In 1999, the Barra MacNeil's came out with their first Christmas CD. I was already a Barra MacNeil fan because I was really into east coast family bands at that time, and was totally in love with their 1995 CD Myopic. I would take it out every few months from the library (this was in the days before CD burners) and eventually did finally buy it.
Here's the title single, still one of my favourite songs:
It was either 1999/2000/2001-ish, they were playing a Christmas show at Festival Place in Sherwood Park and I decided to drive all the way out there to buy the new Christmas CD and go to the concert, figuring I'd buy a ticket at the door. Well, to my surprise I arrived at the theatre only to find the concert was sold out, should've known! I bought the CD anyways (which was hard to find in stores), drove all the way home all disappointed in my lack of ticket buying savvy, and have wanted to see the Christmas show ever since. I did get the second Christmas CD back in 2006, and have to say they are favourites of mine. Who doesn't love celtic Christmas tunes?
They've also done a couple Christmas tv specials:
And last week I finally got the chance to see the Christmas concert! I have to say, it was worth waiting for!
So I drove all the way out to Spruce Grove last week (about a half hour west of Edmonton, but an hour away from where I live on the east end) to see the show. I've been to the Horizon Stage before, it's a really great small venue, well worth a trip out to see a concert in. On my way into the theatre I actually passed by two brothers exiting their massive tour bus! Then, to my surprise, I appeared to have bought a front row centre ticket! Evenings don't get much better than that! So I had an excellent view of the whole thing. The only downside was I couldn't take a sneaky illegal photo, as either the band or the photo nazi ushers surely would've caught me!
They played all my favourite songs from the two Christmas CDs, and the music was awesome. They are very talented singers and multi-instrumentalists. Between the six MacNeils and one bass player, I counted on stage the following instruments: 1 piano, 1 keyboard, 1 set of uilleann pipes, 4 whistles, 1 flute, 1 piano accoridon, 1 bodhran, 1 bouzouki, 1 guitar, 1 mandolin, 1 bass guitar, 1 upright bass, 1 harp, 3 fiddles, and four sets of stepdancing shoes. Tis a recipe for fabulous celticy Christmas awsomeness!
Each sibling took turns chatting to the audience, telling stories from their childhood or adventures from their Christmas tour. They created a really nice atmosphere and it really did seem like Christmas time. They seem like lovely folks.
I've realized my dream of seeing the Barra MacNeil's Christmas Concert. And you know what, they've been doing this Christmas tour annually across Canada, so I reckon I'll be seeing them again soon!
You can find the Barra MacNeils at:
Barra MacNeils Official
Barra MacNeils Myspace
Barra MacNeils Facebook
Barra MacNeils Christmas Tour Blog