The first family of Lakefield, Ontario, took to the stage of the Bangor Auditorium on Thursday night, singing, dancing and clowning their way into the hearts of a spirited audience that numbered more than 1,200.
Leahy, a Celtic octet ranging in age from 29 to 44, dug deep into their Irish and Scottish roots to perform instrumental numbers, traditional Christmas carols and some ballads they have written themselves. Two hours later, audience members left with smiles on their faces, many stopping to chat with siblings Donnell, Doug, Frank, Siobheann, Denise, Erin, Angus and Maria at an autograph table set up in the lobby.
The Leahy Celtic Christmas began with a tape recording of the Leahy clan’s parents recalling past holidays on the family’s beef farm and how music nurtured their 11 children’s souls. Then the lights came up on a simple stage adorned with a Christmas tree and a sofa that frontman Donnell said was the “hang spot” in their Canadian home.
A medley built around “Deck the Halls” was a fitting opener for three fiddles, piano and drums. The family formula seems to be, start slow and simple, then build the tempo with layers of chord progressions and other tunes mixed in. That worked well with Denise’s lead vocals on “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” which segued into “Jingle Bell Rock” and ended with “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.”
Varied performances also included “Orange Blossom Special,” a ragtime medley and the instrumentals, “The Skater,” “Chasing Rain,” “For the Love of Tara” and “The Huron Carol.”
The crowd roared its approval of a 6-year-old step-dancing girl from the Leahy family and then a lovely seven-sibling choral number, “Arise, a King Is Born.” The clan closed the show with a breathtaking dance and fiddle tune, proving that people love a family act whose only aim is to entertain its audience.