Tag Archives: Denis Carr

‘Highland Games’, Loon, 2015: “The Brigadoons” — The Next Generation

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.by Anura Guruge


Related posts:

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‘The Brigadoons’ — Loon, September 2015
Picture Sets

..Click for ‘unplugged’       Click for ‘Sunday I’      Click for ‘Devanee’

Click for ‘Sunday II’


Sunday, September 20, 2015,
3:30 pm performance at the Governor’s Lodge.

This was towards the end of the Sunday afternoon set — after Devanee’s stint.

While I have no compunction about parading my kids through the Web, I typically DO NOT divulge data about other kids, who I happen to photograph, unless I have explicit permission from their parents. But, I am sure many of you will work out who these two adorable — amazingly photogenic — belong to. To me they are THE NEXT GENERATION.

This was great. Now I know that there is a viable succession plan for my ALL TIME favorite Group. Given that 60% of the members are much younger than I, I am relying on this incarnation of ‘The Brigadoons‘ to regale me, yearly, at Loon, for at least another 15 years. And then … THE NEXT GENERATION.

Enjoy. Cherish. Savor.
This is PRECIOUS.


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‘Highland Games’, Loon, 2015: “The Brigadoons” — Sunday Afternoon Set.

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.by Anura Guruge


Related posts:

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‘The Brigadoons’ — Loon, September 2015
Picture Sets

..Click for ‘unplugged’       Click for ‘Sunday I’      Click for ‘Devanee’


Sunday, September 20, 2015,
3:30 pm performance at the Governor’s Lodge.

This was “The Brigadoons” third performance that Sunday; their last at the 2015 ‘Games’ and their second that day at the Governor’s Lodge. We had started that day by going to their first performance at the Lodge and was wrapping up the day by going to this one — per my avowed belief that you can never get enough of listening to “The Brigadoons”. The morning gig was brilliant and this was as good. As is their wont it was different — this one more mellow and reflective, in keeping with the mood of the crowd. It had been a truly gorgeous day at Loon and everybody was sated and nicely chilled out. It was a good crowd and the pub above the stage was packed with an appreciative, and often vocal, crowd — and you can hear them on the video on this post.

John “Mr. Scotland” Carmichael, nearly unrecognizable in trousers, joined in, impromptu, for a song, from the back, and that was special. They should collaborate, on stage, more often. That was grand. And I will admit that this gig was very special to us. “The Brigadoons”, very kindly, let Devanee (14), do a song with them! This was a first for her and we will always remember this gig. Thank you, again, “The Brigadoons”.

I took a lot of pictures this time around too. In total I think I ended up with over 400 pictures of the “The Brigadoons” that Sunday. So I am going to share some with you.

I have ONE more extremely special set of pictures left. That was of “The Brigadoons — The Next Generation“. I will post those soon.

So for now, sit back, relax and enjoy these pictures.


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Copyright will be enforced vigorously.




Ashley MacLeod

Denis Carr

Reg Portieous

Danny Leroux

Paddy Kelly






Thank YOU “The Brigadoons”.

So that is 4 sets of pictures I have posted of “The Doons” from Loon. People might start getting the impression that I kind of like “The Doons”.

P.S., Danny told me that I would not be able to capture 5 pictures of him smiling. I think I have. SMILE

All the pictures taken with my new — and now sadly returned — Sony a77 Mk II. These pictures were among the 989 that disappeared from the card (fortunately, 3 days AFTER I had downloaded the images. That was what was scary and rattled me no end. I could have so easily lost these pictures. That is why I am getting a non-Sony camera.


Devanee Singing With “The Brigadoons” — ‘Highland Games’, Loon, 2015.

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.by Anura Guruge


Related posts:
>> ‘The Brigadoons’, 2015 — Part I.
>> ‘The Brigadoons’ — Unplugged
>> ‘The Brigadoons’, Loon, 2015.

++++ Refer to ‘Highland Games‘ page (↑) for other posts ↑↑↑↑


Sunday, September 20, 2015, 3:30 pm performance at the Governor’s Lodge.

This was not my doing though I was chuffed to bits. Denis Carr (in the black shirt) and Paddy Kelly (in the blue shirt) made this happen and we thank them (again) along with Ashley MacLeod, Danny Leroux (playing bass at the end in a black shirt) and Reg Portieous (in green) who were also extremely supportive. Thank YOU “The Brigadoons“.

