Joel McKenna is the guitarist for the Steel City Rovers – He has been playing acoustic guitar since a very young age and is able to capture the soul of the song in his playing and through backing vocals. Joel also spends time in the recording studio – not just with Steel City Rovers material, but with other recording artists as well.
The show at Chestnut House Concerts is tomorrow night (Thursday, June 18, 2015). If you’ve procrastinated with your RSVP, it’s not too late. Potluck at 6, Show at 7. Contact Tim at email@example.com or call/text 7179409311. We’ve reviewed all 5 members of the Steel City Rovers: Jess, Mark, Ryan, Dave and Joel – and now we welcome the band to Lancaster, Pa.
Ryan McKenna of the Steel City Rovers was kind enough to speak with me about his band from Hamilton, Ontario.
Hamilton, like Pennsylvania’s Steel City, is experiencing urban renewal – from steel to medicine. The Juravinski family is investing dollars in cancer research and with this new energy there are fresh possibilities. Young people are re-purposing city space as active living areas with lots of art and music. Old places are becoming re-energized, helping the community wake up from the stupor of previous generations.
“Broadly speaking, our culture in North America is going through a shift. Things cannot be done the same way anymore” said McKenna. He then related this cultural transition to the Rover’s approach to Celtic music. The band plays only original tunes bringing newness to Celtic roots by looking back to traditional ways of playing the music and giving it a twist. While a song might be brought to the band with the lyrics and melody already together, (Ryan is the lyricist) band members might change a line or add an idea. The Rover’s work well together and when something doesn’t feel right, they maintain the delicate balance between knowing when to seek change and when to step back.
Ryan and guitarist Joel McKenna are siblings and have been making music together all their lives. About 10 years ago multi-instrumentalist Mark Fletcher came to a pub where Ryan and Joel were performing and he sat in on some songs with them and they’ve played together ever since. Drummer Danno O’Shea played with the Rover’s until he became too busy to make a full time commitment to a band. Danno recommended his protégé Jess Gold; she and fiddle player Dave Neigh round out the five piece band.
The Steel City Rovers continue to gain recognition in the music industry and this year received their second nomination for the ethnic/world category at the Hamilton Music Awards. McKenna notes that the band is receiving acknowledgement for strong vocal harmonies and songwriting but also as an instrumental powerhouse. The Rovers are now playing on stages that they’ve wanted to be on for quite some time. While the large venues are fun, the small house shows or pubs are what they’re most used to and familiar with. There’s no division between the performer and the audience.
Two of the most asked questions when hosting house concerts are “what kind of music is it?” and “what should I bring to the potluck?”. Ryan’s answers are “Celtabilly” and “Guiness always pairs well with music”.
Hope to see you on Thursday evening. RSVP with Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org or give a call/text to 717-940-9311.
Jess Gold is the percussionist for the Steel City Rovers from Hamilton, Ontario. Jess has been playing drums for over seven years,and although her playing style is often described as electric funk, she loves to perform all types of music. Jess truly comes alive when entertaining an audience. At our house concern venue Jess will not use a full drum kit but will add percussion with the cajón and other rhythm instruments. She currently attends Humber College for the Bachelor Degree Program in Music. Her aim is to create a solid foundation on which she can build a lifetime full of music.
The Steel City Rovers will appear at Chestnut House Concerts on Thursday, June 18, 2015. Potluck at 6, Show at 7. Suggested donation of $15/20. RSVP with Tim at email@example.com or call/text 71794-09311.