Friday evening I met up with Brooke McGowan, a photographer friend of mine, at the Abigail Adams Auditorium in NYC for a fantastic evening of Scottish festivities courtesy of the New York Caledonian Club. The Caledonian Club was established in 1856 and promotes the musical, literary, and social heritage of Scottish culture. I had the pleasure of meeting the Chieftain, George Campbell, at show a week or so ago and he kindly invited me to come as his guest.
For those of you who don’t know, a ceilidh, pronounced, ‘KAY-lee,’ is Gaelic for “a singing, feasting, dancing, rather boisterous good-time!” And I’m not making that up, I took it from the Caledonian Club’s website. That description, by the way, is entirely accurate. After poking around the room with Brooke for a bit and enjoying some fantastic Scottish food, the evening’s events began with a procession of bag pipers followed by a special performance of the famous poet, Robert Burns’, “Address to a Haggis.”
I regret that I misplaced my program because I would love to share with you the name of the actor who brought “Address to a Haggis” to life. It was a marvelous performance. The World Burns Club has a great explanation of the significance of the poem, and also answers such burning questions as: What are the origins of Haggis? Why did Burns Write about it? And, What does the Address really mean? If you’re interested in exploring their site a bit, I think you’ll find it to be pretty entertaining. The best way to experience Haggis though would be to go to one of the Caledonian club, or a similar club’s events. As the actor brought Burn’s poem to life, he raised a knife and stabbed it into the Haggis while uttering this verse:
“His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An’ cut you up wi’ ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;And then,
O what a glorious sight,Warm-reekin, rich!”
It was pretty dramatic stuff and it really kicked off the night.
The best part of the evening by far, though, was Mike Ogletree‘s performance. Mike made a name for himself by performing with Scottish bands Simple Minds and Fiction Factory. If those bands’ names don’t sound familiar to you, give them a Google and I bet you’ll be familiar with their work. These days, Mike is setting out with his acoustic guitar, on a mission to educate the world about the poet, Burns, his times, and his message. I’ve included one of my favorite videos of his below. If you like what he’s doing, I’d highly recommend checking out his Youtube page.
Mike writes that this song is an homage to the bonnie lassies o’ New York city. The words are Burns, but everything else is Mike. Enjoy!
Hope this finds you feeling healthy!