilge Pumps were playing the opening set. They were up from Dallas playing at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival, and were looking to get in some extra stage-time. And since we were going to have to race to get back to O’Malley’s in time for the 8:00 PM start... well let’s just say it was a match made in Heaven. They had their six-man, shanty-singing, big-energy mojo working, and the crowd was thoroughly entertained. We took the stage about 9:30, and finished up the night, cruising on the energy the Pumps had generated. Tara made a surprise showing, joining us for a few numbers as did Mike. And there was a large contingent of Tullies on Saturday night as well... kudos to Lloyd, Dan, Larry, Pat and Carol, Adam and Kim, Scott and Louise, Terry, Michael, Anthony, Kathleen, Rusty, and Jason.
KANSAS CITY SCOTTISH HIGHLAND GAMES / GOVERNOR STUMPY’S
We wrapped up our spring run and the first half of our busiest season ever this past weekend with performances at the Kansas City Scottish Highland Games and Governor Stumpy’s. This year, the Games found new digs, moving to E H Young Riverfront Park in Riverside. The park was a wonderful setting, with plenty of room for everything (the pipers, massed bands, dancers, athletes, vendors, and clan tents), and a pavilion for the bands. Friday evening’s ceilidh featured performances by Tullintrain West, Weel Gaun Wheelie, and the Elders... and Mother Nature was far kinder to the ceilidh than she was to Saturday’s festivities. But Saturday was still a great day, featuring great performances by Bob Reeder, Ellis Island, Rowan, Hazel Whyte, Weel Gaun Wheelie, and Tullamore.
After the Games, we hustled over to Waldo for our debut performance at Governor Stumpy’s. The grill-house is more of a restaurant then a pub, and there was some question as to how well our performance would go over. But a number of fans came by and helped grease the skids for the remainder of the crowd, which made for a fun evening overall.
O’MALLEY’S PUB / RIVERBEND ARTS FESTIVAL / CELTIC BLOCK PARTY
It was a marathon weekend for us that made last weekend look positively relaxing. Friday night found us ‘at home’ at O’Malley’s Pub where we played to a Twilight Zone audience... coming and going in large groups, ebbing between mild curiosity and a preoccupation bordering on disinterest... it was a genuinely peculiar night. To our enjoyment, Scott Garten made a guest appearance, doing an a capella mini-set of both comical and emotive pieces.
Saturday afternoon took us all the way up to Atchison for our debut appearance in the Kansas town’s 41st annual Riverbend Arts Festival. The Festival drew a crowd of thousands to see the work of dozens of artists from across five states and a variety of media, and to hear a diverse slate of musicians that included Kasey Rausch, Hazel Whyte, Glenfinnan, the Kahlers, Mark Twain’s Dog, the Konza Swamp Band, the Carlsons, Swink, Tenley Hansen & Michael Frazer, Tom Meehan, and David Hakan. And Tullamore (of course).
From there, it was over to the America Bowman for a tasty (not to mention filling) dinner prior to our Saturday night set at O’Malley’s. In the meantime, Hazel Whyte had already made it up to the pub and was keeping busy with her second performance of the day. Her stellar performance was followed by another one from Tullintrain West, Kansas City’s newest pipe-and-drum band. When they were through, we took the stage for an outstanding evening... a feast after Friday night’s famine. The audience was great, and their response overwhelming. We managed to coax Hazel back onstage, twice, to do a couple of joint numbers. Tullintrain West played a few more tunes during the break... and Ian and Karla (from Glenfinnan) joined in the guest-artist fun, doing a mini-set of their own. And as if all that wasn’t enough, we roped Scott Garten in for a few numbers, as well as co-proprietor Mike Coakley, before calling it a night.
The next afternoon, it was over to Waldo to perform for the Celtic Block Party. It was the fourth time around for the annual big block-party that raises funds for St Vincent’s Operation Breakthrough. The site was laid out a bit differently, with the stage skewed into a shady corner... allowing for more people to take advantage of the shady areas and still be close to the music, and allowing for the Party to keep Gregory Boulevard open and take advantage of the traffic. We were joined by regulars Fireside, Jim "Mr Stinky Feet" Cosgrove, and the Elders, as well as the new kids on the block-party, Flannigan’s Right Hook. Also making a debut at the party was O’Malley’s Irish Cream Ale. The weather was perfect, the party outstanding. A hearty congratulations to Governor Stumpy’s and Locks and Pulls for pulling off another great benefit.
