Two of Canada’s biggest exports are hockey players and musicians.
Penguins fans are well versed in the former (18 of the players currently on the WBS roster were born in Canada), and you’ve no doubt heard of many popular bands and singers from north of the border (Barenaked Ladies, Rush, The Guess Who, Blue Rodeo, Nickelback, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Sum 41 and Celine Dion, just to name a few).
This Thursday, Northeast PA will get to see and hear another eclectic Canadian troupe – ENTER THE HAGGIS. The Toronto-based band which formed in 1996 has headlined at Celtic festivals across North America, and will be opening for Gaelic Storm at the F.M. Kirby Center as Wilkes-Barre, starting off St. Patrick’s season a little early (tickets are available by calling 826-1100 or by stopping at the Kirby Center Box Office.)
Members of the band took time out of their touring schedule to answer some questions on hockey, music, and the facilities at the old Maple Leaf Gardens…Check out their most recent release - WHITELAKE - and listen for them in the upcoming hockey movie - GOON - staring Seann William Scott
Q: Enter the Haggis calls Toronto home. Are you all Leafs fans, or are there any other allegiances there?
Craig Downie (multi-instrumentalist): More Leafs fans than anything else, although I liked the Bruins too as I grow up in Oshawa and quite a few of the Oshawa Generals went on to play for the Bruins, including my friend's brother, Terry O'Reilly.
Brian Buchanan (vocals, piano, fiddle): Absolutely. It feels a little masochistic at times, but I bleed blue and white.
Q: Any Colby Armstrong fans in the band? (he started his pro career here in Wilkes-Barre)
Brian: Sure! Colby brings a lot of heart to the game, and everyone plays better when he's around. If he could just stay healthy…
Q: Any favorite memories of games/players?
Craig: Sidney Crosby's goal in the 2010 Olympics. What a moment.
Trevor Lewington (vocals, guitar): My dad took me to a Leafs game at Maple Leaf Gardens when I was a kid. The Gardens is now a grocery store so I'm glad I was able to see a game in that iconic building. My most notable memory of the game was how hectic the mens' room was. The urinals were very close together and the next guy in line was only about a foot behind me as I tried to go. I became intensely "pee-shy" and couldn't relieve myself until after the game, by which time I had tears in my eyes... actually a fairly common reaction to watching a Leafs game.
Brian: The World Junior game against the US in 2010 was INCREDIBLE - when John Tavares fed Jordan Eberle to tie the game with four seconds left, I spilled a bowl of popcorn all over my living room. Some of those junior teams are unbelievable.
Q: Did you guys play hockey growing up, or was the focus always on music?
Craig: I was generally laughed at when I tried to play hockey or any other team sports, so music was definitely more my forte. I did play a bit of shinny on the outdoor rinks though.
Trevor: I played hockey for about 10 years growing up. Always house league. My dad and my friend's dad were the coaches. One year they thought it would be good experience for us to go to a contact tournament (we typically played non-contact) and we were totally destroyed. We were looking down at the puck and skating and the other team was knocking us over like bowling pins. I was actually thrown over the boards completely into our bench at one point... my quickest shift change ever! Although we lost all three games, I actually scored one of the few goals. It wasn't pretty, but it was a highlight of my hockey career.
Brian: Unfortunately my parents couldn't afford both, so my violin and piano lessons took priority. I had a pond in my backyard though, and I spent many winters skating around and pretending I knew how to play. I can still skate fairly well.. but I can't stop.
Q: With your touring schedule, do you get a chance to catch a lot of games (live or on tv)?
Craig: Brian is our resident Leafs fan, so he often gets them online in the green room. It's kinda tough to watch games in some venues, because in the US, college sports are bigger than the NHL and they take priority. (this never happens in Pittsburgh though)
Brian: I watch as many games as I can, and it really helps me feel like I'm still connected to home. I can email or text buddies back in Canada and talk about games, stories, highlights.. with access to the internet, I can always at least catch the "Game In Six" on the Leafs' website.
Q: What can fans expect from an ETH gig if they’ve never seen the band before?
Craig: The first thing they would encounter would be the enthusiasm of our hardcore following, and chances are that they'd leave having made a few more friends than they came in with. Secondly, the listener would hear an unusual combination of styles and instrumentation. Between the five band members, we play a lot of instruments. Heck, we've even got bagpipes.
Trevor: The finesse of Wayne Gretzky; the strength of Zdeno Chara; and the looks of Colby Armstrong (with his dentures in)
Brian: We're sort of like an iPod on shuffle - we draw from a wide variety of styles and traditions, and no two songs really sound that much alike. A lot of our music is danceable, and most of it is pretty high-energy. Lots of instruments, lots of harmonies and lots of fun!
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