The Makem & Spain Brothers are the real deal, Irish music-wise. The band features Mickey Spain, left, Shane Makem, brothers Rory and Conor, and Liam Spain.
Bringing a bit o’ Ireland to the world
Brothers' group will perform to benefit the St. Patrick's Day Parade
Thanks to the fortuitous arrival of a cruise ship at Aloha Tower, the folk supergroup The Makem & Spain Brothers will make its local debut Saturday. The brothers have been playing Irish music cruises for three years. This one brings them to Hawaii in time for a benefit concert thrown by the Society of the Friends of St. Patrick to raise funds for the annual St. Patrick Day Parade.
The Makem & Spain Brothers
A benefit for the Honolulu St. Patrick's Day Parade:
In concert: 8 p.m. Saturday
Place: Events at the Tower (formerly Kapono's), Aloha Tower Marketplace
Tickets: $25; $20 students and military (21 and over only), available at Kelley O'Neil's in Waikiki and O'Toole's Irish Pub downtown
Call: 550-8457 or visit at www.honoluluboxoffice.com
Shane Makem, oldest of the three Makem brothers, said they've traveled by ship through some distinctly un-Irish destinations as the Caribbean and, now, on this interisland cruise in the Pacific.
"These things usually last a week and they make for nice working vacations," he said by phone from his home in Dover, N.H., earlier this week. "But it gives us and other Irish musicians and fans a chance to intermingle. We're pretty excited to make our first visit to Hawaii."
Before this, the farthest west the band had traveled was Butte, Mont., where they received a surprising reception. Music fans there "were so excited and enjoying what we were doing," he said.
Makem is joined in the band by siblings Conor and Rory, and another pair of brothers, Mickey and Liam Spain. They offer a rich, sonorous blend of three-part harmony vocals and many a stringed and Irish instrument for accompaniment.
Since the band's inception in 2003, the brothers have built on the rich tradition left by the Makems' grandmother Sarah and father, Tommy, who helped popularize traditional Irish folk music in the United States in the 1960s, performing with another group of brothers, Pat, Tom and Liam Clancy.
"I've met plenty of people in the biz who said if it wasn't for the band the Clancy Brothers and my dad had, they wouldn't have been into Irish music. And my grandmother, she was what you call a source singer, someone who knew a lot of songs, and when folk music researchers were collecting songs in the '50s and '60s, they went to her as source."
Makem said his grandmother worked in a mill, where the songs helped pass the time. "Later, my dad and the Clancys developed the songs as a stage show. We come from that tradition."
Their first album was titled, not surprisingly, "Like Others Did Before Us," and their latest album is a live recording.
"Some fans would like us to do more of the older songs my dad did and we grew up with," Makem said, "but we knew we couldn't build a career strictly from those songs. So that's why we've been getting into some Scottish and Australian music, plus writing our own songs."
The Makem brothers had a long career going before joining forces with the Spains. "The Spain brothers used to have a regular gig at a club here in Dover. They learned their music from their father. After making a point to see them, our personalities clicked, we got together one weekend, and it evolved from there."