Tag Archives: Red Hot Chilli Pipers

“Cinderella” By “State Ballet Theatre Of Russia”, FREE, At The N.H. “Capitol Center For The Arts”, Concord.

by Anura Guruge


>> >> Click here to access CCANH.com
to get FREE tickets << <<

Another exciting and hopefully very good FREE event thanks to the ‘William H. Gile‘ endowment concert series.

We have been to a few of these over the years and they have been extremely rewarding and fun: viz. “Red Hot Chilli Pipers“, “Ballroom with a Twist“, & “Swan Lake“. The later was by the same Russian troupe. For ‘Free’ you can’t really go wrong.

The “Capitol Center” online reservation system is not great, particularly if it has to deal with any kind of load, so be patient and keep on trying.

The rumor that Trump, with his fondness for all things Russian, will attend has yet to be confirmed.

Related posts:
++++ Search on ‘Capitol‘ for many other posts and photos from multiple years >>>>

by Anura Guruge

Revels North (Dartmouth) — Christmas 2015, A ‘Scottish Bash’ — Was Certainly A Bash.

.Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail


by Anura Guruge

Related posts:
Christmas Revels North, 2015: Songbook & Program.
>> Christmas Revels North, 2015Scottish Highland Bash.
>> Christmas Revels 2014: RAVE.
>> Christmas Revels 2013 at Dartmouth.
>> Christmas Revels 2012 at Dartmouth.

>> Cambridge 2015 Welsh Revels: Fantabulous.
>> Cambridge 2015
Welsh Revels: Program.
>> Cambridge 2015 Welsh Revels.

++++ Search for ‘Revels’ & ‘Cambridge’ for MANY other related posts >>>>

Click to ENLARGE.

Dominique Dodge, the divine harpist and soloist.

♥ The Scottish dancing was top class, throughout. Bravo.

♥ The harpist, Dominique Dodge, was DIVINE.
[I, though a sucker for harp music have no plans, whatsoever, of going to heaven. Which is why I try and listen to as much good harp music on earth while I can. But I imagine that is there is a heaven and they do have harpist there, as is claimed, these harpists will sound like Dominique Dodge did last night. THANK YOU, Dominique.]

♥ ‘Tàladh Chrìosta’ performed in the second-half by Dominique Dodge, who also sang as a soloist, with the ‘Teens of Dingwall’ was goose-bump inducingly magical. WOW. Thank you.

♥ TheAuld Lang Syne‘, with the crossed-arms and synchronized swaying, was the BEST rendition I have seen in the U.S. in the last 30 years and it made me very happy (bar for a small but crucial flaw that was an unnecessary distraction). But, Thank you. That was very good.
[Those that are familiar with this blog that I start running ‘Auld Lang Syne‘ tutorials in December to get U.S. folks to do it properly with the crossed-arms. And IF you are wondering why, as I have talked about many times, I was a bona fide, invited ‘First Footer‘ at Hogmanay, in Greenock (Scotland), for a number of years and did my duty, gladly, in kissing hundreds of Scottish lasses, right after the ‘Auld’ to make sure their New Year would be blessed.]

The Ballad of Tam Linwas exquisitely done and I will confess that last night was the first time I fully appreciated all the nuances. Kudos.

♥ The huge wolf and eagle created for the final scene of The Ballad of Tam Linwas very impressive. Way to go.

♥ The two young ladies that lead the ‘Lord of the Dance, in Morris Dance outfits, go from strength to strength each year. Bravo.

Maureen Burford, Revel North’s Artistic Director taking her final bow at Dartmouth.

At the end of the show we were told that this was the last show of Maureen Burford, the Artistic Director.

She was leaving after 12 years with Revels North. That is a shame. We like her work and her style.

I now realized that bar the very first Revels, that I was at Dartmouth prior to 2001, all the other Revels that we have seen at Dartmouth, since 2003, have been Maureen Burford creations. Wow. We wish you all the best Maureen.

I got a chance to briefly speak with Maureen at the intermission BUT I had no idea that it was her last show.

And end of another era.

