Saturday, October 30, 2010

Blog post

Just finished from playing for a rainy 39th Street Halloween Street Party. Great neighborhood, great spirits (living and dead), despite all the wet. Thanks for having us!

Now back home to dry off all those sound cables . . .
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Re-sale Shop Re-visited

Riggity Jig returns to the Yolo County SPCA Thrift Store on Saturday, September 25. We'll be recycling our old material and making it new, all in the the spirit of the day's Re-Cycle, Re-Use, & Re-New Festival! Last time we played there I saw no fewer than four plaid kilts on the racks. All were in the women's and girls' department--and a few certainly belonged there--but a fellah's got to start somewhere, eh?

You can show a bit o' knee, or just show up. You're sure to find something that'll surprise you or bring back fond memories. Maybe both, if it happens to be that hideous family heirloom from your Great Aunt Zelda that vanished from the mantelpiece last week, thanks to your significant other. Won't she be surprised when it shows up at home once again!

P.S. Look for a subset of the band on Saturday morning from 9:30 to 11:00 at the Woodland Farmer's Market in Freeman Park on Main Street, between 4th and 6th Streets. Fantastic local produce, and plenty of free parking on the Court Street side of the park. Yum-yum, eat 'em up!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Not Your Grandmother's LGM

Somewhere on the far side of the sun, there's a land that's never green on a little piece of floating space junk no human eye has ever seen. This nameless shard follows the same orbital path our dear Earth, but six months ahead of us, give or take a few days (or six months behind us, depending on how you look at things).

And on that bit of debris, the result of some cosmic collision or engineer's miscalculation, there's a small cadre of little would-be green men like this fellow who are doing their best to celebrate, on this very day, their own March 17, and the sainted memory of he who brought Christianity to, and expelled snakes from, a lovely green island on a planet they themselves will never see, but only sing of in sentimental, sappy ballads, rasped into the thin, dry atmosphere of their tiny, rocky home.

In honor of these stalwart, possibly misguided, and almost certainly nonexistent revelers, we call on you to join Riggity Jig for our umpteenth-annual Half-way to St. Pat's celebration, starting at 6 pm on Friday, September 10 at Little Prague Bohemian Restaurant in Davis. We'll be playing a festive assortment of jigs, reels, and other Irish favorites till 9 pm.

Call Little Prague at 530-756-1107 to make sure you get a table close by the band!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Remembering Pat

Pat "Kelsey" Olson, longtime drummer for Riggity Jig, passed from this life in the wee hours of morning, June 28, 2010, at age 56, with her dear husband, Jouko, by her side. A memorial is planned for early August.

To say only that Pat put up a valiant fight against cancer since her diagnosis four years ago would be to miss a huge part of what made her the person she was—since during that time she sought out and experienced so much more than the dramatic ups and downs of chemotherapy, optimistic prognoses, and crushing setbacks.

Pat brought her own brand of "reality check" to the prescribed life of a cancer patient—the reality that life's worth living for the sake of joy and discovery, pure and simple. She did her best to share that joy with her network of friends and colleagues. Pat found love with one Jouko Salo, her shining knight who rode up on a gleaming Finnish smart phone, and she married him at the Sacramento Horsemen's Association in a warm, outdoor celebration on a warm summer day, then promptly walked over to the paddock fence and kissed her horse on the mouth. So nobody would get jealous. Pat and Jouko had their third anniversary a few weeks ago.

Before her illness Pat travelled extensively, both for pleasure and for her work with the California Department of Food and Agriculture. She loved dancing and playing the bodhran with our band and Thistle Glen at restaurants, parties, and Scottish dance events. Her love of the outdoors prompted much of her short- and long-haul travelling as well as stints working at Yellowstone and Grand Canyon National Parks. As the cancer advanced, Pat's need for frequent medical treatment kept her closer and closer to home, but she still managed to make the most of life, performing with the band during those lulls of good feeling between chemo treatments.

Good drummers are rare and precious, and all the more so when they add so much to the party even after they set the instrument down. Pat had them all beat. Set aside your jokes of drummer ridicule and remember this terrific woman, Pat Olson, with whom it's been our pleasure and deep honor to share the music for so many years. If you close your eyes and listen, I think you'll hear the harpers in heaven are playing today with a steadier beat. Drum on, Kelsey!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Starbuck's in Davis

Good coffee, live music, and a wireless hot spot? Talk about overstimulation! But yes, it can all be yours on Tuesday, June 8 starting at 7 pm, when Riggity Jig plays at the West Davis Starbucks. That's at 2038 Lyndell Terrace, just northwest of the Covell Boulevard / Highway 113 crossing.

So drop by for a half-caff, lo-fat, no-whip, iced macchiato on Tuesday night, and give music a chance to sooth your savage inner beast -- or is that "breast"? I can never remember.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

RJ @ URC 5/14/10

We're very happy to announce that Riggity Jig will take a turn on the stage at the University Retirement Center in Davis this May. We'll be playing the evening of May 14, 2010, and promise to give the folks a show to remember, with jigs, reels, and strathspeys that will set toes tapping, along with vocals that will bring a smile to the face and a tear to the eye.

