We've been blessed to have met a few famous folks along the way.
One thing about playing music, it seems you make instant friends.
Here are some of those friends we remember.
In 2005, we met and played for Ken Burns, the great PBS documentary filmmaker.
His trilogy on the Civil War is one of the most watched TV shows in history. He sent
us a nice letter a week later saying how much he enjoyed our music. One condition
of performing was that Jim got to speak with Mr. Burns for awhile, privately.
It was a very memorable experience.
One of the more legendary entertainers we had the pleasure of meeting
was Don Ho. Jim was asked to join Don on stage for a rendition of
Green Green Grass of Home. It was one of those nights, like the time
we performed at Murphy's Pub in Ireland, that you just can't adequately
describe. Don's widow now operates the club where we were . . . a club
which is now owned by Jimmy Buffett. Jim performed Margaritaville, ten
years later to the day, on the exact same stage, with Jimmy Buffet's
house band. A picture's worth a thousand words, so we'll just say Aloha.
In 2008, we went to Belize off the east coast of Mexico, and there we sat in
with other musicians at 3 different bars. As we walked into one of them, there
standing against the wall was Jerry Jeff Walker, singer and songwriter whose most
famous song is Mr. Bo Jangles. Oddly enough, Jerry Jeff is a friend of Celtic
entertainer, Ed Miller, whom we had eaten supper with at the Edinboro Highland Games
the previous year. Jerry was a very nice man who spent quite awhile talking with us.
His other big claims to fame are that it was he who introduced Jimmy Buffett to
Key West and beach living (some say he is the "real" Jimmy Buffett that Jimmy Buffett
has been trying to be for all these years), and he is also mentioned in the song
Luckenbach Texas . . . "Jerry Jeff's train songs and Blue Eyes Crying in the rain."
At the 2007 Edinboro Highland Games we had dined at the
evening "ceilidh" (Kay-lee) with Celtic performer, Ed Miller,
Jerry Jeff Walker's friend, and the headliner for the event.
His performance includes many comedic songs and stories, as
well as some heart-rending ballads.
In 2006, we met Alasdair Fraser at the Edinboro Highland Games. He is one of the
most talented fiddlers and Celtic musicians of our era, one of the best, and is known
throughout the world. His interaction with the audience made this one of the best
Edinboro Games ever. We spent time with him Friday and Saturday and sold his CDs
at the ceilidh. He was a great person to get to know a little, and we will treasure
the wee bit o' time we spent with him. We've stayed in touch a little, too, and he
helped me with one of my Scotch-Irish Society of the USA music columns.
The end of 2011 was just as exciting as we listened to the great Nova Scotian
fiddler, Natalie MacMaster, show her stuff just a block from our house. We were
able to speak with her and she signed a copy of her CD, shown here. We have now
met and shook hands with perhaps the two greatest fiddlers in the world . . .
Natalie MacMaster and Alasdair Fraser.
In July, 2010, we visited the oldest Highland games in the world outside
of Scotland - at Antigonish, Nova Scotia. We then crossed over to Cape Breton
and visited the Celtic Music Interpretive Center at Judique. Here we witnessed
step/square dancing as it has been done for centuries, to music just as old.
We also visited the Gaelic College and many a pub to hear Cape Breton fiddling,
sessions musicians, and stage performers of all ilks.
While there we were lucky enough to meet Mami, the aunt of the great Cape
Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster. Natalie had just left Cape Breton a few days
earlier or we might have met her in person, a year earlier. Mami told us many
tales of the MacMaster family fiddlers and of Cape Breton.
The beginning of the year is usually the time when we actually can travel
to see and hear other bands. On February 12, 2011, we met up with the famous
Dady Brothers in Buffalo, NY, and were invited to take the stage with them
for a few songs. The Dadys have been acquaintences of Tommy Makem and the
Clancy Brothers, without a doubt the premier Irish folk music band, dating
back to the 1960s. The Dadys seem to have learned much from Makem and the
Clancys, especially in their laid back, often comical style, and they even
can mimic the voices of this famous band. Their show was a delight, and we
were very happy to have played alongside them for a few tunes.
Our visit to hear the Dadys resulted in our first gig in the
Buffalo market for March 12, 2011 at the prestigous Buffalo Irish Center.
The place was packed most of the night and our music went over well.
Here's an odd one. 2010 started off with a bang as we met Hathor,
Egyptian goddess of Music, at the temple of Hatshepsut during our
two week trip to Egypt in February... well at least we met her statue.
Finally, in 2009 we actually hired our friend and Pittsburgh's greatest Celtic
performer, Michael Gallagher, for an event we hosted at the Edinboro Highland Games,
in conjunction with the once-in-a-lifetime Clan Gathering in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Mike is simply phenomenal and a regular in Pittsburgh pubs.