Sunday, December 4, 2016

More Changes to the Devil's Tailors

It's been a few months since we last checked in, and some great gigs. After our gigs at the Virginia Scottish Games, the Takoma Folk street festival, and the Outlander Fashion show, Rosemary Hall has had to say farewell to the band. She's going to be immersing herself in her last semester of grad school, among other projects, and so decided it was time to step away from performance.

We'll really miss Rosemary, and wish her the best of luck in all her future adventures!

But with that second hole in our line-up, we had to fill the ranks quickly. Fortunately, we found a new fiddler almost immediately, in the form of the electrifying Kaitlyn Likas!

Kaitlyn is the fiddler for Capital Celtic and The Wild Irish Roses, and will be also joining the Devil's Tailors full time. As her bio on the Capital Celtic site says:

Kaitlyn Likas (A.KA. The Wild Irish Rose) is an award-winning fiddler and Irish/ Scottish dancer based in the Washington DC area. From an early age, Momma Likas ingrained in Kaitlyn and her siblings an awareness and appreciation of their cultural heritage. As a first-generation Irish American, Kaitlyn makes a point to be active in her local Irish community here in Virginia, DC and Maryland. You might have seen her sawing on strings, and dancing on swords with the well-known Irish sister group, "The Wild Irish Roses."  

Kaitlyn began her dancing career at the age of 4, learning Scottish Highland dance because Irish was sadly not available in Southern Maryland "back in the day."  She later was taught Irish dance in high school from both the Hunt and Broesler schools in Maryland, winning various competitions and championships. 

Kaitlyn is a self-taught fiddler with humble beginnings as a classically trained violinist. After playing classical for over 10 years, Kaitlyn took on the new challenge of teaching herself the fiddle. Since then, she has not looked back! Kaitlyn is the only female fiddler to perform in the Baltimore-based Irish punk band, The Charm City Saints. The Charm City Saints contributed music to various Irish films and documentaries. Kaitlyn has also recently performed with Black 47, O'Malley's March, Celtica, and The Fighting Jameson's. Her musical inspirations are Lunasa and The Chieftains.  Since starting "The Wild Irish Roses," Kaitlyn has performed at several Irish/Celtic festivals on the east coast, including ShamrockFest. She has graced the stages of The Kennedy Center, and various restaurants and pubs. One of the most recent highlights of Kaitlyn's career was performing before Her Excellency, Ambassador to Ireland, Anne Anderson at Fiona's Irish Pub in Kingstowne, VA.

In her spare time, Kaitlyn volunteers as secretary to the Ballyshaners, a charitable Irish organization in Old Town Alexandria.  She enjoys painting and sculpting, and dreams of opening a Celtic arts school in the future. Kaitlyn currently works as a contractor to the Department of Defense.

We are very excited to have Kaitlyn with us! We've already played two gigs with her - one a house concert/ceilidh for a wonderful couple and their friends and neighbors who had visited Cape Breton but hasn't had much chance to see any music; and the other the St. Andrew's Day Kirkin' at Christchurch Episcopal in La Plata, MD, which we first played last year. A great thank you to everyone who saw us there.

But Kaitlyn is not our only change. We have become a smaller band in another way, and this time in a permanent one. Soon after our Mid-MD gig, Peter was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. You might have noticed from the pictures taken from Strongbow's in August 2015 that he had become a very... jolly... piper. Well, no more of that. Much of this year has been a relentless focus on his health and weight, and so music has had to take a back seat to that. The good news is that Peter is down 75 pounds as of this writing, with 25 more to go, and his blood sugar is completely under control - meaning he'll be playing tunes in good health for the indefinite future, but the bad is that this and the personnel change has once again slowed down work on the album.

So the plan moving forward is this: 

We're going to be spending December and January getting Kaitlyn up to speed on some of our current material, while working up a few sets that were in the pipeline - some of which Peter composed! Peter and Jim will also begin laying the groundwork for the album, with an eye to the first tracks going down in January and February, after some December trial runs. We'll resume our hunt for the perfect person to step in and fill Chris' large shoes. And some time in spring, look for the website to be completely revamped!

It's slow going, but the destination is in sight. Thanks to all of you for sticking with us!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A line-up of shows this September!

Saturday 9/3, 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM, Main Stage, Virginia Scottish Games, The Plains, VA

Sunday 9/11, 10:00 AM, Takoma Park Gazebo, Takoma Park, MD

Saturday 9/17, 12:45 PM, 2nd Annual Scottish Heritage Weekend: Outlander Style, Carlyle House Park, Alexandria, VA

After a summer break, we've got three great shows coming up in September. Firstly, we'll be returning for the 3rd time in a row to the main stage of the Virginia Scottish Games. We'll be joined by Jennifer Lubell on the bodhran. Entrance is $20/adult for one day, and there's so much to see at the games.

