Enter the Haggis (ETH), a Celtic/fusion rock group from Toronto, performed for a nearly full room last Friday at the Mauch Chunk Opera House in Jim Thorpe. ETH's musical style can be described by its namesake; much like haggis, their music combines a variety of unique and eclectic elements to create something much greater than the sum of its parts.
Their music is inspired by Irish and Scottish elements. This sound is most noticeable through their use of bagpipes and a fiddle, but compared to other groups of the same genre, they have a truly unique sound that their fans can only describe as "awesome" and "an expertly blended experiment."
In the first half of the show ETH played their most popular songs from previous albums; the crowd sang along to the songs that they were familiar with. Throughout the second half of the show they incorporated songs from their new album, "Modest Revolution," into their repertoire. The new album was inspired by articles in the March 30, 2012 edition of The Globe and Mail, which is a Toronto-based newspaper that they had randomly picked as inspiration for the album.
After the band performed a song about Balto, the famous sled dog, and concussions in hockey games, correspondingly entitled Balto and Blackout, the band's violinist Brian Buchanan addressed the crowd.
"We wanted to show the world that Canada is about more than sled dogs and hockey, this is why we wrote songs inspired by stories in a daily newspaper from Toronto. Now we can share the stories of real people," said Buchanan.
Song topics varied just as topics would in any newspaper. The Canadian federal budget and the obsolescence of the Canadian penny were addressed in "Copper Leaves," "Down the Line" and "Footnote" were based on obituaries, and "Can't Trust the News," the album's first single, is an account of a 65-year-old woman who climbed the highest peaks on every continent to overcome her personal tragedies.
Buchanan offers his recount of the writing process on the band website.
"Everything from the front page through to the personal stories that fill the obituaries, you realize there are so many stories going on every day. There's so much more than the talking heads on television or the headlines themselves."
The band members share a fondness for the freedom to experiment and a strong connection to their diverse and dedicated fan base. As the band was addressing fans after the show, each member of the group remarked on their favorite aspect of their unique style.
Buchanan attributes their fans' affinity for a new and consistently changing sound to the band's success.
"We are lucky because our fans are diverse and open to experimentation, we never get into a rut because we are always able to try new things, and the fans love it."
Mark Abraham, the bass guitarist, enjoys the "musical possibilities and the opportunity to try different musical styles on different instruments."
Bruce McCarthy, the drummer and percussionist, likes how "the band's sound is always able to go in a new direction, it is always fresh."
Trevor Lewington, the guitarist, loves the open variety and how it is almost impossible to compare ETH's style with any other.
Craig Downie, the bag pipe player, pointed out what many of their fans had already mentioned, "There are so many Celtic rock bands out there that sound like each other, and we aim to stand distinctly separate from them by going beyond what they do."
Alexandra Kempf, 20, from Orefield, has been a dedicated fan for more than five years. Her love of the band and their style mirrors the opinions of the band members themselves.
"I really like the wide variety of styles that they play, I dig that they are all multi-instrumental, and I love how they enjoy themselves and are so friendly with their fans," said Kempf.