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Maggie’s Wake Should Liven Up Your St. Patrick’s Day

The award-winning folk group will release their self-titled debut album on March 17.

Maggie’s Wake aim to take over your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations with their self-titled debut album, arriving March 17.

It took just over a year for the award-winning London, Ont., group to write, record and release their first studio set, which was preceded by the holiday single Christmas is Coming (For You) and the haunting Bridget O’Brien. The album showcases their vast talents both as story tellers and musicians and has been a labour of love for the women who front Maggie’s Wake: Singer and multi-instrumentalist Tara Dunphy and Lindsay Schindler, fiddler and harmony vocalist.

Don’t let the Celtic instrumentation of fiddles, whistles and flute fool you. It may lead you to believe that Maggie’s Wake are just another folk band playing jigs with a slightly modern spin but what you’re going to find is a refreshing and exciting departure. From the first notes of the spaghetti western-inspired, Sadies-style Grosse Isle (Far Away), you are transported to New Frontier, which delivers the harrowing true story of an Irish immigrant moving to Canada on a coffin ship. In typical Maggie’s Wake form, they depart from the expected and instead of a traditional pedal steel guitar, it’s the tin whistle delivering those mournful high notes and the new frontier in question is not the wild west, but the island in Quebec that became the final resting place for thousands of hopeful immigrants.

Photo by Lucid Musings.

The voyage continues through the turbulent Harrison’s Way and lilting Adaptation, instrumentals that manage to convey the feelings of turmoil and resilience more effectively than words could. Whether you’re being taken to Louisiana and the decadence of New Orleans with the cajun sounds of twin fiddles or reverting to your free-spirited youth in Arcane, this album is all about the journey, not the destination.

Most of these pieces were written throughout the pandemic, with Bridget O’Brien in particular being a product of Dunphy’s long walks through a local emetery, finding inspiration in the solitude and imagining the lives of these people who were now just names etched in stone. Maid of Fortune is a promise to be there, even in the darkest times and Dochas is quite literally hope, in the Gaelic language. With the help of guest artists such as legendary country picker Nichol Robertson and Canadian Folk Music Award-winning guitarist Kyle Weymouth — along with their incredibly versatile backing band — the women of Maggie’s Wake have indeed made a genre crossing debut that is authentic, original and inspired.

The anchor to the album is the epic, four-movement piece Maggie’s Wake, which follows the path of grief through loss, remembrance, acceptance and finally, celebration of what once was and in the case of this band, what is still to come.

Maggie’s Wake are a refreshing addition to Canada’s folk music scene, and already they have been recognized with the 2023 Forest City London Music Award for Best Folk/Roots group, they were official showcase artists at the Folk Alliance International conference in Kansas City in February and will be embarking on their first U.S tour in the fall of 2024.

Check out their earlier singles below and above, and join the party on their website.


Photo by Lucid Musings.