Meanwhile in April a number of us will be sitting in on fiddlers' jam sessions at the 134th Annual Sacramento Valley Scottish Games & Festival the weekend of April 24 and 25. It's a terrific gathering for those who love the skirl of pipes, the swirl of kilts, and the fine scent of a well-made haggis. Also, there's the opportunity to participate in any of a number of sporting events that have the potential to hurt you really bad: the caber toss, hammer throw (featuring genuine hammers), and the aptly named "weight over the bar," in which participants take turns attempting to throw a 4-stone weight over an overhead bar (you get extra points if you can avoid having your skull crushed by the weight on its way back down).

Also attending the Games are clan representatives to help you hook up with distant cousins -- to whom you can offer the traditional greeting ("Say, can ya spare a few bob till payday?") -- as well as vendors selling loud musical instruments, books of fine poetry, Scottish comestibles in the tin, roll, or packet, clan tartans and badges, and such breezy menswear items as traditional or Utilikilts!

And, of course, MORE!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Patrick's Day, Actual and Observed

'Tis the season for all things green, and this year you'll have TWO opportunities to join us for music and fun at Little Prague Bohemian Restaurant in Davis. We'll be playing jigs, reels, and other Irish favorites from 6 to 9 on Saturday, March 13, and again on Wednesday, March 17.
As ever, it's a good idea to call ahead for reservations: 530-756-1107.
We're hoping for a good turnout both nights, and asking that everyone please bring a hankie, since all the weeping when we sing "Danny Boy" can cause puddles that pose a real safety hazard to waiters, patrons, and artistes alike. Come on, let it out--It's good for you!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Burns Gig Gets Local Ink

Three of us had a chat last week with Davis Enterprise music critic Landon Christensen, and here's the upshot, from the entertainment section of today's paper:

"Put on your kilt, lace up your ghillies and come celebrate the 251st birthday of 'Scotland's favorite son' - the Bard of Ayrshire himself - Robert Burns.

"The fifth annual Robert Burns Night performance will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. Monday at the Little Prague Bohemian Restaurant, 330 G St., Davis. Admission is free to this all-ages shows, but it'll fill up quickly; for reservations, call (530) 756-1107 or visit

"Fans can expect an evening of whiskey tasting, haggis, poetry and music. In the words of the old bard, 'O, my luve is like a melodie, that's sweetly play'd in tune.'

"The local Celtic band Riggity Jig - Lee Riggs, flute and penny whistle; David Riggs, fiddle; Jim Coats, mandolin; Josh Ray, guitar; and Pat Olson, bodhran - will provide the sweet melodies. In true Scots fashion, Glaswegian Tom McKeith will read many favorite Robert Burns poems.

"'He's from Clydebank, outside of Glasgow,' David Riggs said, 'He's been here for 40 years.

"'And we still can't understand a word he says!' Lee laughed.

"This lively banter continued as I conversed with the Riggs brothers and Coats, during an interview in Little Prague's comfortable surroundings. I quickly learned how the band gels so well.

"'It's more about the chemistry of the band members than the musicianship,' David explained. 'We all have to carry our parts, but we also have to get along. It's not a commercial venture, so its more important that we all have fun together.'

"And how did it all begin?

"'Jim and I had played in a bluegrass band together,' David said, 'and this seemed like a natural regression.'

"Riggity Jig debuted a decade years ago, with its first show at Davis' Pence Gallery. All these years later, they're still going strong.

"So, are the members from Scotland or Ireland?

"'Actually,' David said, 'we were born in County Yolo.'

"'Dave and I are products of Davis school music programs,' Lee added. 'We both started out in elementary school. In high school, I was in jazz choir, marching band and concert band. I now sing with church choirs.'

"Both brothers never strayed too far away from home, at least not for long.

"'I went to UC Davis,' Lee said. 'David went away for school and came back.'

"Riggity Jig plays a lot of local events: the Yolo County Fair, private parties and family weddings

"And wakes.

"'A wake isn't all that mournful,' Coats said, 'and Irish and Scottish music isn't all that cheerful, so it evens out.'

"'Sometimes we'll do several shows in a row: boom, boom, boom,' Lee said, 'then nothing. But we do this Robert Burns show every year.'

"'We also do a St. Patrick's Day show every year,' David said. 'Once, a Sacramento bar wanted us to play two times a month. We turned it down because we didn't want to oversaturate the audience.'

"'Either that, or we'd get good,' Lee laughed.

"'In the olden days,' he continued, 'musicians would play in the kitchen. That's what our practices are like. David lives in Woodland, Jim in Knights Landing, I'm in Davis and the others are in Sacramento. We go to each other's houses to practice: Move the cat off the couch, turn off the TV.

"'It can be difficult, because everyone's involved in other music groups, jobs and families.'

"How do they come up with their songlists?

"'You listen to it a cool tune,' Lee said, 'and figure out how to put your own spin on it.'
'Imitation is the most sincere form of exploitation,' Coats added.

