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A non-Christmas tour in Halifax!


Barra MacNeils bring new music on Maritimes tour

by: Jordan Parker

Stewart MacNeil is jovial when he talks about the three-decade run of sibling band the Barra MacNeils. They’re headed to Halifax to play the Spatz Theatre at September’s end, and he can’t wait to head down.

“It’s been a few years since we’ve done a non-Christmas tour down there. It’s nice to have a new album to bring out,” he said. “We toured new music in Ontario and did select dates close to home in the summer. Our material has been well-received and we are all having fun.”

He said they’ve been playing Halifax for a long time, and they’ve built a loyal fanbase there over the years.

“People there still know and love our music, and it’s so different to hear it recorded on an album and to hear it live,” he said.

“We’re a band, and we all play on the albums, and we’re a family. We have a nice tour, new music and we’re also playing fan favourites.”

He praises his sister, the only girl in a family of five boys, for her musical strength.

“Lucy is sounding so great these days, and the ballads are sounding stellar. We’ve had a trademark sound for 30 years, but we’re also all trying new things,” he said. “We do acapella songs, instrumentals, step dancing and our onstage banter.”

They recorded their new album, On the Bright Side, in Sydney, N.S.

“It has original material, and we’ve gone traditional, Gaelic and hits spots people expect from the Barra MacNeils,” he said.

“We also did some material that stepped outside of our comfort zone, and it’s nice to delve into roots new and old.”

He said they all still love working and playing together as a family.

“We’ve been doing this a long time, and we get along. We started to take that for granted. We remember and realize that we get to do something special, and that music is the glue that binds,” he said.

“We toured a lot of places, opened for people like Celine Dion, and we’ve been very fortunate. Our strength staying together has been so important. We’ve been around a long time, and we appreciate the experience.”