Senior staff writer
Hogeye Navvy singer and guitar player Linda “Mac” Bellner says she believes that music can educate people of all ages.
“I really believe I’m a music educator. When we learn a new song I try to learn the history of that song. The historical aspect is really important, and that’s a good reason why people enjoy our music – there’s a story that goes with every song.”
Bellner and husband/band founder Terry Bellner have performed a rousing selection of seafaring chanteys and various Celtic and Scottish folk songs for more than four decades. The group has toured Ireland and Scotland, performing only traditional American folk songs overseas.
Hogeye Navvy has performed at festivals throughout Indiana and will take the stage at the Indianapolis Irish Fest at Military Park at 5 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.
Saturday may be the band’s busiest day in its history with four performances.
The day begins with International Talk Like a Pirate Day at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum with performances at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. before heading to the Irish Fest. The day will end with a show from 9-11 p.m. Aristocrat, 5212 N. College Ave., where Hogeye Navvy has performed as the house band for 33 years.
“They are the longest-running house band in Indiana,” said restaurant owner Rick Rising-Moore, who admires the band’s appeal to all ages.
Mac Bellner revealed that word-of-mouth resulted in the band’s first appearance at the museum for pirates day. Several years ago they sang pirate chanties at a library in Batesville, where they believed the audience would be mostly adults.
The crowd, as Bellner recalls, was 80 percent children, so she told bandmembers to rely on her lead and her music education experience. Appearances soon followed in front of youths at Southport and Irvington libraries among others. Reps of The Children’s Museum called them to be a major part of pirates day there.
She has taught music through arts for learning here and in England and South Africa.
They plan to return to the Aristocrat Sept. 23 and bid farewell to Indiana at the Feast of the Hunter’s Moon in West Lafayette Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. Terry Bellner plans to stay in the East due to injuries suffered as a medic when he served in Vietnam. They will be joined by various guest musicians.
After living in Beech Grove for 15 years and earlier in Morgan County and on the Southside and Morgan County, the Bellners moved late last month to North Adams, Mass., to be closer to family and a new grandchild.
“We are fairly entrenched Hoosiers, and I think I’m a ‘Grover’ forever,” Mac said in a recent interview. “It’s so hard to leave.”
She first came to Beech Grove at First Christian Church in 1971 as part of a lay witness missionary from Lafayette. She was encouraged to become an ordained minister which she attained in 2015 after five years of study at the Christian Theological Seminary.
She and Terry were married in 1975. They met at a fiddler’s gathering in Beech Grove. A native of the Deep South, she began singing before she was 5.
The band has toured Ireland and Scotland where they performed American folk songs rather than their usual chanteys and sea-faring songs. Gary “Captain Jack” Farron is forming a new group, Laughing Jack, that will feature guest musicians, some who have performed with Hogeye Navvy.
No doubt, Mac will continue to educate those she meets in music. Meanwhile, most of the group will be together again with guest musicians at The Aristocrat.
“It’s so hard when the hour comes to say goodbye.”