Of course it was good. They are all good, by definition. The Revels North ‘gang’ is so dedicated, talented and charismatic. We are always in awe and admiration of what they manage to pull off, each Christmas.

Glad we went. To me Christmas would not be complete with Christmas Revels, by Revels North, at Dartmouth.

Welcome Yule. Merry Yule.

Those that know me well might have detected by now that I am not as effusive in my praise for this performance as I normally tend to be. Yes, that is indeed true. There were three and half things that marred this show for me. I think, though I am not sure, that I would have been able to overlook (maybe not gladly) and one of these 3.5 faux pas, but the totality of all 3.5 was too much. So what were these 3.5 reasons that put a damper on this performance.

1. NO Programs!

They did NOT have any programs, at all, for this show. I was told, 4 times, that all the shows had been sold out, that they sold 1,000 tickets than ever before, and as such they ran out of programs for the last show.

I do NOT buy that. This is 2015 in Hanover, NH. This is the era of the “Internet of Everything”. All the tickets were sold electronically. They should have been on top of ticket sales on a second-by-second basis. They should have started printing more programs as they saw the tickets being sold. This was a VERY POOR SHOW.

I feel really bad for those attending Revels for the first time. Without a program they were truly robbed. Mugged.

I was not amused either. I like to read the program ahead of the show and get a road-map in my head. Then during the show I do follow each act on the program. This was not cricket. This was a VERY POOR SHOW. I was livid.

This is 2015 in Hanover, NH. The world class Spaulding Auditorium, in which the show was held, as the projection equipment for “Supertitling” — i.e., displaying the ‘program’ behind the stage in large font. We saw this to great effect in 2013 when the Dartmouth Handel Society did “St. Matthew Passion“. Yes, it would have been a lot of work but they could have at least Supertitled.

Plus this is Hanover, NH in 2015. Within a 1/4 mile radius of the Hop there had to be dozens of high-quality, commercial grade laser printers. They could have just printed the 10 pages of the Program per se and handed that out with an apology.

I found the lack of a program an AFFRONT. Revels North management saying “Let them eat cake”. That at the start of the show a cast member appeared on stage and tried to make light of this and then had the temerity to say that “we could go read it online when we got home” was INSULTING. I don’t want to read the program after the fact.

IF Revels North had any class they would send each and every person that attended last night’s performance a $15 refund along with a profound apology. And I blame the Revels North Board. IF they have any sense of shame they would, before Christmas, resign in bloc. This was very incompetent. This was unacceptable. Yes, I am annoyed. Yes, I was given a program at the end, BUT that was no consolation.

2. The Master of Ceremonies wore cheap black sneakers with HUGE rubber soles with his kilt!

That was very insulting too! There is a proper way to wear a kilt. A kilt is a NATIONAL DRESS. You do NOT take liberties with a National Dress. You do not disrespect THE KILT.

That he kept on appearing at the very edge of the stage in these frigging sneakers was beyond the bloody pale. Yes, after the show I made a point of taking a photo so that you can all appreciate my sense of outrage.

Click to ENLARGE.

OK. Maybe he had bad feet. But there is NOTHING better for bad feet than a good pair of leather brogues. There were others on stage well attired in their kilts and footwear. I am amazed that nobody told this guy that sneakers are not worn with a kilt.

I blame the MANAGEMENT for this. They should have not let this happen.

First the programs and then this. What was this. Affront the audience week?

3. One piper, who used Smallpipes most of the time.

This was, and IF you had a program you would see that, billed as a ‘Scottish Highland Celebration’. So how come we only got 2 minutes 20 seconds of Great Highland Bagpipes? The rest of the time it was bellows-powered, small pipes with the drone ‘muted’.

One piper. We had one piper, with proper Highland pipes, at our wedding and we never billed that as a Highland Celebration.

I expected that we would start proceedings with some full-blooded piping. We in New England have no shortage of good pipers. One piper with small pipes. That the Highland Pipes would have been too overpowering for an indoor event. This was Revels. Celebration. I give you, with PRIDE, the “Red Hot Chilli Pipers” with three pipers in full blast, at the ‘Capitol Center for the Arts’, in Concord, NH, in 2014. Now that was a BLAST.

