Sunday, October 28, 2007

Roundtable Pictures and Makem Brothers Team Up For Concert DVD

Note: The following appeared in the Oct. 28 edition of The Montana Standard, where Roundtable Pictures producer Mike Gillis is directing a 2-hour concert DVD of the Makem Brothers and Spain Brothers, pictured at right. The two groups are carrying on the tradition of Celtic music that was championed by Tommy Makem, who passed away in Dover, NH, earlier this year. Mike will tell us more about his adventures when he gets back. - Lars Trodson

Irish concert sails at Mother Lode
By Gerard O’Brien, of The Montana Standard

There’s something about a quintet of strumming guitars, five-part male harmony and songs of the sea that make you want to hop on a ship and sail away ... or at least tap your toes in your seat.

The Makem and Spain Brothers served up a full plate of traditional Irish folk songs that had the Mother Lode Theatre crowd singing along, clapping to the rhythm and even listening in rapt silence to their numerous ballads.

The two-plus hour show got a late start, due to technical difficulties with some recording equipment, but that didn’t dull the crowd’s appreciation of the craftsmen.

The end result will be a High Definition DVD concert recording to help raise money for the Montana Gaelic Cultural Society and its annual An Rí Rá Irish Festival in Butte.

The DVD will include clips from Saturday night’s show, interviews with the singers and scenes from around the Mining City.

The three Makem brothers and two Spain brothers bantered with the crowd of 800 in between songs.

“My brother’s going on a whiskey diet,” Conor Makem said. “So far, he’s lost three days.” This is the third visit for the troupe to Butte. The Makems are the descendants of a famous musical bloodline. Their father is the late Tommy Makem who died on Aug. 1, and had performed with the Clancy Brothers around the world.

The Spain brothers had the privilege of their parents in the audience Saturday night, too.

At times the show took on the air of a recording studio with an overhead boom video recorder reaching out over the audience and several video cameras located throughout the theater.

Of particular note was a moving ballad Tom Paxton song, sung by the Spain brothers, called “When Annie takes me home.” Another, “Whiskey Row,” was about a street in Chicago, but one patron joked it could have been about Galena Street.

But the group’s best performances were the sailing songs, such as “Mingulay Boat Song,” “Queensland Whalers” and “Day of the Clipper.” Whenever the five-some harmonized together in full unison, it brought strong appreciation from the crowd. Their vocals were particularly vibrant on “When We Danced in Donegal” written by Conor Makem.

Roundtable Pictures of Manchester, N.H,. where most of the band now calls home, will produce about 1,000 DVDs, said producer Mike Gillis, after culling all the material into about two hours. Cost of the entire production was about $20,000.