JUBILEE OF ACOUSTIC MUSIC / SPIRITPATH CONCERT SERIES
It was a busy weekend for us that started Friday afternoon at the Jubilee of Acoustic Music. Held at Longview Community College, the JAM is a weekend-long series of acoustic music performances and workshops. Michael Connelly and Esther Kreek founded this event last year to further the preservation, instruction and performance of traditional music... bringing together 20+ performers from around the region and across the country convening 50+ workshops for the hammered dulcimer, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, mountain dulcimer, guitar, autoharp, harmonica, tinwhistle, and flute. On top of all that, there were nine spotlight performances throughout the day, both Friday and Saturday. Friday ended with a jam and a contra dance, with we three opting for the contra... which quickly wore us out. Saturday ended with a concert featuring Dana Hamilton, Walt Michael, and Tullamore. The concert wrapped up with a grand finale featuring all of the performers. The JAM was a great experience for us, and we look forward to next year’s.
Sunday, it was just down the road to Unity Village to kick off the SpiritPath Outdoor Concert Series. Dale Worley, Unity’s Director of Music for Retreats, revived one of Unity Village’s outreach programs in the summer Sunday-evening concert-series, and invited us to play for the inaugural performance. Perhaps 75 people showed up (and sat on the shady fringes of the amphitheatre), the majority of them staying until we wrapped up our sets at dusk (when it was too dark for Mary to distinguish one dulcimer string from another). The audience was well-entertained, and Dale was positively enthusiastic about our sound and the success of the evening.
As always happens once or twice each season, we had the pleasure of playing a wedding... this time for the reception of Meagan Anderson and Gerard Weldele. There’s always a certain amount of ambivalence associated with these performances... the two strongest sentiments being the reward-factor of being asked to be involved in one of the most important events in two peoples’ lives, and the risk-factor of possibly screwing up (at) one of the most important events in two peoples’ lives. So far, we’ve been batting 1.000 and Saturday night was no different. The reception took place in North Kansas City’s Finnegan’s Hall - which turned out to be far nicer inside than one might’ve expected, considering that it’s attached to a bowling alley - and was held in the biggest hall there, as there were probably a few hundred people in attendance. The masses began arriving around 5:00, and we started up with some planxties and some easier-going songs. Meagan and Gerard arrived and were announced, and the music kicked up a bit. We played well into dinner, and then went on a break while the traditional reception events took place. When we got started again, it was time to dance... beginning with the bride and groom dancing to our arrangement of You Are So Beautiful... followed by a handful of great step-dancing by Lauren, Allie, and Katie (three girls from the O’Riada Academy of Irish Dance), who then yielded the floor to a couple dozen intrepid volunteers who came up to learn a couple of ceilidh dances - Strip the Willow and Posties... which was topped off when the laptop was opened, and the mixing began. Then the crowds hit the floor, and that was all she wrote.
Now a staple of our season, the Rogue’s Gallery Annual Spring Hoolie was back, and bigger and better than ever. Some good word-of-mouth on our folksy treatment of Celtic music had spread throughout VFW Post 7397 over the last year... and this year the partition was left open at the request of everyone in the hall, the juke-box was turned off, and a couple handfuls of vets even made their way over to where we were playing to get a better earful of the music. It certainly didn’t hurt that one of the surprises we’d prepared was an arrangement of Semper Fidelis for our hosts. In any case, the crowd was the biggest, and most diverse, it has been in the four years we’ve been there. Like the ones before it, the show turned into an all-request show, with the exception of a few ‘band’s choice’ requests thrown in, and some surprise solo pieces by each of the band-members. This year, Mary sang a number from her ClanDestine glory-days (The Parting Glass), Rachel threw in a Tori Amos piece (Caught A Lite Sneeze) and one by Van Morrison (Into the Mystic), and Mark pulled a couple Jimmy Buffet numbers (Pencil Thin Mustache and Come Monday) out of his dingy archive of a brain. The whiskey was flying, and there was even a complimentary baby bottle (12-year) of Glenmorangie for our Saviour of St Patrick’s Day, Larry. At the end of the night, Dan persuaded us (don’t ask how) to play the last hour ‘til closing time, and even finagled a guest-appearance by Kenny Hyland, who dusted off Plastic Jesus and a handful of his Dregs of Dublin hits. Nobody wanted the Hoolie to end. Okay... EVERYBODY wanted the Hoolie to end, but it was fun while it lasted.
It’s amazing how motivational National Tax Day is... for getting people out to the post office... and the bar. In this case, O’Malley’s Pub, where we spent the weekend entertaining the throngs of folks who’d come to drown their tax woes in a pint of their favorite and a song or two. And looking around, it was a breeze to spot the occasional person fortunate enough to be getting something back. It was a fun weekend overall, not a lot worth mentioning... birthday fun with the Volga-Boatman Birthday Dirge... the ordinary razzing (and rounds of drinks) from the Rogue’s Gallery... Mike joining us onstage for Danny Boy and Fields of Athenry. Oh yeah... someone had to flip Mark some shozbot about doing his ‘one rebel song’ for Marion... so Mark had to respond in kind by knocking out ten rebel songs in a row. Just the ordinary hijinks of a Tullamore weekend at O’Malley’s Pub. Also, for the record, the recent additions to the list of fine establishments where you can get a pint of O’Malley’s Irish Cream Ale on tap include Blayney’s of Westport, Governor Stumpy’s in Waldo, and Clancy’s Cafe and Pub in Blue Springs.
March 31st - April 2nd
NORMAN MEDIEVAL FAIR
The Norman Medieval Fair consistently rates as one of our favorite road-trips of the year. It is a festival like no other. A period, costumed festival... complete with food-trailers, amplified stages, a net attendance in excess of 200,000 in a weekend... and absolutely free to the public. This past weekend’s appearance there numbers the ninth in ten years for us, with many more in the future, we hope. The weekend has traditionally been one of making ourselves at home courtesy of Cash Myers, but his departure to St Louis a couple of years back left us roughing it in some of the local motels. That ended this season with the incredibly kind invitation to crash at the home of Ron and Donna Deluca, king and queen at the Fair. Ron moonlights as an architect, so his home is unbelievable - inside and out. We’ve visited with them, occasionally, in previous years, and have even played a house-concert there. It was a genuine treat to share their hospitality and company, as well as Jerry’s. Ask them about the Seven Owls someday - it’s a fun story. This year, we had the distinct pleasure of sharing the Gryphon Stage with Queen’s Gambit (Bruce, Susi, Amber and Julia), the Counterfeit Bards (Lee, Anna, Leah, Lessa, and John), Harmless T Jester (Skip), and new friends Arabesque ( Steve and Miranda). A note of appreciation goes out to Dirk and Ronnie, the duo who took care of sound all weekend long. Saturday afternoon, we were invited by the Bilge Pumps (Craig, Dave, Josh, Trotter, Blue, and Christopher) over to their stage for several minutes of humor and humiliation... never a dull moment. And there was plenty of exceptional after-hours company fun to be had, both Friday night - joining and Sandy and Mary Kay Lee (Simpkin the Foole and the Rat Lady) and Skip for dinner at Applebee’s and the outstanding service of Cola... and Saturday night - joining Dave and Sarah, and Lloyd for a heavenly dinner at Johnny Carino’s, wonderful service courtesy of Mike. It was especially good to see our fan-friends... Delbert and Sherri, Jeremy and Sabrina... Ruby, Sissy, Matt, and Darius... John, Kathy, Ashley, and Dana... Kudos to Lloyd and Roger.
Friday night’s performance at the Celtic Fox accounted for one of our four rare appearances in Topeka in nine+ years (notwithstanding its proximity to Kansas City). But with the good times that were rolling Friday night, things are likely to be looking up for Topekans and for our more frequent returns. The Celtic Fox is a really neat pub in Downtown Topeka... a fairly recent addition, it being in its third year of business. It is ordinarily home to a large audience of folk- and Celtic-music aficionados in the Topeka area. As it turned out though, what was our debut night there was also concert-performance night a few doors down for Anne Murray. And let’s be real for a moment, boys and girls... we might be good, but we ain’t that good. So our crowd was a fraction of what it might have been otherwise, which is not to say we didn’t have a blast. And as we were all laboring to get out from under the weather (Mark-bronchitis, Mary-strep, Rachel-chest cold), our performance was necessarily a bit off, which is not to say we didn’t have a blast. By and large, we had a blast... and we’re hoping the Celtic Fox becomes a regular entry in our schedule. Kudos to Beth and Ray, Steve and Georgia, Woods, Henry, Bill, Ed and Mary, and Lloyd (of course).
