Awesome, Awesome, and ... did I say Awesome? That's the only way to describe the Highland Way, the quality of their music, the excitement they bring to their performances, and the professionalism which they bring to their concerts. And, yet, young and old and everyone in between can enjoy their music and the environment they create. They can improvise when needed, do requests, play with young musicians and dancers as we have had in the past. The crowds love this band and we have had requests to have them back and I am sure we will. Brian Caldwell is as good a person as he is a musician. Staying for pictures and autographs are things he does willingly. If the concert is extended by his audience crying out for "one more" or "encore", he is willing to oblige. I can easily recommend the Highland Way to any concert promoter or organization that wants a quality band and, just a darn good time. Please check the Friends of Oceanside Parks facebook page or the O'side News for our July 17, 2015 concert coverage with the feature band being the Highland Way.
When Brian Caldwell picked up the rhythm guitar more than 23 years ago, he developed a passion for music that would send him far from his Glasgow, Scotland, home. Off he went on a path toward founding one of his homeland's traditional bands. Highland Way, a Celtic band that formed 12 years ago, has spread its sound across nations, from Scotland and Nova Scotia to Ireland and California. Now the five-piece ensemble is gearing up for its upcoming show Saturday and Sunday at Scottish Fest, a weekend in ode to the country's culture at OC Fair & Event Center. "It's sort of like being home," Caldwell said in his brick thick burr as he stood before the fairgrounds' hangar and strummed notes on his guitar. "I love it and it's great fun." The bandleader said he plans to return to his roots by wearing a kilt during both shows. Though the knee-length garment is a nod to the traditional dress of men in the Scottish Highlands, Caldwell said he finds the dress' sporran, a pouch worn around the waist, to serve as the perfect pocket. "It's handy for the flask," he joked. The band, which has performed at the fairground's Scottish Fest for eight years, will serve as the soundtrack to the event where attendees will watch dancing competitions and heavy athletics testing feats of strength. Joining Caldwell onstage is guitarist Jim Soldi, who has played with Johnny Cash, fiddler Paul Castellanos, accordionist Sharon Whyte, drummer Bob Sale and bassist Glen Fisher. The full kilt-clad ensemble is set to play on the center stage before the festival's vendors and food stations where they will perform traditional Celtic jigs and modern and original compositions. "We want to have a great time and keep people upbeat," Caldwell said. "We want to encourage dancing and audience participation." A moment he looks forward to in a show, Caldwell said, is when each musician has the opportunity to show off his or her chops by free styling their instrument. Caldwell said he also likes to walk into the crowd and play the guitar among listeners. During both concerts, dancer Krisztina Scheeff will showcase her footwork by step-dancing onstage. "When we play festivals, we want it lively," said Caldwell, who has performed with Highland Way at Redlands Bowl and Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield. "It's a great opportunity for everybody to learn about our country's music and dance." In addition to listening to the traditional sounds of the old country, Caldwell said visitors should try the festival's selection of meat pies and taste his personal whiskey favorite, Glenmorangie. And to further experience the culture and history of Scotland, the event will feature Scottish Highland games, a competition designed to test the strength, skill and technique of ancient warriors. Contestants will compete in a number of games, from a caber toss where athletes throw a large wooden beam, to a Farmer's Walk where participants pick up 150-pound weights and see how far they can walk with them. Linda Keasberry, the OC Fair & Event Center's event sales and services manager, estimated that the festival is in its 20th year at the fairgrounds and that guests enjoy the festival's variety of food, entertainment and vendors. The schedule of events will include Highland dances, piping and drumming contests, archery and vintage cars. And to trace what Scottish connections a visitor might have, the Scottish Clan and Tartan Information Center will help guests learn of ancestry as well as which tartans are appropriate for a family's name.
