The Mahones Bring Some Celtic Flare to the Ottawa Jazz Fest

The Mahones

The final night of the OLG After Dark series at the Ottawa Jazz Festival was another great one with the Celtic punk rock band The Mahones on June 30th.

On my way to the show I was not expecting a very large turn-out for a band that is a little outside the festival’s comfort zone, playing at 10:30 PM on a Monday and following Natalie MacMaster.  I was happily surprised to see several hundred people under the big tent. The Mahones recognized the amazing talent of jazz musicians. “Jazz music is the hardest music to play in the world, and thanks for having us.” They then jokingly said “here is our song with the word Jazz in it.”

It was a really hot and humid night, and the band from Kingston, who had just played in Atlanta, Georgia were feeling it. “Ottawa is so much hotter than Atlanta,” said guitarist and lead singer Finny McConnell. To deal with the heat they had fans propped up on roles of duct tape. The Mahones have great on stage chemistry and always look like they are having a blast, this night was no exception. It was also awesome to see, much to my surprise, local guitarist Eryk Chamberland on acoustic guitar. I had no idea he had joined the band!

Their set was full of songs spanning their 24-year career, including the excellent tracks “Shakespeare Road” and “Down the Boozer.” They also performed some covers of Irish classics such as “The Wild Rover.” My favourite cover of the night was when they went away from their Celtic roots and tapped into their punk influences, playing “I want to be Sedated” by The Ramones. A member of The Scally Cap Brats joined them for the punk rock classic and it was awesome.

The band took the time to wish us all an early happy Canada Day and passed a long a little national history lesson. “I don’t know if you know but you’re the only country that got their independence by asking for it nicely.”

This was such a fun show and a great way to mark the end of our Jazz Fest coverage. I danced so much I have blisters on my big toes, but they were certainly worth it. Cheers to The Mahones and to the entire Jazz Fest team on another great year!