"'We haven't written our own tunes,' Lee continued. 'We've done different arrangements. Sometimes, with our guitar player, we don't know what'll happen next; suddenly, we're changing keys. That's the magic of live performance: Everybody's surprised.'

"And how are the vocal chores divided?

"'I sing some lead vocals,' Coats said, 'and our guitar player sings some leads. Lee sings backup, and we sometimes have guest vocals.'

"'My niece sang with us for several years,' Lee said. 'But she just left for college.'

"The Robert Burns Night celebration will include, among other things, a free haggis tasting. Haggis is a dish containing minced sheep heart, liver and lungs with onion, oatmeal and spices, mixed with stock and boiled in the animal's stomach. For three hours.

"'The haggis gets bigger every year,' David said. 'The first year, we had a two-pound haggis. It's dense, it looked like a softball. It was gone quickly. Since then, we've gotten a bigger one each year. This year, it's a four-pounder.

"'It's free for everyone to try.'


"'The nicest thing anybody usually says about haggis is, there's nothing wrong with it.' Coats chuckled. 'It's probably better for you than eating Sacramento river fish twice a week.'

"The evening's whisky tasting will appeal to connoisseurs and novices alike.

"'All scotch is whiskey,' David explained, 'but not all whiskey is scotch. It has to be made in Scotland, and follow quality standards, in order to be scotch. It's different than Irish whiskey, Canadian or Johnny Walker. You can have a $300 bottle of Johnny Walker, and be happy with it, but it's still not scotch.'

"For those unfamiliar with scotch, this tasting will be a 'good place to start,' Lee said. 'Some are super-smooth. Some are like licking charcoal, and some have a peat moss, herbal, raspy flavor.

"'One year, a friend had a 100-year-old scotch that was so smooth it was like drinking satin.

"'You can have the same scotch - a 10-year-old, 30-year-old and 50-year-old - and because of the different aging, you wouldn't know they're related.'

"Coats agreed: 'This is a great place to develop your taste.'

"But while they all seem to know a great deal about scotch, Lee hastened to add that, as with most bands, 'We mostly drink beer.'

"Besides Haggis and scotch, the annual menu usually includes salmon, lamb stew, lamb curry and Scotch egg.

"'A Scotch egg is a hard boiled egg, surrounded by sausage and deep fried,' Lee explained, 'It's excellent and not greasy.'

"Coats furnished additional detail: 'Imagine a cut-away of the Earth that includes the core, and then imagine that the layers are made out of fat. That's a Scotch egg.'

"As a typical Robert Burns evening progresses, the event turns into quite the celebration.

"'People come up and dance,' Lee said. 'Little kids do step-dancing; several people have their shoes ready to go.'

"'It's like a tap shoe,' Coats said. 'It makes noise on the concrete. It sounds cool; you almost have to wear safety goggles and watch the sparks fly.'

"And how flexible is the song list?

"'People will ask us to play certain songs,' Lee said, mostly things like 'Danny Boy.' Sometimes they'll ask for something we don't know, but we try!'

"'We love it when people dance,' Coats added. 'We'd be happy if more people came up and danced.'

"'That type of spontaneity is fun for everyone,' David agreed.

"Lee remembered one particular performance: 'For Burns Night, one huge table had two dozen knitters. It became a rhythm section that sounded like tap-dancing squirrels.

"'These days, more folks come wearing kilts.'

"'The utili-kilt is the big thing now,' Coats said. 'I'm saving up to get one, but a proper kilt is expensive: around $200.'

"'You could get a polyester one,' Lee quipped.

"In Scotland itself, Robert Burns Night is a big deal.

"'In Scotland, he's on par or above Shakespeare,' Coats said. 'He wrote remarkable stuff.'

"Burns (1759-96) is regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement. After his death, he became an inspiration to the founders of liberalism. His poem and song 'Auld Lang Syne' often is sung at Hogmanay (the final day of the year).

"'For a lot of Scottish people, or people of Scottish descent, this event is a nice connection to home,' Lee said. 'They do the whole kilt regalia: plaid over the shoulder, the whole bit. It's fun; there's a connection with people we don't know. They come for the music and have a Czech/Scottish fusion meal. It means a lot to them.'

"'It's nice way to feel a connection to things back home,' David agreed.

"- Stay up-to-the-minute with local live music by visiting and clicking on 'Club Crawl.' "

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Date Change for Burns Supper 2010

Och -- We've changed the date of our Burns Supper!!

So it's still time to dust off the haggis and lace up your ghillies, but now Riggity Jig will celebrate the Bard of Ayrshire's 251st birthday with a Burns Night Supper from 6 to 9 pm on MONDAY, JANUARY 25 at our usual haunt, Little Prague Bohemian Restaurant in Davis.

The proprietors are promising a proper Scottish feast, plus music, poetry, and whisky, all shared in the spirit of Auld Lang Syne. Past suppers have also featured bagpipes, dancing, and general bonhomie.

Come join us for a night of fun! For dinner reservations, call 530-756-1107.