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WHATSON Dec 07, 2018 by Mike Ruta
DURHAM — The Barra MacNeils are once again touring the country bringing Christmas cheer. And it’s no coincidence that they’re going from west to east, with their last concerts on home tur
Like everybody else, at the top of the family band’s wish list is being home for Christmas, says Stewart MacNeil.
“We will definitely be home at that point,” he says of the Dec. 23 Cape Breton Island shows. “I think that’s the main thing, just to be home. Our parents are still alive and we visit them on Christmas Day.”
The Barra MacNeils, dubbed “Canada’s Celtic ambassadors,” for almost two decades have toured the country at this time of year, sharing an East Coast Christmas. The band is at Oshawa’s Regent Theatre on Dec. 15 and a second show has been added.
The Barra MacNeils, each of whom are multi-instrumentalists, are Kyle, Lucy, Sheumas, Stewart and Boyd.
MacNeil says people have made going to the concert a Christmas tradition, noting where parents once brought their young children, the latter have grown up and are now treating their parents. It’s a tradition for the band as well.
“There is something special about travelling across Canada at this time of year and seeing faces old and new,” he says.
“Considering there’s six siblings in the family, five us are still in the lineup,” he says, adding bassist Jamie Gatti has also been with the band for many years.
When it’s put to him that being a family band has a lot to do with their longevity, MacNeil agrees, adding, “I think as you get older the tendency is to get along.”
The Barra MacNeils’ Christmas show, he says “focuses on Christmases gone by,” and a big part of it is the band sharing their Christmas memories and traditions.
“We have very positive memories of growing up,” MacNeil says. “(Christmas) was always special. It was always celebrated in a big way.”
And with three Christmas albums, he says the band certainly has a lot of material from which to choose.
He says “Oshawa is great,” adding “it’s phenomenal” how well the shows have been received in recent years.
MacNeil also hailed the restored Regent Theatre, describing it as one of the finest venues of its size.
At last glance, just a few seats remained for the band’s 7:30 p.m. Oshawa show while tickets for the 3 p.m. show were going fast.