CityMusicWashington, DC

A band is born – Séan McCann and the Committed!

by Sheila Duffy

I squealed with delight when I first read the announcement – Séan McCann and The Committed seanmcann-ticket-stubwere headed my way – and not just once, but for two nights!  I would be joining friends Stephanie, Robin, Tom and Becky at Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis, MD and Jammin Java in Vienna, VA.

Séan McCann is the founding member of Great Big Sea and I have loved his songwriting and singing for more than a decade, but on Sept 27 (and 28) he was debuting his solo material with the newly formed band, The Committed.

The Committed are Kelly Russell (concertina, mandola, fiddle) and Craig Young (Dobro, guitar and mandolin) They have decades of  diverse musical experience between them.  And when these three fine musicians from Newfoundland took to the stage,  it was quite a ride!  Séan had laid down the marker – he would make us laugh and cry, sing and dance – and boy, did we!

sean-mccann-bandI wasn’t prepared for just how good this group would be so soon after forming.  Like Lullabies for Bloodshot Eyes before it, the songs from Séan’s second solo effort, Son of a Sailor, are deeply personal and weave tales of hope, regret, loss and love. The Committed effortlessly mix ballads and raucous tunes; Newfoundland traditional and old-school country, and it works!

The high caliber of the show was evident from the very first song.  Appropriately, it began with a song about road weariness and the life of a traveling musician, masked in an upbeat mix — Long Road (lead me on). Sung live, it really evokes the pain and acceptance of the often lonely life on the road.  ‘this road is going to be the death of me, tonight might be my last, with 18 wheels tied to steel, there’ll be no turning back…’

The title track, Son of a Sailor pays tribute to the men of the sea in his family, but I guess it really can translate to any path in life.  Tonight, it was simply beautiful!

The Reply just brings the tears…not full on crying…just tears.  To have such a life-long love is to be commended and celebrated, even in death. But I guess that’s what we strive for — a life worth celebrating, so maybe those were tears of joy!

I think my favorite of the album and this night was Doing Fine — a beautiful tale of loneliness, hope and acceptance rolled together.  ‘Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, somebody put me under some kind of curse, feel like I drank a whole barrel of wine, man I feel like this most of the time, other than that, I’m doing fine’ (refrain).

And for the dancers among us, they brought a new twist to The Rover and The Night Pat Murphy Died — traditional songs I’ve been singing and dancing to for 12 years.  Their familiarity was welcome, but I would have been just as happy with some additional solo material (or a rumored new song)

My only complaint — the show was not long enough:)

Séan’s command of the stage and his easy banter with the audience and the band were refreshing seanmcann-ticket-2and impressive!  Both nights were different given that one show was all ages and one show was 21+.  That he gave Kelly and Craig room to showcase their immense talents, only made Séan and the entire band shine that much more!  Craig’s beautifully rendered Back Home was enough to send me to Amazon post-show to download his album.  (I already have some of Kelly’s fine work!)

I so wish I could have traveled to see more of this new band, but I think we’ll be seeing more of Séan McCann and The Committed in the future!

‘I wonder who was out last night, who paid to see the show…’ (Doing Fine)

We were and we’d do it again in a minute:)

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