Scottish & Irish folk songs combined with Lord of the Rings music and Celtic music fun at Renaissance Faires

Brobdingnagian Bards Tales

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Dressed to Kilt... Novelty Music Interview from the Austin Chronicle

We were written up this week in an exclusive Austin Chronicle feature called "The 'N' Word" about Novelty bands in Austin. Read the full article here.
Dressed to Kilt
Novelty is the great parent of pleasure.
Robert South

As the Brobdingnagian Bards, Andrew McKee and Marc Gunn began attracting attention with their performances on UT's South Mall in 1999. The Renaissance-ballad-singing, kilt-wearing duo won fans harmonizing on elbow-in-the-ribbers like "Do Virgins Taste Better Than Those Who Are Not?" Five years later, gigs hither and yon, Renaissance fairs, Celtic festivals, weddings, and private parties keep their calendar full. The jocks that once snickered at the Bards on the South Mall weren't invited to see them play the Lord of the Rings Oscar party this year.

"The entertainment factor is when I'm up there dancing around and my kilt is flying up," the handsome, goateed Gunn chuckles, but wearing the family tartan is no joke.

"Wearing the kilt puts us in a Celtic mindset. People who enjoy the Celtic culture want to celebrate it. They love that it's part of their heritage. And something as simple as wearing a kilt says I'm part of that culture. It's like Elvis Presley said, if I just stood there and sang without moving a muscle, people would say, 'My goodness, I'll just go home and listen to the record.'"

Gunn might well have earned the title of the Hardest Working Man in Austin Celtic Music. He works full time at UT and just completed a two-year stint on the ACA board of directors. He still maintains the ACA Web site, which he designed and built. As one-half of the Bards, whose song "Tolkien (The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings)" racked up more than 2 million downloads on MP3.com, he takes his Best of Austin award-winning act on the road regularly during the fall fair season. Gunn's recent solo album, Soul of a Harper, was his third, and he's recorded nearly a dozen CDs in the previous five years.

"The Bards do a lot of novelty songs," admits Gunn freely. "Ask someone about our Celtic songs and they'll mention 'Do Virgins Taste Better?' as soon as 'Whiskey in the Jar.' As far as dress and whatnot, it's largely novelty based. We don't consider ourselves a traditional act in that we're not afraid to take a traditional song and turn it into something different, that is, a novelty song. Which is what filk is all about."

"Do Virgins Taste Better?" is a classic filk song. That's right, filk, not folk. "Virgins" was written by Randy Farren to the tune of "The Irish Washerwoman." It's a jaunty little jig, pondering the age-old question every village must face of just why dragons eat virgins, and is sung at ren fairs, science-fiction conventions, and anywhere cult and cultural fans gather. It sounds like Geek Central, but these events are a steady source of loyal, product-purchasing fans who don't require their idols to be hip to be cool, just funny.
There's a wee bit more you can read from yours truly under "Dressed to Filk".

--posted by Marc Gunn of the Brobdingnagian Bards, Celtic Folk Music
  Thursday, May 20, 2004


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