Friday, June 13, 2008

now playing: The McDades: Bloom

Stretching, bending, pushing, pulling, dancing, and having a thoroughly good time with it all, the McDades take folk music on a joyous excursion that's both on the edge of the genre and right at the center.

That's not so unusual when you consider that among the five members of the band they bring influences and training from classical, folk, jazz, French-Canadian, and English-Canadian music to the mix. Add to that that three of the band, brothers Jeremiah and Solon McDade and sister Shannon Johnson, grew up playing together with their parents in a family band. Add to that, that the three of them did that growing up in Edmonton, Alberta, a place where the west, the singer-songwriter tradition, and country music cross paths, and add to that the fourth and fifth members of the band, Andy Hillhouse and Francois Taillefer, bring their own backgrounds across a range of music.

What's outstanding about this is how they all collaborate on a driving, high-stepping vibe that begins with the instrumental The Whistle Blower and keeps on going through ten cuts. The McDades recently won a Juno, the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy, for this album, and it's easy to understand why. Most of the music is original and it's all quite in the spirit of the title and the cover graphic, a vibrant and varied gift of songs and tunes. The instrumentals are as engaging as the songs, with intricate and natural interweaving of melody and back line. Notable tracks include Ma Bonne Dame, Pull the Anchor, and Smuggler's Cove.

I'd add that if you have the chance to see The McDades live, take it. I watched them have a lively and fun time with several thousand Scottish school kids in Glasgow, and if they can handle that audience, imagine what they can do elsewhere.

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


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