The first time somebody told me the Kane Sisters were coming to the Irish Center, my 56-year-old hearing failed me.
“You mean the Haynes Sisters, from ‘White Christmas?’ The ones with the brother known as ‘Freckle-Faced Haynes, the Dog-Faced Boy?”
I was incredulous. (I didn’t believe it, either.)
It didn’t take me long to sort things out. OK, maybe a day or two. And of course, I went to their recent concert at the Philadelphia Irish Center. Why? Let’s just say I did it for an old friend in the Army.
Seriously? I went because Liz and Yvonne Kane are outstanding practitioners of the light, ornamented South Sligo style, and they were all but guaranteed to put on a superb show. I wasn’t disappointed.
Drummer that I am, I couldn’t help but love the light-speed reels. But I was more or less equally entranced by just about everything else they played.
What’s most notable about a Kane Sisters performance, though, is the smooth and seamless synchronicity of their playing. They race through complex triplets and rolls, bows sawing up and down the strings in precise, virtually identical patterns. One is the virtual mirror image of the other. To have one fiddler who plays so masterfully is one thing; to have two, side by side, so evenly matched in every respect, can be breath-taking.
The traditional music fans who weren’t down the Shore on the night of the show also received a pretty cool bonus. Jon and Nathan Pilatzke, the crazy-legged Ottawa Valley step dancers who have toured with the Chieftains, among others, made an unexpected guest appearance.
The concert took place in the Irish Center’s Fireside Room. There’s no stage there, as such, and therefore, no off-stage. So when it was time for them to make their appearance, the boys popped out of the nearby ladies room. They wasted no time or effort in pounding what I imagine were huge dents in the floor, drawing whoops and hollers from the appreciative fans in the room and at the bar.
If you didn’t make it, check out our photos.