McDades Make a Joyful Celtic Noise

The family performed its own brand of fusion at St. Mark Presbyterian.
The family performed its own brand of fusion at St. Mark Presbyterian. (The Mcdades)
Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Irish music in mid-March is as inevitable as Sousa in July or "The Nutcracker" in December. Amid the wealth of Celtic activities this time of year, Monday's Institute of Musical Traditions concert with the McDades was a standout. Whether the McDades' style is classified as rock with an Irish brogue or traditional music with a jazz feel, their performance was especially exciting in the intimate setting of Rockville's St. Mark Presbyterian Church.

These Canadians are skilled musicians who play and sing as harmoniously as a family. Which they are: Siblings Solon McDade (bass), Jeremiah McDade (woodwinds) and Shannon Johnson (fiddle) grew up making music together. Teamed with Francois Taillefer (drums) and Yann Falquet (guitar), they're a tight quintet that punches through the boundaries of traditional music.

It was nearly impossible to stay seated as they injected jazz and swing into Celtic and Quebecois tunes. Middle Eastern melodies crept into "Dance of the Seven Veils," and the blues were all over "McKinley Morganfield's," a tribute to Muddy Waters. The band's witty banter and songs like "Jonny's Flush," about a bellybutton, kept a jolly tone throughout the evening.

The Dizzy Gillespie of the Irish tin whistle, Jeremiah McDade explored the extremes of his instrument, sliding notes and producing multiphonics with his flying fingers. Johnson's confident fiddling led the band, her fluent technique and great dynamic contrasts proving excellent musicianship. Percussionist Taillefer incorporated Tuvan throat singing into the mix. His solo demonstration in the ancient art of vocalizing multiple pitches simultaneously was remarkable.

-- Gail Wein


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