Thursday, 9 June 2011

Tannahill Weavers headed to Worcester

The Tannahill WeaversCover of The Tannahill WeaversWhen The Tannahill Weavers released their first album “Are Ye Sleeping Maggie?” in 1976, they were about to rouse some people from a slumber.

While The Tannies, as they are known to many, perform Scottish traditional music, the traditional music scene was about due for a wake-up call, suggested original member and guitarist and vocalist Roy Gullane.

“I think we came along at a time when the traditional music was in need of a breath of fresh air. It was getting bogged down in the quasi-Scottish thing.” On the BBC (or more specifically, BBC Scotland), it was not uncommon to see performers “dressed in tartan and singing in an operatic manner. Young people were turning off,” Gullane recalled.

Enter The Tannies. “We took it back a step and added guitars,” Gullane said. “We were at the age where we could do something to it without getting away from the origins of it.”

As one review noted, the music was old-time Celtic (and not operatic Celtic) but the drive was almost akin to rock 'n' roll.

The drive continues. The Tannahill Weavers are scheduled to take a plane out of Edinburgh today to embark on their latest United States tour. It's a short but busy itinerary that includes the group's first visit to Central Massachusetts when it comes to the Worcester Hibernian Cultural Centre at 8 p.m. Saturday. The tour will also include stops in California and three performances at the Alaska Highland Games in Anchorage.

“Our feet are not going to touch the ground,” Gullane said in a pre-flight telephone interview earlier this week.

The same sort of sensation could be said to have been experienced by audiences at a Tannahill Weavers concert.

“Scotland's Tannahill Weavers play acoustic instruments, but the atmosphere at their shows is electric,” said a Boston Globe reviewer.

The group draws on the music of the Scottish Highlands and Lowlands, and has also embraced modern composers. Their arrangements combine the alternating haunting beauty and exuberance of traditional melodies with the power of modern rhythms. In addition to the guitar, the band added full-sized highland bagpipes to its performances, and is widely credited with being the first professional Scottish folk group to successfully do so.

Band members are Gullane, founder and original member Phil Smillie (simple system flute, tin whistles, bodhrán, vocals), John Martin (fiddle, cello, viola, vocals), and Colin Melville (Highland bagpipes, Scottish smallpipes, tin whistles).

Worcester Telegram & Gazette - - Tannahill Weavers headed to Worcester

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