Ten years ago, I had big plans to move to New York City and become a writer for Saturday Night Live (I was even going to settle for holding up the cue cards for each episode). On some days, I wanted to bring half my high school friends with me and create the next great American sitcom. On other days I wanted to be a movie critic. But now, ten years later, I’m living on the outskirts of Philadelphia and I’m the editor of this music magazine. When did music become such a big part of my life? When I was 18 (and obviously a big nerd) I could tell you the name of every single movie being released in theatres each Friday. No one could beat me at the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game (actually, I’m still a champ) and I considered the newest issue of Entertainment Weekly to be a pretty big part of my Friday nights. So, how the Hell did I become so involved with live bands and supporting traveling musicians and dancing around at Irish festivals with a beer in my hand? How did all of that become what I now consider to be my top priorities?
I blame Canada. Specifically, The Glengarry Bhoys.
If you’ve ready half the articles I’ve written for Origivation magazine over the past few years, you know how much I love music festivals and bands who drive for hours to come to this area and play two shows, just to drive hours back home at the end of the weekend. You know that my day job comes second to bands like this and I’ll gladly take non-paid days off to spend an extended weekend with my Bhoys and similar bands I’ve discovered over the years.
I found the Bhoys accidentally, in 2002, at a Celtic festival in Lancaster. I was there for the first time, to see someone else, and thought it was an interesting and somewhat strange place to be. With no plans of going back to a festival like that ever, I stumbled upon the Bhoys. And I haven’t left their side since. I’ve returned to that festival and hundreds like it since then to see them and many other friends and musicians I’ve met as a result of getting to know the Bhoys.
The band’s from Ontario and they fuse together a whole bunch of sounds I had rarely heard before. Traditional Scottish, pipes, fiddles, French-Canadian, etc. Who knew I’d love dancing to fiddle tunes, completely sober. After hearing the Bhoys for the first time, I stopped being a music snob and gave every band a chance. Here I am, filled with ten years worth of stories from countless bands, music festivals, concerts, road trips to the middle of nowhere, and late night bar and hotel misadventures. I met one of my best friends, Jane, at a bar in Maryland when we were both there to see the Bhoys and whether those guys are around or not, she’s always my partner in crime. I have fiddle and shamrock tattoos. I’ve spent too much money on digital cameras because I can never find a good one to capture the band in motion. There are a million things that tell the story of me as a result of meeting the Glengarry Bhoys.
Though the line up has changed numerous times over the years, I’ve always remained faithful to Graham and his choice of musicians. Drinking half warm beer and listening to the guys tell a bunch of semi-inappropriate stories in a parking lot this past Saturday night was no different than being in a field in the middle of West Virginia with the band six years ago trying to figure out how to get back to our hotel. Some of the faces may be new, but the atmosphere never changes. The band as a whole has always made me happy and every musician who was able to tour with the Bhoys at some point has never ceased to amaze me. I never thought I’d ever be so obsessed with a bunch of Canadians, fiddles, bagpipes, and just Irish/Scottish music in general. And I never thought all of that would lead me to realizing what I wanted to do with my life- I’m in charge of a music magazine, I love it, and the Bhoys helped me figure that out.
As always, they KICKED ASS this weekend in my home town, Bethlehem, for some St. Paddy’s weekend celebrations. The crowd is a mix of little kids all dressed in green, pressed up against the stage and crazy old men trying to dance with whoever is sitting next to them while trying to balance their Guinness with one hand. There’s never one specific type of crowd at a Bhoys show. Everyone is drawn to them.
Though I’ll beg for them to show up before the fall, The Bhoys will be back in the area this September for Celtic Classic (which is a great festival to check out if you’ve never been to anything like it before). Then they’re doing a week-long tour of Scotland in conjunction with Celtic Classic…and all the fans are invited. So, Bhoys- does this press coverage gain me a free plane ticket? Just think about it and get back to me. I’m obviously not opposed to taking time off and I already have my passport.
The band could be a headliner of a festival with thousands of people in front of them or they could be doing a sit-down acoustic set for a handful of hardcore fans. Either way, a Bhoys’ show is something to anticipate. I don’t care where they are or what venue they are playing at, if it’s in Pennsylvania or any state that touches PA, I’ll be there.
Goodbye hugs and kisses are the worst because the Bhoys don’t tour as much as they used to (it’s a good thing for my credit card) and it’s usually a few months before I know when they’ll be back. I’m fairly certain I’d go crazy if I saw them on a regular basis, though- being one of the only girls around at after parties, I do tend to roll my eyes at them and their conversations a lot! But at the same time, I go crazy without them. They’ve been one of the few constants in my life for the past decade and every time I see them I’m so thankful that I stopped to listen that first time. In a “one thing leads to another” sense, there are A LOT of people and places that wouldn’t have crossed my path if I never met the Bhoys. I am who I am today because I decided they were worth my time.
It’s important, as a music lover (and that’s everyone), to listen. If someone hands you a CD and tells you that you’d probably like it, check it out. If whatever music player website you use offers suggestions, click on them. When someone on the street or at a show gives you their demo, pop it in on the ride home. Always spend a few minutes checking out the new artist section of iTunes, the local music store, or whatever magazines you read. Never turn down a song. It could actually shape who you are.
I love you Bhoys. Come back soon. I need a nap first, though. This weekend was rough.