On Friday and Saturday July 27th and 28th I attended the final two concerts of a band named Coyote Run. It is a rare and bitter sweet moment when a final concert comes. An ending to something beautiful and great, but at the same time it is a final flash of glory, as the when the sun sinks into the sea and produces a final viridian flash. In this post, I will tribute the ending of a wonderful journey, perhaps introduce you to interesting new music, and contemplate that final, beautiful, sorrowful moment.
Let's start with a little bit about Coyote Run. They were a Celtic Rock band. It sounds strange, but it works wonderfully. The lead singer and songwriter David Doersch takes traditional melodies and Celtic stories and turns them into modern up beat songs. A great example is Finnean's Dance. This song started with the idea of the Sidhe mounds, and how people would be enchanted by their songs, then be trapped inside their mounds. The current base player, Micheal Kazalski, took the famous poem Invictus, and put it to driving, inspiring music. That's just two examples of their music, if it interests you, look up some others on youtube. They have everything from a cover of the famous Stan Roger's sea shanty, Barrett's Privateers, to songs with their roots in Celtic paganism, like Beltane Fires and Lord of the Dance (this is not the song you think you know, though it is the same tune) over to songs of the high seas, like Dragon of Cabo San Lucus and Powder Monkey, and even some songs based in American legend, like Tso 'Ape (about the Bear River Massacre) and The Battle of New Orleans. From the swinging Battle of the Kings, to the tear drawing Hearts Across the Sea.
The music is good, the stories traditional, and the arrangements new and unique, but what really makes Coyote Run great, and what has given me such a love for this now departed group was the people, and the live shows. Each song has something special for the members. Michael wrote the music for Invictus. David calls Fool somewhat autobiographical. The Riper and Bearded Barley is associated with a story of some VERY friendly women in Ohio. In fact, almost every song has a story that goes along with it. Some stories tell about the origins of that song, like Fool or Lord of the Dance while others have stories of memorable performances, or people who really loved a certain song. Each concert weaves a story, of the changing season, or of a search to find your place in the world, and the songs and stories are so intertwined as to be inseparable.
Along with that, each of the band members is impressive in their own right as a musician. Catherine Hauke is the single best drummer I have ever seen, and I've seen quite a few. If the contest had been at Irish fiddle, Chelle Fulk would have won that golden fiddle, and not Johnny from Georgia. The guitarist, Daniel Nelson, aside from having a unique style of play, is a world ranked Irish dancer. From gorgeous fiddle features, to mind boggling step dancing, and thunderous drum features, the look is sound of Coyote Run was one of kind. For the moment, their music is still available on CD (here) and they will be releasing a few digital downloads of recordings from their farewell tour concerts. There are also a number of former band members who deserve mention. Doug Bishoff (an expert at the loud squeaky thing know as bagpipes), Mick Mikula (great tenor, and a wonderful guitar player), Steve Holliday and Les Kayanan all have been a part of making Coyote Run what it became. You can hear their work in on the various CDs.
Now a few thoughts on those final moments. I have so many conflicting feelings about that final concert. I left with tears in my eyes, but at the same time, during that concert, I was so caught up in the swirling tide of the music, the maelstrom of song and emotion, as hundreds of people said goodbye to Coyote Run, and they said goodbye to us. Many of the former band members were there, and the hall was packed with fans. Coyote Run traditionally closes a show with the song Lord of the Dance and this time when they started it, the whole hall cracked green glow sticks, and started waving them in time to the music. They encored with the song Hearts Across the Sea and everyone, even David started to break down. It was one of the most sorrowful things I've seen in music, but the outpouring of love, both from the audience to the band, and from the band to the audience, was one of the single most beautiful things I have ever been a part of. Now I leave you with the theme of their farewell tour: The longer that the journey takes, the further down the road.