Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Tannahill Weavers in Concert

The Tannahill Weavers, a traditional music band from Scotland, were in Charleston last night, playing for the Friends of Old-Time Music and Dance concert series. I'd seen the Tannahill Weavers 10 years ago and it was an experience I had not forgotten. Would the band be as exciting now as they were then?

If you like bagpipes (and I do) the piper, Colin Melville, was phenomenal. I was impressed by his ability to change between the highland pipes and small Scottish pipes. In addition he also played the whistle and occasionally the keyboard. I was impressed. As one who cannot really play any instrument, the ability to play one is amazing to me. To play several, and to switch between them, sometimes within the same song? Maybe to the musicians reading this it seems like a "well duh" type of thing. As a non-player, I stand amazed.

While many of the songs and tunes were on the CD I purchased 1o years ago, there was new material to hear--and those older songs were no less wonderful than they'd been before. The band's calendar seems rigorous: they had been in Harrisburg, PA the night before, then drove to Charleston for last night's performance. Today they were to be in Shepherdstown, in effect backtracking about 5 hours of their journey yesterday. After that the next gig is two days later, in Maine. A killer schedule. To see if the band will be in your area, check their calendar here.

We were lucky enough to be included in the pre-concert potluck dinner, and I spoke a few minutes with the band's lead singer, Roy Gullane. Nothing memorable to report except the pleasure of knowing that beside me was a man with a long, long history of performance with this stellar band. During the performance he shared jokes, stories of life on the road and background on some of the music. His reasoned approach to why we had to buy CDs at intermission was classic tall-tale storytelling, moving from the reasonable to the absurd with clever telling and a straight face.

We left the concert and headed to the after-concert party. After a few hours of music of the old-time variety, meeting acquaintances and new people, we called it an evening and headed home.

Traveling home to Jackson County, I wondered why we had not been attending FOOTMAD concerts for the past few years. Worth the effort? Oh yeah! Should we do it more often? Definitely.

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