Much as Muddy Waters was able to keep a damn good group together despite losing musicians of note over the years, the Battlefield Band marches on confidently with its ever-shifting cast of characters. Today only keyboardist/vocalist/patriarch Alan Reid survives from the original Nixon-era lineup. Accompanied by fiddling wunderkind John McCusker, the delectable vocalist Karine Polwart and the hirsute Los Angeles-born piper Mike Katz, Reid's current lineup is, as one British scribe once put it, "more gifted than Christmas."
Known to mix in far-flung fruits of the Celtic diaspora, as in "Rollin' on the River" and "Bad Moon Risin'" (both composed, after all, by a man named Fogerty), the Battlefield Band aims to please the booty as well as the mind. If it can be believed, the group has adapted the work of a composer even less likely than Fogerty to marshal a St. Paddy's Day parade, Wilson "Wicked" Pickett. The Battlefield Band has transformed Pickett's "Land of 1,000 Dances" into a paean to all things Celtic and American, "The Band of 1,000 Chances." Clearly this is not an academic bunch of preservationists, but a group that likes to engage in some envelope-pushing, purists be damned. To this outfit, a successful show is one in which the audience dances in the aisles, and the music, to quote a song, goes "forward with Scotland's past."