Although the focus of this blog has been, and remains, dedicated to the Canadian music scene, there is just too much good music that stretch beyond these borders. Team GDW have been contemplating for several months now on whether we should feature the occasional non-Canadian artist whose music has etched itself into our music psyche. And if we do, should it be a regular feature? Should it have a catchy title for a recurring series? Or should it be something that appears only if we feel that a wider audience deserves the opportunity to share something wonderful? There are several wonderful acts here in the US that would be worthy (with Canadian dates on their tour schedules). The UK folk scene is bursting with great new talent. And of course, the Australian scene is pretty vibrant too.
We recently reported on our experience at the Montreal Folk Festival last month, and how such an event allowed us to discover artists with whom we were completely unfamiliar. Several performances grabbed our attention, luring us to the front of the stage to discover just who was filling our eardrums with great musicianship, collective harmonies and wonderfully crafted lyrics. One such act was The Mae Trio, three young ladies from Melbourne, Australia, who were embarking on a full Canadian/US tour to promote their most recent “Take Care Take Cover” album. Their brief set and on-stage presence not only captured but easily held our attention, and we were happy to pick up this new album for our collection. We also hoped that the opportunity would arise for us to see these girls again.
Imagine our surprise when finding out that not only were The Mae Trio venturing into our backyard just a few weeks later, but they would be playing a house concert in Lancaster, PA on the only Saturday evening that was still open on our concert calendar. With reservations made, we took the short drive this last Saturday evening to Chestnut House for what would prove to be a wonderful night of great music with this very talented collective. Comprised of sisters Maggie and Elsie Rigby and Anita Hillman, The Mae Trio performed a two-part, sixteen track set list to the packed house with both original material and a selection of popular folk cover songs.
With a natural emphasis on the most recent material, the first set strongly favored the latest album. Tracks included “Call Me Stranger,” “Parallel Park,” “Waterlily,” and “Sweet As Honey.” This theme continued during the second set, with “Mr Moon,” “Heart Of A Storm,” and “Skye” all performed flawlessly and well received by the crowd. With the addition of cover versions (the Lorde track “Buzzcut Season”, Dougie MacLean track “She Loves Me” and Gord Sampson’s “Storm Warning”), The Mae Trio would also include a few cuts from their “Housewarming” album before closing with a rousing rendition of “Well Enough Alone” from the new release. With a well-deserved ovation from all in attendance, the trio would return for an encore, and opted to cover a traditional folk piece to close the show.
Both Maggie and Elsie endeared themselves to the crowd with tales in between tracks, some in reference to the stories behind the song, and others about their observations on life and their travelling experiences. From Maggie’s emotional tale of her grandma’s battle with dementia, to Elsie’s amusing anecdotes about learning to drive, and a collective decision to pay pilgrimage to The Isle of Skye, several tracks took on a new life with the deeper understanding of the inspiration behind the lyrics. Anita added her harmonies (taking the lead on one track) and worked magic all evening keeping perfect time with her mastery of the cello. Maggie appeared to be fighting her own personal battle with ‘the weather,’ but maintained a dedicated ‘the show must go on’ attitude and kept her symptoms at bay throughout the evening.
With this being their first real tour of the USA, we are grateful that The Mae Trio are spending time on our continent to share their musical talents with us. With some remaining dates back in Canada, and then some time out west, Team GDW strongly recommend that you spend some time in their company if you appreciate traditional folk music with a modern twist. Great musicians, great lyricists, and great performers, The Mae Trio are definitely an act that you should be adding to your music collection.
The Mae Trio Set List:
- Call Me Stranger
- Buzzcut Season (Lorde Cover)
- Sweet As Honey
- Parallel Park
- Mr Moon
- She Loves Me (When I Try) (Dougie MacLean Cover)
- Heart Of A Storm
- Storm Warning (Gord Sampson Cover)
- Only Ever Growing
- Well Enough Alon
Visit Chestnut House Concerts’ website (if you live near Lancaster, PA, we highly recommend it).