July 1st marks 15 years that the band Off Kilter has entertained countless visitors with their trademark high kicks and hijinks on their home stage in the Canada pavilion in Epcot.
While the band has grown in popularity, (in fact, many would argue it is the best entertainment in Epcot), it has not outgrown its original concept. Did you know that founder Jamie Holton began playing bagpipes when he was just 11 years old?!
AllEars Senior Editor Deb Koma interviewed founder Jamie Holton back in 2001!
"My parents come from a Scottish background and loved bagpipes, so I started studying how to play them when I was young," he explains. After winning the first competition he ever entered, he "continued up the competition ladder," searching for the best teachers and playing in a pipe band in Daytona Beach.
In 1990, Jamie, by then an accomplished piper, was able to convert his unusual skill into a full-time position at Walt Disney World, when he became a member of the Caledonian Bagpipe Trio, which performed in World Showcase. The following year he traveled to Tokyo Disneyland, where he originated the Fantasyland Bagpiper, a solo act that combined piping with comedy.
Jamie Holton on the left
By 1996, Jamie started to develop an idea he'd had: to blend his love of bagpipes and traditional Celtic music with rock-and-roll to create a band with a "world music" sound. He met Irishman Mark Weldon, a musician (and former All-Ireland motocross champion) with a wealth of Celtic musical knowledge, and the two began talking about the concept. They shared their growing excitement with keyboardist Tony Escapa, recruited lead guitarist Randy Holbrook and drummer Scott Zymowski, who had been working in a band at Disney's Pleasure Island.
Here's a look back at some of the coverage and photos of Off Kilter that we've shared on AllEars.
Blogger Jack Spence highlighted them when discussing the Canada Pavilion:
In 1997, the Celtic-rock band Off Kilter was formed and became a permanent fixture at Epcot. Besides drums, fiddles, and guitars, bagpipes are a part of the instrumental makeup. The group became so popular that a permanent stage (The Mill Stage) and seating was erected shortly after their arrival. Although they perform a wide range of songs, they generally try to present pieces from Canadian artist and composers.
And our photobloggers have made Off Kilter their focus on several occasions:
Tony Escapa is the band's keyboardist.
Randy Holbrook, lead guitarist
Copyright © 2007 Barrie Brewer, Nikon D50, 18-200VR, 1/160s shutter, f6.3
Founder Jamie Holton
Photo Blogger Scott Thomas created this "postcard" of the band!
Lead by singer and bagpipe player, Jamie Holton (upper right below), Off Kilter's unmistakable sound pulls people in and their fun on stage presence keeps them there. Along with Jamie, (from top left) bass guitarist Mark Weldon, master guitarist Randy Holbrook and keyboardist Tony Escapa. Not pictured is drummer Scott Zymowski. Click the Photo for a Larger Version.
Jamie recalls, "When we approached Disney with the idea, they were very supportive -- they told us they trusted us to do a good job with it." When they finally auditioned, Holton says they were enthusiastically welcomed. "As far as I know, we're the first band here that was ever listened to and hired on the same day," he adds.
Check the Epcot Times Guide to see when Off Kilter is playing!
Off Kilter's website: http://www1.offkilter.net/index.html
Their CDs are sold at the Kiosks in the Canadian Pavilion in Epcot.
Everyone at AllEars® wishes Off Kilter continued success!!!
The previous post in this blog was BRAVE - A Review of the Movie.
The next post in this blog is July 4th Celebrations in Epcot.