Though she has been singing chorale for ‘Clearlakes Chorale’ for four years and Broadway chorus for the ‘Greatwaters Festive Chorus’ for two, this was Devanee’s (15 next month) first time in front of a mike and ‘up front’. Paddy and Denis, of course, helped her quite a bit — and you can see pictures below of Paddy patiently taking her through her ‘steps’ prior to the concert. In reality they started coaxing and coaching her on Friday night. Yes, we met with them socially, for the first time, that night. That is when the conversation turned to her doing a song with them.

That she sang with them is wholly appropriate. She has known “The Brigadoons” since September 2003, when she was two. That was her first ‘Games’ and she sat with me, in the front row of the ‘Performance Tent’, in her diapers — and she danced. After the show I took her over and introduced her to Jackie Smith. We might have seen ‘The Doons’ multiple times that weekend. In those days, prior to school, we used to go for the whole 3 days. So she has seen them for 11 years — we having missed two games in that time. She knows that “The Brigadoons” are my favorite, by far, performance at the Games and is willing to follow suit — just as she has done with my preference for British sports cars. She knows which way her bread should be buttered.

Over the last few years I have got to know Denis and Paddy outside of the Games. That has been an honor and privilege. That is how Friday evening came to be and Devanee singing with them followed, though that was never ‘on the agenda’ to begin with. We are all so glad and thankful. It was Paddy and Denis who worked out that the ‘River is wide’ would be a good song for her to join in. She listened to it on YouTube on Saturday. So that is the story. “The Brigadoons” will now be even more special to her and that makes me happy.

P.S. As you will hear on the YouTube video Devanee got a lot of support from the crowd in the pub that overlooks the stage at the Governor’s Lodge. That was cool.


Click to watch 4:13 minute YouTube video
of the entire performance (shot by Mum on her Olympus).

devaneedoonsyt



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I took 989 pictures on Sunday at the ‘Games’ and I think this is my favorite. Love the expression on Denis’ face. Such a nice person. Salt of the Earth. We are so lucky.

Personal coaching, a few minutes ahead of concert start, by maestro (and good friend) Paddy Kelly.

A sister, Teischan (9), incredulous!


A photomontage of Devanee getting ready to sing (with Paddy Kelly’s help) and her actual performance.
51 photos made into a video and set to an instrumental of the ‘River is wide’.

You should definitely watch.

devaneebrigytstill




Thank YOU AGAIN “The Brigadoons”.
We will remember this forever.

 

All the still pictures taken with my new Sony a77 Mk II.


‘Highland Games’, Loon, 2015: “The Brigadoons” In All Their Glory.

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.by Anura Guruge


Related posts:
>> ‘The Brigadoons’ — Unplugged
>> ‘The Brigadoons’, Loon, 2015.
>> Red Hot Chilli Pipers‘, Loon, 2015.
>> ‘Stuart Highlanders’, Loon, 2015.

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Sunday, September 20, 2015, 10:30 am performance at the Governor’s Lodge.

The Brigadoons” it would appear are pathologically incapable of ever doing a sub-par performance (notwithstanding any or all indulgence in ‘tea bags’). As soon as Denis Carr, taps his foot, and hits a note, they are, as ever, off and running, happy to entertain and glad you are there. I worked out, over the weekend, that I have seen them at least 32 times, over a span of 17 years, and 15 ‘Games‘ at Loon. And as I recall I have loved every performance and can’t wait for the next. But sometimes when the stars are all perfectly aligned and Denis has had his tea some performances tend to be more foot-tapping and closer-to-the-heart than others. And that was the case with this Sunday morning gig. You would believe that they had done three performances the day before, including one in the evening. They knew it was a good one too. As Denis loves to say he likes to keep the group guessing as to what he is doing next. Spontaneity, as such, has become their stock-in-trade. That is grand. It is always fresh and as such lively.

I have to confess I took over 440 pictures of the ‘Doons’ on Sunday! The joys of digital cameras and the near inexhaustible space on a 64 GB memory card. So I am going to TRY and share some of these pictures with you in batches — thematically. OK?


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Copyright will be enforced vigorously.




Danny Leroux

Reg Portieous

Ashley MacLeod

Paddy Kelly

Denis Carr


And an audience that adores them
(though one young fan has an obvious bias).





Thank YOU “The Brigadoons” for a real dandy set.

I plan to do at least 3 more photo sets.

