by Mary-Ann Brandon
WALSENBURG- There are a few examples in American folk music of family bands that have carried the tradition of their music through the generations. Louisiana, and Appalachia have obscure examples. A.P. Carter and the subsequent Carter Family and Carter Sisters are notable but still, with the relative newness of our country, we can trace this family music back to only the 1920s. Not the case with Northern Ireland’s McPeake band who have preserved the family band name for more than 100 years.
The first Francis McPeake founded the band in 1885 as a local group that played in pubs and for parties and special occasions. Following, Francis McPeake II and III brought the family music to the concert stage and founded the Francis McPeake School of Music, respectively. In 2003, this generation’s Francis McPeake created a stage show based on “The Titanic” and collected some of Northern Ireland’s best players to form a modern day version of the band that has toured the globe since 2009.
The list of musical artists that the individual members of this band have worked with is impressive indeed and include, Van Morrison, Riverdance, Dennis Hopper, Mary Black, Ronan Keating and The Chieftains. The band utilizes uilleann pipes, fiddle, accordion, bass, percussion and vocals, to bring a music that they describe as both traditional and fresh in it’s approach. They are comprised of: Francis McPeak IV, Mairead Forde, Sean O’Kane and Peter Wallace.
On their tour through Colorado, McPeake will make a stop at Walsenburg’s Fox Theater on Wednesday, July 6. For those who have been hankering for a fix of traditional Irish music, this will provide the opportunity to get a taste before the upcoming Celtic Festival in September.
After their concert the band will participate in a jam session at the La Plaza Inn. Belfast remains one of the most disturbingly fascinating cities on the planet. What a rare treat to get to mingle, up close and personal, with a group of natives who are traversing the globe and in the process delivering their musical tradition to our doorstep. If this is a culture that intrigues, you won’t want to miss this one night opportunity.
Pulled from their website, McPeake describes their music as having “a creative approach, blending influences from Irish traditional, folk, acoustic and country genres to create their own unique sound that is an experience for the ears and soul.”
Concert information is as follows:
Wednesday July 6th 7:15 pm at the Fox Theater in Walsenburg (followed by a jam session at La Plaza Inn). Phone 719-742-5410 for tickets. Still some discount tickets left at only $15 that are being sold at Mike’s Coffee Barn in Walsenburg and Sandy’s North by Southwest in La Veta. Otherwise concert tickets are $18 in advance and $20 at the door.