Fid­dlin’ and foot­work in step at the Com­mer­cial Tav­ern Sun­day

The Bal­lagh Fam­ily Band will be singing, danc­ing and play­ing mul­ti­ple in­stru­ments in tra­di­tional Celtic show with Cana­dian stylings

The Woolwich Observer - - THE ARTS - STEVE KANNON

THAT ADAGE ABOUT THE fam­ily that plays to­gether stays to­gether cer­tainly ap­plies to the Bal­lagh Bunch, per­form­ers of tra­di­tional Celtic mu­sic with an East Coast flavour.

Gary and Jan­ice Bal­lagh, along with their four chil­dren – De­van, Michael, Paige and Matthew, rang­ing in ages from 26 to 17 – will bring their mul­ti­in­stru­men­tal step-danc­ing show to the Com­mer­cial Tav­ern in Mary­hill on Sun­day af­ter­noon.

The kids more or less hav­ing been born into per­form­ing, the Bal­lagh fam­ily have toured ex­ten­sively for more than a decade, branch­ing out from their home in Teeswa­ter. They were in­tro­duced to step danc­ing at a young age, as mom Jan­ice was one of the McMichael sis­ters, “Canada’s step danc­ing sweet­hearts” who were guests on the Tommy Hunter Show, and have per­formed in places such as the Mi­ami Fid­dle Fes­ti­val, Car­men Fid­dle Fes­ti­val, Dart­mouth Old Tyme Fes­ti­val, Fid­dles of the World and nu­mer­ous per­for­mances in New York State.

The three old­est kids won nu­mer­ous step danc­ing com­pe­ti­tions early on. Step danc­ing per­for­mances of­ten go­ing hand-in-hand with fid­dling con­tests, it was only nat­u­ral to even­tu­ally start the kids out with fid­dle lessons, notes dad Gary Bal­lagh.

“We were go­ing to th­ese con­tests any­way … it just made sense to pair them up.”

From fid­dle lessons, the mu­si­cal in­stru­ments pro­lif­er­ated, branch­ing out to the likes of pi­ano, man­dolin and cello to ac­com­pany the singing.

Their show is heavy on fid­dles and danc­ing, as you might ex­pect. The Ir­ish and Scot­tish roots are joined with Cana­dian stylings.

“It’s old-time coun­try to down East kitchen-style

mu­sic,” said Bal­lagh. “We like the Mar­itime way – the ceilidh, that kitchen party thing.”

The con­cert is a mix of tra­di­tional songs – fire up Big John McNeil on the fid­dle – to their orig­i­nal com­po­si­tions. Ac­com­pa­nied by danc­ing, of course – they’re all ac­com­plished chore­og­ra­phers and com­posers of step dance. In fact, when not on the road, they can be found teach­ing at their home stu­dio, The Bal­lagh’s School of Dance, Fit­ness, and Mu­sic.

It’s very much a fam­ily act. Hav­ing spent more than a decade per­form­ing to­gether – some­times in very close quar­ters while on the road – they still en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence, he said. They’ve been im­mersed in the mu­sic and the cul­ture their whole lives.

“They don’t know any­thing else,” Bal­lagh said, jok­ing that per­form­ing to­gether means he al­ways knows where his kids are at. “We’ve been very blessed with hav­ing them around.”

The Bal­lagh Fam­ily Band per­forms at the Com­mer­cial Tav­ern Sun­day (Nov. 5) at 3 p.m. Tick­ets are avail­able at the venue, 1303 Mary­hill Rd., or by call­ing 519-648-3644. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit­mer­cial­tav­

The show is part of a fid­dlin’ week­end at the venue, as fid­dler Carl Kees will be join­ing Paul We­ber’s band for a show Satur­day night.


The Bal­lagh Fam­ily, Paige, Matthew, Jan­ice, Michael, De­van and Gary, bring their var­ied tal­ents to the stage Nov. 5 in Mary­hill.


The Bal­lagh kids be­gan per­form­ing at a young age, adding to their reper­toire as the years went on.

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