Enter the Haggis Stuart M. Berg photo

I’ve been a fan of the following band for decades now so when I found out that Enter The Haggis was returning to Maine for a show at the Waterville Opera House, I just had to chat with them again. The Toronto-based sextet is made up of newcomer Rose Baldino (fiddle, vocals), Bruce McCarthy (drums, vocals), Craig Downie (harmonica, trumpet, bagpipes, vocals), Brian Buchanan (vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar), Mark Abraham (bass, vocals), and Trevor Lewington (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar). On the 3rd of this month, I reached Lewington at his home in London, Ontario, Canada, by phone to talk about his band’s new album, “The Archer’s Parade,” and the subsequent tour as well as pandemic problems and his thoughts about returning to the WOH in a month, which was the opening topic.

Q: You’ve played down at the Waterville Opera House before, have you not?
Lewington: Yeah, a number of times, I don’t know how many but we’ve always enjoyed it. We love these historic buildings, it’s a real labor of love for people to keep the doors open, it’s just a giant expense so it really takes everybody in the community to keep the doors open on those places.

Q: You know, I don’t remember the last time I talked with you folks, but I do remember the first time.
Lewington: (Chuckle) Oh, when was that?

Q: Well, I don’t recall the year but it was a performance at the Saltwater Celtic Festival down at Thomas Point Beach, and you had just released your first DVD.
Lewington: Wow! That came out in 2004!

Q: Yeah, I guess it has been that long. Now, the last album of yours I’ve heard was “Cheers and …”
Lewington: Oh, “Cheers and Echoes.”

Q: Yeah, that’s the one.
Lewington: That was a 20-year retrospective that we put out in 2016.

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Q: What have you done since then?
Lewington: Well, we did an EP, a seven-song disc called “Broken Arms,” and then we did a full-length album that came out just as the cusp of the pandemic. We were touring in March of 2020, that was kind of our start of the CD release tour and also the start of the pandemic, so not fortuitous timing (chuckle) but that’s okay, we just kind of treated it like a pause in the action. The couple of times we’ve been able to go out since, which have not been many times, we’ve considered ourselves back on the road releasing that album, “The Archer’s Parade.” A lot of the songs are still very new for people and they’re still new to us, as well.

Q: Does that present a problem for you?
Lewington: A lot of our catalogue, a lot of the songs that we play night to night when we’re out touring as much as we do,we don’t have to worry about it too much, but when we’ve got newer songs and we’re not playing, it’s tough, we really need to go out and rehearse together first, which is tricky for us because we’re so dispersed geographically in terms of where we live at this point.

Q: Now, the first time I interview ETH it was the bassist, Mark Abraham, who I believe was a Mainer, correct?
Lewington: Well, he isn’t from Maine but he is from the East Coast, from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, he grew up there and then moved out to Ontario where we got the group together. It was a few years later we started touring in the US and he met a woman from Maine and they’ve been happily married since. So he became a Mainer that way. It’s a bit of a homecoming for him to be back on the East Coast when we get to Maine.

Q: Now, during the pandemic did you find yourself in a more creative mood, entrenching yourself in your studio and writing songs and stuff like that?
Lewington: Oh, very much so. I’m writing songs all the time and working in the studio all the time, and having more time to do that helped put things into perspective. So, yes, I have entrenched myself in the artistic endeavors; but I’m fortunate, I didn’t have to go out on a Monday-to-Friday job, I’ve been able to pursue all this stuff.

Q: Well, seeing your band hasn’t really been able to tour and support your latest album due to COVID, it’s probably not the time to ask if you guys are working on something new, right?
Lewington: Well, there’s kind of a pace to these things where you have to let the songs go out on their own and do their thing, so I don’t think we’re at the point where we’re ready to go back in the studio yet. And, yes, you can record remotely where somebody does the drums and emails them to somebody else and what not. That’s fine, that’s definitely a legit way to do things these days, but I think the band would rather be playing in a room together and recording all together as much as possible. So I think we’ll probably have to wait until the pandemic is in the past before we get together and start working on new music together.

Q: That makes infinite sense, better to not risk getting sick and losing even more time.
Lewington: It’s hard to know what to do, yeah.

Q: Well, seeing you have been to the Waterville Opera House before, is there anything, Trevor, that you’d like me to pass on to the folks reading this article?
Lewington: Umm, just that we’re looking forward to seeing people, if they feel safe enough to join us. I know a lot of venues are taking COVID very seriously and we do, as well, as a band, we definitely minimize risk with what we’re doing.

Lucky Clark, a 2018 “Keeping the Blues Alive” Award winner, has spent more than 50 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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