TeaserDevanee (14), our soprano, sang with “The Brigadoons” during their 3:30pm set. And YES, I do have pictures and even a video. Did you think we would let that pass without documenting it? That is Devanee, next to Teischan (9) [in glasses], with the green, St. Patrick, hair.

All the pictures taken with my new Sony a77 Mk II.


“NH Highland Games”, Loon, September 18 – 20, 2015 — Exceptional Weather.


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Related posts:
>> ‘The Brigadoons’, Loon, 2015.
>> Red Hot Chilli Pipers‘, Loon, 2015.
>> ‘Stuart Highlanders’, Loon, 2015.

>> Highland Games 2014 Loon.
>> Highland Games 2014: Performers.

++++ Search ‘highland’ for MANY other posts >>>>


lincolnweather2015

Click to ENLARGE and study here. From http://www.wunderground.com/ for Lincoln, N.H. — the Town in which Loon resides.


Looks like we are going to luck out. The weather for all three days, Friday to Sunday looks good. The so called ‘chance of rain’ on Sunday is for early morning. It, if it actually happens given the 35% probability, will have ceased by the time the “Games” start on Sunday — really around 11 am, if not noon. Actually Sunday with its (average) 69°F appeals to me compared to the 81°F. Yes, indeed, it can get too hot.

Over the 17 games we have attended, 15 at Loon, I have seen it all. At least 2 hurricanes, maybe three and the weekend of 9/11. And one of the hurricanes, if I recall right, was in 1999, BEFORE we had a ‘Performance Tent’. That was WET. They re-scheduled the Friday concert at the Lincoln High School — and refused to issue any new tickets. We still got to see it — though we hadn’t bought tickets, beforehand, because we knew that we were going to get pummeled by a hurricane. I then remember another Sunday when there was an announcement over the PA system that an event scheduled at a golf course that morning had to be cancelled because there were ducks swimming on the course. And the weekend of 9/11 was also dreary in MULTIPLE ways — the one MEMORABLE highlight being ‘The BrigadoonsDenis Carr who sang ‘Amazing Grace‘, with so much poignancy, SO MANY times, basically on-demand, during that weekend. Thank YOU, Denis. Without YOU that weekend would have been a bust.

2006 was Teischan’s first ‘Games’. She was ‘0’ years old having been born on March 22, 2006. We used to, in those days, go up to Loon for the whole weekend. We took her, Saturday morning, from the condo we were staying at in ‘Lincoln Station’ with a garbage bag over her stroller. So this ‘Games’ really will be a walk in the park.

ENJOY. See you there. Remember, I am the brown guy. Not many of us around. So I should not be hard to spot. Buy me a drink or better still a sausage roll. SMILE. Cheers.


‘The Brigadoons’ NEW 2015 “Kitchen Ceilidh” CD Set Is Now On Sale — Rejoice!

The Brigadoons

2014 Highland Games, Loon, N.H.

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by Anura Guruge


Related Posts:
>> ‘The Brigadoons’ Tour of Scotland.
>> ‘The Brigadoons’: ready for 2015.

>>
‘The Brigadoons’: 2014 ‘Games’.
>> Video clips
of the ‘The Brigadoons’.

>> Paddy Kelly of ‘The Brigadoons’.

>> Highland Games 2014: Performers.

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Click to ENLARGE. 

CD 1




CD 2




Common in Both CDs.
Click to ENLARGE and READ.


What the CDs look like


This is brilliant. I have the two CDs here with me as I write and I am listening to CD2 right now. They arrived in the mail today (Saturday) from Canada. Denis Carr had kindly sent them to me for ‘review’.

In my opinion, and I could be wrong, there can be no greater compliment than you can pay a group — about one of their CDs — than to say that you can truly see them in your mind’s eye performing the music as you listen to the CD. And that is very much the case here. I can SEE Denis Carr singing these songs. It is JUST LIKE being at a “Briagdoons” concert — say at the ‘Highland Games‘ at Loon. I guess, over the last 16 years I must have seen “The Briagdoons” perform, all at Loon, maybe 20 to 25 times — maybe a few more. Yes, there were years when I went for the whole weekend and would see “The Brigadoons” MULTIPLE times a day. To me, the ‘Highland Games’ at Loon is first and foremost “The Brigadoons” and then everybody else! I am NOT kidding. The kids know it and the wife is picking up on it. When we go the ‘Games’ there is one and one thing that I have to see and I am not content till I have seen ‘it’ — and that is “The Brigadoons”. It gets highlighted on our master schedule. Everything else has to fit around that. Yes, if you haven’t sussed it out by now, I am a huge fan and the family think they are GREAT too.

