Ah, Scotfest. This is one of my favorite Tulsa events. Why? (No, it isn’t just the kilts. Although, they don’t hurt.) Tulsa does a great job of pulling together some fantastic music, great food and drink, and a bit of shopping thrown in for fun. (because you’re not going to spend enough money buying cd’s, food and booze…) Before I delve into the music, I have to give kudos for the food. This isn’t your typical fair food (Although, you can find corn dogs and funnel cakes too, if that’s what you’re craving.) The organizers accumulate purveyors of fine Scottish food as well. Scotch Eggs, steak hand pies, cottage pie, bangers and mash, shortbread, scones with fresh strawberries and cream, and because Scotland is part of Britain, of course, there’s tea. This year, I decided to forgo the whiskey tasking, but I think I’m going to have to give it a try next year. It is held by Rubright & Hardagain who are touted on the Scotfest website as being “the Scottish Abbott & Costello of whisky educators, collectors and connoisseurs of fine single malt Scotch.” How could this possibly be a bad thing? (Friends take note!) Of course, beer and wine are there for the asking, as well. I had lovely Cabernet Sauvignon from Tidal School Winery in Drumright, Oklahoma.
The first band on our list was Tullamore. This trio plays mostly traditional music from Scotland, Ireland and surrounding areas. They even sing in Gaelic from time to time. They have amazing vocals and I love the hammered dulcimer’s sound almost as much as I love the fiddle. This year at the festival they had a guest who added a flute, and it worked wonderfully. I absolutely adore listening to them play, and I’ve taken home a couple of their CD’s to keep me company when the mood strikes. I am a sucker for a great fiddle, and they never disappoint. The Bonny House of Airle is one of my favorites, although it isn’t a happy song by any stretch, it is gorgeous, and I was thrilled to hear it in their rotation on Saturday.
After their set, we wondered around looking at the different vendors set up around the festival. As always, I was thrilled to see a vendor that sells my favorite Irish tea. After drinking it every morning during my trip to Ireland, nothing else tastes quite the same, so I pick up a box each year. The jewelry is always gorgeous. I caved and bought earrings…I always give in! Damn the irresistible sparkly things! We read and debated several funny t-shirts before I got distracted (who, me?). There were kilts…some people just look great in a kilt, what can I say. There was also music…like, with electric guitars and drums and…bagpipes? Yep, definitely bagpipes.
So, I put an end to my friends’ browsing and demanded that we check this out. (It wasn’t difficult) That’s when we found Celtica. Oh yeah, a rock band with bagpipes…they even shot fire out of their guitars. They did a great mix of original songs and covers in their sets that were just awesome. It made me happy. The final show of the evening even brought out the fire dancer…yep, that’s right. Rock and roll, bagpipes and fire…I was definitely happy. The first show, I was hanging around the outskirts of the tent to check things out, but by the final show I was right next to the stage. (This may or may not have been helped by that lovely Cabernet Sauvignon I mentioned.) CD’s were purchased.
Cleghorn took the stage after the first Celtica set we saw. These guys are awesome. I mean seriously. They do all original or traditional songs with originally arranged music. I mentioned I was a sucker for a good fiddle, right? Well, that’s why my friends insisted that we come see this band. My face hurt from smiling so much by the time their set finished. Dillon Cleghorn plays an amazing fiddle. He’s energetic and good grief is this dude talented. He also plays the bagpipes and this long pipe, horn thing…I don’t know what it is but it has this very low sustained tone that’s really cool. (very helpful, I know) Some of my favorites were 9 Minutes of Woo. No vocals, but lots and lots of fiddle that about made my eyes pop out of my head as I watched him play. Maggie, Oh Maggie and Young, Free and Celtic were also favorites. CD’s were again purchased.
Unfortunately, we were only able to catch the tail end of the set for Murder the Stout, so I didn’t get the full effect (especially, with the drunken guy proposing to my friend). However, I really liked what I saw, and would definitely like to check them out again. They were an excellent way to enjoy my dinner of bangers and mash.
Seven Nations were the next on our ever growing list of bands to make sure we caught before we went home for the night, and we were not disappointed…at all! Great original music, another amazing fiddle player, and sensational vocals. Wait did I mention bagpipes? No? Oh, can’t forget about the bagpipes. I have found a new love of Celtic rock music. Unfortunately, by the time I was able to make my way over to their table they had packed up to go, so no CD purchased this time. However, I plan on fixing that very very soon!
Finally, we saw Wicked Tinkers. This was the most rock sounding traditional music I’ve ever listened to. The bagpipes, tribal drums, Australian didgeridoo (please don’t ask me to pronounce that) and Bronze Age Iron horn aren’t something I’d heard before, but it really works. Their music felt ancient and modern all at the same time, and they have a fantastic energy and a wonderful sense of humor, again with the smiling so much my face hurt. The music just made me happy. The didgeridoo has this awesome bass sound that you can feel as much as hear, and that was only the first sound CJ Henderson coaxed out of it. Did I say it was cool? Didgeridoos are cool. (That just sounds funny in my head.) I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into with this group (we liked their t-shirts, see), but I am so glad we stuck around. Although I chose a shirt over a CD this time around, I am going to be seeing if they have anything on iTunes. (Yes, I was the one who didn’t notice the horn player holding the shirt right in front of my face. In my defense, I thought it was still at the other end of the table!) This is definitely the kind of thing to kick me into gear when my energy starts to flag, but I need to not sing along. (Sometimes words are very…distracting!)
One thing that I love about these festivals are the people. The performers are always friendly and willing to chat and there’s more than one performer and vendor who has ended up a friend from these kinds of things. Since discovering the joys of Doctor Who, I can find a Whovian anywhere, including Scotfest. Spotting TARDIS socks from halfway across the tent resulted in a lengthy conversation about the availability of Doctor Who merchandise in the Tulsa area and a local fan facebook page. (Thanks for the tips guys!) We came to see two bands and stayed for five (two performances by Celtica). I would definitely consider the day a success!
Next up Greek Festival! (Otherwise known as, HOORAY COOKIES!) What’s your favorite kind of music? How do you pick? Any good festivals where you live?