What would St. Patrick’s Day be without an Irish jig or
two? A folk music duo that bills itself as Men of Worth performs in Oregon,
Northern California, Washington, Idaho, Montana and other locations where
Celtic music remains an important part of the heritage. They also lead guided tours of Ireland
and Scotland to share their musical roots.
The pair includes James Keigher, from County Mayo in West Ireland, and Donnie Macdonald, who hails from the Isle of Lewis, an island off the west coast of Scotland. The musicians met in Southern California in 1985 through the Celtic music scene and play several instruments including mandolin, guitar, mandocello, banjo, concertina and bodhran (a hand-held drum).
Macdonald sings some of the tunes in his native Gaelic and Keigher shares pieces from the oral traditions of his home. “Our music has its history in the life of my Hebridean homeland and James’ western Ireland,” Macdonald points out. “It was a part of the fabric of everyday life and it came to America with the immigrants a century ago. “
Exposing new generations to songs they may never have heard or sharing the tender memories from the past with those who had not listened to them in years, is a special gift the Men of Worth share when performing their unique show which blends their ballads with stories that combine humor, tradition and tunes.
Macdonald says the irony is as boys the pair listened mostly to the music of America, such as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell from their radios in Europe, but now they have returned to their own musical bloodlines. They could not escape the emotion and tradition of their homeland song heritage. “We could not grow away from these sounds,” Macdonald adds, “so we have preserved them as accurately and authentically as we could.”
Not all of the music Men of Worth performs is historic or traditional - some are original pieces. Keigher wrote one song after overhearing two women gossiping at a villager market and some of Macdonald’s songs have roots in his mother’s poetry. They have recorded 10 albums showcasing their original and historic pieces.
What: Marin Onstage presents Men of Worth
A Celtic Winter event with folk music from Ireland and Scotland
When: March 16, 2 p.m.
Where: Marin Center
10 Avenue of the Flags