So, if I tell you that I can see them and feel them — and it is just like being at a “Brigadoon” concert — when I am listening to these CDs, please believe me. Other than being a huge fan I have no reason to deceive you on this. That is not my style. If the CDs didn’t come up to snuff I would have made a snide but telling comment. Not so. Love them. THANK YOU, GUYS! Much appreciated.

OK. Yes, full disclosure. Denis Carr asked me early on in the year as to whether there were any songs I would like on the CDs — because he kind of knows that I think they are the cat’s whiskers. I asked for the “Rose of Allendale” and “Burning of St. Raphael’s” (though I will MISS Jackie Smith on that). They both made it. Am I chuffed? Denis singing “Rose of Allendale” always gives me goose bumps. And listening to it on the CD gave me goose bumps. They did a grand job. I am so HAPPY.

Please do yourself a huge favor and get these 2 CDs. You will thank me for telling you to do that. It has this on the CDs. E-mail Denis Carr to order the CDs. His e-mail, as it appears on the CD covers, and this e-mail does work (since that is what I use to contact Denis) is: dcarr11@cogeco.ca.

OK?

They also now have an ACTIVE Facebook. See below.

So, you should be all set. This has been quite the musical weekend for me. Friday night, “Hot Club of Cowtown“. Then today, Saturday, I was at Alton Bay for 2 hours listening to the “Barbershop Jamboree“. Then I get home and I get to listen to these two CDs.


brigadoonsfb


NH Highland Games 2013 At Loon: We Have Decided, Per Last Year’s Promise, To Boycott It. So It Was 14 & Out …

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

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Anura Guruge


Related Posts:
>> NH Highland Games 2012: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
>>— Sep. 23, 2012.

>> NH Highland Games 2012: The Report Card
>>— Sep. 23, 2012.

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NHGames2013


That they managed to alienate us was pretty remarkable. We loved the games. I had been to 14 games starting back in 1998. We only missed one, 2005, and that was one in Hopkinton when we just couldn’t take the grubbiness of that venue. So this is a big step for us and one that we didn’t take lightly. Kind of sad all around. I marked my year in terms of the games. There was a time I used to go for all three days.

But the decline in quality pipe bands, especially the paucity of bands from the mother country, and the monotony of the performance repertoire just got to us last year. Just started to feel exploited. Yes, I think the $5.75 sausage roll was the final straw that broke my will. I look forward to my sausage rolls. Always have. Usually have a couple or maybe even more. But, I was not paying $5.75 per roll — on principle.

Yes, they have an exciting new group this year: The American Rogues. They sound good. But, to be fair they are just another ‘Seven Nations‘ imitation and we already have Hadrian’s Wall, Red Hot Chili Pipers, Prydein etc. etc. I am not going to spend close to $100 to just see one new band!

Click to watch YouTube video.

Click to watch YouTube video.

So we are going to stay home this year and do something else. Yes, I will have withdrawal pangs. The games were so much a part of my psyche. But life will go on. There is the Sandwich Fair and the Pumpkin Festival — both much, much more punter friendly than the increasingly aloof and arrogant games. I will miss my Brigadoons! I will miss saying ‘Hi’ to Denis Carr

NH Highland Games At Loon 2012: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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by Anura Guruge


Companion Post:
>>  NH Highland Games At Loon: Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012 — The REPORT CARDSept. 23, 2012.

I realize that the above Report Card is way too long. So here is the pithy summary.


Hadrian's Wall Musical Group by Anura GurugeThe Good

1/ Hadrian’s Wall. The BEST of the Games 2012. They rocked. Dave Gossage will remind you of Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull!

2/ The Massed Bands at the Closing Ceremonies. Spectacular. Hard to beat.

3/ The perennial, ‘never bad’ favorites: The Briagdoons, Albannach, NH Pipes and Drums, Mohwak Valley, Catamount, Rob Roy and Governor John Lynch. Thank YOU.

4/ Good free coffee by Green Mountain Coffee (along with free plastic water cups, a chocolate ‘something’, which was addictive and cute, GreenSt. Patty’sheadbands). Many thanks. Much appreciated.

5/ Celtica, U.S. Border Patrol Band, all of the St. Andrew bands, the Drum Majors (even the guy that kept on dropping his mace).