To make it worse the smallpipes were not properly amplified. The first time they played, halfway through, they started sounding ‘funky’. Like somebody turned on some other instrument. In the second half, the first time they were used, the cord may have been loose, but it ‘pop’, ‘crackled’ and ‘hissed’. People noticed it. I looked around. Now if you had DRONES that would have drowned out all that interference.

4. The cute kids at the front, for the ‘Auld’, didn’t cross arms!

Well at the start I did say that the ‘Auld Lang Syne’ was done, by the adults to near perfection. But they had a dozen or so very cute kids right at the front who just held hands without them crossed. PLEASE, as a father of four, do NOT tell me that kids cannot cross their arms. The kids would have loved it. They just had to be told. You cross your arms. What gives.

After the show, as is our wont, we went across the road, to the pub, for dinner. And, of course, we talked about the show. We had taken a friend of Deanna’s. Her first Revels. NO PROGRAM. She is Scottish. She, without being asked, commented about the pipes!

Deanna noticed that there was no ‘Horn Dance’ and that is as Scottish as it can get.

Also seemed very short. When ‘Lord of the Dance’ came around we looked around at each other. Seemed it came rather fast. BUT without a program we had no idea where we were. The whole show, with the intermission, appeared to have been about 1 hour 40 minutes long. We were done well before 7pm (having started at 5pm). The Revels last week 2.5 hours long (with the 15 minute intermission).

On the way Deanna made this very telling comment: “Maybe next year we should just go to Cambridge.” Yikes! I hope not. Revels North is still OUR Revels.

Lets us see what they do to recompense for these faux pas.

‘Red Hot Chilli Pipers’, Highland Games, Loon, 2015: Up Close — Part I.

.Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail

.by Anura Guruge

Related posts:
>> Red Hot Chilli Pipers‘, Loon, 2015.

>>The Brigadoons‘, 2015 — Part I.

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

Sunday, September 20, 2015, NH Highland Games at Loon.

We are HUGE fans of the ‘Chillis’. We have seen them, in prior years at Loon, and at the fabulous (free) concert they did in Concord, NH, in February 2014. Great group. Very personable. Makes me ultra-proud that they are British and, moreover, from Glasgow. Glasgow is special to me. I use to go up to Greenock to celebrate Hogmanay. My friend Ian W.F. Williams was a pillar of Glasgow society and I have spoken, a number of times, at the ‘National Conference Centre’ in Glasgow — once doing a keynote presentation in front of 870 people.

The ‘Chillis’, as ever, did GREAT at the Games. Love their dynamic energy. So reminiscent of the ‘Seven Nations‘ — and I am no longer sure as to who will be more proud of that comparison, since the ‘Chillis’ are now quite famous in their own right — as is but right.

Just a few closeups to get us started. I have close to 100 pictures of THEM from Loon. So I will do a few batches. Enjoy.

Click to ENLARGE.

Copyright will be enforced vigorously.

Thank YOU “The Red Hot Chilli Pipers”. You Were Great.

I plan to do at least 2 more photo sets of the ‘Chillis’.

Two things, please. Your sound engineer, on Sunday, BUTCHERED your sound! The sound was distorted and clipped. Not good. You guys were good enough to get away with it. But ditch this ‘engineer’ and get another one or use ‘Boston Sound Works’. How can I say this delicately. The ‘local’ (NY) vocal ‘talent’ wasn’t much of a catch on the stage. I am SURE she is very good, but not as a vocalist for YOU. So …. You guys can do better than that ON STAGE! SMILE. Grin. Come on. I remember the talent in Glasgow, if not Scotland. Keep it Scotish. 

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

Very Good, U.K. Bagpipe Group, ‘Red Hot Chilli Pipers’ Doing FREE Concert At Concord, ‘Capitol Center for the Arts’.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

Anura Guruge

Related Posts:
++++ Search ‘Chilli‘ 
for other related posts >>>>

We have seen them at least 3 times (from what I recall) at the Loon Highland Games.

