Southwest Celtic Music Association (2009)*
CD review written by Becky Trotter

This is the eighth album for this band from Houston, Texas and Ontario, Canada who this year marks their 15th anniversary. It also marks the return of Jimmy Mitchell to the fold after a short absence to do some solo work.

All the cuts are clean, scrupulously produced works with care taken to modify the high range of the bagpipes. The pipe unisons are completely in tune, and the drone is pulled to the background so that the melody is most present. There is also an appreciation for the bass quality of the drum work without becoming “boomy,” even at oh-my-god-I-love-that decibel levels. This clarity could make the album a little cold and feel distant, but fans of The Rogues will recognize the energy that characterizes all their live shows.

Some notes as I listen the umpteenth time: Steam Train slowly gains momentum from the first notes to the in-your-face bagpipes and a driving mixture of drums that make The Rogues a fan favorite at Renaissance Fairs, folk music festivals and pubs all across the US and Canada.

Aidan’s Hornpipe, Celtic Goulash and the title tune American Highlander are memorable because of the set dance feel of these cuts. Dirty Linen Magazine has called this album “Outstanding” and frankly I’m running out of superlatives to add to it.

Cut Four 153 (The Simpleton’s Lament) highlights band member Nelson Stewart’s singer/songwriter talents, and is quite a departure from the tone and scope of the rest of the album. While describing himself “as deep as a puddle,” the simpleton declares his love: “She is the best thing about today, I can’t turn my back and walk away.  She might be wrong, but she’s usually right/I just want to hold her through the night.” Lovely fun that takes Rogues fans where they seem more than willing to go.

The Waterfall is one of the four original tunes from percussionist and founding member Randy Wothke on the album. All this piece needs is a movie set to grace. It is paired with a fun David McInerny piece, the Glayva Kid.

Don’t Look Down, continues the original tunes from Wothke with a nice bit of syncopation in the pipes and some very good bodhran work. Throughout this album, Wothke’s rudimentary snare drumming shows finesse and great control and is every bit as good as you would expect from this accomplished musician and teacher.

Expect cut seven to be fun. It is the traditional The Rights of Man, and takes the tune from an 80 beat a minute hornpipe to a 138 (or so) reel in four verses. We hear Irish fiddle, whistle, accordion and other instruments done in a pub style with a live audience. Great crowd reactions and amazing (what else would you expect on this album?) musicians.

Jimmy’s Reel Set. Wow. No, really. Wow. It has bodhran in it. More wow.

Cut Ten is J. Geil’s Band Centerfold. With the pipes doing the intro na-NA-na-na-na-na thing.

As I listened to this CD, I became aware that even those folks who don’t care for bagpipes will probably enjoy this one, simply because it is so well done.

For more information on The Rogues, their tour dates and how to purchase albums, go to They will be at the North Texas Irish Festival in early March. Go to a set and enjoy the energy and craftsmanship of one of our best.

*In October of 2012 The Rogues split.  Nelson Stewart and other members continued to perform as The American Rogues.  Randy Wothke and other musicians continued as The Rogues.
Note: The American Rogues own "American Highlander".