Gordy MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys
The OneTouch Theatre
GORDIE MacKeeman’s audience were not alone in failing to keep their feet still at his band’s Eden Court debut.
Yet while the OneTouch crowd were contend to simply tap along to the bouncy tunes of "Down East" Canadian fiddle music, or swinging bluegrass from the other side of the 49th parallel, the man also known as "Crazy Legs" — for reasons that were readily apparent — was not quite so restrained.
Those crazy legs did their thing on a slightly reinforced OneTouch stage, jigging and jumping around and even throwing in a touch of Michael Jackson style tip-toe moves.
Nor was it a case of either or when it came to dancing and fiddling. MacKeeman showed he could comfortably do both at the same time, not least when he closed the second half by not just dancing, but playing the fiddle behind his back at the same time.
After a set piece like that, nobody was likely to call it a night after seeing just the first half of the show.
Yet MacKeeman’s fancy footwork aside, there were plenty of other reasons to stay on to the end of the show.
MacKeeman’s playing might stick in the mind for the fireworks from feet and bow, but he also had a gentle side and his quieter old time waltzes demonstrated a sensitivity to balance out the wilder flights of showmanship.
The man in the hat might have his name on the posters, by MacKeeman’s Rhythm Boys were star turns in their own right, Peter Cann keeping things grounded with solid guitar work and Thomas Webb and Mark Geddes swapping round instruments or even sharing them as they doubled up on the double bass.
The outfit from Prince Edward Island play a style of music rather less notably Celtic than their neighbours in Nova Scotia — MacKeeman’s home province — but one that fits in well with the taste for old time Americana that Eden Court has cultivated over the years with acts like The Wilders and The Hot Seats, while the sheer fun factor in watching the laid back and unpretentious Canadians should also win over a less specialised crowd — it would be easy to see them going down a storm on a festival stage, especially when Gordy decides the base makes a good pedestal for the climax of the show — never mind the fact that someone else is playing it at the same time.
No surprise that this quartet have an award from the Ottawa Folk Festival recognising their outstanding live performance.