Mad Macs. A High-Spirited Irish & Celtic Band.
Concert, Eastside Irish American Club.
Larry McFadden, founder of Mad Macs, grew up in a traditional Irish family. Echoing throughout his childhood home were the lively Irish tunes recorded by his father on a reel-to-reel recorder. At the Saint Patrick’s Day parade with his Mum, the bagpipers with their long drone notes penetrated deep into his soul. His roots set his forty-year music career to the tune of an Irish jig. He picked up the acoustic guitar after experiencing Elvis Presley’s lively music. With guitar in hand, he went reeling towards bluegrass music because its instrumentation and chord progressions are similar to Irish music. Though he played various combinations of music over the years, his musical heart belonged to the music of the Irish and Celts. With his musician friends, he collectively formed a rollicking Irish and Celtic band called Mad Macs. Joey Malone is from the musically diverse area of Collinwood, and dreamt of performing Celtic music. In his youth, he took advantage of the era’s Rock & Roll Capital in Cleveland as he passionately sought tickets to concerts of great Irish performers, such as, Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore. Rocking the bass guitar Joey hooked up with Larry from the neighborhood for jam sessions that expanded his bass-guitar abilities to include the Celtic classics that he now skillfully plays in Mad Macs. Mike Mukavetz, originally from Argentina, came to the United States with a talent for playing the classical guitar. He enthusiastically strummed his way in the folk music scene, which led him to bluegrass and Celtic music. Mike connected with Larry in 1973, so when Mad Macs needed a classical guitar player Mike was the perfect fit. Mike additionally plays the Banjo, and Mandolin, and is the current music director for the band. Lorne Patrick Franklin is the newest addition to Mad Macs. He is a twenty-year veteran percussionist, rotating the beat of the music with sounding precision on the bodhran, conga and djembe drums. Lorne’s warm and stimulating sounds have enhanced many styles of music ranging from rock to reggae, jazz to avant-classical, folk to blues. However, a performance by the Drum Corps with Scottish pipes and dancing girls turned his musical interests towards Celtic music.
These talented Cleveland musicians strummed, sang, and pounded to a jig that was a little bit o’ the Irish no matter what style or combination of music they played throughout their careers. Then, as if by magic, each one arrived at Mad Macs. Maybe “the Luck of the Irish” brought them together in this surprising way, but whatever it was, Mad Macs got it right. They present an incisive stream of the ol’ sod of the Irish that share the stage with stimulating modern sounds of the Great Big Sea and Gaelic Storm. During their performance, the high-spirited songs sweep the audience along to a place where “Irish eyes are smiling.” The fun of the music abounds as the timeless melodic sounds of the Irish and Celts swirl together in each musical arrangement.
I had the pleasure of seeing the Mad Macs at the Eastside Irish American Club. The club is warmly decorated with stone and rich dark wood. As the Mad Macs took the stage, their music set the atmosphere of the club to the tone of a friendly and lively Ireland pub. During the first set, my eyes traveled around the room to see the people joyously tapping their feet and clapping their hands to the music. The fervor of the traditional Irish and Celtic music that rocked the room created a cheerful moment in time where no one was a stranger, and everything was okay with the world.
Both on stage and on their album, the Mad Macs keen flow of inspiring vocals harmonize to the sounds and rhythms of their instruments, and this synthesis takes the listener on a time travel to the “days of old” in Ireland. The vocals interfused with the finely honed strumming and commanding percussion strikes create a rich combination of Irish musicianship.
Anyone who wants to experience a little bit o’ the Irish should check out Mad Macs. Whether you catch one of their gigs around town, or snag an album, you are sure to jig and reel to the timeless musical sounds of the Irish. Enjoy!
Personnel: Larry McFadden (lead vocals and acoustic guitar), Joey Malone (vocals and bass guitar), Mike Mukavetz (lead vocals, classical guitar, banjo, mandolin), Lorne Patrick Franklin (vocals, bodhran, conga, and djembe drums).
Tracks on Mad Macs: The True Irishman, Dirty Old Town, Johnny Jump Up, God Save Ireland, When I’m Up, Whiskey in the Jar, Irish Rover
Gigs: Eastside Irish American Club, Claddagh Pub at Legacy Village, South Chagrin Lodge (Cleveland Metro parks)