Colgate’s Cup of Tea: Wood’s Tea Company Returns to Colgate



Elsie Denton

Colgate has many traditions, like not going to football games, stealing ketchup from the O’Connor Campus Center (COOP) and an abnormal infatuation with the number 13. However, one of the school’s most cherished traditions takes place just once per semester. Excited students, teachers and fans gather together in a tightly packed Donovan’s Pub to eagerly await the arrival of Wood’s Tea Company. Or at least that is what normally happens. This semester’s showing was woeful by comparison; well over half the seats were left empty and much of Colgate Activity Board’s (CAB’s) freely provided pizza was left uneaten. The band, however, seemed more fazed by the lack of pie than by the unimpressive turnout.

Pie, you see, is another fine Colgate tradition. Long before current Colgate students even enrolled at Colgate, someone started bringing home-baked pies to Wood’s Tea concerts to exchange for CDs. This custom has blossomed and grown to such an extent that the band now finds itself accosted at concerts across the country by energetic Colgate alumni proffering pies.

With all this hype, Wood’s Tea Company’s newest member Patty Casey’s first comment about Colgate is perhaps no surprise.

“Where is the pie?” Casey said.

Wood’s Tea Company plays a rather unique brand of music. Irish jigs and New England folk blend together in a variety of witty, funny and sometimes sad. During the show last Thursday, Wood’s Tea thrilled the crowd with old time favorites like “The Cat Came Back” and “The Old Dun Cow,” which had everyone clapping and singing along. During the classic “Alberta Bound,” everyone got up and spun about the room. The band also showcased a few new pieces that Casey brought with her such as “Handsome Patrick.”

Writing songs is only a small sliver of Casey’s talent. Her musical roots are diverse. She holds a deep love of Celtic music and draws inspiration from blue grass, gospel, swing and jazz. She elegantly plays a number of instruments including the flute, guitar, bohdrain and penny whistle.

“I started playing because of my family,” Casey said. “My dad plays trumpet in a band and all of my siblings play something. It came really naturally to me and I enjoyed it.”

Casey has another card up her sleeve with which to surprise the audience. She is a master of the rare and exotic art of pieds, also known as foot percussion. Don’t worry if you aren’t familiar with the art, though; Casey provided an explanation before one of her songs.

The art of pieds originated in Ireland where tap-dancing is a national pastime. During the British occupation, dancing was deemed seditious behavior. To subvert this restriction on their cultural expression the Irish simply sat down and kept tapping away. Their argument was that anything done in a chair couldn’t be considered dancing. Whether you consider their argument valid or not, you can appreciate the interesting percussion system that has evolved from it.

Casey, who joined up with Wood’s Tea only last April, said that she enjoys playing with the guys.

“I really like all of them,” Casey said. “They are all pretty easy to get along with and are up for trying anything, musically.”

She can also hold her own in the endless wisecracking buffoonery that the group is famous for. Casey didn’t even blink when she sang “Sink the Cheerio.” For those of you unfamiliar with Wood’s Tea, the song’s theme is potty training, for a young boy.

Fortunately, Casey looks as though she is in for a long and prosperous association with Wood’s Tea, and Colgate can look forward to seeing her again in the Spring semester — hopefully next time will include a full house and an abundance of pie.