Since forming in 1968, the Tannahill Weavers have grown into one of the world's premier conduits for traditional Scottish music. On the road six months of the year, an active touring schedule lets the band spread the sounds of Scotland—and often puts them in interesting, unexpected situations. While preparing for another U.S. tour at his home in the Netherlands, guitarist and singer Roy Gullane recalled two of those most interesting times.
For one show,the band
decided to drive from the north of Scotland all the way to Vienna. But a planned rest stop in Stuttgart, Germany turned into an all night party when they happened into Scottish folk singer Hamish Imlach.
“By the time we got to Vienna, we were shattered.” Tired and with little time before the show, Gullane couldn’t find any sort of dressing room. “I found a room somewhere behind the stage to change my clothes, but couldn't find the light switch. Undeterred, I carried on with the task, and had just wrestled my pants off when a door burst open, the lights went on, and hundreds of people started pouring past me. I was in the foyer.”
And then there was the festival in Germany with the 7:30 a.m. sound check.
“We duly appeared, at the appointed hour, at the address. It was like a ghost town.” Finally someone told them it was a festival celebrating asparagus. “They thought it would be nice to have some musicians wandering around the medieval asparagus market they built up every year. There was no stage, no PA, nothing.” A gig’s a gig, though, and the Tannahill Weavers set up at the edge of the marketplace. But as they played, people started tossing money into their instrument cases. “We did try, believe it or not, several times, to explain that we were professional musicians, hired for their entertainment, and that further payment was completely unnecessary. The cash just kept piling in.”
So with the extra money, the group treated themselves to “a slap-up asparagus meal.” During the feast, one of Gullane’s bandmates found an inedible thread of asparagus and moved it to the side of his plate. The owner came by, saw the offending morsel, and—again, in spite of the band’s protestations—gave the band their meals on the house. “I don’t remember how we eventually managed to spend that money. Guinness probably, or liver research, as we prefer to call it.”
The Tannahill Weavers play Tir Na Nog in Raleigh Wednesday, Feb. 3, at 7:30 p.m. for $20. Chatham Mills in Pittsboro hosts the group on Friday, Feb 5, for another 7:30 p.m. show for $17-$19.