Wicked Tinkers bring tribal Celtic music to Carson City for Levitt AMP series

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The Wicked Tinkers are coming to Carson City for the first time. The tribal Celtic band performs Saturday as part of the Levitt AMP Concert Series hosted by the Brewery Arts Center.

The Wicked Tinkers are not your ordinary Celtic pipe band. Their style of music is pre-traditional, as in what people were doing thousands of years before formal music was put together for the military.

“We’re so old-school we’re preschool, is what we say,” said Aaron Shaw, a founding member of the band.

The band’s core is two pipes and two drums. Shaw performs on bagpipes, trumps and vocals. The band features a didgeridoo and a Bronze-age horn, played by CJ Henderson. Keith Jones is on snares and percussion and Tiki King plays the tapan, a bass drum and raconteur.

The band’s live performance is engaging, and their style comes from their roots as street performers. They will be all over the stage, and sometimes they’ll bring their instruments into the audience.

Shaw said the live performance is not static. He prides himself that no two shows are the same.

“We try to entertain ourselves and I think if we succeed at that then other people can come along with us,” he said. “We’re having a party and you’re invited.”

He said they keep things fresh by writing a new setlist for every show. If they’re at a festival and have three performances throughout the weekend, they won’t repeat any songs.

“We’re just trying to keep ourselves entertained,” he said. “Our ADHD is so profound that we can’t do the same thing over and over — it doesn’t work for us.”

The band started in 1995. Shaw is the only original member. They have put out seven albums, five from the studio and two live albums. Besides having a large discography to help mold shows, the years have also made the band feel more comfortable on stage. Shaw said the only downside he’s had with getting older is that the band doesn’t jump from table to table as well as they used to.

Shaw said the band still loves what they do, and if anything has changed, it’s that they sing more than they used to. They enjoy playing their instruments and the songs they play. Shaw said a goal of theirs will be to go on a European tour. He has played there himself, but not together as the Wicked Tinkers.

“I think we would like to continue doing what we do and keeping it fresh and making more friends,” he said.

Shaw also has some ties to Hollywood. He’s performed on “American Idol,” “The Tonight Show,” “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson,” “Friends” and more. He’s recorded with many artists including Bonnie Raitt. He said most of that experience helped him by being restrictive. He was limited in the songs he could perform, and everything was very scripted.

“I would have to perform in a specific way and I can’t mess up,” he said.

He says it is more fun to do the Wicked Tinkers stuff because they get to do what they want.

The band is excited to come to Carson City. The last time they played in the area was in Reno a few years ago for the Highland Games.

“We’re looking forward to getting out there and making some noise and having fun with folks.”


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