Volume 90, Issue 64

Friday, January 17, 1997

double talk


The legends of Celtic punklore

Gazette file photo
HAPPY HIPPY KIDS? NO, JUST BEER SWILLING CELT-ROCKERS! The Mahones will challenge all to a dancing contest at tonight's show at The Spoke, with Van Allen Belt opening.

By Lisa Weaver
Gazette Staff

The Celtic music scene in Canada these days seems to be dominated by bands emerging from the east coast. However, Celtic-rock kings The Mahones defied provincial boundaries and emerged on St. Patrick's Day, 1990 from The Toucan, an Irish pub in Kingston, Ont.

The Mahones' accordion and tin-whistle player, Andrew Brown says the band's members originate from several European countries. All of the members came to Canada when they were young, yet they have still retained some of the cultural influences of Europe. While only lead singer and guitarist Fintan "Finny" McConnell is originally from Ireland, Brown maintains that "we're all Celts underneath and that's the important thing."

As a result of their diverse backgrounds, The Mahones are able to create their own unique version of Canadian Celtic rock. This conglomeration of many musical styles can be heard in The Mahones' third and latest release, Rise Again.

"It's a mixture of a lot of different styles," says Brown, "The traditional Celtic sound, punk, country-rock, rock, alternative – we've done it all."

This diverse and creative style has been described by some music critics as "Celtic punklore." Brown agrees with this, explaining its origins with a simple, mystifying remark. "We've had some legendary shows," he laughs.

The Mahones certainly draw a crowd as diverse as their music. Brown jokes that when working on songs, they are anticipating a "good, drunk audience." Seriously, however, The Mahones seem to appeal to all age groups. Brown relates the band's universal appeal with his story of their youngest audience members.

"We've had little children dancing at our gigs even though we're singing about drinkin' and pukin', because they like the beat."

Brown asserts the largest part of the band's listeners are university students. That fact doesn't stop The Mahones from playing community festivals and TV shows, like their recent appearance on CBC's Rita MacNeil and Friends. "And there's probably a million grannies watching that show," Brown jokes.

Fans can expect the unexpected from The Mahones' next album, which they intend to begin working on in the spring. Brown says the band hopes this next album will "help more to define what The Mahones' sound is. It will probably take all these musical genres and create something of its own out of it."

The band has been pleasantly surprised by the many different forms of exposure their music has been receiving, with air play on campus radio stations, as well as sparing rotation on MuchMusic. Brown relates the most surprising turn of events.

"The recent thing that's happened with us is that our video has been played on [Country Music Television]. When, all of a sudden, the country station starts playing us, [it] makes our career very interesting."

To Contact The Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca