Playing this summer: Mitzi MacDonald and Keltic Reign
Mitzi MacDonald comes by her love of Celtic music naturally. She was born and raised on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. Growing up on Cape Breton, which was settled by immigrants from Scotland, she learned how to play piano, and grew up surrounded by world-class musicians steeped in Celtic music traditions.
MacDonald was touring throughout Canada by her late teens, and after moving to Nashville, Tenn., in 1985 and recording two albums, she settled in St. Louis. Mitzi continued to perform in the area, recording several more albums of her original music - “A Shelter For My Soul,” “Here I Am” – and her latest, “Higher Ground.”
MacDonald still performs regularly solo, singing at the piano – as well as in duo or trio settings - at numerous churches, and intimate venues like the Wine Press. But over the past decade, she has also made regular appearances with her seven-piece band, Keltic Reign.
The group, which blends music from the Celtic tradition with the traditional music of Cape Breton and Nova Scotia as well as MacDonald’s original compositions, has also released a CD, “Live the Dance.”
Over the past decade, the band has appeared in annual Christmas concerts at the Sheldon, as well as at venues ranging from the Whitaker Festival to this Sunday’s concert at Carondelet Park. And the group’s personnel has evolved to include a younger generation of musicians – MacDonald’s daughters, Holly on fiddle, mandolin and whistle, and Ashby on accordion, bodhran and whistle.
“The neatest thing about Keltic Reign is the evolution of the band,” explains MacDonald. “My kids cut their teeth listening to us play…and now they are part of the band!”
Here’s more info on Mitzi McDonald & Keltic Reign – provided by Mitzi (except in one noted place).
HOME: My family and I live in Kirkwood ... but we have only been able to say this for the past month! It was Bridgeton for 20 years before that.
AGE: The band is now 10 years old, but we have moved into the next generation.
INSTRUMENTS: I play piano and sing. My daughter Holly (age 15) plays fiddle and mandolin, and my daughter Ashby (age 12) plays accordion and tin whistle. Randy Getz plays accordion, keyboards and bodhran. Michael Levine is on guitar. Carl Hasse plays bass. And we have either Rob Silverman or Charlie Nesmith on drums – depending on who is available.
HOBBIES: I play my piano and ride my bike. I also love to play music with my kids … when they'll make time for me!
Holly and Ashby like to play music and dance with St. Louis Irish Arts. And of course, they like to just be teenagers and hang with friends. Randy is a Sherlock Holmes enthusiast and a home chef.
LAST CONCERT ATTENDED: Between everyone in the band a lot! The last one I went to was at Focal Point, one of my favorite places to hear music – and play. But I can’t remember the band’s name. That's bad. But they were good! Holly's latest concert was Darren Criss at Six Flags. She is a huge fan, and said he was wonderful! Carl saw the Eagles and Dixie Chicks at Busch Stadium. He went with his daughter, and said he had a blast … and was so honored that she asked him to go with her.
LATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: We moved! It took us more than a year to sell our house in Bridgeton. We were hit by the 2011 tornado, and then the 2012 hail storm ... so we were very happy to have moved on (and may this weather pattern not follow us)! We were essentially homeless for 6 weeks with two cats and two dogs ... and STILL managed to find our dream home in Kirkwood. It's been a very exciting summer!
WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO: I speak for the whole band here. We love to see people happy and having fun. It's pretty simple, really. We feel we have really good music, and a really fun presentation to communicate that. The happier our audience is, the happier we are ... and I always feel the spokes of that wheel as it is turning. It is such a joy-filled dance really ... as we dance with our audience!
QUOTE: Here’s a quote I love … "Friends are people who know the words to the song in your heart, and sing them back to you when you have forgotten them." Carol Kutlow.
And here’s one from Randy… "Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds." Bob Marley
Carondelet Park Concert Series
Sponsored by the Carondelet Community Betterment Federation, this venerable series is in its 24th year of presenting free concerts on Sundays in the summer.
Concerts take place on the Gazebo Stage by the lake in the park. If you’re getting there on I-55, take the Loughborough Exit and go west on Loughborough, then into the park. The concert begins at 5:30 p.m. and goes until 7:30 p.m. Lawn chairs or blankets are advised, and you may bring coolers with food and your choice of beverages. The final performance in this year’s series takes place Sunday, Aug. 19 and features Cornet Chop Suey. For more information, call 314-289-5300.