Celtic band brings east to west

Music: Fraid Knot returning to Foothills Highland Games on Aug. 23

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014 08:23 am

Calgary band Fraid Knot is set to perform its array of traditional and original Celtic tunes at the Foothills Highland Games in Okotoks on Aug. 23.
Calgary band Fraid Knot is set to perform its array of traditional and original Celtic tunes at the Foothills Highland Games in Okotoks on Aug. 23.
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A Calgary Celtic band is bringing its traditional eastern music to the west again.

The Foothills Highland Games is welcoming back Fraid Knot’s high-energy Celtic and rock-influenced sound to wind up a day of highland dancing, heavy games, piping and drumming on Aug. 23 at the Foothills Composite High School field.

Fraid Knot accordion player Danny O’Malley said it’s not often the band accepts the same booking year after year, but this is a gig they won’t turn down.

“We wouldn’t be playing consecutively if it wasn’t such a well run ceilidh and such great people,” he said. “It’s not the money for us, it’s about what and where we want to play and we will keep going. We turned down a tour in another part of Alberta because of this invite.”

O’Malley said the highland games’ family atmosphere allows the band members to bring their children to join in the fun.

“It’s one of the few places our kids can come to as well,” he said. “It’s a great event and it’s close to Calgary so we can perform for a home crowd. We see familiar faces, which is great, and it just seems to be one of those events that tends to go off without a hitch.”

Fraid Knot will perform three sets - the first featuring traditional Celtic music, getting youngsters and their families kicking up their feet, the second set will begin at around dusk with more lively music and the band will hit it hard for their third set later in the evening showcasing Celtic rock tunes for the adult crowds.

The music will consist of about 90 per cent traditional Celtic music and the rest the band’s own original songs, said O’Malley.

“This style of music lends itself so well to having a great time and such great parties,” he said. “As musicians you just love to play in this kind of a group. Fraid Knot just nails it on the head as to what it’s like to be a musician and have fun on stage.”

The band consists of Byron Eddy on guitar, mandolin, Irish whistles and nose harp, Glenn Webster on guitar, mandolin and vocals, Lael Johnston on percussion, Norm Rooke on bass and bull fiddle and O’Malley on the accordion.

O’Malley said the musicians are a great fit and have a blast performing their Celtic tunes.

In their more than 10 years together they released two albums - Hoist the Sails and A Pint of Trad.

“A lot of times bands break up because of personality conflicts,” he said. “To stay together that long bodes well for how the group works together, performs together. There’s a lot of factors that go into a band’s longevity and it seems to be there in Fraid Knot.”

O’Malley joined the band 11 years ago. He said he was performing with another band and was a huge fan of Fraid Knot when he met the band in Banff and was asked to join them. He had been playing the accordion since he was six years old.

While Celtic music may not be among the most popular genres in Alberta, O’Malley said Fraid Knot maintains a strong following.

“When we really started to do well as a band was when the economy started up-kicking in Calgary and a lot of Newfoundlanders were coming,” he said. “Great Big Sea was leading the charts and we rode that wave and established our own presence. We have records that are being played on the east coast and doing well, and abroad.”

O’Malley said Fraid Knot seems to have capitalized on a genre of music that stood the test of time.

“We are playing songs that are 100 years old in some cases that people of all walks of life seem to like from young to old,” he said. “We have fans with heavy metal shirts and long hair just having a riot right up front and telling us we’re great.”

He attributes it to the high-energy and great spirit of the music.

“It has ballads that will absolutely rip your heart out and then you have unbelievably energetic tunes and jigs and Celtic rock that will just get you toe tapping and just put a smile on your face and make you jump around,” he said.

To learn more about Fraid Knot go to www.fraidknot.ca

To view a schedule of events for the Foothills Highland Games go to www.foothillshighlandgames.com


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