Tannahill Weavers 50th Anniversary Tour 2018


Instrumental in the development of the modern Celtic music genre, Scotland's Tannahill Weavers celebrate their 50th anniversary with the 2018 release of their eighteenth album Òrach (“golden” in Gaelic), eagerly awaited by their fans after a break from the studio of more than ten years.

To celebrate this landmark year, the Tannahills have brought together members past and present to record an album of all new material – traditional songs and sets of tunes in the Tannie’s distinctive style. The quartet will be touring extensively in the United Kingdom, Europe and North America throughout 2018.

Learn more about the band in these excerpts from an article by Rob Weir in Sing Out:

Songs and stories about performers’ wearisome Iife on the road are folk staples, but you won't hear Scotland's Tannahill Weavers complaining. They've played just about every kind of gig you can imagine, and quite a few you'd never dream of. But to hear band members tell it, they’ve enjoyed every one of them.

They’ve shared a bill with Dire Straits, and played for a Dutch audience that disappeared when their enthusiastic jumping up and down caused the floor to give way. The Tannies did their thing in what was then East Germany inside a refurbished salt mine where the audience, band and equipment had to travel hundreds of feet underground in a very slow elevator. They've appeared at a down-market Chicago hall whose broken-windowed stage backed up to the el, necessitating that each song be timed to finish before the next rumbling train sped by. Once they began setting up equipment in a German square only to learn they were supposed to be strolling minstrels at a combination Renaissance Fair and asparagus festival.

But for pure incredulity, the prize goes to the time they played a wedding for a couple devoted to both Star Trek and Highlander. Phil Smillie recalls “There were Klingons dressed in kilts. The wedding was done in two bits. First the priest did it in Klingon, then they did the entire ceremony again in mock Scots: 'Does this wee lass take this wee laddie ...?' We went off to the reception and they had Klingon worms [gagh for you Trekkers] made out of Jello!''

You don't get stories like this unless you've been around for a long time. The Tannahill Weavers are road warriors, a band that has its roots from 1968 and has toured full time since 1974. Now in their fifth decade of performing, the Tannies have been on untold numbers of radio and TV programmes, have cranked out 17 albums, and have spoken with legions of reporters. They’ve always been an exciting live act, but over the decades the Tannahill Weavers have also acquired a degree of musical sophistication that places them amongst the most influential Celtic bands in history.

The band name is an homage to Robert Tannahill (1774-1810), nicknamed the “weaver poet from Paisley”. Tannahill was part of a generation of plebeian Scottish lyricists that included the sailor William Falconer, brewer William Mickle, publican Isabel Pagan, James Hogg the “Ettrick shepherd” and Robert Burns, the “ploughman poet.” Each won kudos for capturing the Scottish soul as made manifest in the land and its people.

They were also a gloomy lot. Tannahill perished at age 36 after throwing himself into the Paisley Canal. Maybe his outlook would have brightened had he anticipated the resilient and cheerful musicians his verses would inspire. Many groups find tours burdensome when the novelty wears off, but the Tannahill Weavers thrive on them.

The Tannahill Weavers have inspired legions with their fire, chords and passion. Their repertoire has become, simply, must-hear/must-master material for young Celtic musicians. The band is also a role model for integrity and constancy. They offer their own unique approach to keeping the music fresh. Why not, for instance, immerse an original melody in a set of tunes unearthed from a 19th Century songbook? Why not breathe new life into resurrected material from the Celtic past rather than trying to catch the same wave everyone else is riding?

When asked how much longer the Tannahill Weavers can go on, the band asserts “We’ve no plans at all to stop. It’ll be like those old companies formed in 1760. When we’re done, we’ll pass it on. Give it to the younger generation. It would be a shame to have that name for fifty years and have it disappear.”

Imagine the stories those kids will tell fifty years from now!