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An East Coast Christmas takes place at the Georgian Theatre on Dec. 11 beginning at 7:30p.m.

Barra MacNeils plan to go from kitchen party to midnight mass in one show

by: Shawn Gibson

The beloved family band from Nova Scotia is coming to Barrie’s Georgian Theatre on Dec. 11 with An East Coast Christmas show

The legendary Barra MacNeils bring their East Coast Christmas show to Barrie this holiday season.

Sheumus, Kyle, Boyd, Stewart and Lucy are the founding members of the band with brother Ryan having dabbled in the music at one time, but now the original four brothers and sister have Jamie Gatti on bass.

This year marks 31 years of touring and music-making for the famous Canadian band and Stewart MacNeil spoke to BarrieToday to say that the Dec. 11 show will be one performance not to miss.

“Nineteen years of a touring Christmas show and, honestly, this could be the best one yet coming up,” said MacNeil. “The stories we have and get into mixed with Lucy’s voice; her voice just gets more fantastic and could bring a tear to the most hardened person’s eye.”

Five-time winners at the East Coast Music Awards, the Barra MacNeils have long been regarded one the best live acts in the country as the show isn’t just about the music but incorporates their Gaelic heritage, storytelling, dancing and the fact that the siblings take turns acting as lead vocals.

With a wide selection of instruments — from bodhran, Celtic harp, fiddle and accordion to tin whistle, flute, bouzouki and guitar — MacNeil says that during their Christmas shows it is particularly interesting to see how eclectic the performance can get.

“It goes from a kitchen party to midnight mass in the span of one show,” said MacNeil. “The variety is what keeps people interested and involved and we love how involved the audience gets while we’re on stage. People clapping along, stomping feet and singing, that is what it is truly all about and especially if folks are coming in out of the cold during the holidays.”

The show at the Georgian Theatre on Dec. 11 will be the 12th of a 22-show tour that started in Cranbrook, B.C., on Nov. 27 and will end in Glace Bay, N.S., on Dec. 23, just in time for the family to celebrate Christmas together.

MacNeil says that, despite all the travelling together during the hectic holiday season and through some cold and wintery parts of the country, they are always ready to hit the stage.

“I think it’s become a bit of a mission for us to always put on a great show and a show that the folks are expecting,” said MacNeil. “During the tour, we enjoy being with each other and there are the alone times for nice read or nap, but, of course, we’re not getting any younger, so we take our vitamins and live right. We’re trying to be responsible like that now, you know?”

While many Barra MacNeils hits speak about the East Coast life and Gaelic tales, their Christmas shows have become a tradition for some people and they tend to run into some of the same folks every year who give them encouraging words.

“It is absolutely heartwarming to have people come up to us and tell us how they never miss a Christmas show and they make the trek down from wherever they’re from to see us,” said MacNeil. “Parents and grandparents bringing their kids and grandkids to experience a good time out together; that is true reason these Christmas shows are so very worth it.”

An East Coast Christmas with the Barra MacNeils takes place at the Georgian Theatre on Dec. 11 beginning at 7:30p.m.

Tickets are available here.