ST PATRICK’S DAY @ O’MALLEY’S PUB
This past Friday was St Patrick’s Day, the day of promise for Celtic bands. But what might have been the highlight of the year so far for us turned into an episode of Three’s Company... things could not possibly have gone more wrong if they tried. With all of their efforts at re-opening the micro-brewery going full-tilt, O’Malley’s Pub didn’t have quite enough manpower to enter a float in the Kansas City’s St Patrick’s Day Parade. So the band floated about purposelessly... or ambled about floatlessly, one might say. The idea was to go back to McCoy’s Public House for lunch... but after paying a $5 cover to get in (at noon), it was quickly apparent that McCoy’s was doing their best to approximate the feel of the French Quarter during Mardi Gras. Evidently, with St Pat’s being on a Friday, a larger-than-ordinary number of people were given to take the day off and ‘celebrate’. The press of bodies gave the restaurant a mosh-pit feel...and since they couldn’t serve you food unless you were seated and since all of the tables were taken by people ‘celebrating’ (read ‘drinking’), it seemed nearly hopeless that we’d get a chance to have their famous four-cheese macaroni. That is until Cooper and Kristin came to our rescue and invited us to join them. A fun lunch ensued, complete with some - interesting - sight-seeing out the window that faced Westport Road. ‘Nuff said. Then it was up to O’Malley’s for our 4:00-8:00 set in the bottom cellar. Or so we thought... for on our drive up to Weston, we had just merged on to I-29 from US-69 when the transmission in the ‘band-van’ decided to stop cooperating with the remainder of the vehicle. Coasting to the side of the highway and eventually off into a neighborhood, a panic-stricken bout of cell-phone-based begging and wheedling began, culminating in the assurances from one of our biggest and bestest fans (Larry "Rogue/Marine #3" Park) that he could come rescue us and our gear and get us to the church on time... or O’Malley’s (which, pretty much, doubles as his church). Ellis Island had already been performing in the bottom cellar, so they stayed on-stage an extra half-hour until we arrived, and then vacated the stage. After setting up, there seemed to be some problems during the sound-check until it became obvious that the monitors had quit working (Corey’s and Sean’s legwork the next day revealed that the monitor-amp had decided to stop cooperating with the rest of sound-system). Okay... so all of that said... St Pat’s was a blast, Ellis Island was excellent (as usual), playing to the packed house was great, and we can’t wait ‘til next year. No kudos this time - there were way too many of y’all out there.
IRISH AMERICAN CLUB OF SHAWNEE / ST PATRICK’S IRISH FEST / ST PATRICK’S CHURCH
What is turning out to be our annual ‘Green Season’ whirlwind tour of Kansas City began Friday night with a return to Old Shawnee Town and a performance for the Irish American Club of Shawnee at their annual banquet. The mixer is one of the Club’s big social events, and provides the opportunity to recognize the Club officers (and other movers and shakers), as well as to acknowledge their guests from Shawnee’s Irish sister-city, Listowel (this year, Damian Stack and Dennis O’Mahony). Rachel was tied up at a strings-teacher’s conference, so Rachel B and Tara filled in. It was a pleasure for us to return to the banquet and touch base with the friends and acquaintances we made last year. Likewise, it was especially good to reconnect with Damian, who is quite a character... clever and gracious... who has developed a soft spot in his heart for the band (or is it Mary?)... and who we hope can help grease the skids for a ‘mini-tour’ of Ireland. Kudos to Dan, Pat, Mike, Kurt, Kenny, and Lloyd (of course).
The tour continued Saturday evening, this time at St Patrick’s Parish in North Kansas City, for another second-year-in-a-row performance at the their Irish Festival. The Festival is an annual fund-raiser for the parish, and this year’s line-up featured a great dinner, children’s activities, some traditional singing from Tom Meehan, Jody Watson’s invigorating piping, the Clanna Eireanne Dancers’ fine dancing, and the visual spectacle of the world-class O’Riada Academy of Irish Dance. It was a fun night all around. Kudos to Scott and Louise, Charles and Kristine, Roger, and Lloyd (of course).
The tour wrapped up Sunday with a third-year-in-a-row performance at the other St Patrick’s Church in Emerald KS. Each year, they have a dinner and raffle to raise funds for the church. The dinner is a bona fide epicurean delight - their corned beef wonderful, and their pies (ironically) sinfully delicious. Year after year, we’ve found a warm reception here. A special thanks to Joan Gagnon for her goodwill to us all. Kudos to Pat and Carol, and Tom. The overall sentiment from all three of these groups has been quite appreciative... we hope we can make an annual event of this mini-tour.
