03 April 2007

Albannach returns...to the NC Renaissance Faire

Just a quick post as I've been burning the midnight oil as of late (nothing like prepping and going into overdrive before a 3-day weekend, eh, folks?), but I wanted to point out that the North Carolina Renaissance Faire continues this weekend over at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. This is some great news to the 'Renaissance fair' types, but also to my fellow Irish and Scottish descendants who can go on Friday for Official Tartan Day. As a proud descendant of the ancient Clan Chattan, I take great joy in getting together with like-minded historical revelers over some heavier beer, lots of fried and boiled potato snacks for sale, all the while watching some weekend warriors take their 'sword-sparring' a bit too seriously. (Alas, long-time friend and amateur thespian Amanda is probably preparing for her own Faire back in the Midwest.) I have hopes that the Wise Ricky...who is the tartan wearer of the two of us, albeit he is Irish by blood and has readily adopted his kilt as standard social uniform, which sometimes is a bit difficult to explain as most people here do not know the Irish can have and wear their own clan kilts...can finally overcome his allergies to make an appearance.

For those of you who do not seem particularly thrilled with the Faire festivities nor the image of a lot of slip sliding (and not just from the alcohol) plaids, I still encourage you to come on Friday for one final reason: the Scottish tribal drum band Albannach. As regular readers here know already, Albannach wowed everyone (including your humble blogger, who generally leans toward more guitar-driven bands than drums) in attendance when they hit Raleigh last year. They have 5 drums at full volume at any time during their set...and when those booming sounds are added (so loud and full Phil Spector's famous "Wall of Sound" pales in comparison) with dancing and tribal chants, it's hard not to get swept up in the music. Last October, they received well-deserved standing ovations at the end of each of their gigs.

Donnie (aka 'The Bullfrog'), (left), is the lone bagpipe champ in this group, but he more than holds his own.

But the stage show...the powerful, enthusiastic, dynamic stage show!...may just be one of the best I've seen live in recent memory. (The highly-animated 'baron of bass' Jamesie looks like he just walked out of a history book/set from "Braveheart", I swear.) You can tell these wonderful musicians love their craft and their heritage...and are anxious to get everyone who'll listen to appreciate and fall in love with the Scottish culture, history, and traditions.

Kyle, Jamesie (aka the 'Baron of Bass'), and Aya (who's playing a Bodhran in the shadows next to the wall mural), (above, left to right), tearing it up mid-song.

The pictures shown here are from last year's great performance at the Tir Na Nog Irish Pub & Restaurant in downtown Raleigh (otherwise known as the place where I have to 'thaw' my meal's butter over the table candlelight fire, as all of their butter is frozen there, apparently). While the stage at the Fairgrounds will be much bigger, Albannach is more than ready, willing, and able to wow larger crowds. If you're in the area and can make the trip over, come see this great band if for no other reason. While a couple of band members seem a bit shy/reserved to the audience off stage, the open and very friendly nature of the others more than compensates. All of them are excellent musicians...and very proud Scots.

Lead drummer Kyle (left) forging the rhythm ahead with enthusiastic fervor.

In addition to handling drumming, singing, and Bodhran duties, Davey (below) created the band's poster for last fall...which is a series of really 'tongue in cheek' caricatures of all the band members.

While a specific time of performance at the Faire on Friday is not known yet, it will probably be sometime in that open-ended time frame of 3-10pm (last year they did at least 2 sets at the Gaelic Fest 2006 over at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre). If you can't make it to the Faire, they are scheduled to return to Tir Na Nog in Raleigh on April 19 at 9pm (and on Kilt Night, no less...get there early!!) and also will be up and down the Eastern seaboard this summer performing at several Highland Games-related functions. Tour details can be found here (and click on 'tour schedule' link at the top of the page).

And if you want to see a preview of them in action (from last year's huge Grandfather Mountain Highland Games), click here (video from YouTube, as usual):

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