Enter the Haggis gives the news a melody

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Entertainment,Music,Nancy Dunham

You have to give fate more than a dose of credit for the songs on "The Modest Revolution," the upcoming release by Enter the Haggis.

On something of a whim, the band members randomly selected a date and newspaper -- the March 30, 2012, edition of Toronto's Globe and Mail -- and wrote songs based on that day's news. So committed were they to the project that they preordered 1,500 copies of the newspaper for the first 1,500 fans who receive the release, which is slated for March 30.

"I didn't expect to get into an album so soon after 'White Lake,' and just as a fun sort of writing project I started writing as many songs as I could [about] a guy coming back to Toronto after many years," said songwriter, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Trevor Lewington, inspired by his own relocation. "I had this whole storyline planned out and I was writing songs at the time with a concept in mind. So when we decided on the Globe and Mail concept, the wheels were in motion."

Not that those creative wheels ever slow very much. Anyone who has attended an Enter the Haggis concert knows that the band and its fans -- many who don Celtic outfits for the shows -- seem connected by a creative energy. Indeed, Lewington said fans often inspire songs and projects, including the band's exclusive fan excursions to Ireland and other countries.

Onstage
Enter the Haggis
» Where: The Barns at Wolf Trap, 1635 Trap Road, Vienna
» When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
» Info: $22; 877-965-3872; wolftrap.org

Any doubters of Enter the Haggis' strong ties to its fans need only consider the Kickstarter campaign the group launched to raise $20,000 to fund this upcoming release. Fan contributions exceeded the goal within 11 hours, said Lewington, who reminisced about the band members' disbelief as they watched the contributions soar. Soon they were ready to launch the songwriting and recording.

"It was a bit scary going into it," said Lewington of perusing the preselected newspaper from which the bandmates built the songs. "There was a lot of dry [financial analysis], but there were also a lot of personal interest stories that were interesting."

A 65-year-old woman's decision to climb the highest peak on each continent, the obituary of banjo great Earl Scruggs and even a story about concussions athletes suffer during hockey games all made for song fodder.

On this tour, Enter the Haggis will treat fans to more visual staging than the band has in the past, to connect the songs to the stories that inspired them.

"We feel like we have really stepped it up," Lewington said. "This definitely feels more like a production; it's the first time we've ever done something like this."

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Nancy Dunham

Examiner Correspondent
The Washington Examiner