How many times have you begun an evening conversation with the phrase, “I had a bad day at work today…?” In a recent conversation with members of The Tannahill Weavers, I asked them to reflect on the weird things that have happened to them on the road. Given that the “Tannies,” as they’re affectionately called, have been touring since 1968, they have quite a repertoire from which to draw. Here’s a sample from a feature that appeared in SingOut! Magazine issue #52:4.
See a YouTube clip of the Tannies on stage. (Quality is mixed.)

Roy Guillane: We once played in a salt mine in [the former East] Germany that was over two thousand feet underground.

Les Wilson : The audience had to go down in an elevator a few at a time and got down there were few bars and a concert hall carved out of salt.

Roy: We did another odd gig in Germany where we got in early and there was no one about. So we unloaded our gear, set up in a big square and did a sound check. Eventually some guy came by on his bicycle and said, “There’s no sound check; we’re having a sort of medieval fair. And you’ll be the minstrels—just standing there playing away.” So we did and people kept throwing money into our guitar cases. We’d say “No, no; we’re getting paid,” but people kept doing it. We ended up making a lot of money. It turns out this region was also famous for asparagus and we ate bunches of gorgeous asparagus. We didn’t even spend the extra money that was thrown in the guitar case because we’d go into a restaurant and they’d heap asparagus on our plates.


Les: We did a weird concert in a dodgy part of Chicago. The cops stopped us and asked if we were carrying guns! We pulled up in front of the venue to unload the gear and a cop yelled “Move it!” We said we were just taking gear in and he just repeated, “Move it!” The stage backed up against the El and the windows were all broken out, so every time a train went by it nullified the music. You had to wait for the train to rumble off into the distance before the music came back.


Phil Smillie: We also played at a science fiction wedding! It was a Star Trek theme and there were Klingons dressed in kilts! They got us to play because the bride and groom were big fans of sci-fi fantasy Highlander. 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?” Then we went off to the reception where they had Klingon worms made out of Jello!

Les: Another time we played at a signing booth at a sci-fi festival. There was a booth to the film “From Dusk till Dawn” on one side of us, and the Science Fiction Porno Queen was on the other. She was quite nice looking too!


Roy: I remember a concert in Winnipeg at a festival. It was the first time we had come over to North America and no one had ever heard of us. But the audience started jumping up and down and we could feel the vibrations coming up from the ground up on the stage.

Phil: There was a show in the late 70s when the floor gave way in Dordrecht. The audience was jumping up and down and all of a sudden they just disappeared! They had to have workers come in and work all night because the [Dutch] queen was scheduled to talk there the next day. Right through the floor they went!

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