Eighth Step impresario Margie Rosenkranz introduced Munnelly with a curious label given by one critic as “the E Street Band of Irish traditional music.” She wasn’t quite sure what that meant, and neither was I. However, if it meant a band of multi-talented instrumentalists from Ireland that play their music with great gusto, well then, the label is right on the mark.
Lead by key button accordionist Dave Munnelly, the band played a wide variety of Celtic based music with bits of Quebecois, Cajun, klezmer and ragtime thrown in. Instrumental jigs/reels with the hand clapping participation of the small but appreciative audience were mixed in with sad/melancholy Scots-Irish ballads sung by guest vocalist and California native Christa Burch, as well as multi-instrumentalist Kiernan Munnelly.
Along with Dave Munnelly’s amazing work on button accordion, Kiernan Munnelly provided rhythm and color to the music by playing snare, bodhran and flute. Guitarist Dave Doocey and fiddle player Shane McGowan more than filled in additional accents, rhythm and color contributing to the band’s full sound.
The band’s enthusiastic camaraderie and good-humored banter added greatly to the fun mood of the evening. It was certainly worth braving the crowds for the sold-out performance of “The Lion King” for this fine Saturday evening performance.
Review and photographs by Rudy Lu