Special to The Record
Gordie MacKeeman has famous crazy legs.
If you don’t believe it, come to an evening with MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys on Nov. 20 at the Sid Williams Theatre.
“That’s for my dancing,” the Prince Edward Island fiddler admits about the crazy legs referenced in a press release.
“The style of dancing I do is clogging as well as traditional step dance, kind of a mixture of the two,” MacKeeman explains in an interview from PEI. “Crowds usually react to the dancing for sure.”
MacKeeman attempts to explain why the Maritimes have such a strong cultural identity, particularly with the region’s music.
“We’re a little more secluded out this way … and you see a lot of families down this way; there’s some families that every single person plays. A lot of times there’ll be after-parties in somebody’s kitchen.
“Anywhere you go, there seems to be a lot of music.”
MacKeeman says there aren’t truly distinct regional styles within Maritimes music with the possible exception of one part of Nova Scotia.
“Especially in the Celtic music you hear, sometimes the Cape Breton fiddlers will have a slightly different style of playing.”
Unlike the sound of other Maritime fiddlers, MacKeeman’s style is not dominated by Celtic influences.
“The style of fiddling I do mainly is Down East style. I was influenced when I was younger by a lot of players like (New Brunswick old-time player) Ned Landry, (Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame inductee) Al Cherny, (1960s Canadian music icon) Don Messer. So not quite as much on the Celtic side, more on the Down East side.”
Besides combining two forms of dancing, MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys incorporate several musical styles into their crowd-pleasing sound.
“I would say everything we do is a good mix of everyone. There’s a lot of input from everybody in the band.
“I like old-time country and old-time fiddling stuff … we all like rockabilly and bluegrass. We just kind of fall under that roots umbrella.”
Mark Geddes (bass, drums, percussion, mandolin and banjo), Thomas Webb (vocals, banjo, guitar, pedal steel guitar and bass) and Peter Cann (vocals and guitar) are MacKeeman’s Rhythm Boys.
They celebrated their fifth anniversary together Oct. 1.
“We’re all basically best friends, and we’ve been travelling together for quite awhile now.”
Their high-energy, crowd-pleasing live show is equally by design and just because that’s what happens when they play to an audience.
“We really put a lot of concentration on making the show entertaining for an audience, but I think people can tell how well we get along onstage and that we love to play.
“We have a lot of people say after the show that they love the energy of it just as much as the music.”
MacKeeman and the Boys shouldn’t be nervous playing to a Sid crowd after performing at England’s Glastonbury Festival, which attracts 250,000 fans.
Their album Pickin’ n Clickin’ was voted the 2014 Roots Traditional Group Recording of the Year, the latest in a long line of East Coast Music Awards.
They were also awarded the Galaxie Supernova Award at the 2012 Ottawa Folk Festival for an outstanding, high-energy performance.
Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys perform Nov. 20 at the Sid Williams Theatre in Courtenay as part of the Sid’s Blue Circle Series. For details and tickets, visit sidwilliamstheatere.com, phone 250-338-2430 or visit the Sid box office at 442 Cliffe Ave.