From the Stage to Parades, JT Loves the Terrors
In December 2005, the Opera House looked ahead and decided to host the following year’s St. Patrick’s Weekend performance and had selected The McKrells, a fine Celtic bluegrass band from upstate New York. Then, with about a month to go, a random check of the group’s website revealed that they were having difficulties with management, and had been booked elsewhere for that date.
Jim Thorpe, we have a problem.
Or maybe it was.
Opera House management had noticed one particular from Ottawa, Ontario the summer before at the Celtic Classic in Bethlehem, PA and saw how the crowd reacted enthusiastically to their mix of comedy and theater, and all-out, bagpipes-oriented music. They were called The Tartan Terrors.
Remarkably, they were somehow available – and so they were booked. A rush campaign of promotion was undertaken, and the first St. Patrick’s weekend show in Jim Thorpe in years was ready to go.
That first time in March 2006, the Terrors weren’t able to bring Sean McKeown, the world-champion bagpiper, but they had no problem plugging in another talented musician, and the crowd of 250 laughed and carried on with the band all night. They finished up with a spirited and semi-rowdy march through the crowd and promised to be back soon.
Soon enough, it was time to begin planning for St. Patty’s 2007. Too early to bring the Tartans back? Would people respond?
The decision was made to go ahead with it, given that some had called to inquire whether they would be on the schedule, and surely at least breaking even was a pretty solid possibility. And they would have Mr. McKeown on bagpipes.
That show sold out nearly 2 weeks in advance. People’s noses were pressed against the doors waiting to get in. The show itself was clearly a changing and evolving entity, with new routines and dances added to the proceedings. And we heard Sean’s remarkable bagpiping, seemingly like four rolled into one.
On a night when the Opera House had obtained a temporary liquor license to help raise needed money for the house, unofficial records were clearly being set – for beers bought for the band, much less the audience itself.
This show needed two nights!
The following three years saw The Terrors not only filling the house both nights, but participating in Jim Thorpe’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and wowing the street crowds with 80’s tunes being played from the back of a truck – with bagpipes. At the reviewing stand downtown in front of hotel, you could say the proceedings were appropriately bawdy.
The other thing was – they were fearless. One night, they raised money for one of their pet causes, working towards a cure for breast cancer. The Tartan-esses went up and down the aisles like part-church collectors and part-cigar ladies, and audiences gave generously.
Since in spite of the progress we’ve made, we still have plenty of work to do with the Opera House, we took notes.
Since then, the inevitable happened, and we were sorry to hear that the Terrors management was looking at a much bigger venue than the Opera House for St. Patty’s 2012. C’est la vie in the music business, but nonetheless a bittersweet day in JT.
OK, so we move on.
Hence the concept for the Day-Before-New-Year Show was born.
Perhaps along with another Jim Thorpe tradition. We’re looking forward!