Come for the bagpipes, stay for the atmosphere. Those expecting a traditional Scottish scene at Enter The Haggis’s performance at the Ark on Saturday are in for a surprise.
Enter the Haggis
Saturday at 8 p.m.
Though the Canadian-Scottish band does incorporate a degree of traditional Celtic instrumentation into its performances, the specific blend of Celtic music, rock, bluegrass, funk and world music may sound familiar to fans of Mumford and Sons and other mainstream folk artists. Celtic fusion includes a large assortment of instruments and songs ranging from upbeat rock with sing-a-long choruses to slower alternative pop ballads. But to write them off as just another folk band would be a mistake.
The unusual name is what first strikes most about the band. While it evokes images of Celtic tradition, Craig Downie, who plays a variety of instruments including bagpipes and harmonica for the band, says there’s more to the moniker than just a catchy name.
“Well, originally we were just trying to think up something interesting,” Downie said. “We kept the name because haggis is sort of a survival food, it’s put together out of the less desirable parts of a sheep.”
Downie relates the band’s music to the traditional Scottish dish.
“Our music is a lot like that because it’s quite diversified. We’re definitely survivors and we do have an unusual assortment of instruments and styles that were thrown together.”
Each band member plays a variety of instruments and are constantly looking for more ways to add a new sound to their repertoire.
“We play quite a few instruments. We’re always looking for more — or they find us,” Downie said.
There’s another reason that fans keep flocking to Enter The Haggis shows: The environment created at a performance is almost as much a reason to attend as the music.
“There really is a good vibe, I would say. That’s definitely one of the atmospheres that happens naturally,” Downie said. “We can feel the appreciation for the stuff that we’re doing and, of course, we thrive on that too.”
Enter The Haggis certainly would not be where it is today without its loyal fans. Each show is a testament to these supporters, as crowds travel from all over the country to see performances.
“People are one of the greatest things about this,” Downie said. “We have this growth that’s been very much like a family becoming more and more extended.”
This was evident during the recording of the group’s newest project, Whitelake. Instead of making a deal with a record company to put out the new album, the band reached out to supportive followers and started a fundraising project.
The band raised over $40,000 in just a few months to make Whitelake a reality. The band gave back to its fans who offered their help in making this album, as the fundraiser included packages such as instruments, signed copies of the album and the opportunity to record songs with the band.
Though any band shouldn’t be shocked by having so many supportive fans, Enter The Haggis was a bit surprised that people were so willing to hear its music — especially since traditional Celtic fusion rock is not exactly a mainstream genre.
“I was a little bit surprised that it did take off as quickly as it did,” Downie said. “I guess considering the fact that today what you hear on radio stations you hear the same playlist from Alaska to Florida, so it’s nice to have a bit of a change.”
While old fans already know why their concerts is worth attending, new fans are sure to find something enjoyable as well in the wide variety of musical stylings.
“Come on out, because you’ll probably discover something you like and you’ll probably make a few friends,” Downie said. “I’ll just let the music do the talking.”