Music Review: Gordie MacKeeman and his Rhythm Boys - Pickin' N Clickin'

A grand time was held at this past weekend's Larlee Creek Hullabaloo in Perth-Andover, with a strong crowd and a couple fo dozen excellent East Coast acts. Headliner/local hero Matt Andersen was on top of his game, gathering hugs all around from friends and family, happy as always to be home, and proud as ever of the high-quality festival that has graced the town for six years now. The only dark clouds on the weekend happened right at the start, a downpour early Friday evening, but after that passed it was clear sailing.

51TfzDo7DaL._SY355_.jpg
I rushed up as soon as work was done Friday, missing the storm, but also in danger of missing a group I really wanted to catch. Luckily, the wet start pushed the schedule back just enough that as I was walking in, they were taking the stage. I hadn't seen Gordie MacKeeman and his Rhythm Boys since being introduced to them at Music PEI in early 2012, and I was keen to see if they were as good as I remembered. That's been confirmed. Led by the rubbery-legged fiddler MacKeeman, the quartet rips through a blend of old-time, country, rockabilly and Western Swing, this is a full-on party band on stage, with lots of tricks and entertainment (two guys jamming on the doghouse bass at the same time), excellent solos, and obvious Maritime roots. MacKeeman has a true East Coast style to his fiddling, an obvious student of the local and national playing history, able to quote licks and influences from such past heroes as Al Cherny and Ned Landry.

The good news kept coming, as the group laid its new CD on me as well, called Pickin'-n-Clickin'. A 14-track affair, it features all the sides to the band, originals and traditional covers, instrumentals and vocals as well. There are high energy numbers as the boys break out on fiddle, banjo and guitar, and even some heart-touching ballads, such as the traditional P.E.I. number O'Halloran Road. Refusing to locked into the fiddle mold, you'll find jazzy touches in the sad bluegrass of There Is A Time, with Island girl Meaghan Blanchard providing harmonies, and Hay Boys (co-written by band multi-instrumentalist Thomas Webb) is a farming work song, but a lot more Klezmer than field holler. But there has to be some down-home cooking fiddle numbers too, and those are here, including a swinging take on Lawrence Welk's famed Champagne Polka. Even Guy and Ralna would get down to that one. And guitarist Peter Cann's Scrape The Paint is a fun bluegrass showcase for both himself and MacKeeman. Summerside's Nathan Wiley steps out of his usual rock world to produce and chime in with lots of instrumental and vocal help as well. Half the fun of Gordie MacKeeman and his Rhythm Boys is seeing their expertise and antics, but hearing them lets you focus on what a tight and tasteful band they are as well.

more »

Latest East Coast Music Reviews

Tomato/Tomato top the awards nominations for Music NB
Tomato/Tomato top the awards nominations for Music NB
Sep 21, 1:15 PM

Saint John folk duo Tomato/Tomato lead the way in this year's nominations for Music New Brunswick awards. The husband-and-wife team has grabbed six nominations, including those for Album of the Year, Group Recording of the Year and Song of the... more »

 Hot Toddy reunion a Harvest highlight
Hot Toddy reunion a Harvest highlight
Sep 20, 6:05 PM

On stage at Fredericton's Playhouse on Saturday, the members of Hot Toddy had more to share than just music. Bass player Tom Easley had brought along a band tour journal that had been kept in the van from 2001-2003, full... more »

Samantha Martin brings exciting blues-gospel vocals to Harvest Fest
Samantha Martin brings exciting blues-gospel vocals to Harvest Fest
Sep 18, 3:58 PM

The Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival is well-known for introducing new, exciting acts to the East Coast that wouldn't normally tour in this area.  They might be from Los Angeles or New Orleans, or some of the best Canadian groups... more »

Steve Hill brings Juno-winning, one-man band to Harvest
Steve Hill brings Juno-winning, one-man band to Harvest
Sep 17, 3:58 PM

As the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival celebrates its 25th year, several favourite acts from the past have been invited back, including some that haven't been around for quite awhile. Even though he lives in Montreal, this year's Juno Award-winning... more »

EARTHBOUND TRIO launches new album at Harvest gig
EARTHBOUND TRIO launches new album at Harvest gig
Sep 16, 3:51 PM

How busy is Fredericton during Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival week? It's delaying some Federal government work, that's how busy. A friend of mine, a government employee from another city, e-mailed me a couple of weeks ago to say she... more »

Amy Helm continuing Dad Levon's legacy at Harvest fest
Amy Helm continuing Dad Levon's legacy at Harvest fest
Sep 15, 3:06 PM

It was a Harvest show that went down as a classic for the people crowding in the Blues tent in 2011. Levon Helm and his great big 13-piece band rolled into Fredericton for the jazz and blues festival, and stole... more »

View all reviews for September 2015 »

About Bob Mersereau

Rockin' BobBob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).

Share this review