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About the Brobdingnagian Bards
Austin Texas is known for its music scene, and it also happens to be the home of the Brobdingnagian Bards--a Celtic Renaissance musical duo. The Bards combine the folk songs of Ireland and Scotland with a little Lord of the Rings styling as well, making for a truly unique and interesting sound. The instrumentation is not necessarily what you might find in all the old country songs; mandolin, autoharp and recorder, but then again, the Bards are pretty much known for doing their own thing . . .
Wearing kilts on campus at the University of Texas could get you a few odd stares. For Brobdingnagian Bards members Andrew McKee and Marc Gunn, however, it got them into a band. The Bards didn't limit themselves to on-campus play, and their music spread quickly, branching out with loyal followers to everything from music festivals to renaissance faires and weddings.
The next logical step was to produce a CD. The duo's first effort was "Marked By Great Size" in 1999. "Gullible's Travels" was next in 2000, followed by "Songs of the Muse," an instrumental album in 2001. The group continued producing CDs, and two themed ones were next; "A Faire To Remember" and "A Celtic Renaissance Wedding." Next came "Songs of Ireland" in 2002, followed by "Memories of Middle Earth" in 2003. "Brobdingnagain Fairy Tales" came out in 2005, and hit #1 on CDBaby's charts.
Awards and recognition have come to the duo, and they have garnered many, including Best Renaissance Men in the Best of Austin poll for the Austin Chronicle in 2003. They blazed trails as the first Celtic band ever to win for Best Novelty Band, and received an Austin Music Award for that honor. The Bards also were the headliners for the Oscar party for "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King."
Things just keep getting bigger and better for the duo, and Gunn has had more than a few spin off's from the humble beginnings at school to keep him busy. He holds a weekly podcast for Celtic music fans, puts out an E-Zine "The Bards Crier" for music marketing and promotion tips and operates the Celtic MP3s Music Magazine, which reviews Celtic music and offers free downloads to tempt readers with the latest bands. Gunn also runs his own Celtic CD label, Mage Records.
Since it seems like these guys are going somewhere pretty darn fast (or because you like to look really smart), you might also want to learn how to pronounce their name; its brAHb'ding-näg-EE-en. Go ahead, say it!
Andrew McKee played guitar and saxophone in high school. He grew up with a classical music background and found the transition from saxophone to recorder to be seamless which led him to perform on Marc Gunn's first solo album. He is entirely self-taught on the mandolin.
Marc Gunn began his love of folk music early on when his dad took him to jam sessions and concerts with artists like the Mill Run Dulcimer Band and Bryan Bowers. But it wasn't until the 90s that he began pursuing his childhood dream of being the next Elvis Presley through singing in rock bands. Then in 1997, he borrowed his dad's autoharp and started writing folk songs. Two years later, he was invited to perform at a Renaissance Festival. Inspired by The Dubliners and The Wolfe Tones, he performed a mix of Irish pubs songs and original folk songs with his best friend from college, Andrew McKee. They formed the Brobdingnagian Bards and earned international acclaim on MP3.com. Marc publishes the Celtic MP3s Music Magazine to help promote Celtic music and The Bards Crier Music Marketing and Promotion Ezine. He released his third solo album, Soul of a Harper, in 2003 to highlight his songwriting, a cappella singing, and unique autoharp style.
Visit Marc Gunn's website.
Extended Band Biography
In January, 1999, Marc Gunn was practicing outside at the University of Texas at Austin when a stranger asked if he wanted to play at a Renaissance Festival. A new fan of faires, he jumped at the opportunity. He called up OEM Computer technician and entrepreneur, Andrew McKee. McKee played the recorder on a solo album of Gunn's a year before. Together, the formed the Brobdingnagian Bards to perform at their first festival, Excalibur Fantasy Faire in Smithville, Texas. Marc Gunn played the autoharp and sang, while Andrew switched between recorder, mandolin and vocals. The unique sound they dubbed 'Celtic Renaissance'. They soon began playing daily at the UT Austin to improve their live performance and build a fan base.
That summer, they released their first full-length CD, Marked By Great Size. This album earned them the next name of "Renaissance version of They Might Be Giants". It was well-received and despite anonymity, it sold well at Renaissance Festivals at which The Bards performed. Their popularity grew at faires, but Nagians (the name for fans of the Brobdingnagian Bards) wanted more.
