Monday, June 7, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 146

Album Review: Harry Connick Jr.

Album Review: Jordan Knight

Concert Preview: Woodstock '99


About the Cougar

Australian band Brother brings unique sound to Heights

By Pin Lim
Assistant Photo Editor

Brother, an Australian band that plays Gaelic music, combines the sounds of guitars, bagpipes and the didgeridoo (a traditional, aboriginal instrument), wears kilts and colorful pants on stage and has a knack for telling politically incorrect jokes.

Brother is a unique curiousity. How did an Australian band end up playing Gaelic? The band's history proves to be as interesting as its music.

Brother, an Australian Gaelic band, jams at the Garden in the Heights on Tuesday.

Barry Watson/The Daily Cougar

Brother started in the early '80s when the two original members, Hamish and Angus, began performing as an acoustic duo at colleges, pubs, keg parties and various other venues. After years of stomping around Sydney, and with the Gulf War screaching to an anticlimatic end, the boys decided to fly to Los Angeles.

Somewhere during this time, the band decided to add sounds of its heritage into its music. Along came the bagpipes and the didgeridoo, and Brother's sound was created -- an interesting blend of traditional Gaelic, aboriginal and modern pop/rock.

Brother, without its drummer who could not join be in Houston for the concert, arrived in style two hours before it was due on stage at the Garden in the Heights on Tuesday.

Thanks to the lovely January, a staff member. She introduced me to the band's manager, and he in turn introduced me to the two front men, Hamish and Angus, of the now-four-man band.

We found ourselves some seats and started talking while Steve, the guitarist, tuned his instruments.

The Daily Cougar: In three sentences or less, describe yourselves.

Hamish: "Fun-loving, hard-working, easygoing, always trying to maintain a sense of fun."

Angus: "Fun-loving, hard-working, easygoing, always trying to maintain a sense of fun."

Steve: (somewhere in the background) "Fun-loving, hard-working ..." (fades away).

How did the idea of adding the didgeridoo come about?

Brother: "It's a very good compliment to the sound of the bagpipes. They are both very elemental. Furthermore, it is also part of our heritage."

How big are you in Australia?

Hamish: "One of our albums got really great press. We were sometimes stopped in the streets by fans and asked where they could get our albums. Unfortunately, the label forgot to stock up on CDs. We mainly perform in North America now."

What is your favorite sound?

Hamish: "Warble of magpies early in the morning."

Angus: "Surf crashing."

What is your least favorite sound?

Hamish: "Feedbacks."

Angus: "Car alarms."

What other profession would you be in if you were not a musician?

Hamish: "A writer -- or a housewife."

Angus: "A garbage collector."

Hamish: (laughing) "He has always been jealous of me having that job."

What is your favorite curse word?

Hamish: "Bloody."

Angus: "Golly gosh!" (This came complete with a very elaborate twist of the mouth and facial expression, Australian accent notwithstanding.)

If you were to die today and went to heaven, and you met God, what is the first thing that you would like to hear him say to you?

Hamish: "Hamish, my man! How're they hang'in?!"

Angus: "Greetings, Angus. Here's your first Guiness."

The Houston weather was kind enough to bless us with a warm evening with some clouds and cool wind. More importantly, since the concert was outdoors, the lack of rain was a double blessing.

The band opened with the sounds of Hamish and Angus' bagpipes, with Steve providing the running harmonies from his guitar. After about four minutes of some of the best sounds ever produced by two pipes, the two brothers changed instruments, with Hamish on guitar and Angus on the electric bass, and started to sing.

Their blending was perfect, evident of years of practice. Unlike most groups, where there is a designated lead singer, both took center stage, with the other doing backup vocals when necessary. Even without the drums, one could still feel the beat, lead delicately by the strumming of the guitars and the rhythm of the bass, with the very occasional tapping of the foot on the wooden stage floor. The band utilized the surrounding acoustics to their fullest potential.

Brother switched its instruments with ease, from guitar to bagpipes to didgeridoo, mesmerizing its audience with earthly sounds and great harmonies. As the band belted out its signature songs one after another, part of the audience began showing its appreciation by dancing some Gaelic steps at the square in front of the stage. The audience was very much alive by this point.

Overall, it was a great evening spent in the company of an outstanding band, some lovely dancers and good beer. 

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