Talkin' 'bout the Kilted Generation
By Stephan Cook - The Mail Star / Chronicle Herald
If music is good for your plants, then Cape Bretonís modern Celtic combo Slainte Mhath should do wonders for Ottawaís Tulip Festival.
The group plays Halifax's Marquee Club Saturday before heading to our nation's capital next week to play some outdoor shows, promote the Celtic Colours festival and, by a happy coincidence, share the stage with the closely-related Barra MacNeils.
Playing amidst the blossoms won't be the strangest venue for Slainte Mhath though as pianist Ryan MacNeil recalls playing the Halifax Shopping Centre at the ECMAs in January.
Our stepdancer, Lisa (Gallant) forgot her shoes and she was running around trying to find a similar pair," laughs MacNeil. "She checked out a couple of stores and was even looking at people's feet.
"I think she wound up dancing barefoot."
Slainte Mhath will be at the Marquee, with boots on if need be, for Saturday nightís Ceilidh. McNeil is, looking forward to the show since the band held the record release party for its debut disc Prophecy at Marquee manager Greg Clark's old haunt Birdland.
"It's neat to play a venue like that," says MacNeil. "We like to bring our music to a young audience, and it's the kind of place where you can get up and dance and have a good time."
The band plans to have a good time this summer, playing a variety of Maritime festivals conducting a mini-tour of Ontario in August that includes an appearance at the Fergus Highland Games and playing an Aug. 12 show with Celtic legends The Battlefield Band at the Gaelic College in St. Ann's.
There will also be a new Slainte Mhath album out this summer, making the live dates crucial Titled Music For the Kilted Generation, MacNeil promises the same kind of exploration that made Prophecy such a fascinating listen.
"We experimented with different things. Dance tracks and sampling. We're big fans of the Gipsy Kings, so one song is a flamenco sort of thing.
"The biggest change is vocals, Stephanie (Hardy) sings two songs on the album. Itís new to us, but itís something that lets us do some more experimenting."
However, MacNeil says the sound will still be that of Slainte Mhath.
"It still shows our roots and how we started out. I hope itíll be a pleasant surprise."
So go check out Slainte Mhath, and expect the unexpected.