They are good. We like them, alot. In my book they are not as good as the ‘Seven Nations’ that they follow in the footsteps of, but they are still very, very good. One of the better ones of this genre.

They, like us, have stopped going to the Highland Games. So that they are doing a FREE concert in Concord is pretty amazing. Bravo, boys. Not sure what the deal is. But, I am HAPPY for New Hampshire. They have appeared on NBC (during the Olympics) and have even played in Beijing.

Click to access ...

Click to access …

Click. Crank up the volume and be ready to be impressed.

Click. Crank up the volume and be ready to be impressed.

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

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

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.

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.

NH Highland Games At Loon, 2012: Weather, Parking, Groups, Celtica and The Brigadoons.

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge

Related posts:
NH Highland Games At Loon, 2012: The Featured Band Is ‘Carnegie Mellon University Pipes &amp; Drums’Sept. 16, 2012.
Updates: Laconia Multicultural Day September 8 & NH Highland Games At Loon September 21 …, 2012Sept. 5, 2012.
New Hampshire (NH) Highland Games, At Loon, September 21 – 23August 17, 2012.

Celtica, the featured group at the NH Highland Games 2012: Click image to access YouTube video of Celtica

In terms of weather, it looks like there is an equal chance of rain showers (in the morning/afternoon) on both days; Saturday being much warmer than Sunday.No hurricanes, however. That is always a plus; having done the games twice during or right after an hurricane; the first time before that had the ‘Concert Tent’, which came to be the next year after the chaos of trying to put on a show without enough covered area. [Yes, we even got dragged to the school in Lincoln for a performance!]

But, Saturday’s tend to be packed and you pay $15 MORE per ticket (adults only, kids always free) for the privilege. Yes, they have the Clan Parade and Massed Bands — but as I have already stated there isn’t a great slate of marching bands this year. Sunday, post 4pm, you also get all the hard-to-resist ‘give away’ sales at the food booths. Yes, I love those. Three sausage rolls $5 as opposed to $4.50 for one. We are still torn as to whether to go on Saturday or Sunday. Going today, Friday, was no longer an option because of school. We like Fridays — less crowds, full program of bands and the sheep dogs.

Celtica, supposedly the featured band for 2012, is also only playing Friday and Saturday. I went and found them on YouTube. They sound OK … shades of ‘Seven Nations‘ and a toned-downRed-Hot Chilli Pipers‘ (who made it rather clear last year that they were not coming back). Despite what the organizers like to tell us, groups as soon as they get a name stop coming to Loon. This by all accounts is considered a ‘small’ show of little consequences.

After about 3 minutes of Celtica, I realized what was missing. No vocals. Then it cracked me up. Read the first comment on YouTube against the above video: ‘Celtica needs vocals‘. I concur. I think 40 minutes of them on top of Albannach will get tedious. I think I have seen both Searson and Hardrian’s Wall before, but I am holding up hope for them.

Scheduling continues to deteriorate and confound. On Saturday they have Albannach playing in the ‘Concert Tent’ at the same time as the Clan Parade and Roll-Call. This is stupid. I have seen them do this before. This is not fair to anybody. People are conflicted and you have the group and the bands on the Parade Ground competing for sound with each other. Plus during the speeches, even if there are solemn moments, you have Albannach pounding away behind you.

On Saturday, my perennially favorite The Brigadoons don’t get a slot in the ‘Concert Tent’. Yes, I know they are old and have been playing there continuously for 20 odd years. But, they still represent quintessential, unadulterated Celtic music. They represent the tradition, the roots, the essence. They still draw a faithful crowd.

All said I am getting increasingly disillusioned by organization of the Highland Games at Loon, and given that I have been attending since 1998 (only missing one, and that was because I could not take it when it was at the dirt and cow manure in Hopkington) I think I am entitled to a say. It is not complacency. There is some cynicism. They are selling us old rope knowing that there are so many who love the games. So they don’t see a need to reinvigorate, to rejuvenate. I wish they would make a concerted attempt to make the games bigger and better. I will do a report card after we get back.

