The Tannahill Weavers at Mary Stuart Rogers Performing Arts Center at Victor School
November 17, 2023
The Tannahill Weavers are one of Scotland’s premier traditional bands. Their diverse repertoire spans the centuries with fire-driven instrumentals, topical songs, and original ballads and lullabies. Their music demonstrates to old and young alike the rich and varied musical heritage of the Celtic people. These versatile musicians have received worldwide accolades consistently over the years for their exuberant performances and outstanding recording efforts that seemingly can’t get better…yet continue to do just that. As the Winnipeg Free Press noted, “The Tannahill Weavers – properly harnessed – could probably power an entire city for a year on the strength of last night’s concert alone. The music may be old time Celtic, but the drive and enthusiasm are akin to straight ahead rock and roll.”
Born of a session in Paisley, Scotland and named for the town’s historic weaving industry and local poet laureate Robert Tannahill, the group has made an international name for its special brand of Scottish music, blending the beauty of traditional melodies with the power of modern rhythms. The Tannahill Weavers began to attract attention when founding members Roy Gullane and Phil Smillie added the full-sized highland bagpipes to the on-stage presentations, the first professional Scottish folk group to successfully do so, breathing new life into Scotland’s vast repertoire of traditional melodies and songs.
Over the years the Tannies have been trailblazers for Scottish music, and their tight harmonies and powerful, inventive arrangements have won them fans from beyond the folk and Celtic music scenes. Since their first visit to the United States in 1981, the Tannahills’ unique combination of traditional melodies on pipes, flute and fiddle, driving rhythms on guitar and bouzouki, and powerful three and four part vocal harmonies have taken the musical community by storm. As Garrison Keillor, the host of “Prairie Home Companion”, remarked, “These guys are a bunch of heroes every time they go on tour in the States”.
In 2011 the band was inducted into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame, and in 2018 they released their highly acclaimed 50th Anniversary album Òrach (“Golden” in Gaelic) on award-winning label Compass Records. Malcom Bushby joined as fiddler, and in 2019 they were nominated for Folk Band of the Year at the Trad Awards, and in 2021 they have been joined by Iain MacGillivray, Scotland’s youngest Clan leader, on pipes and fiddle. As they return to the world of touring, the Tannahill Weavers are firmly established as one of the premier groups on the concert stage. From reflective ballads to footstomping reels and jigs, the variety and range of the material they perform is matched only by their enthusiasm and lively Celtic spirits.
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