Reviews for MacTalla Mor Band:
"Great Performance! Packed House & Standing Ovation" "Encore"!
Jess Karjanis-The Echo
MacTalla Mor: They Kilt It
MacTalla Mor headlined WCSU's Tartan Day Celebration last Saturday, enthralling the packed house with their unique Celtic fusion music. They were so good that if there weren’t children in the audience people would have been taking their clothes off.
Tartan Day, which provided the occasion for this great performance, is a holiday that honors Scottish heritage. Canadian native Jean Watson began petitioning for such a holiday in the mid-1980’s; in 1987, Canada was the first country to celebrate it.
Canada, the United States, Scotland and England celebrate Tartan Day on April 6 to commemorate the signing of Scotland’s Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. According to the Scottish Parliament website, this declaration demanded Scotland’s independence from British rule. Australia and New Zealand celebrate Tartan Day on July 1 to commemorate the signing of the Repeal Proclamation. This 1772 act repealed many parts of a repressive legislation that forbade, among other things, the wearing of tartan fabric.
MacTalla singer Ilana Ofgang explained that tartan is the plaid fabric that kilts are made of, and each pattern denotes a different Clan Heritage. Whatever you do, she said, “don’t call it a skirt.”
MacTalla Mor, which means Great Echo in Gaelic, is truly a family operation. WCSU grad Ilana Ofgang plays piano and sings lead vocals. Her mom, Patty Devlin-Ofgang, sings back up and plays Bodhran, a traditional Irish drum. Ofgang brother Erik helps write songs and often opens for the band with a magic act. Finally, brothers Levon, 14, and Jesse, 18, play bagpipes. Levon and Jesse dressed in full Scottish gear, including kilts with daggers. “If anyone messes up,” said Jesse, referring to his knife, “it’s all over.”
Backing up this musical family, Nadav Snir-Zelniker plays drums and Pete Orlanski plays bass. Dancers Kiera Elkow and Kinleigh O’Connor accompanied this performance with their fancy Celtic footwork (luckily, nobody messed up).
To put it simply, MacTalla Mor sounds like the music at a St. Patrick’s Day carnival next to an Ecuadorian volleyball tournament. The band alternates between traditional Celtic songs and funky bagpipe grooves. They even rocked out “St. Thomas,” a Caribbean-inspired jazz standard by Sonny Rollins. “I thought Ricky Martin was gonna run out on stage right there,” said audience member Mike Devaney. “That was metal.”
The band’s traditional ballads were the most touching, though. One old Irish song, called “Keg of Brandy,” told the heartfelt tale of a drunk who “was thinking of lovely Molly” and was “always drunk until (he) was sober.” A Scottish lullaby, “Skye Boat Song,” had less to do with drinking and more to do with a heroic patriot who died in battle. Towards the end of the second set, Ilana held the audience rapt as she began an a cappella version of the familiar Scottish tune “Auld Lang Syne.” Just as everyone was about to break into tearful Tartan Day Resolutions, the band burst into funk awesomeness. Guess we didn’t have to drink more and love our neighbors after all…or did we?
MacTalla Mor tried to close the night with a Celtic toast, but the audience wouldn’t let them leave. After a standing ovation and screams of “Encore!” and “Free Bird!” the band started on jamming on “St. Thomas” again. Young and old conga-lined around the Student Center Theater, dancing to MacTalla’s Celtic carnival.
Sadly, the conga line had to end somewhere. In the words of an old Irish poet, “Fill to ma a parting glass. Goodnight and joy to all.”
"Driving Grooves Pack the Dance Floor"
Dan Barry-Hartford Advocate
"Celtic music for the masses"...On Sunday, Celtic rockers Mac-Talla Mo'r played the Connecticut Irish Festival. With a motto like "the pipes are calling -- resistance is futile," you know they have to be good. And while they classify themselves as a Celtic roots band, their driving grooves seem to have a way of packing the dance floor with people who don't know (or care) what a jig is. Bagpipes, drums, keyboards, bodhran -- these guys have it all. There's even a magician who entertains the crowd while they play. They bring a party vibe wherever they go, so even if Celtic music isn't your bag, give them a listen -- you might be surprised..
The Hartford Advocate
"A Gem. MacT Melts the Walls between genres"
"What a gem! Mac-T is, hands-down, the most musical fun I've had in recent memory. This unpretentious ensemble manages to melt the walls between genres with an absolutely unique lyrical and dynamic music. Their performance style is such that listeners of all ages and tastes find themselves personally engaged in the Mac-T 'experience'. One comes away quite happy and energized...almost surprised at the amount of fun they just had. Most highly recomended."
-John Baken, IMRW Magazine