The Rogues and Clandestine are both Celtic bands from Texas, and their origins overlap. The band that in 2001 is the Rogues was originally formed in 1987, and at that time, was called Clandestine. Initially comprised of Lars Sloan, E. J. Jones, Randy Wothke, and J.W. McCormick, they played the Renaissance Festival circuit, performing mostly traditional pipe and drum music. Then in 1993, Jones departed, to attend Carnegie Mellon University. Thomas Campbell joined to replace him. Next, Lars Sloan and J.W. McCormick left. Sloan also chose to reserve the right to the use of the name Clandestine in the future. The remaining members needed a new name, and at Sharon Wothke's suggestion, chose the the Scottish Rogues. The lineup at that time was Randy Wothke, Tom Campbell, the returned E.J. Jones, and Paul Rendon. During this first year together as the Scottish Rogues, they did not record any albums. It was also then that Bryan Blaylock first introduced himself to the revised group, bringing in a bodhran. In the summer of 1995, Paul Rendon and E. J. Jones left. Jones then contacted Jennifer Hamill, whom he knew from attending Carnegie Mellon. They and Lars Sloan together formed a new group using the Clandestine name. The remaining members of the Scottish Rogues, Wothke and Tom Campbell, invited Jimmy Mitchell and Bryan Blaylock to join the group. They recorded their first album in August of 1995 and released it on tape only at Texas Renaissance Festival. At this time, the band began to expand their touring circuit by traveling to such venues as Scarborough Faire, Castle at Muskogee, Dickens on the Strand in Galveston, and Victorian Christmas in Austin.
In March of 1996, the band made a CD version of their first album, self-titled The Rogues, which was released on St. Patrick's Day in Houston. By the end of Scarborough Faire in 1996, Jimmy Mitchell decided to leave, so the band invited Lars Sloan to join them. The revised band made their debut at the Maryland Renaissance Festival and Kansas City Renaissance Festival the fall of 1996. The Scottish Rogues also recorded their second album that summer, and released Hollerin' for Haggis at T.R.F. in the fall. In early 1997, the band expanded its travels to include Norman Medieval Faire and the USCO Highland Games in Oklahoma. In late June 1997, Tom Campbell left the band and moved to Oklahoma, helping to form the 32nd Street Pipe and Drum Corps in Oklahoma City. Jimmy Mitchell then rejoined the group, which decided to officially change their name to simply the Rogues. They expanded their tour to include new gigs at Bristol Renaissance Faire, Great Lakes Medieval Faire in Ohio, and the new faire in Ontario, Canada. It was in Canada that they paired up with the Tartan Terrors, a band they'd performed with in Maryland the previous season. The first Ceilidh show with the Tartan Terrors was given in August of 1997 in Burlington, Ontario. That performance became the band's third CD, Live in Canada, Eh?
In January of 1999, the Rogues recorded Off Kilter to release in late March. Prior to the release date, in conjunction with Hamilton Productions, they sponsored a Celtic Caribbean cruise. Off Kilter gained nominations for Grammy awards in the Best New Artist and Best Contemporary Folk, but did not make the final ballot. Then in March of 2000, the Rogues and Hamilton Productions invited the Blarney Brothers and Six Mile Bridge along on their second Celtic Cruise. 2001 saw them traveling to Scotland, as well as continuing their extensive travels on the Renaissance Festival circuit. ~ Murrday Fisher
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