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The Secret Commonwealth has been Middle Tennessee’s most enduringly popular Celtic band for nearly two decades. This band’s mix of original and traditional music and its blend of American and European folk styles keeps the music fresh and unpredictable even as it celebrates its origins in the music of Ireland and Scotland.
“Celto-eclectic” is the term the band members use most often to describe the Secret Commonwealth sound. The celtic music forms the core of the band’s repertoire, but at any given show, the audience might be treated to side-trips into blues, country, even a bit of rock ‘n roll once in a while. Secret Commonwealth doesn’t adhere to a “purist” approach to traditional music; rather, they enjoy proving that the music still lives and breathes with possibilities, which is why it’s not unusual to hear them slip an electric “surf-guitar” break into the middle of an Irish trad instrumental!
The Secret Commonwealth was born in 1993 with a sole purpose: to play a St. Patrick’s Day party! The initial trio consisted of Jack Hunter Daves, Jr., Rob Campbell, and Troy Guinn, and the response they had to the set of Irish tunes they played at their first performance was so enthusiastic that they began to play shows at local venues on the MTSU campus. The band grew from a trio to as many as eight members at one point, and their annual St. Patrick’s Day shows in Murfreesboro have resulted in a packed house every year. They also recorded two albums, a self-titled debut in 1997, and “The Uninvited Guest” (2002) a concept album collecting their many Halloween and supernatural-themed original songs.
Like most long-running bands, TSC has had its share of tragedy, and in August of 2004, founding member Jack Hunter Daves, Jr. died after a brief illness. The band went on hiatus to heal from this loss and to explore other musical projects. Their loyal fans continued to clamor for their return, and that wish was granted when the band re-formed in 2007, this time bolstered greatly by the inclusion of two long-time friends and veteran musicians, singer-songwriter Uncle Don Clark and multi-instrumentalist Franko Hashiguchi.
Because of the band’s democratic philosophy, each new member is encouraged to contribute material and bring their own musical background and style of playing into the mix; a big reason why TSC has the energy and edge of a new band even as it nears its twentieth year of performing.
Secret Commonwealth celebrated its 20th anniversary in March of 2013 with the release of a third album, "Last Call".