The applause drowned out the final chord of the band’s last song. The musicians, seven young men who call St. Augustine home, gathered up their instruments and prepared to exit the stage. “One more song,” started the crowd. “One more song!” Three chants in, the words resounded in perfect harmony from nearly a hundred voices, resonating through the field in historic downtown St. Augustine. The last member of the Wobbly Toms to leave the stage gave the crowd an embarrassed grin, then made an exaggerated hasty exit from the stage.
“One more song!” The stage fell silent amidst the persistent, thundering chanting. The spotlights fell softly upon the abandoned drum kit, mikes, and speakers. The night’s darkness enveloped the crowd. Seconds passed with no sign of the band. Still the audience demanded their encore, their voices unfaltering. In fact, their cries grew louder with every passing moment. It was not a question of if the Toms would reclaim the stage, but when.
And return they did, pride and joy illuminated by the spotlights. The crowd’s chanting slipped fluidly into cheering. Their encore won, they danced with merry feet, small clouds of dirt rising in the air from the stirring of their dancing.
Thus ended St. Augustine’s 1st annual Celtic Music Festival. It was a week of great music – including groups from Ireland, the always wonderful Black 47, and the Wobbly Toms, the only local band in the festival. The beer was strong and heady, the food was good, and the company beyond terrific. There was a great energy in the air that could not be entirely attributed to the alcohol (or the glorious sight of men in kilts).
As previously stated, the Wobbly Toms were the only local band who participated in the Celtic Festival. They are a fan favorite wherever they go, and if any local St. Augustine band deserved the honor of performing at the festival, it was the Toms.
I’ve had the pleasure of following the Toms for two years now. First as a fan, and now as a friend, family, and photographer. Their music is infectious and full of energy and vitality. It can’t be neatly categorized. It’s a mixture of Ameripub rock, indie, folk, bluegrass, and Celtic. Instruments include electric and acoustic guitars, bass, drums, harmonica, mandolin, violin, Irish tin whistle, banjo, accordion, and the bagpipes. Most of their songs are originals, but they do play some covers. I should rephrase that last. They don’t just play covers, they perform the covers, giving each their own unique flair. A lesson that I wish more cover bands would learn.
That being said, it is little wonder that the crowd clamors for an encore at nearly every show. And it is no wonder that, on the last night of the festival, the crowd rushed the stage, ignoring the fact that it was roped off for VIPs, and danced beneath the starlight to the quick, vibrant rhythm of one of St. Augustine’s greatest local bands.
I encourage anyone visiting St. Augustine to make it to a Wobbly Toms show. Their usual venues include The British Pub (on the island), Meehan’s Irish Pub, and the White Lion, though they sometimes play other places, as well. Check out their site on Facebook. Also, they have just this month released their first ever album, Everybody Happy. Not only can you buy the album at concerts, but it is also available for download on bandcamp. Check them out! You won’t be sorry.