The Bad

1/ No Grade I band.

2/ No bands from the U.K., let alone Scotland — when this is supposed to showcase Scotland; Albannach alone can’t always be the token Scots.

Denis Carr

Denis Carr, of ‘The Brigadoons’, the requisite Voice of the NH Highland Games.

3/ Having the Clan Roll and Opening Ceremonies separate.

4/ No Denis Carr at the Opening Ceremony.

5/ No real innovation over the last decade.


The Ugly

1/ $5.75 for a sausage roll — that is Scottish Highway Robbery.

2/ No trophy for the Amateur Drum Major even though it was a proper, slated competition and they announced a winner and said that they had no award for him.

3/ The ‘Performance Tent’ is the same, with the very same dirty, blue curtains, as it has been over the last 10 years; no light show, no big screens, no dancers … just shabby, tired and dark.

4/ Prevailing sense of general apathy by the organizers.

5/ The event and program looks and feels tired, lackluster, flaccid with no efforts at re-invigoration.


Yes, with those same resources I can do better, just in case you were wondering.

NH Highland Games At Loon: Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012 — The REPORT CARD

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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by Anura Guruge


Just 3 Related posts (from many):
1/ NH Highland Games At Loon: Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012 — Some Pictures; Celtica, Hadrian’s Wall, The Brigadoons, Massed Bands etc.Sept. 22, 2012.
2/ NH Highland Games At Loon, 2012: Weather, Parking, Groups, Celtica and The BrigadoonsSept. 21 2012.
3/ Laconia Multicultural Day September 8, 2012: They Pulled It Off Again. Thank You. THE REPORT CARDSept. 8, 2012.

See 1st link above for more pictures from the 2012 Games.


I have been going each year since 1998, with just one exception — the last year that it was at Hopkington, given that I just did not like that venue for the Games (and sure enough they came back to Loon, somewhat sheepishly, the following year). As a family we have been going since 2003. Teischan, now 6, has never a missed a Games in her life! So I have been to 14 games, Deanna & Devanee to nine and Teischan to six. I did play the bass drum (poorly and not for that long) for a British Army Cadet Corp. (cf. ROTC) marching band and did once march with them through Aldershot (cf. West Point). I also did play the drums, while in school in London, for an incredibly bad band appropriately called the ‘Bubonic Plague‘. So, I think we are qualified, in multiple ways, to state an opinion here.


My REPORT CARD for 2012.

For just doing it: B+. Yes, this is their 37th year (and I was there for the gala 25th celebrations). I could be wrong, but of late I get the feeling that they are just going through the motions, trying to maintain status quo (which is good to a point), expending as little as possible, and not really making an effort to add a little bit of new pizazz each year. Let me give you an example. At the closing ceremony, the M.C., without any major embarrassment, announced that they did NOT have a trophy for the Amateur Drum Major, though there was a competition for that class! He went onto add, kind of shamelessly, that they would welcome a sponsor for that trophy for next year. I told Teischan that we will donate it, but we were beaten to the punch. Somebody else, standing by the announcement platform, immediately offered! But, that is not good. They take in a LOT of money. Entrance was $35 per adult. Come on buy a trophy. Yes, I (as an adopted Scot) know that it is in the GENES (and in the case of many in their low-slung jeans as well), but don’t be SO CHEAP! Actually that is, to me, the keyword of the Games of late: CHEAP. Take the ‘Performance Tent’. It is the same as it was when it was introduced in 2000 (maybe 2001) after a Games ‘impacted’ by the remnants of an hurricane. The same low budget, zero affect lighting, no atmosphere … just a cheap tent thrown up for 3 days. Come on. This is 2012. Lets have some light shows, lasers, videos, big screens. Dancers. Segways (a NH invention). Look at the Summer Olympics. There is no reason to be stuck back in 2000 — other than the desire to conserve money, a noted Scottish trait. Oh yes, they had an huge innovation this year, for which they were very proud. The Clans, at 11 am, were not escorted into the rink by a pipe band, instead they were serenaded to a song by John Carmichael and Charlie Zahm. That was nice, and different. But, that raises another question. Denis Carr of ‘The Brigadoons‘ has traditionally been the much beloved Voice of the Games. Denis has done sterling work for the Games, particularly so in 2001 when he was called upon to sing ‘Amazing Grace‘ (which he does real, real well) about a dozen times a day. John Carmichael is more famous but does not have Denis’ unique personality and presence. John is very good but he is ‘flat’. He doesn’t lift a crowd like Denis can and does. John gets polite applause, Denis gets a reception. Charlie Zahm sang the National Anthems. He was OK, but I, for one, missed Denis.

