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original site launched April 1, 2004, .com relaunched October 1, 2004
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The McKassons: Celtic Folk Hits Tacoma
November 10, 2006 - The Mandolin Cafe
by Karla Ash
In an independent music scene oversaturated with the same sort of scruffy, punk-ish young acts, the McKassons completely stand out, especially in the Pacific Northwest. The Tacoma group have absolutely nothing to do with oft-imitated local acts Death Cab for Cutie or Modest Mouse; instead, they are a family-run Celtic combo with a yen for bluegrass and Bruce Springsteen. Fresh from a glowing review in the mighty Boston Globe, the McKassons took a minute off from their East Coast tour to chat with the Wig.
Karla Ash: I'm not aware of any Celtic bands in the Pacific Northwest, especially Tacoma. How did the group come together and where did this interest in traditional Irish and Scottish music originate from?
Cali McKasson: There arenít a lot of Celtic bands in Tacoma. There are a lot in the Pacific Northwest, though. Portland is fast becoming the place to live, if you are a Celtic musician. Ryan and I are siblings. So we have been playing music together most of our lives. We both started on our instruments when we were three and four. Our early education was in classical music. Ryan always wanted to fiddle because we grew up in Texas. Fiddling is a big part of the culture there. He started in Texas style fiddling and didnít really like it. So his fiddle teacher introduced him to Scottish style playing. Our family heritage on my dadís side is Scottish. The McKasson clan migrated from Scotland in the mid-1800s and settled in Idaho. Then my dadís relatives moved to Tacoma, where they were builders. We just connected to the music of Scotland Ė it was in our blood and soul. This music moves us so much and it has given us a musical voice that we are inspired to share. The group has grown as our family has grown. It started out as a brother/sister duo. Now we have added Ryanís wife Brooke (vocals) and her brother, Matt Jerrell (Drums). We have such a family bond on and off stage. It works really well.
Ash: What is your fan base like locally? Do you have a lot of people going to your shows often?
McKasson: We have a really faithful fan base in Tacoma and Seattle. We are really excited at how fast it has grown. The cool thing is that we attract music lovers from all genres of music. We see the same people coming back to all our shows and they bring their friends next time. Itís great because we really build a relationship with everyone.
More on the McKassons: www.themckassons.com.
The Venue: The Mandolin Cafe
The Support: Hanneke Cassel
The Date: November 10
The Time: 8pm
The Price: $15