The Chieftains

I achieved two of my bucket list “to dos” Monday I made it to FSU Seven Days of Opening Nights and saw The Chieftains.  I stumbled across the performance schedule in November  and saw them, I went to the seating chart immediately and there were only a handful of adjoining seats left I jumped on 2 in the orchestra. I have wanted to go to one of these shows  ever since I missed Ben Bradley in the 80’s. And I have always loved the Chieftains music; they are a unique and wonderfully talented group, providing a universal example of global camaraderie and collaboration.

Ruby Diamond has been upgraded since my last visit 30 years ago. It is a very comfortable auditorium seating 1200 and the acoustics and ambience are first rate.  Tallahassee is fortunate to have a venue like this; many communities of similar size do not.  As the Democrat article says, the show was sold out; I didn’t see an empty seat.

The performance was worthy of any audience anywhere in the world. These musicians are very talented professionals and play with a high amount of energy. They keep the audience engaged by invigorating the “traditional” Irish Celtic folk music with lively dancing from the youthful members and haunting Acapellas in Celtic dialects.  This performance incorporated local dance and bagpipes groups, adding a nice touch to an already entertaining evening.

The Chieftains have performed with the best musicians in the world form Pavarotti to Mick Jagger, and in the most exalted venues from the Great Wall of China to the Pope and The Queen of England. They even won an Oscar for the soundtrack for Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. I don’t know how the folks at Seven Days signed them up but I am forever grateful to have seen them.



Royal Lipizzan Stallions


Recently I learned from a neighbor that the Royal Lipizzan Stallions have their winter headquarters in Myakka City near Bradenton which is a drive of about 80 miles from home. He had just returned from watching them train. They have rehearsal shows open to the public Thursday, Friday and Saturday during the winter months. These shows are free, they ask only for a $5 donation which they collect by passing a bucket around.  You can see from the web site that they travel during the summer and fall months and perform around the country.

Last Friday we went down to see them. It was a beautiful cloudless day with a high temperature of about 70, so in other words ideal weather. We took folding chairs and joined about 1200 others to watch the show. There were bleachers which were full when we arrived. The crowd was all retirees with a small mix of Mennonite’s and Amish farmers who live in the area. It was very laid back.

The horses are breathtakingly beautiful and majestic. The show consists of about an hours’ worth of performances highlighting the style and grace of the stallions. Their maneuvers are well described on the web site.

The stallions weigh in at about 1200 lbs. when fully grown. Males are born with brown or grey hair which turns to white at around year 7. The average life expectancy is 40-42 years. One recently lived to 55.  The horses were bred for war and, preceded the invention of gunpowder on the field of battle, became a terrifying engine of war against foot soldiers.  Their leaping kicks with front AND back legs could destroy a field formation with fearsome rapidity. 

They survived WWII thanks to George Patton, who having learned of them from a captive German Officer, declared them wards of the US Army and enabled their rescue from advancing Russian forces. They eventually wound up near Myakka City and are a real Florida treasure.