Effort: B-. Of late I get the distinct feeling that the ‘Organizers’ (the so called ‘Board’) doesn’t give a hoot about non-VIP, punters like me who pay the gate entrance and come in. It seems to be: ‘let them eat cake at $7 a slice’. I love the games but the last few years I have felt exploited; even cheated. I just happened to find, serendipitously, a whole list of ‘Highland Games’ in the U.S. — arranged by State. I really am going to think about checking out some other Games. Just saw that the Florence, Massachusetts, Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival, had ‘Enter the Haggis‘! Wow. We saw them in their one and only appearance at the NH Games — at one of the events in Hopkington. They are good. World class — and I will contend that they are better than any group at this years game! Q.E.D. I am bummed (though Hadrian’s Wall warmed the inner cockles of my heart today). Deanna liked ‘EtH’. Though she hates long car rides I could have talked her into going to see the ‘EtH’. Well, the $5.75 for a sausage roll was the final straw. Despite my well known addiction to sausage rolls, and my ability to eat them in large quantities, I did NOT buy a single roll this year. It is not the price. I took $40 for food and in the end JUST spent $7 on a whoopee pie (see pictures) for the kids. I did NOT buy any food. I was protesting in my own little way. Deanna had brought some egg salad and almonds. I ate that and then went to the McDonald’s (in Loon) and blew $20. A sausage roll in a U.K. shop, this morning, will cost me 90 ‘pee’. [I checked.] That is 10 ‘pee’ under a Quid. A Quid is currently worth $1.62. So a sausage roll in England will cost me $1.46. Let us be generous and say $2.50. I am NOT paying $3 on top of that — when food prices, on the whole, are cheaper in the U.S. than in the U.K. Last year, I think, it was $4.75. A decade ago, I am sure unless my brain is playing tricks on me, that they were under $2 — which is what they should be. Screw them. I had it with the blatant exploitation. I will vote with my wallet and my feet. This might have been my last Games.

‘Enter the Haggis’ that has only appeared at the Games once — and that was when it was in Hopkington.

 

Overall Experience today: A. It is like what they say about fishing, though I don’t fish. Even a real bad day that involves 30 marching bands and The Brigadoons is better than the best day at ‘work’ (though I don’t work, per se, either). It wasn’t a bad day. Don’t get me wrong. It was fun. Lots of highlights. “Hadrian’s Wall” lit up the day and made me glad to have been there to see them. It is just the overall ambiance; lets just call it tacky.

‘Energy’/Ambiance: B-. ‘Albannach’ continue to be THE power source of the Games. They are the energy source. They continue to rock. Thank you, Albannach.

Organization: D, you finally managed to lose ME, and you really couldn’t have asked for a more loyal and devout fan.

Event Programming: D, for it having been done by a Dunce on Drugs; a drunk would have been more creative. ‘Searson’, supposedly a featured group, only had one slot yesterday, at noon to coincide with the Opening Ceremonies. They didn’t get much of a crowd. I had to go and check. Having the Clan Parade separate from the Opening Ceremonies is a 2001 innovation — and I know they will cite space. I don’t buy that. The Opening Ceremony is best when you have the bands and the clans interacting, feeding off each other. Having fun. And I missed Denis at the Opening Ceremonies. Was glad to see Governor John Lynch there. He got, as he should, a very warm reception.

Weather: A+. It was a cold start, but as predicted the Sun came out, the clouds disappeared for a couple of hours in the afternoon and the temperatures soared to the 70s. It was hot enough that I considered taking off my ‘heavy’ shirt. Dark clouds rolled in during the Closing Ceremonies but there was no rain — as we got on I-93 about 7:30.

Crowds: A. Wasn’t bad. Slow start but it was respectable by mid-afternoon. Only Albannach managed to PACK the ‘Performance Tent’!

Web site: C. It is OK, but could be so much better.

Sound: A, they used to fumble and stumble about like they had never done it before. They have got better, though it has taken them 10 years. Yes, they have now reduced the gigs to 35 to 40 minutes (which is shortchanging the punters like me again). So it does give the sound crews more time between gigs for set up. The 2nd ‘Celtica’ gig had some feedback, but the volume was way up. Sound, in general, was good.