The next weekend, we'll be in Takoma Park playing in the downtown gazebo, just up the block from the House of Musical Traditions, opening the Takoma FOLK festival. This is a small festival put on by many of the organizers of the much larger Takoma Park Folk Festival, which is taking a year off to look for volunteers to help run the event (email me if you're interested!).

Finally, on 9/17, we'll be in Alexandria, VA at the Carlyle House, performing in period costume on period instruments for an Outlander-themed Scottish heritage festival. We had a lot of fun doing this last year, and it'll be great to do it again. The event runs both days, and you can see a fashion show of reenactors on the following Sunday (to which Peter might turn up as well).

We keep running into roadblocks for our album, but October has been set aside to go into the studio. I've got the gear, I've got the software, time to lay down some tracks. Stay tuned for more info!

We're also performing at a St. Andrew's Day/Kirkin' o' the Tartan festival at Christ Church Episcopal in La Plata, Maryland on November 27th, along with the City of Alexandria Pipes and Drums! This'll be a great event for everyone in the Southern Maryland area to come out and enjoy! More info on this event as we get closer to it.

Mar sin leibh an-dràsda! (Good bye for now!)

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Taking Stock in 2016

With the year that was 2015, things are going to be different in 2016.

We've been powering through the fall and winter, but now that spring is here, we're going to take a little break from performance.

We've had some wonderful gigs; what looks to be turning a regular Ceilidh hosted by Fraser Brown and Kuki Hansen in DC in February, with another coming up on May 7th. We'll be performing on St. Patrick's Day for a convention hosted by the American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry. And we'll be playing the acoustic stage at the Mid-Maryland Celtic Festival on May 14th.

But after that, we'll be taking a break, except for the occasional event or Ceilidh that might come up. For several reasons - we're down a man with Chris' departure, and Rosemary has a wonderful internship opportunity that will take her away from us for the summer.

We've got a lot of work on our plates, and it's time to roll up our sleeves and get it done.

I know I've talked about "finally getting that album out" for a lot of years now, but this summer it will happen. It has to happen. The first album will cover the material we've been playing since we started out as a band, and I hope to get a couple of favorite guest musicians to show up as well. Planning for that will occur in April, and tracks will be laid down in late May and June. For real, this time.

We'll be adding new songs and sets, and for the first time, Amy will begin to take lead on a couple of them. We'll also bring our website into this decade with a complete overhaul.

We'll also be diving into looking into a new permanent fourth member; and depending on the skill set of the person that is a match for us, will likely be re-orchestrating a lot of our sets to take advantage of that.

With any luck, we'll be back in the beginning of September with a head of steam, with albums to sell, a new website, a new face, and some great new material.

So stick with us - there's more great stuff to come.

2015 in review

Wow, that was a whirlwind of a year, our busiest yet. The Devil's Tailors played over 20 times, including such highlight events as a Burns Supper for the University of Glasgow's Alumni Club, a Reception at the British Embassy, the Virginia Scottish Games, and the Takoma Park Folk Festival!

We also played some Ceilidhs, and did a set of 18th century music for an "Outlander Fashion Show" hosted by one of the historic houses in Alexandria, along with the Stewarts of Appin Regiment living history reenactors.

We added some very fun new repertoire, instrumentals and Gaelic songs alike. We gained a regular venue: John Strongbow's Tavern in Old Town Alexandria, building a relationship that also allowed us to find a new home for the DC area's only open Scottish Jam!

We saw familiar faces - our former fiddler, Chelle Fulk, and long-time friend to the band, Andrew Dodds, filled in the fiddler spot until our permanent member could arrive. We saw Liz Donaldson call and play piano with us at a ceilidh.

We saw new faces - Rosemary Hall finally graduated from St. Andrew's University in Scotland, and claimed the fiddler spot in the band we'd been hoping to offer her since before she went off to college! Also, Pete's wife Amy began turning out with the band to provide more back-up vocals, but most importantly to be our full-time sound engineer.

We had some great guests, including Adam Bern and Caitlin Perdue on fiddle, and Jennifer Lubell on bodhran, and shared the stage at Strongbow's with Janie Meneely and Molly Hickman of Calico Jenny. We were introduced to a great young Ceilidh caller, and college pal of Rosemary's, Mel Butler.

We also had to say good-bye. After many years with us, founding member Chris Lindsay has departed the Devil's Tailors. Though not official until just after the new year, his last performance with us was at the Takoma Park Folk Festival. We hope to work with Chris on a project or two in the future, but for now, we wish him well in all his endeavors.

So that's it - a crazy year all around, and a level of intensity we won't be able to sustain in 2016. But stay tuned, because we're not going anywhere.