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

Brobdingnagian Bards Tales

The latest music news, stories, and events of The Original Celtic Renaissance music group, the Brobdingnagian Bards. CELTIC GEEK at its Best! Find out more from the Nagians page.

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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Opus Fantasy Arts Festival Review

Wow! We had an absolutely amazing time at Opus Fantasy Arts Festival in Denver, Colorado. This year was a zillion times better than last with a great new hotel, well-organized events, concerts, and lots of great sessions. You wouldn't imagine Irish sessions at a Fantasy convetion, but I'm sure everyone would agree that craic was hot this weekend!

A highlight for me was, I finally got to meet Stonecircle. I featured them a while back in my Celtic MP3s Music Magazine, but it was a real treat to finally see them perform live. Stonecircle combines guitar, flute, uillean pipes, fiddle and bodhran with Mary Johnston-Coursey's gorgeous vocals. They have an incredible contemporary Celtic fusion sound, and best of all, they're good down-to-earth people. I had a nice time chatting with guitarist George Schoemaker over breakfast.

We also spent a lot of time in the vendor's room jamming with Stonecircle and our friends, Kindred Spirit. Their Friday evening show was a three-piece symphony of sound that included a gorgeous rendition of "Star of the County Down" from their "Dispelling All Woes" CD and a beautiful harp-lead tune called, "Nancy's Waltz" that I really hope is on their next album!

Our session in the vendors room even included members of Denver's latest Celtic group, O'Leary's Ghost. This 7-piece band drew huge cheers from the crowds. They've one powerful, BIG sound that includes some of Denver's most-prominent sessioners.

I was sad to miss Saturday's session. Every sessioner I saw that evening came away buzzing. But at least I got to see another favorite of mine, Goth legend, Voltaire. He's no Celt, but he's a brilliantly funny storyteller and songwriter.

All in all, I'm sure folks will be raving about this Convention for a while. And the buzz will make next year better than ever!

--posted by Marc Gunn of the Brobdingnagian Bards, Celtic Folk Music
  Monday, May 17, 2004
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We offer all of our CDs for sale through Amazon.com. They also have a fantastic affiliate program that has over 900,000 websites featuring their links.

This a pretty sweet deal if you have a website. It costs nothing to join. It doesn't affect how much we earn. CD buyers get a name that they trust. And best of all, you get to earn a few extra bucks while promoting our music.

Got a website? Check it out!

--posted by Marc Gunn of the Brobdingnagian Bards, Celtic Folk Music
  Wednesday, May 12, 2004
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No More Ninjas Out on the South Mall of UT Austin

Andrew and I just got done with another practice session out on the South Mall of the University of Texas at Austin.

At the end of practice, I got a call from Margaret Moser from the Austin Chronicle. She's writing an article on Novelty bands of Austin. She interviewed me on Saturday. (it's supposed to be published next week) Margaret's final minute question brought up some memories.

We first started playing out on the South Mall in 1999. After being invited to perform at Excalibur, Andrew and I started practicing live at UT, cuz, believe it or not, Andrew was terrified of being on stage! We needed to help get him over his fears.

Well, we got a lot of attention. At one point we even had a comic published in The Daily Texan where three ninjas were about to jump us while performing out there. The text read, "And silence overcame the South Mall..."

It was hilarious!

If nothing else, the idea that it'd take THREE NINJAS to take out two cowardly musicians!

Whatever the reason for this wee comic strip, it's nice to see that not only do people still come out to see us perform, but there just don't seem to be quite as many Ninjas out there. In fact, most of them are too busy listening to the music to assassinate us.

--posted by Marc Gunn of the Brobdingnagian Bards, Celtic Folk Music
  Wednesday, May 12, 2004
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No Troosers Day... A Pantless Success

Ah, there's nothing like a wee bit o'pantless entertainment to really add that extra spark to life. That's what happened at the Green Muse as we celebrated No Pants Day.

A few dozen folks showed up to enjoy the festivities. Stinky del Negro rocked the house, and when we got up on stage... it was like storytime. Everyone sat down, laughed, and rocked along to the music. Great evening had by all.

Check out some pictures from the event.

--posted by Marc Gunn of the Brobdingnagian Bards, Celtic Folk Music
  Monday, May 10, 2004
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