Oak Bay introduces sisters Cassie and Maggie MacDonald to the Vancouver Island audience as they bring their traditional Nova Scotia roots to the Island for the first time Friday night.
Their Upstairs Lounge stop is the second-last show of the West Coast tour so they have one small request of the audience.
“We’re going to really need some energetic people at that show,” said Cassie in a phone call while giving their rental car a break somewhere south of Seattlte. “We’re going to need the very best audience participation.”
They’re hopeful for that audience input from toe-tappers to those willing to learn and use the “Nova Scotia holler”, best described as a yipping sound and just one of the East Coast kitchen party tidbits they offer.
“We get the audience to practise and then we do a set where each song builds the energy so they can really practise their Nova Scotia holler. It’s a good point in the show … people are getting to know each other and by the time that set comes people are really involved,” Cassie said. “Maggie and I are sisters so we grew up listening to each other and learning to play with each other. We can tell what each other’s thinking musically before we even do it, so it makes for an energetic show. We can change on a whim … we’re always able to tailor the concert to what the audience is really feeling.”
Maggie performs on piano, guitar and as lead singer while Cassie sings harmony and plays the fiddle. They both add a little step dancing to the performance.
“We’ve been trekking around this four-by-two piece of plywood for the whole tour and it’s starting to get a little beat up,” Cassie said with a laugh. “We like to keep it nice and lively for sure.”
Cassie and Maggie have received nominations at both the Canadian Folk Music Awards and the East Coast Music Awards, enchanting audiences with their energy, songs and stories.
“One of our favourite things to do is tell the story and history behind the music,” said Cassie, adding their grandparents were well known Antigonish musicians, as are many of their cousins. “We have a lot of connection to the music and some pretty funny stories to tell along with the tune.”
The young duo will be in the tail end of their first West Coast tour and their inaugural Vancouver Island performance May 8 at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 6 for those seeking dinner and a show at Upstairs Lounge, Oak Bay Recreation Centre, 1975 Bee St. Tickets are $12 in advance at Ivy’s Books and Oak Bay Recreation Centre reception or $15 at the door or online at beaconridge productions.com.
Get a taste of their music at cassieandmaggie.com.