I saw a query here about parking. Unless you have VIP credentials you are not going to be able to park in or near the Loon complex. Period. Parking on Rte 112 (Main St.)/Kancamagus Highway is not permitted for miles before and after Loon; it is taped off, by the police (and strictly enforced). Yes, in 1998, I parked right next to the Loon bridge on the road. The next year I talked an attendant into letting me park inside Loon. Those days are gone. Park-and-Ride is the only way to do it, unless you are a VIP. There are at least 3 ‘Park-and-Ride’ sites — starting at the I-93 exit. We use the last one — by the ‘Inn Season’ hotel and Lincoln Shopping Center; but we haven’t been to the games on a Saturday in a long time. So not sure whether it gets full, though it, encompassing 3 fields, is HUGE.

Click to see ‘The Brigadoons’ at Loon in 2011 (on YouTube) sans my ‘buddy’ Jackie (electric bass) who passed away a couple of years ago. Miss Jackie. Chatting with him was the highlight of MY games.

New Hampshire (NH) Highland Games, At Loon, September 21 – 23.

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge

The Games are just over a month away. So we as a family kind of start a countdown for the Games. The Laconia Multicultural Day, which in marked contrast to the Games typically tends to get better each year, will come before that. That is also on the calendar. As I said yesterday, I stumbled upon the Games serendipitously in 1997. Other than for the last year when they were being (stupidly) held in Hopkington, when we just couldn’t take going there and sitting in cow sheds (replete with manure), I have been attending yearly. So, I think that is 13 Games I have attended. From 1999 to 2007, I would go for the whole weekend getting there on Friday afternoon — and going to the Friday night concert. Yes, I was there when we had the hurricane. Yes, I have been there in the rain — prior to the days of the Performance (or Concert) Tent. Now we just go for the day — many times on Friday to see the sheep trials.

The kids love it. That is good. In 1997, Matthew was 5. He was hooked. He loved the Games. He attended without fail for the next 8 years. Once he became a teenager other things took priority. Devanee has been going since she was 3. Teischan since she was born; in 2006, 6 months old, we took her, in the rain, in her carriage, for the whole weekend. Devanee and Teischan now start talking about the Games around May.

We didn’t get the usual colorful brochure urging us to pre-buy tickets, at a discount, this year. That is OK. If that saved a tree, all the better. You can get a PDF of the brochure here.

They don’t have the schedule as yet. They say they will have it in early September. That is fair.

I checked the list of performers. All the usual suspects are listed. The perennial Brigadoons are on the list, as they have always been from day one. I like the Brigadoons. Liked them from the first time I heard them. Great group of folks, though the cast list keeps on changing. Jackie, with whom I used to chat each year, died a couple of years ago. That was a shame. He was a delightful guy. All the men really need to lose some weight. Their music is haunting, but I will confess that it is kind of getting ‘old’. They, alas, typify what I THINK is happening to The Games. It is like a slowly leaking helium balloon. It is still inflated, but the gas is slowly leaking out.

The Games, don’t get me wrong, are still FUN. Great value for money. And, NO I am not one of those nostalgics that ALWAYS claim that things in the past were better. No, that is not me. I live for the future. But, the Games LACK the energy they had a decade ago. WAY, WAY more commercialized than it was. Yes, that is inevitable. It used to be much more spontaneous — a block party. Yes, as the commercial side has grown they have to regimentalize the show. So, yes, you can’t have the Glengarry Bhoys doing their own impromptu jam in the parade ground on Sunday afternoon. But, that was fun. So much energy. Yes, Albannach (the recreated Clanna Drumma) still try to bring some life to The Games. Very nice bunch of guys and one girl. Great personality. Will stop and chat with each and every. But …

The Red Hot Chilli Pipers, who were shown on NBC during the Olympics, are not there anymore. Always happens. As soon as a group makes it big — it is adieus The Games. Seven Nations entertained us for a few years. They are gone.

Well, we will still be going, unless there is a 3 day hurricane over the weekend. I don’t think I can do that again. There is a chance that I will ramble on more about The Games before they start.