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13 September 2009

THE ARTS: French-Canadian Circus Is In Town & TREBLE CLEF: Band Called Brother Brings Nouveau Celtic Music To Highlands



Humankind at our highest: We're so creative!

The arts support us when we support the arts.

Got my creative well filled over the weekend, and I'm still smiling over the innovation of the human spirit and the range of emotional expression found in the arts and cultures across the globe.

On Friday, Cirque de Soleil delighted us. If you ever have an opportunity to take in this lavish entertainment, treat yourself and somebody you love--somebody who needs to be reminded of the magic and delight of life. Cirque de Soleil is mind-bending, breath-taking, dreamscaping, myth-making magic.

This show, "Kooza," features an innocent and a kite, a trickster, a pickpocket, a misbehaving dog, a king and his fools.

Cirque de Soleil showcases live music, too: jamming bands and operatic vocalists.

I've seen a few of the shows in the big Vegas venues, but there's something sweet about the more intimate setting of the big top set up in one's town. All the seats are good seats. They do cost a pretty penny, but the return on investment is priceless joy and wonderment.

Yesterday, we headed to the hills for the Long's Peak Scottish Highlands festival. What a hoot! For me, the wearin' o' the plaid stirs ancestral memories. My father's people were all Irish, hailing from County Wicklow. Then there was the green Campbell plaid wool of my Catholic school uniform. My great-grandfather was an Irish fiddler, and I was weaned on Irish music at my Catholic school.

The pipes and fiddles give me happy feet and bouncy knees. The traditional tunes can cause my solar plexus to burn and my heart to rise in my throat. But what really brings a tear of joy to my eye is the new twist on traditions, the next generation's interpretations of Celtic music. In particular, we rocked with a band called Brother. Picture for the front man a shorter Michael Phelps with better teeth. Picture him in a leather kilt with funky, rugged black boots with lots of hardwear. Picture him rocking the bagpipes, a microphone affixed to the pipes--sort of a Jimi Hendrix approach to bagpiping. He also wailed on an electric guitar. Backup by primal drums and--get this--a diggerado (dunno how to spell it) which creates a wacky vibration. The crowd was up and dancing to this unusual blend. Are these guys Australian? Not even sure, yet, but snagged a CD after the show to learn more about their new take on the old traditions.

The highlands festival also featured other impressive marching bands: one a marine brass band and one a wowser pipe and drum band from Utah.

The British Isles excel and uniforms and pagaentry. The Scots seem a mix of testosterone and alcohol when you consider the archaic games they conduct. Jousting is plain and simply nuts--sort of like Medieval rodeo. The highlands games also include tossing a regular old boulder about the size of a few bowling balls melted together. Or single-handedly throwing what amounts to, basically, a telephone pole. Or a gigantic shotput on a chain. For the crowd, shots of whiskey or gin are available, and Guiness stout and other libations. People wander around with flasks of Drambuie. Dogs and horses are part of the highlands games, too.

The Celts enjoy a fascinating culture; and I'm proud to be part of it, druids and all. The highlands festival continues today if you want to get your ancestral tethers twanged.

Slainte'! (Cheers!)

Interested in Irish arts and culture? Try your luck at this quiz. You might be surprised about the enormous cultural impact this little island has made. Just click here now.

1 comment:

  1. I came across your blog and just read your article, you are a great writer. I hope you still find time to write 8 years later or so...

    I am from Quebec and saw Cirque du Soleil a few times in Montreal. Because it's where the Cirque is from, they come here quite often to offer their shows filled with emotions. I can't remember going to one of their shows and NOT ending up crying! The first time I saw them, I was about 9 or 10 (in Florida) and I had a feeling next to what the Ballet brought me. I studied ballet most of my life and dance is my favorite sport and one of the many arts I am passioned about. I still get chills watching my favorite ballet dancers... on screen. I'm saving money to get to see the New York City Ballet in Serenade (my favorite from Balanchine) and Giselle or Swan Lake (classiques) next year or so.... Anyway, I wrote way too much.
    I was intrigued by your text when I read French Canadian (hello, here's one) and I really appreciated your writing. You made me think about so many great memories I have :)

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