AN EVENING IN IRELAND
A little over a year ago, we had the pleasure of performing with Irish balladeer Rob Gavin at an Ancient Order of Hibernian’s fund-raiser at the Daily Limit. As it turned, one of the joys of Rob’s heart is a pet project he calls An Evening in Ireland - an annual fund-raiser for the Paola Community Center that he pours his time and vast energies into each winter. Previous engagements prevented us from participating in the event last year. But we were there - ready, willing, and able - for this past Saturday’s Evening in Ireland... as was everybody else. The benefit takes place in a wonderful, turn-of-the-century auditorium (formerly part of the Ursuline Sisters Academy) that now functions as Paola’s Community Center. The evening started with dinner downstairs to the sounds of Rob’s singing. An hour later, the entertainment kicked off upstairs in the theatre. Bob Reeder started the evening with a typically great performance for a full house. After Bob’s set, Blaine Dunlop, a young Paola fiddler took the stage with his teacher, Chuck Parcher, accompanying him on guitar, turning in a good performance for a novice fiddler. They were followed by a handful of kids - Patrick Kennedy, Ayla Fetters, Cody Ralston, Molly Hart, and Marie Gavin - who presented The Story of St Patrick. Then came Christine O’Riada’s Academy of Irish Dance with some incredible dancing... and no matter how many times you’ve seen them, you never cease to be amazed by how good they are. Up next was Marie Gavin, doing some fine fiddling of her own. By the time we took the stage, the program had stretched about a half-hour... and even the most iron-walled-bladdered people in the audience were showing signs of restlessness. Throughout the set, there was a fairly steady stream (ha!) of people to the... facilities... and back (or not). And as the crowd’s numbers dwindled, their interest grew until - by the time the last song was sung - there was an avid audience of maybe three dozen, singing along and what-not. It was a fun night for all, and a successful night for Rob and Paola. We’re looking forward to next year. Kudos to Roger.
Another fun Winter weekend ensued as we made our way back to O’Malley’s Pub. What would otherwise have been a typical weekend at the pub (pleasant Friday night, boisterous Saturday night) was made a weekend to remember with the debut of O’Malley’s Irish Cream Ale. Corey and Mike have been hard at work with the re-opening of the Weston Brewing Company, and their fevered efforts have yielded an ale they describe as "a smooth, sweet and creamy brew with a light floral hop nose, malty middle and smooth finish", and that has already been picked up by High Life Sales and is finding its way into Kansas City - beginning with the Hotel Phillips at 12th and Baltimore Streets, and The Peanut in Lee’s Summit. The boys held an exclusive commemorative dinner upstairs Friday evening in the upper cellar to celebrate the advent of their creation. And the rest of the weekend, the Ale was flying.
MVFS METRO ARTISTS CONCERT
This past Saturday evening saw Tullamore joining Eddie Delahunt and Friends for the seventh annual Metro Artists Concert, and the evening could hardly have gone better. The yearly series, held by the Missouri Valley Folklife Society, showcases two or three of the region’s standouts in Celtic, bluegrass, folk, or traditional music. This season, the concert was held in Bragg Auditorium at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church - currently ‘home’ to MVFS’ performances. The showcase turned out to be MVFS’ most successful concert in the last two seasons. The evening started out with a set by Eddie Delahunt and Friends (accordionist Brett Gibson and bodhrán-player Gabriel Reyes). The set was quintessential Eddie – his great songwriting and personal style – with some tasty accompaniment by Gabe and some pretty hot playing by Brett thrown in. The performance was, unbelievably, Eddie’s first in the MAC series, and was enthusiastically received.
After an encore and an intermission, we took the stage for the second set. The performance was the first to seriously test the mettle of our new line-up, and it was a stunning success (if the response from the audience was any indication). We had set for ourselves a fairly ambitious goal... that out of eight selections for this performance, five of them would be either brand new pieces or at least new arrangements, and two of them would be tune sets... and notwithstanding a handful of mental or technical mistakes (that, hopefully, went unnoticed by the audience), we delivered on our goal. The crowd was on their feet a second after the last note was played, and the show ended with the encore. By then, the night had run rather long. The auditorium was fairly quickly cleaned up and vacated, and the action adjourned to a post-concert party in the back room at Harling’s Upstairs. It was a terrific night for everyone.
We found ourselves, appropriately enough, in the bottom cellar of O’Malley’s Pub as we kicked off our tenth season. The mid-January weekend was uncommonly mild. Friday night’s audience almost filled the bottom level, with a handful of folks on the balcony. But they were so attentive it was almost like performing at a concert... everybody listening, singing-along, and clapping... as if on cue. It was a perfect audience given the circumstances - our first performance after the two-months’ holidays break... a couple handfuls of old material that needed some dust shook off it... a couple handfuls of new material to get ready for the new season - and they were utterly kind through all our moments... the good, the bad, and the ugly. Saturday night’s weather was a bit less kind, but that didn’t keep the crowd from being bigger and livelier. And you could tell that it had been a couple of months for them as well (at least for the Tullies who come out to harra-... er-... support us) as they were rusty themselves - dropping cues left and right, not clapping or hollering at the right moments. It was an excellent season-opener overall.