Enter the Haggis

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Enter the Haggis
Enter The Haggis Promo 2014.jpg
Enter the Haggis in 2012. From left to right: Bruce McCarthy, Craig Downie, Brian Buchanan, Trevor Lewington, and Mark Abraham.
Background information
Also known as Jubilee Riots
Origin Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Genres Celtic rock
Folk rock
Indie rock
Roots rock
Years active 1995 to present
Website www.enterthehaggis.com
Members Brian Buchanan
Craig Downie
Trevor Lewington
Mark Abraham
Bruce McCarthy
Past members Duncan Cameron
James Campbell
Ken Horne
Rob McCrady
Owen Pallett
Tom Paterson
Donald Quan

Enter the Haggis is a Canadian Celtic rock band based in Toronto. The band was founded in 1995 by Craig Downie, the only remaining original member in the lineup. The band currently consists of Downie (highland bagpipes, vocals), Brian Buchanan (vocals, fiddle, guitar), Trevor Lewington (vocals, guitar), Mark Abraham (bass), and Bruce McCarthy (drums). Their eighth and latest studio album Penny Black was released in 2014 under the Jubilee Riots name.


Craig Downie was born in Scotland and raised in Canada. He started playing bagpipes when he joined a pipe band at 12 years old. After pursuing an acting career in the early 1990s, Downie formed Enter the Haggis in Toronto in 1995 shortly before the band's first performance.[1][2] The name was chosen as a humorous reference to the 1973 kung-fu film Enter the Dragon.[3]

The band's first release Let the Wind Blow High was released in 1998 on Rel Records. This was followed by Aerials in 2002, which was the first studio release with the lineup consisting of Downie, Buchanan, Lewington, Abraham, and drummer James Campbell. This lineup would remain unchanged until Campbell's departure in 2010.

In July 2003 the band played a show to about 20,000 people at the annual Mayor's Cup festival in Plattsburgh, New York. At the show, the band was approached with the offer to film a live show for release as a DVD special to PBS. In December that year, the band returned to Plattsburgh and recorded two nights of shows at Plattsburgh State University's Hartman Theater. The Live at Lanigan's Ball special was released on DVD and to PBS and aired on many stations across the US. This exposure opened up further tours in the United States in subsequent years.

Enter the Haggis' third studio album Casualties of Retail was released in 2005, followed by Soapbox Heroes in 2006, both on the United for Opportunity record label. In 2006 the band performed two songs on Breakfast with the Arts, "Gasoline" from Casualties of Retail and "One Last Drink" from Soapbox Heroes. In March 2007 the band performed on Live with Regis and Kelly, playing "One Last Drink" and "Minstrel Boy" (from Casualties).[4] Gutter Anthems was released in 2009, again on United for Opportunity.

On August 10, 2010 James Campbell, the band's drummer of eleven years, announced that he would be retiring from professional music and from Enter the Haggis. Campbell cited his desire to work in air traffic control and the lack of time he would have to be trained in the coming years as he grew older as the primary reasons for his retirement. Following his final performance on September 18, 2010, long-time friend Bruce McCarthy has since assumed the position as the band's percussionist.[5]

Enter the Haggis live in 2011. From left to right: Trevor Lewington, Brian Buchanan, Craig Downie, Mark Abraham, and Bruce McCarthy.

Starting with Whitelake in 2011, Enter the Haggis's three most recent studio albums have been funded using online crowdfunding techniques, using Bandzoogle, Kickstarter, and PledgeMusic. The band raised over $40,000 which they used to produce Whitelake.[3] The album was named after White Lake, Ontario near where the recording studio was located, in which Buchanan capsized his canoe in the near-freezing water and had to swim to shore.[6]

In July 2012, the band launched a campaign on Kickstarter to raise the funds needed to produce The Modest Revolution, a concept album with songs all inspired by articles from a March 30, 2012 edition of The Globe and Mail.[7] The band achieved their initial $20,000 goal within the first 12 hours and reached a total of $66,035 from 895 backers by completion of the campaign.[8] The album was released in 2013, along with the Live at Saint Claire live album and concert film that was funded by stretch goals of the same campaign.

On November 1, 2013, Enter the Haggis launched a campaign on PledgeMusic, called "The Penny Black Project", to create a new album based on story submissions from their fans.[9]

In September 2014, it was announced via social media and their website that the band will be retiring the Enter the Haggis name and recording and performing as Jubilee Riots. The name change was made to reflect the changes in the band's sound away from Celtic rock to include other influences. In the announcement they described their old name as "paint[ing] a one-dimensional picture that doesn't represent our varied musical influences."[10] Buchanan explained in an interview that the name "Enter the Haggis" was confusing to new fans who would come to the music with a preconceived notion of what the band would sound like, and that the new name allowed them to redefine their identity in the types of music they played. "Jubilee Riots" is a reference to the 1875 riots in Toronto that Buchanan described as a "formative event in Canadian-Irish history".[11] The band's last show before changing their name took place on October 11 at the Westcott Theater in Syracuse, New York, which was recorded as the live album Live at the Westcott which was released the following year.

Penny Black, the first album incorporating the marked change in sound, was released under the Jubilee Riots name in November 2014. It peaked at #9 on Billboard's Heatseekers Albums chart the week of November 22nd.[12][13]

In November 2015 the band announced a return to Celtic rock influences and the Enter the Haggis name. The announcement coincided with the release of Cheers and Echoes, a compilation album consisting of songs spanning the period of 1998 to 2015.

Band members[edit]

Current members

Former members

  • Duncan Cameron – fiddle
  • James Campbell – drums (1999–2010)
  • Ken Horne – drums (1995–1999)
  • Rob McCrady – bass guitar, vocals
  • Owen Pallett – fiddle
  • Tom Paterson – guitar
  • Donald Quan – multi-instrumentalist


Studio albums

Live albums

  • ETH Live!, 2002
  • Northampton, 2007
  • 2012 Live, 2012
  • Live at Saint Claire, 2013
  • Live at the Westcott, 2015

Compilation albums

  • Cheers and Echoes, 2015

Extended plays

  • Alternates, 2009
  • Valentine's Day EP, 2014
  • Penny Red (as Jubilee Riots), 2014


  • Live at Lanigan's Ball, 2003
  • Live at The Real Room, 2009
  • Live at Saint Claire, 2014


External links[edit]