Wake The Bard on the show Community playing as a band called “Green Daye.”
The band’s current logo.
Wake the Bard in performance in front of the Black Dog Social Club.
Wake the Bard live in Hemet.
(Photos courtesy of Sandi Huckaby)
Wake the Bard celebrates its 20th anniversary
By Julianne Homokay
Special to The Alpine Mountaineer
“Without our traditions, our lives would be a shaky as… a fiddler on the roof!” goes the opening song from the musical Fiddler On The Roof. Wake The Bard, a Celtic band based in Green Valley Lake, strives to keep musical traditions alive. In doing so, Wake The Bard has become a tradition itself.
The band’s 20th anniversary performance is scheduled to take place from 7 to 9:30 p.m. on St. Patrick’s Day at Green Valley Lake’s Black Dog Social Club.
The group of musicians describes itself on its Facebook page as “the hardest working Irish band in SoCal… or at least our immediate neighborhood.” The band got its start about 20 years ago after Sandi Huckaby and her husband, Pat, retired to Green Valley Lake. They were from the Los Angeles area and didn’t know many people in the community, despite the fact they had been coming up for vacation every year since their honeymoon in 1969.
“We have to play some music!” the couple said to themselves, and so they approached the manager at The Malt Shop and asked to play some tunes on St. Patrick’s Day. Other musicians who came by asked to join in and, little by little, this gathering of musicians became a regular occurrence. The Huckabys began to put together a book of tunes and the gatherings became an excuse to get together, enjoy the music and enjoy each others’ company. Eventually, someone in the group said, “Let’s form a band!”
This band soon got hired and began to play gigs in Green Valley Lake and beyond, including a venue in Reno, Nev., outdoor concerts in Pasadena and many, many pubs, especially around St. Patrick’s Day. As regular members came and went, “we got some professionals and members who really worked at it,” says Huckaby. Twenty years later, Wake The Bard itself is now a tradition in Green Valley Lake and around Southern California, especially on the one day a year everyone gets to be Irish.
The band’s unique name means a lot to its members. They felt they were bringing back an old tradition, so they wanted the name to reflect that. According to Huckaby, “The person who held the traditions in Ireland, the storyteller of common folklore, was the bard.” Bards commonly accompanied themselves on instruments such as the harp, so the storytelling and the music went hand-in-hand. Bards were also targeted by British colonialists who were trying to eradicate Irish culture, so they became important figures in helping to preserve Irish traditions. “We needed to use the word,” says Huckaby.
As the band wanted to revive, or wake up, traditional Irish music on the mountain, they wanted to incorporate “wake” as well. Given that the “wake” is also a popular and longstanding tradition in Irish culture after a death in the family, the word has a double-meaning for the band. Hence, “Wake The Bard.”
The band’s current roster includes Huckaby on hammered dulcimer; her husband, Patrick, Huckaby, who is also a member of the Green Valley Lake-based band Deep Creek, on vocals and guitar; Liz Chesney on flute and vocals; her husband, Chris Chesney, on violin and bodhran; Margaret Leahy on violin; and her husband, Dan Leahy, on banjo, dobro, guitar and vocals.
According to Pat Huckaby, who can often be found working sound for live musical events at the Black Dog Social Club, it will be free to come in to see the band; the Club will have food and drinks for purchase.
For more information on Wake The Bard, visit the band’s Facebook page at facebook.com/wakethebard. For more information on events at the Black Dog Social Club or to inquire about Wake The Bard’s performance, text (949) 735-3324 or visit blackdogsocialclub.com.