Food: D. Selection was good, BUT I am not paying blatantly exploitative prices — on principal. I can be a Scot too.

Printed Program: I buy it on the way out so it doesn’t get mangled during the day. Since I print the schedule from the Internet I don’t need the Program to tell me what is happening when and where. When I went to get one on the way out, around 6 pm, the tent was closed. I could have ‘knocked’ — but I decided that I am going to keep the $5 in my pocket as yet another small protest.



The Performances We Saw

Massed Bands: A-. They were all OK. The U.S. Border Patrol, Ottawa Police, NH Pipes and Drums, Mohwak Valley and the various St. Andrew bands stood out. I missed not having a Grade I band. Also NO representation, whatsoever, from the U.K., let alone Scotland. That used to be a signature item — a Scottish band for the Highland Games.

Celtica (x2): A. We saw both their gigs, one at 10 am and the other at 4 pm, the 2nd two-orders of magnitude better than the first — hangover most likely the explanation. They are good. They are loud. They had the crowds bopping. Teischan was mesmerized. Watched them from the bottom of the stage both times. (See pictures). They tried to add some vocals. They just come across as a ‘cover band’ — shades of ‘Seven Nations‘ and ‘Red Hot Chilli Pipers‘ but with some je ne sais quoi missing. They try but they don’t (as yet) have the personality. I wish them well. But, I have a feeling that they have reached their ‘Parkinson’ — the NH Highland Games is about the top of their Game, as appears to be the case for ‘Albannach’.

Searson: B-. The ‘Indigo Girls’ without the magic. Three girls and a male drummer. They were OK. They had been to the Games before. They got a terrible slot, noon — coinciding with the Opening Ceremonies. I left after 15 minutes because I wanted to catch some of the Opening Ceremonies too. Deanna stayed. She thought they were ‘OK’ — and she is nowhere CLOSE to as fussy as I am. They are OK. I would not drive 3 miles to see them, but I am picky.

The Brigadoons: A+. When it comes to the ‘doons‘ I can’t be objective. They were like the 1st group I heard when I stumbled into my 1st Games and instantly fell in love with their music — having been a Steeleye Span and Lindarsfarne.groupie there is a genre of music that hits a chord with me. The ‘doons’ do that. Deanna and the kids know that the ‘doons‘ are my fix at the Games. They epitomize the games. The lineup has changed again! They played for about 35 minutes. They are getting old. Ashley, the youngest, is now playing with “Hadrian’s Wall”.

Hadrian’s Wall: A++. The BEST group of the Games this year, by far. The Brigadoons with attitude. Seven Nations without the grating edge (which is not a bad thing). Glengarry Bhoys Mk 1.5 — and they are from Glengarry and they are all related etc. etc. Albannach without the monotony! (Sorry). Searson with Testosterone. [I could say that differently and more powerfully, but Deanna will yell at me.] Celtica in their DREAMS! (Sorry). They rocked. They hit the right ‘tone’. They connected. They didn’t have a piper, but Dave Gossage on tin whistle put many a piper to shame. This guy reminds me of Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull! Mark my words. These folks still have a lot of work to do. They need a new name, they need their OWN Web site. They will go far. Maybe they should, if they read this, call me. I will make them famous. Deanna shouts at me when I buy $20 CDs at the Games, correctly pointing out that I can get them for $12 on Amazon. But, I bought one of their $20 CDs and Deanna didn’t shout at me. I listened to it twice on the drive home. It wasn’t great; it needs work. But, they were THE HIGHLIGHT of 2012. Bravo. Take another bow.

Albannach: A+. What can I say about Albannach that hasn’t been said before? Lets start by saying that they are the nicest, most unassuming folks you could ever meet. They are famous, the most famous at the Games but they remain well grounded — wondering around the grounds. They will stop and talk to you. They will let you maul them while having a picture taken. I just acknowledged a couple of them, by raising my finger, when I saw them walk by. One of them said “Hi, mate” though I hadn’t said a word. They recognize the faithful. They were, by far, yet again, the MOST popular at the Games. Only group that packed the tent. They rocked. The crowd loved them. I listened to the entire 4 pm gig. It was OK. There was very little banter. I think they were tired. I don’t blame them. They have been doing the Games, every year, for 9 or 10 years — starting when they were Clanna Druma. They have done yeoman work. Thank you.