Last week at the Burroughs High School Parker Performing Arts Center, one man took the stage and began to demonstrate his strange drum. With his charismatic Scottish brogue, he described the old instrument, made from stretched goatskin and of Irish origin. He began to play and was joined by another drummer from off stage. Then from stage right, a third member plugged in his electric bass and joined in the tune. Moments later, Highland Wayfull kilt-clad ensemble, including an accordion, guitar and electric fiddle, had the audience deeply enthralled by a rollicking traditional Celtic jig. From Scotland to the Pacific Coast, the Celtic band Highland Way captivates audiences with its high-energy performances. The band Dec. 16 performance at the BHS PAC was no exception. The performance was part of the Indian Wells Valley Concert Association concert series. The San Diego group is led by Brian Caldwell, originally hailing from Glasgow, Scotland largest city. In addition to playing the bodhran, Caldwell sang lead vocals and played guitar on several of the group songs. The first set vacillated between traditional Celtic jigs and more modern (and a few original) compositions. Though difficult to understand at times, it was impossible not to love Caldwell’s folky vocalizations. But what really stood out was the virtuosic fiddling of Paul Graham Castellanos. From his rapid, precise jigging to his effusive balladry, Castellanos was in fine form for the entirety of the concert. The band performed the popular Scottish folk ballad Caledonia written by Singer-Songwriter Dougie MacLean in the 1970s. The piece featured beautiful playing from Lead Guitarist Jim Soldi. The group then rocketed into the familiar Drunken Sailor where each instrumentalist had the opportunity to show off his or her chops. Accordionist Sharon Whyte, drummer Bob Sale and bassist Glen Fisher showed the audience that they had every reason to be touring the world with their musical talents. The song had the enthusiastic audience clapping and singing along for the whole ride. As the thunderous applause died down, Caldwell educated us in the ways of Scottish culture with The 12 Days of Highland Way Christmas, a humorous take on the classic Christmas carol that involved three shots of whiskey, two Scottish kilts and a New Highland Way CD. The group’s second set kicked off with a cover of the international hit, I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), by Scottish band The Proclaimers. The set included many traditional holiday carols when the audience was invited to sing along. But the audience involvement end there. When Caldwell asked who had worn kilts to the concert, few were expecting a trio of Ridgecrest gentlemen sitting in the back to stand and show off their Scottish garb. The three men were invited to the front of the theater to dance along to the band next jig, much to the audience and band appreciation. The band closed with Silent Night; and again, the audience was asked to sing along. It was a sweet and solemn way to end the night. Or it would have been if the shouts of “Encore!”, hadn’t lured the band back onto the stage to appease the eager audience. The band played one more song, Catharsis, which blended the modern electric instrumentation with traditional folk in a style that I can only describe as Celtic Funk. The final instrumental left the audience, myself included, very pleased. Concert-goers gathered around the tables in the center of the auditorium to purchase the band CDs in hopes of keeping the infectious music going. For more about the band, visit highlandway.us or Highland Way, the Band, Facebook page. To learn more about the IWV Concert Association, visit iwvca.tripod.com or call 760-375-5600.
"On behalf of everyone at the Redlands Community Music Association, we want to express a belated but sincere thank you for your memorable performance at the Redlands Bowl on July 5. You and the superb musicians in your band delighted the audience with your lively Celtic songs and good-natured humor. We are sure you could tell from the packed Bowl audience, (5000 - 6000), and the enthusiastic applause throughout the evening just how much your performance was appreciated.We were very proud to have you as a part of our season. Highland Way played an important role in our mission to present only the finest in the performing arts at the Redlands Bowl.
In addition, your children's workshop received high accolades! The chairwomen of the workshops reported that it was one of the most fun programs the children had ever participated in. Thank you for such a superb Bowl experience!"
Dear Brian & Band Members, As Chieftain of the San Diego Scottish Highland Games and Gathering of the Clans, I would like to put forward our heartfelt appreciation for your participation in our event. Your blend of traditional Scottish Music, both instrumental and vocal, both rousing and emotional was perfect for the event, as could be seen by the reaction of the audience. We especially liked the way you included the audience and encouraged participation. We look forward to having you return again as our headlining group in the near future. Thanks again.
I just wanted to take a second and let you know how much I enjoyed Highland Way, both working with the group and their performance. They were very well received, we filled the house for both shows and actually had to turn people away for both shows, something we have never had to do for the 7pm show before. So I just wanted to say thank you for the great booking and the graciousness of both you and the artists. It was enjoyable all the way around. Thanks! Rebecca
"Highland Way was great fun as always.
The addition of drums and whistles
makes it even better"
Highland Way is an exciting, great, "Celtic Experience" for all ages ! Each band member comes with a long history of musical training and performance that combines for a rousing and fun filled musical program. Their polished performance is a combination of "kick-up-your-heels" Scottish and Irish Reels and jigs plus melodic and romantic folk songs. This Band is definitely a "Crowd Pleaser."
Dear Brian, I don't know where to begin in thanking you and all of the members of Highland Way for the wonderful performance you gave at the Holly Theater during Dahlonega's Celtic Music Festival! It is so very evident that Highland Way truly enjoys entertaining people with your fabulous music. You and the entire band have a special way of interacting with the audience... .whether igniting clapping and laughter or bringing tears to their eyes! Honestly, Highland Way helped make Dahlonega's first Celtic Music Festival a success! We appreciate everything you contributed, from your fun family concert to the "Celtic Tales" workshop to your spectacular evening concert! Please know that we were not only entertained, but we feel we have new friends! I only wish that we had had more time to show you around and to get to know you even better. You will definitely have to come back!
The excellent Celtic Band Highland Way performed at our "A Scottish Evening" event on Friday night, October 13, 2006, much to the delight of the packed house of approximately 330 Games regulars and guests. Beginning very subtly as soothing dinner music, they very quickly cranked up the volume/class and had the crowd craning intently as they presented some excellent versions of Celtic classics and newer contributions. The band has amazing depth and talent in just the four musicians that make you think there must be more players hidden somewhere. They all contribute to a synergy far greater than any one performer-and yet they are each complete solo artists in their own right. We look forward to a repeat performance at this October's Scottish Evening event and to a full weekend of exciting Festival sets as only Highland Way can bring.
Highland Way has become San Diego’s best Celtic group. We in San Diego Folk Heritage rely on them for consistently high-quality entertainment. They’re a mainstay of our Musical Odyssey concert series. In addition to their great musicianship and skill in connecting with an audience, they’re easy and fun to work with. An evening with Highland Way leaves the staff, the technical crew, and the audience happy. Dick Jay Chairfolk