We first encountered the Bancroft, ON traditional fiddle and step dancing siblings, The Fitzgeralds, back at the PA Celtic Classic in 2018, and were mesmerized by not only their stellar musicianship and dancing skills, but by the genuine camaraderie that this family share. Comprised of sisters Julie (fiddle/piano/percussion) and Kerry (fiddle/piano/u-bass), brother Tom (fiddle/guitar/vocals), and accompanied on guitar by Stratford, ON guitarist Kyle Waymouth, their short 40-minute set in Bethlehem earned our full attention, and we knew this was a band to catch up with again one day.
“We are The Fitzgeralds and we come all the way from snowy Canada to be with you here tonight in the tropical paradise of York, Pennsylvania,” shared Kerry following a pair of opening tunes from the stage of the Appell Center for the Performing Arts this past Friday night. “We are so excited to be here, finally, I think it’s taken about three years of planning and rescheduling, and we’re very excited and we’ve had three years of practice.” The audience were already captivated by the warmth and friendliness emanating from the stage, prompting Kerry to continue. “We are a family group, a group of siblings, so I’ll introduce the gang up here,” she added. “Beside me this is my sister Julie Fitzgerald, and Julie is actually a two-time Canadian Grand Masters fiddle champion.” Pausing for the applause, Kerry would pick the thread back up, “It’s not a big deal. Next to Julie, this is our younger brother Tom Fitzgerald, and Tom is actually a bit of a disappointment, he is only a one-time Canadian Grand Masters fiddle champion.” Another pause for the audience appreciation. “And my name is Kerry Fitzgerald, and I am actually a zero-time Canadian Grand Masters fiddle champion.”
Drawing upon a selection of original material from their two studio albums, and mixing in a handful of traditional folk music pieces, the quartet kept the energy levels high all evening – dazzling with their triple fiddle assault and frequent step dance routines. Tom would add vocals on a selection of covers, including a stunning version of the Bob Wills western-swing classic, “It’s All Your Fault” (found on their 2019 self-titled album), and also on the traditional bluegrass number, “Temperance Reel.” Julie would take time to share news of becoming a mother during the pandemic, and dedicated a new solo piece titled “Evelyn’s Tune” to her daughter, while Kerry would take the spotlight during one of her compositions, “The Dwyers.” Sibling rivalries would escalate during a dance-off between the sisters, giving both Julie and Kerry the opportunity to display their incredible step dancing skills once more – even donning Superman and Batman t-shirts whilst duking it out for the most whoops, hollers, and applause.
Following a short intermission, The Fitzgeralds returned for an equally up-tempo second set, with Tom addressing the room following the first pair of tunes. “Welcome back. That last set was started with a jig that Kerry wrote called “The Lakehouse,” and then went into a Scottish tune called “St. Andrews Flight.” Tom would also share a tale about the music of Canadian folk icon Stan Rogers, before performing a beautiful rendition of Stan’s tune, “The Northwest Passage.” Tom took a solo moment to offer some insider tips about fiddle playing, opening up his bow to demonstrate playing chords on a violin by having the bow make contact with all four strings. He would also perform an instrumental version of “Over The Rainbow,” another track found on their 2019 album.
With the return of his three companions, another outstanding display of synchronized step dancing would commence, this time also featuring some nifty moves from Kyle – himself a five-time Canadian Open Step Dance Champion. And with the evening winding down, Kerry would once again address the room, thanking the crowd for their support, and sharing news of a future PA performance in the pipeline, before closing out the evening with some original tunes and dances to once again thrill all with their unrelenting energy. The 90-minute performance would be closed out by another energetic burst of music and dance for their encore, before sending an appreciative crowd to the exits. A fabulous (and much needed) evening of entertainment from this incredibly talented touring band.
- The Red Haired Boy
- The Fox
- It’s All Your Fault (Bob Wills cover)
- *Dance Off*
- Evelyn’s Tune
- The Dwyers
- Temperance Reel
- PEI Set
- Lakehouse / St. Andrews Flight
- The Northwest Passage (Stan Rogers cover)
- Finn Flute / Ed In The Clouds
- Over the Rainbow (Tom solo)
- *Synchronized Step Dance*
- One Bird / Billy The Bully