Anyone who has spent any time at all in World Showcase has undoubtedly come across a certain band of musicians in kilts who rock out to Celtic tunes. This world-class group of performers, known as Off-Kilter, has dominated the music scene in World Showcase for many years and they keep getting better and better with time.
I became indoctrinated fully into Off Kilter last year during a December gathering of Disney fans and webmasters. A friend of The Magic in Pixels is a good friend of Randy Holbrook, lead guitarist, and she proposed a contest to see who could come up with the best possible image of Randy for his website, randyholbrook.com. An instant friendship was struck between Randy and me, along with a mutual respect for each other’s craft. This meeting also led me to be introduced to singer and bass player Mark Weldon, keyboardist Tony “Miracle Fingers” Escapa, drummer Scotty Zymowski, and part-time fiddler Jason Thomas. To say they were all gracious during this chance meeting would be a total understatement.
Between December 2008 and October 2009, I became totally engrossed in Off Kilter’s music, having acquired all five of their CD’s. They became a permanent fixture on my iPod, and my son, Billy (age three) was “had at hello”. He listened to the music so many times that he memorized several of their songs, including some of the motions and gestures that they make while performing.
During our past trip to Walt Disney World in October 2009, we had the absolute pleasure of catching several of Off Kilter’s sets and it was an absolute treat. The band played Billy’s favorite song, Whiskey in the Jar, during the first set that we saw and Billy sang and played air guitar with enthusiasm and excitement, much to the delight of the band and the other people there watching. Adding to the excitement, Mark Weldon said hi to Billy from the stage and introduced him to the other people in the audience; at the end of the set, they even introduced him as “their sixth man, on vocals and air guitar”. That kind of special treatment only exists at Disney.
After the set was over, the band brought Billy up on stage to meet them and pose for a nice photo with them. I had no idea that was only the beginning as the next thing I knew, Billy had a microphone in his hands and began singing “Whiskey in the Jar” as Randy played a gentle melody on his guitar. That is one of the best magical moments that a family can enjoy and one that we will remember forever. It was a “proud papa” moment like none other.
Several days later, I got to meet Jamie Holton, lead singer and bagpiper extraordinaire. Not surprisingly, Jamie was a complete class act and his bagpipe adds yet another dimension to the rock sound. It is simply amazing how someone can rock out on a bagpipe but Jamie does it day after day, song after song. Anyone who has heard Jamie sing and play “Mari Mac” knows that the song goes faster than you ears can hear. Jamie is the consummate showman, mixing vocal talent and musical ability with comedic slapstick in a way that is equal parts hilarious and jaw-dropping at the same time.
Randy, Jamie, and Mark have such a great rapport and you can really see them feed and play off each other . Rather than standing around and just singing and playing, they all perform in such as way that makes you feel as if you were the only person there watching, despite the hundred or so people that catch every performance. To say these gentlemen are world-class is an understatement- they play with a speed, precision, and passion that needs to be heard to be believed. Randy plays a speed-guitar that would make any guitar hero expert green with envy and he does it song after song- it really in incredible.
If you haven’t taken the time to experience Jamie’s bagpipe, Mark’s bass, Randy’s guitar, Tony’s keyboard, or Scotty’s drums, or any of the other exceptionally talented substitute band members, you owe it to yourself to check them out; if you are a fan of Celtic rock, you will not be disappointed.
Here are just a few of my favorite images featuring the fine folks from Off Kilter. Clicking the image will enable it to pop-out larger.
For more information and to purchase one of their incredible CD’s, please head on over to OFF KILTER.NET