LIVE: The Tannahill Weavers @ Caffe Lena, 2/26/11

 Roy Gullane and Phil Smillie

Roy Gullane and Phil Smillie

The Tannahill Weavers are a Scottish quartet that has been playing predominantly traditional Celtic tunes for more than 40 years. The group’s signature acoustic sound – highlighted by the Highland bagpipes – is so deeply rooted in the musical tradition that even their sweeping original songs sound as though they were written a century or two ago.

After a snowstorm forced the band to cancel their visit to Saratoga Springs last year, the Tannahill Weavers’ long-awaited return brought out the fans in droves. Last Saturday night at Caffe Lena, it seemed as though there wasn’t even an open square-foot of standing room.

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Founding band members Roy Gullane (on guitar and vocals) and Phil Smillie (on flute, whistles bodhran and vocals) were joined by their longtime fiddler John Martin and newcomer Colin Mellville on the Scottish small pipes or the Highland pipes. Creating a sound much larger and richer than that of a typical folk quartet, the Weavers filled the night with mesmerizing instrumental virtuosity, tight vocal harmonies and turn-on-a-dime, gear-shifting rhythms.

Dance tunes, ballads, jigs, reels and more filled the venerable second-floor coffeehouse as the Tannahill Weavers took the enthusiastic crowd of fans along on their unique musical journey through the Scottish-Celtic canon of traditional music.

Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

John Martin and Colin Mellville

John Martin and Colin Mellville

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