Hailing from Prince Edward Island, the award-winning Gordie MacKeeman and his Rhythm Boys serve up old-time roots music with an energy level that practically yanks you out of your seat by the collar.
Presented by the Central Music Festival, the guys perform at the Elks Lodge on Oct. 19. A meal is included with the ticket price – food at 6:30 p.m. with music at 8 p.m.
Tom Power, host of Deep Roots on CBC, called the Rhythm Boys his ‘Best Discovery Band’ at the 2012 East Coast Music Awards.
And word is spreading fast about their ability to raise the roof at virtually any venue. The band has even been to the UK three times over the past year – and that included a stint at the massive, world-famous Glastonbury Festival in England this past June.
“We’ve been in England mostly, and have done a few Scottish dates and went to the Isle of Man,” explains band member Mark Geddes. Glastonbury was particularly an amazing experience, with its multitude of stages and flood of artists. Britain in general has loved what the guys have to offer.
“It’s fantastic, a welcoming with open arms.”
Their latest CD, Pickin’ and Clickin’ was released this past summer. And if ever someone was deserving of the nickname ‘Crazy Legs’, it just might be MacKeeman. His dance style mixed with great bluegrass vocals, Peter Cann’s blistering guitar solos, and the multi-instrumental talents of Thomas Webb and Geddes, makes MacKeeman and his Rhythm Boys the complete entertainment package.
Looking back to the band’s beginnings, Geddes said it’s all come together rather organically. “Gordie and I had been roommates in Charlottetown, I was working a day job and he was playing in bands and working as well. We decided to make a fiddle CD for him – he wanted something to sell at shows along with whatever band he was playing with.
“We made the CD, and the other guys had been playing in another band. So we started a kind of instrumental fiddle band as a side project. It just kind of kept developing. The show kept developing and we started adding new styles, putting vocals in there, and it just kind of grew into this show.”
So there weren’t any clear-cut plans to launch a group, but the time was right as was the chemistry. “I think that’s part of the beauty of it,” adds Geddes. “It feels good as a show, and we’re just going wherever it takes us.
“We officially started in October of 2010, so we just marked our three-year anniversary.”
Within months of forming the Rhythm Boys and releasing their self-titled debut CD, the band received two Music PEI awards in 2011 for Roots/Traditional Group of the Year and Instrumental Recording of the Year, and were nominated for Roots/Traditional Group Recording at the 2011 ECMAs.
The Rhythm Boys were voted the 2011 Music PEI Showcase Artist of the Year, which is chosen by visiting delegates at Showcase PEI.
With the guys hailing from the east coast, music was pretty much intrinsic to family and community life. Kitchen parties and family gatherings consistently included music – it’s simply a part of the culture. A passion for music was therefore a part of the band members’ lives.
“It’s something you do as a social thing, so you’re not always thinking about being onstage. It’s about meeting people, too. That kind of music has a social atmosphere, and I think that’s why people want to play it.”
Geddes said ultimately, there really is something for everyone in the band’s musical mix. They may be rooted in ‘roots’ style tunes, but they happily tap into a range of genres. The results are such that it’s virtually impossible to sit still during one of their shows.
“The show is very visual, and we always have a couple of other tricks up our sleeve.
“It’s a mix of rockabilly, bluegrass and fiddle music with some really great step dancing. It will put a smile on everybody’s face. It’s about bringing this music to different parts of the world, and seeing different parts of the world. And seeing people react to it for the first time is pretty amazing.”
For more information about the band’s Red Deer show or for tickets, check out www.centralmusicfest.com.