22 February 2008

Tir Na Nog Weekend Festivities

Very quick post this morning, as I'm late for work and am sleep-deprived. The absolutely fantastic Henry Rollins show didn't break til something well past 11pm last night, and by the time I hung around to talk to him briefly and then drive home it was almost 1am 2am. (UPDATE: check out the updated review of Henry's show in yesterday's entry: " A Shot of...Oh, Henry...is in Order".)

Now, the morning alarm clock is blaring, we've got some sort of sleet/rain combo coming down, and I'm running woefully behind.

Quick announcement of a couple of bands that need some support, and, conveniently, are playing in downtown Raleigh tonight and tomorrow at Tir Na Nog:

Tonight, it's traditional Irish music with My Three Kilts. Highly recommended by the bluegrass/Irish folk guitar player (and Friend of Blog) from Hercules Mulligan, one Mr Dave Cauthorn. Check out a video of them here. The show is scheduled to start at around 7pm, so get there a bit early for a good parking spot nearby. (The weather is due to improve throughout the day, so there's no excuse for skipping it.)

Tomorrow night, after what is predicted to be a glorious weather day of highs in the 60s and tons of sunshine (go figure), you can come back to the Nog and take in Walrus. Walrus is sort of a 'must-see' group for those of you who like Ben Folds and that kind of style. They're based out of Greensboro, and this may be their first show (or first show in my memory anyway) at Tir Na Nog. They won the Best Local Band in the Triad Award for 2007 and the writeup from "Yes! Weekly proves it:
Walrus is the name of the singer and his band. The man Ray Loughran comfortably inhabits the being of Walrus the singer, and his spirit is so broad and encompassing that he also effortlessly carries the identity of the band.

Sure, you can point to Daughtry. But when that guy put his band together he was already famous by virtue of "American Idol." And when a surname serves as a band's moniker, it doesn't take much imagination to identify the band with the singer. Daughtry was Daughtry before he sang a note. Ray Loughran grew into the role of Walrus.

No one in Greensboro holds a crowd in the palm of his hand like Walrus. He teases them with the glissando of his voice, cracks them up with a sudden, counterintuitive interjection, and summons libations when the time is right. He channels Robert Plant, not as a lithe golden god of rock and roll but as a Falstaffian master of ceremonies.

And he never forgets that these powers are vested in him by the people.

The current lineup of Walrus consists of Loughran, Evan Olson, Eddie Walker and Steve Graham. Walrus alumni include Chuck Folds and Snüzz, both of whom played with Bus Stop; Robert Sledge from Ben Folds Five; Bobby Patterson, who also played with Dag and Mr. Potato Head; and Frank Pyrtle from the Dickens.

He also shares the stage with some local luminaries in his other band, the Hall Monitors.

"Please add Sam Frazier [to the list]," Loughran says, "who I'm lucky enough to play with, and also Marcus Horth. Put 'Dave McCracken from Donna the Buffalo.'"

Loughran picked up the nickname Walrus when he played baseball for the UNCG Trojans. The golfer Craig Stadler, who was known as "the Walrus," was at the height of his fame back then. Loughran bears an uncanny resemblance to Stadler, so fellow Trojan Kevin Cody dubbed his teammate "Walrus."

Loughran mentioned the nickname when he was forming his first band, and it stuck.

"They said, 'Hey coo coo ka choo, you're the Walrus,'" he recalls. "Unfortunately I have become the walrus. I wasn't always this big. I can't complain. If it works, it works."

For the unitiated, Walrus is a covers band.

"I've always been able to do AC/DC; that's a staple," he says. "I was one of the original guys who would do a mix of four or five different songs within one song. We used to do Steve Miller Band and we'd do six or seven songs. I'd throw in some rap, and then some three-part harmony. I think some other bands have picked up on that. I think that really has caught on.

Genre-bending irreverence probably accounts for the fact that Walrus is Greensboro's most popular band, 12 years after the original incarnation first took the stage at the erstwhile Fat Dog's.

"I had a band called the Walrus Rock and Roll Revue," Loughran says. "We would do everything from Otis Redding to Jane's Addiction, then end with Prince's 'Purple Rain.' People ask me what kind of music we play, and I tell them, 'Gay death gospel.' I say something really sarcastic, and then they come up to me after the show and say, 'Wow, that was really great.'

"I say, 'Thanks, man.'"
Walrus should be an excellent show, and it's scheduled to start at 10:30pm Saturday night. Come give them a try and have some fun while you're at it.

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