Pure Appalachian Rock
Winter Springs Fl. Jan. 18th,2020
As Saturday approached, it occurred to me that I had this date circled on the calendar for close to a year. It was last January when I came across the band, Tuatha Dea, while attending the Central Florida Scottish Highland Games. Their energy and unique style make them a must-see band on any music fan’s list. Celtic, Tribal, Gypsy Rock, with an Appalachian twist, is how the band describes their special brand of music.
Tuatha Dea call Gatlinburg, Tennessee, home. Their name comes from a Gaelic phrase meaning “children of the gods.” In 2017, the band released the song Appalachia Burning, in response to the fires that devastated the area. They have had numerous successful albums, including Kilts and Corsets, which was produced by Grammy nominated Travis Wyrick.
So who exactly are Tuatha Dea? The answer is quite simple: Family. Sisters Rebecca Holman Mullikin and Katherine Holman are the dynamic vocalists that drive the band. Rebecca’s soulful voice is always on display even when she leaves the stage to dart through the crowd. Katherine brings a sultry tone that knows no bounds.
Danny Mullikin, Rebecca’s husband, describes himself as “the ring leader” and is the band’s lead writer, guitarist and hand drummer. Danny’s daughter, Tesea, was one of the original founding members and served as flutist and bass guitarist. Danny’s son Brandon was another founding member and guitarist. Although he does not tour, he is still valued member.
Chris Bush is a jack of all trades who plays the bagpipes, didgeridoo, penny whistle, flute, djembe and spoons. He and Katherine comprise the second couple in the group. Adam Ogle plays guitar and is involved with writing duties as well. Laura Smith is an accomplished fiddler who earned a BA in music performance at the prestigious Berklee College of Music.
Brett Maney is the band’s original drummer. He hails from Asheville, North Carolina, and was in several different groups before finding a home in Tuatha Dea. Jeremiah Waldo is the newcomer to the group and has already established himself as a beast on the bass guitar.
The band’s thirty-minute set was even more entertaining than I remembered. Whether delivering powerful melodic ballads or high energy rock-n-roll, Tuatha Dea was there to please and the crowd was not disappointed. Not to be restricted by stage boundaries, band members frequently came out to perform amongst the crowd. Live performances are Tuatha Dea’s bread and butter and audience participation is a must. To close out their set, the band announced they’d be playing something Irish. What followed was a high-octane version of Thin Lizzy’s Whiskey in the Jar. I later heard that they finished another set that night with AC/DC’s Long Way to the Top. Safe to say that I already have them marked on next year’s calendar.