With the night of our Highlands and Islands Concert coming up this weekend, I wanted to do a little blog about our buddies in traveling music, Tullamore.
We´ve known and performed alongside this group since the Bilge Pumps´ second-ever gig back at the 2000 OU Medieval Fair when we were still doing sword-fights on stage in between songs. Us, not Tullamore. Though I would love to see that. Both of our bands have gone through some serious lineup changes since then. I still remember doing the end of day last huzzah on the chess board stage at the Duck Pond and Mark being the MC, juggling the task of giving the various bands a chance to get in a song or two while collaborating with others. I´m sure he viewed us as yet another knock off pirate band, and we totally surprised him by being a slightly lower-grade pirate knock off band... but we had charm. I remember him very much playing along with our screwing with his version of "Patty Lay Back". I get the feeling he tended to like us a bit more once he realized we didn´t take ourselves very seriously.
The Bilge Pumps and Tullamore proceeded to do many of the same gigs for the next several years, including Muskogee and Kansas City, though we no longer do those. The one thing they have always been is fun and gracious. They´re very professional when they´re out and about and get along with every act on the circuit. They´re good fun to hang out with after hours at some poor, unsuspecting restaurant nearby whatever gig we´re performing at. Primarily Applebee´s again and again. No seriously, this group is really picky about their food. They only like, about, 4 restaurants in the whole country. You want to eat dinner with them, don´t bother with a list of places. They have a list and you get to choose from that.
Once such evening out led to a fun time of "Counting the Lies". This is something that started one night when we were at dinner with Tullamore and our dearly departed Mike Younger (aka Kailyn Dammit) was sitting next to Mary from Tullamore. Now, nothing would spur Mike into a series of tall tales faster than trying to impress someone, especially a pretty woman. So, us Bilge Pumps nearby started listening in to his stories to her and I began using my fingers to count the number of times I knew what he said to be either outright BS or a serious stretching of the facts. I quickly ran out of fingers and everyone else joined in. Mark was sitting across from us and, at a lull in his conversation, leaned over and asked what we were doing. We just smiled and nodded to Mike telling his stories and waited for a delicious whopper to come out and then held up another finger. He quickly got the gist and it wasn´t long before he started holding up a finger when he heard a blatant falsehood, even when he wasn´t party to what really happened in the story. I think Mary figured it out after a while, too, but she was too nice to let on. I think we finally stopped counting at 39. Good times.
Speaking of fun games with Tullamore, somewhere around the year 2002, we received the first set of "stretch sticks" from Steve, one of the blacksmiths at the Medieval Fair and we started playing stretch in the lanes between shows as a way to pass the time and still remain entertaining to passers-by. Tullamore usually passes this time by playing bocce, but Mary noticed us throwing twisted iron into the ground and contorting ourselves for amusement and wanted in. She turned out to be a natural... unfortunately for us. She is flexible and a good shot with a stick which is deadly to a bunch of out of shape pirates. Some of us had to resort to creative (a.k.a. legal, but dirty) interpretations of the rules to beat her. Wasn´t long before she had a set of stretch sticks of her own and we can still be seen poking holes in the red clay of Norman at some point during a Fair weekend. Probably popping a hamstring somewhere along the way.
Another time, back in 2002, our version of "Old Dun Cow" was becoming one of our more popular songs and Tullamore had been at the back of a few crowds during our shows at Muskogee enough to have witnessed it. They couldn´t let that pass without a challenge. So they oh-so-innocuously invited us over to one of their shows during the weekend and threw us off the trail by asking us what song we wanted to hear, knowing that someone would request "Step it out Mary" from them. They got about ½ way through the song, then totally broke into "Rollin´ Rollin´ Rollin´" by Limp Bizkit, similar to what we did on "Old Dun Cow". Needless to say there was a seat left with a pirate on it, because we were all on the ground laughing.
Now, the Highlands and Islands Concert might be our first night to share a billing, but it wasn´t our first night to perform outside a faire together. Back in 2006, we were doing a guest weekend at the Kansas City Ren Fest and were looking for something to do that Saturday evening. Tullamore happened to have another gig they were doing that day and were going to be fighting to get to their show at O´Malley´s Irish Pub in Weston that night, so they offered us their first set of the night. We crashed into the place and proceeded to blow the minds and the refined sensibilities of the patrons there that were expecting to see Tullamore and got a bunch of color and pitch clashing pirates instead. All I can say is that, while some people might have left upon hearing us, more came in to take their place, so we left Tullamore with a full house and some great stories... especially one of those 10 person long "Donkey Riding" versions that took about 12 minutes to get through.
In a quasi-Tullamore-related story, back in 2002, we also managed to get Tara, then the violinist for Tullamore, to come down and perform with us on our "Brigands with Big´uns" CD recording party at the Queen Mariah. (You can hear her performance on "Roll the Old Chariot Along") That weekend, she also came by the studio to record violin on "Smuggler´s Song" and our kick-ass version of "The Dark Lady"... the latter of which we´re hoping to re-create this weekend with Rachel on violin during the 3rd set that both bands will perform together.
I´m very much looking forward to sharing the stage with this great band and greater bunch of people and hope we make many more stories both this Saturday and for many more weekends to come.
Because it's all for me blog. Me jolly jolly blog.