St. James Gate perform on Saturday

A toe-tapping good time

If you already love the sound of wailing bagpipes, wait until piper Bill O’Neil of St. James’ Gate goes medieval on them.

If you already love the sound of wailing bagpipes, wait until piper Bill O’Neil of St. James’ Gate goes medieval on them.

“It’ll be very primal sounding, very percussion driven and obnoxious,” promises O’Neil. He performs with his Celtic-rock dance band on Saturday, Jan. 30, at the Arts & Craft (Beer) second-annual fundraiser for the Red Deer Arts Council.

Those kicking up their heels at the Festival Hall benefit just might be doing it to O’Neil’s latest composition — the medieval bagpipe tune, Bannockburn.

The instrumental that’s destined for the group’s new album suggests the savagery of a Scottish battle from 1314 while also providing the soundtrack for an upbeat dance experience.

Like all Celtic music — the tune merges heart-break and a rollicking good-time melody, said a chuckling O’Neill. “We’ll be keeping everyone happy and getting people’s feet moving” at the Arts & Craft (Beer) event.

O’Neil believes St. James’ Gate musicians were a natural choice as entertainers, since “we’re very good at promoting beer and at beer drinking.”

Product from 10 craft breweries can be sampled at the fundraiser — everything from sweet cream stouts to ginger beers and raspberry ales. Tasters get score cards to note their favourites.

Diana Anderson, executive-director of the Red Deer Arts Council, said appetizers from favourite restaurants can also be tasted. There will be a 50-50 draw as well as raffle prizes such as original art, including beer steins, some jewelry, dinner theatre tickets, gift cards and merchandise from local businesses.

The beer tasting goes from 7 to 9 p.m. , followed by entertainment from St. James Gate.

The Celtic rock band that started in 2001 has become a local favourite, even though several of the musicians now live out of the area.

Accordion and bagpipe player O’Neil moved to Calgary a decade ago. Electric guitarist Justin Stewart now lives in Edmonton, as does new drummer Brian Buckle (who like Stewart is originally from Nova Scotia). Bassist Dave Best lives in Lacombe, singer and guitarist Dwayne Marsden is in Penhold and singer and mandolin player Glenn MacLeod resides in Red Deer.

“We call Hwy 2 home,” said O’Neil, who admitted the musicians have to supplement rehearsals for their twice-a-month gigs with some Skyping sessions these days.

St. James’ Gate last put out the album Licence to Kilt in 2012. O’Neil hopes to have the yet-untitled new album out by the end of the year.

About half the songs will be originals and the rest will be traditionals, including a couple of Newfoundland standards. The band is also doing a cover of The Trew’s tune I Can’t Stop Laughing — yet another Celtic-flavoured song that mixes a riotous melody with a maudlin message.

“It’s got absolutely miserable lyrics about a guy whose girlfriend leaves him and who plans to drink himself to death,” said O’Neil.

But, boy, can you ever dance to it.

Tickets are $50 ($350 for a table of eight) from the Red Deer Arts Council. Proceeds will go towards the Red Deer Arts Council’s emerging artist award and general operations. For more information, please call 403-505-6094 and 403-872-4155.

Just Posted

City of Red Deer gets ball rolling on annexing more land

”It’s important we look ahead,” says Mayor Veer

Walmart melding online and in-store shopping

South Red Deer Walmart recently underwent six months of renovations

Updated: Nature trail unveiled at RDC

Trail unveiling and tree planting honours Nova Chemicals $2 million donation

Rural municipalities seek more funding to address cannabis legalization

Not enough supports in Municipal Cannabis Transition Program

Video: Windows smashed at three Red Deer businesses

Red Deer RCMP arrest man after vandalism spree

Automated cars could kill wide range of jobs, federal documents say

OTTAWA — More than one million jobs could be lost to the… Continue reading

McGill research finds significant driving impairment 5 hours after cannabis use

MONTREAL — Driving under the influence of cannabis remains dangerous even five… Continue reading

Family: Remembering the important things

It seems so much of life is work and routine and then… Continue reading

Canada gets into Women’s World Cup with 7-0 win over Panama

FRISCO, Texas — Christine Sinclair isn’t concerned about chasing records. She’s set… Continue reading

Baldwin urges ‘overthrow’ of Trump government via voting

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Actor Alec Baldwin followed up his latest parody portrayal… Continue reading

Prince Harry and Meghan expecting their 1st child in spring

CANBERRA, Australia — Prince Harry and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex,… Continue reading

Sears files for Chapter 11 amid plunging sales, massive debt

NEW YORK — Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday, buckling… Continue reading

Doctors to debate medical pot as more patients expected to ask for prescriptions

VANCOUVER — Doctors with opposing views on whether medical marijuana should be… Continue reading

Most Read