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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Alt-Celtic firebrands, RANT MAGGIE RANT, surprise fans (& even themselves!!)

Glen Dias, Lindsay Schindler and Barry James Payne. Photo credit: Steve Bayne.
Impromptu CD RELEASE @
HUGH’S ROOM, Toronto
Sunday, September 22 2013 8:30 pm

Lord knows there are plenty of good Irish jokes around but one of the best has resulted in the new Rant Maggie Rant (RMR) CD.

As the band was not yet comfortable with their degree of record-readiness for their Hugh’s Room show (they were playing with two new guest players, one of which was unrehearsed), when asked by their sound engineer if they wanted to record that night's show, they elected not to. He did anyway – unbeknownst to the band or the audience! 

The Result?  A magically spontaneous set played entirely without the benefit of a safety net, typical of any night with Rant Maggie Rant.

In perfect keeping with the blank look of stunned surprise on the band’s faces when they learned of the sneaky deed, their artwork has been left similarly blank—the group’s name is all that adorns it.
Clearly you can’t judge a CD by its cover!  The music is nothing short of an energetic explosion of world music. RMR’s Celtic-based sound embraces the traditional but fuses it with the polyrhythmic elements of Latin, Middle Eastern and African music, marrying old sounds to new with dynamic arrangements that colour outside any and all lines. As a result, their rousing brand of Celtic is rich in additional influences of folk, old-time country and rock, depending upon which direction they fire their bow. 

The core band is a Stratford-based trio who often supplement their accomplished sound with a first-call combination of talented counterparts. On this, their third release, founding members Lindsay Schindler (fiddle, vocals), Glen Dias (lead vocals, recorder, percussion) and guitarist Barry James Payne join forces with guests Steve Clark (bass), Graham Hargrove (drums, percussion) and Loretto Reid (Irish flute, whistles, concertina, button accordion). 

And given that two of the players on this sold-out, St. Paddy’s Day show were ‘new blood’, the only explanation for such a fiery and seamless display, is that it’s driven by the flawless musicianship of each musician – feeding off each other’s enthusiasm – and from the resulting fervour of their audience.

With a night like this, it is no small wonder why this covert operation had to be exposed. 

From the intro of “Shadow & Substance/Linden Rise” with its bright Celtic flair to the second instrumental, “Old Maid of Galway”, RMR uses its considerable charm to seduce its audience. Likewise, the third instrumental and pairing of “Gooseberry Bush/Julia Delaney” – is a rousing affair, driven by fiddle, guitar and percussion (a djembe & dumbek). The 10-minute powerhouse, 5-part “Mayor Harrison’s Set” proves the night’s high-mark as the band stretches and builds into a true fusion of influences, paced to bring their audience to a frothy edge.

The crowd is clearly immersed in the music, evidenced by their whole-hearted participation in “Belle Katrine” – and as the band teases them into the spirited, 4-part “Kitchen Set”, gradually building the tempo until it erupts from its driving beginnings into a full-boiled frenzy. RMR also reinvents David Francey’s “Skating Rink” but not before segueing into Van Morrison’s “Brown-eyed Girl” and ending with a reel, involving the audience in the process who turn in their own hearty performance.

RMR are first class musicians and entertainers—“Rant Maggie Rant” Live proves that St. Patrick’s Day is too limiting a categorization for a band who is capable of exploding with genre-bending music any ol’ night of the year.

As a result, sound engineer and inadvertent record producer, John Hazen, might be having the best laugh of all – for pushing ‘Record.’

WHEN: Sunday, September 22, 2013; 8:30 pm

WHERE: Hugh’s Room, 2261 Dundas St. West, Toronto, ON

TIX: $25 advance / $27.50 at door, 416-531-6604 or info@hughsroom.com (www.hughsroom.com)


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