So in January, 2000, they began recording their second CD. It was released on March 17th, entitled Gullible's Travels, and it featured many of the The Bards' most requested songs including the first recording of their soon hit song, "Tolkien (The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings)." About that time, Marc Gunn began publishing a free music marketing and promotion newsletter, called The Bards Crier's Music Marketing and Promotion Tips Ezine to help educate his fellow musicians.
In September 2000, the Brobdingnagian Bards signed with Celtic Ways as their promoter on MP3.com, a website where artists could post free downloadable music and get paid for every download. Celtic Ways combined with Gunn's aggressive promotional skills and the instant success of "Tolkien" sent their music straight to the top of the charts. In January 2001, they hit #1 on the Celtic charts and climbed all the way up to #31 on all MP3.com.
In March, they released their third studio CD, an instrumental album entitled Songs of the Muse, to book more wedding gigs. Weddings did come, but the album led to two more MP3.com hit songs, "An Irish Lullaby" and Tom Lehrer's "Irish Ballad",in the middle of March. Their success on MP3.com sparked a steady stream of CD sales, the rapid growth of their newsletter, and slurry of new venues.
That summer, they recorded and completed their fourth studio album, A Faire To Remember. This album was designed to feature the Brobdingnagian Bards pick of the top ten most popular songs at Renaissance Festivals with a few of their own personal favorites. The album was released in September at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival and quickly became their #1 selling CD though it was closely followed by a CD of romantic songs that they released for wedding gigs entitled, A Celtic Renaissance Wedding. The Brobdingnagian Bards were one of the Top 10 earners on mp3.com peaking at #6, a trend that continued in November and December 2001, and January and March 2002.
By November, anticipation of the upcoming Lord of the Rings movie rocketed "Tolkien (The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings)" back to the top of the charts. The song peaked at #14 among dozens of major label artists. One MP3.com reviewer noted that the Brobdingnagian Bards had more listens to "Tolkien"than any other song on the website, but due to changes in the ranking formula favoring major labels, they were unable to break higher than #14. By the end of the year, the Brobdingnagian Bards were able to boast over one million downloads of their music.
In March 2002, the Brobdingnagian Bards continued the tradition of releasing another album--their fifth and latest studio CD, Songs of Ireland. They also began co-branding their CDs with Excalibur Fantasy Faire, Ren Radio, the Hamlet of Mid-Missouri and other sites. Then in April, they were introduced to an entirely new venue that perfectly fit their musical style: Science Fiction and Fantasy convetions. They performed at I-Con 21 which earned them a second performance at the largest Sci Fi convention in America, Dragon*Con located in Atlanta, Georgia.
Meanwhile, they are back in the studio to work on their next few albums which include: a tribute to J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, a Christmas CD, and a CD of traditional Scottish songs. In addition to more CDs, the Brobdingnagian Bards are planning a U.S. Tour in 2003 and hope one day to tour Europe and the rest of the world as the 21st century "masters of traditional [Celtic] folk."
Do virgins taste better than those who are not? For centuries, knights and peasants have asked that same question. But only the Brobdingnagian Bards have dared to find an answer. TASTE TEST!!!
The Brobdingnagian Bards (pronounced brAHb'ding-näg-EE-en) hail from Austin, Texas. They take traditional Irish and Scottish folk songs, mix it up with Lord of the Rings music to create a unique brand of Celtic Filk.
And when they say "unique", believe it! How many bands do YOU know that play autoharp, recorder, and mandolin... while wearing KILTS?!
The Bards (or if you're from Chicago "Da Bards!") were voted the #1 BEST PERFORMING NOVELTY BAND in the 2004-5 Austin Music Awards. They are the 'Godfathers of Celtic MP3s'. Over FIVE MILLION MP3s have been downloaded by their fans online. Over a million MP3s were from one song, "Tolkien (The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings)". They continue to give away over a dozen free Celtic MP3s from their website at www.thebards.net.
In November, they released a NEW CD-THE HOLY GRAIL OF IRISH DRINKING SONGS. This is the tenth album from The Bards, and this compilation features all of their favorite songs about drinking and songs that are fun to sing while drinking, like "Seven Drunken Nights", "Wild Rover", "Lily the Pink", "I'll Drink From Dusk Till Dawn", and many more.
But wait there's more!
The Brobdingnagian Bards music will touch your Scotch-Irish heritage with traditional Celtic songs and contemporary parodies. It's a musical experience that shouldn't be missed. So visit them online, get a free "Real Men Wear Kilts" sticker. And laugh your arse off to a musical experience that will leave you glowing for more... without the radiation poisoning.
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