The McDades: The Most Amazing Celtic Fusion I’ve Ever Heard


Oh, my GOD!! This Canadian band, The McDades, played at the Chicago Celtic Fest earlier today. This crappy cameraphone image does not do them justice. The music they play is just… so assured and totally off the scale (not the musical one, the incredibly ****in’ cool one).

As you can probably tell, I pretty much took pictures with my cameraphone all day, but this is the only one that I really regret is not a much better quality image (okay, the one of Buckingham Fountain could be a little better, too). I’ll be getting a better cameraphone in a few months with better quality images and a short amount of video capacity, but until then I’ll be making do.

Anyway. Here’s my prediction after stumbling across this band today in a totally random and wonderful way:

The McDades are going to be picking up a Grammy one of these days, and not for one of those obscure folkie awards, but one of the major ones, mark my words.


Here’s a better picture. They’re young, good looking, and there are several more members that played with them today, including a percussionist who appeared to be playing a plastic crate, along with a variety of exotic drums and things. He was amazing, but then they all were. The musicianship knocked me out. Chalk another one up for Canadian music education, people.

Their CD is available here. They played at the WXRT stage and frankly, I thought they were better than the Tannahill Weavers were likely to be, the band we originally went to see. We didn’t make it to the Tannie’s show because we were wiped out from a long, hot day. They weren’t scheduled to play at the big main stage for another hour, and so we dragged ourselves back to the car after a couple of stops to listen.

David had a training thing, so we met up at Grant Park after I finished up the AIDS Walk Chicago thing with Fr. Ted and Mark from Holy Moly. We watched some hammer throwing that was very exciting (the kilts were a little whirly, so that was fun) but didn’t get to see the caber tossing. So we went back to the covered music tents to listen to some uileann pipes and harps and things. They left soon after David arrived – we had already been on site for about an hour before David’s arrival.

After another hour of walking around and watching sheep get herded and another, more difficult hammer toss competition, and by then being hot and willing to just “be” for a while, we found our way to the “Celtic Rock” stage that XRT seemed to be sponsoring.

Thank God. I heard the band as we walked over from the Scottish Games section of the site and began to get excited, knowing that I was hearing something fresh, accomplished, and downright luscious.

Now listen: I’ve been a fan of Celtic and Celtic fusion music for about 25 years. I’ve been to a lot of folk fests (Williamette Valley, NW Folklife, Vancouver Island Festival, etc) and concerts and even a few ceilidhs. When I’m listening to a group that’s good but not great, I appreciate their playing. When I happen across a group that is not just good, but truly great: even (expletive-ing) great, I want to climb to the top of Sears Tower and shout the news to the world.

Buy this CD, listen to this CD, track down The McDades wherever they’re playing and catch them live. The music booth at Celtic Fest had their CD “for reel,” and you’d better believe I’ve already put it on my iPod, thankyewverramuch. They played two songs with no names, called simply “7” and “8” that were a combination of Irish music, jazz, and something complicated and exotic that might have been Balkan. I do know that “7” was probably in 7/8 time – totally infectious and intoxicating. I wouldn’t let David move on until the song was over. It’s supposed to be on their next CD, which will be coming out soon.

Damn, I’ve already played this CD three times in the course of tinkering around uploading some old photos to Flickr… it’s definitely going into heavy rotation.

This image was sent from Flickr as a blog entry, email or cameraphone image.

Via: Flickr
Title: photo_0032.jpg

By: GinnyRED57

Originally uploaded: 17 Sep ’05, 7.20pm PST

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