Here’s a raw You Tube video of Marc’s performance, great fun!
At last, I have met Marc Gunn, a self appointed and deservedly named “bard” from outside of Austin TX, USA.
I have known Marc, by internet, for many years, must be at least 8 years, maybe 10 years. Marc is part of a popular duo called Brobdingnagian Bards who have a fan base following of many thousands due to being pioneers in producing and marketing their music in MP3 format since the late 90s.
Their music seemed to be initially inspired by the imagery of “Lord Of The Rings” and then medieval legends and tales. This quickly led to a fascination for Scottish music at Marc’s Gunn name is of a very active Scottish clan. It did not take long for the Brodingnagian Bards to create arrangements for Irish songs too.
The instrumentation of Brobdingnagian Bards is quite unique as Marc plays autoharp, a beautiful sounding instrument that looks like a portable hammer dulcimer that one hand plays like a harp while the other hand plays a board like on a button accordion to form chords. Some might remember the autoharp as the instrument choice of June Carter with Johnny Cash as especially performing with the Carter family. A few might know that Janice Joplin, also from Austin TX, also commenced her singing using an autoharp to accompany her. Marc’s musical partner, Andrew, performs with recorders and mandolin. I especially enjoy the autoharp and mandolin duets.
The Brobdingnagian Bards commenced performance as buskers on college campuses in Austin and around Texas. They then ventured into the Renaissance Faire scene, that became popular all around the USA, fairs that re-enact British and European medieval and Celtic ceilidh times. This work motivated the duo into exploring the visual components of their performance leading to exotic to outrageous costumes and props along with self-penned songs to match. Some of their most popular songs are humourous re-writes of popular songs such as their take on “If I Had A Million Dollars” by Bare Naked Ladies, that they call “If I Had A Million Ducats”.
During the past few years Marc’s passion for Celtic music has led him from running a very well subscribed newsletter to producing audio podcasts of Celtic music. Some of his podcast productions have reached #1 in the iPod podcasting charts for ALL podcasts with over 40,000 downloads !!!
This is just a little about what has done and is doing …
This week Marc is in Ireland leading over 20 of his and Brobdingnagian fans through a tour of Ireland’s major interest sites along with some of their unique bard performances on the way.
Hopefully this is the first of many Bard fan tours to Ireland that will mix between popular site tours and more intimate “hidden Ireland” tours that follow the routes, sites and origins of some of the songs they sing.
I met Marc at Dublin airport, a day ahead of him meeting his tour. It was a beautiful warm, sunny, but a little hazy day. I guided him through the sites of Tara Hill, the site of the first Lughnasa games at Telltown, high crosses of Kells and a short trip across the Wicklow mountains.
We then joined Claire Roche at her home for a wonderful dinner outside followed by a swapping of a few songs.
On her antique Erard concert harp Claire performed a revival and new arrangement of a beautiful song she wrote in 1974 called “Dedication” followed by an ancient Gaelic song dedicated to Brigid and her traditional Irish harp.
Marc performed a few tunes plus a hilarious track called “Wild Kitty” from his original, quite genius, album called “Irish Drinking Songs For Cat Lovers”.
Marc tuning up in Claire’s living room before performing some tunes and a song for us.
Regretfully, we did not get any pictures of Marc and Claire together.
This was taken a few days before at Lake Studio, a beautifully sited remote studio in Co. Leitrim where Claire is listening to a take of a new recording of “Dedication”.