Kate and Anna McGarrigle gathered their friends from Montreal around the piano last night to play old songs and new about boyfriends and babies. Several hundred listeners at the Wax Museum were privileged to peek in on this parlor scene of two sisters sharing intimacies musically. Leading an eight-member folk-rock band, the McGarrigles were joined by a third sister, road manager Jane McGarrigle, for the sympathetic, expansive harmonies available only to sisters who have sung together all their lives.
Drawing on French folk songs, old Tin Pan Alley tunes and contemporary folk rock, the sisters' original compositions had the openness of sing-alongs but the subtle ironies of modern romance. Thus, Anna sang about her child as a "bundle of sorrow, bundle of joy" and Kate sang about love as "kiss and say goodbye."
Celtic Thunder, the Baltimore-Washington folk quintet, opened the show. The balance between Terry Winch's bleating accordion, Linda Hickman's breathy wood flute and Jesse Winch's rumbling bodhran provided a thick, ensemble sound to their slipping, skidding jigs, hornpipes and reels. Their material was balanced between instrumentals and songs, and in Dominick Murray and Nita Conley, they boast two of the genre's finest singers.