One of the Maritimes’ most enduring Celtic-music groups, The Barra MacNeils, are headed to the Hub City to bring good tidings of the year via their annual Christmas show.[here] was lucky enough to catch up with Stewart MacNeil just before the group headed down to the US for a series of their holiday shows, which will see them play throughout New Hampshire and Maine prior to making their return to Atlantic Canada.
According to MacNeil, the group are no strangers to American audiences.
“We have actually spent a fair amount of time working in the US,” the soft-spoken musician says. “We have put a lot of energy into developing the US market; we have played everything from Irish music festivals to soft seat theatre shows.
“We are very fortunate that not only have we been given the opportunity to play music for more than 20 years now but have been fortunate enough to have traveled to many different places thanks to playing music as well.”
MacNeil says that the group has been very well received in the US to date, having gained massive exposure with one of their holiday specials having aired on PBS. And though Atlantic Canadians may think that there is little interest in the genre outside of our region, MacNeil says their music has been well embraced by our American neighbors.
“Overall, American crowds are very receptive to Celtic music. I think because of the fact that we are a musical family that continues to play together, I think that is a unique trait. To many of our fans, that is a part of the mystique surrounding the band,” he says.
And while The Barra MacNeils continue to perform across North America, their schedule tends to be a little hectic these days than it might have been throughout the 90s.
“There is no question that we aren’t doing quite as many shows as we have done in the past,” MacNeil says. “Many of the members in the band are juggling families and the commitments that come along with being in a band, such as touring.”
With two live albums just hitting store shelves, MacNeil acknowledges the band will be playing shows through Western Canada to help promote the records but plays coy to future plans beyond that.
“We do have other projects that we will be announcing in the near future; there will be more to talk about very soon!” he enthuses.
One thing that MacNeil isn’t shy about discussing however, is how much The Barra MacNeils are looking forward to returning to Moncton to perform.
“The Christmas show we played in Moncton last year was simply magical. We can’t wait to get back to St John’s United Church for our show this year.”
With their holiday shows selling out in rather quick fashion, I wouldn’t recommend holding off on picking up tickets to The Barra MacNeils’ upcoming Moncton show should you be interested in attending. The group will be performing two shows at St. John’s United Church on Alma Street on Saturday December 19, one at 2:30 p.m. and the other at 7:30 p.m.
Advance tickets are available at Read’s Newsstand at 985 Main Street as well as Frank’s Music at 245 Carson Drive in Moncton.