Monday, 15 June 2015

The Willis Clan at McGrory's Culdaff

Last night I was very privileged to meet, what I can only describe as a most amazing and inspirational family, at McGrory's in Culdaff, Co. Donegal. I've been familiar with The Willis Clan and their music for a number of years now, but on hearing them live in 'the backroom' last night, has shot my estimation of them through the roof.
The Willis Clan are a family of amazing musicians, dancers, song writers and story tellers. From Nashville, Tennessee, they merge their Irish roots with other music and dance genres to create a unique blend of the old and the new.
They are 12 siblings ranging in  age from 23 to 3. The children have won regional and national dance and music competitions and the boys have even won a number of wrestling competitions. But when this family get up on stage and sing, one can't imagine them doing anything else. The eldest 6 children play a large selection of instruments and are on stage continually. The younger ones are certainly playing a variety of instruments and singing also, and they dance at regular intervals throughout the show.
Last night The Willis Clan came on stage at approximately 8.45pm. Other than a short interval, they played, sang and danced for two hours. This was a musical spectacle in every way. Instrument changes were made regularly, siblings coming and going on stage throughout, and the little ones dancing brought a whole new dimension to a family show!
Music ranged from folk, traditional, bluegrass and even some pop/rock tinged songs.
The family are currently promoting their recent album release Heaven. This has just been released in May 2015 and has a real feeling of our very own The Corrs to it. The clan played a number of songs from it last night and it certainly is an album which will be well worth the purchase!
Although the music, song and dance was exquisite last night, one of the most familial traits I took away with me was the sheer ability of the siblings to converse and joke amongst each other on stage. Stories were told, jibes were made at each other and yet at all times, the family appear so comfortable in each others close proximity. This is no act. It is sheer love for each other and for their music and it comes across so strongly.
As their mother Brenda, joined them on stage for a selection of tunes on the guitar, it was clear to see how very proud each of the siblings are to play alongside their parent. And Dad Toby got a regular mention throughout the night for his work in the sound department.
McGrory's was the perfect setting for Donegal to showcase this family last night and the audience showed their appreciation with their final applause. Young and old witnessed a little piece of musical heaven in Culdaff on a summer's evening. The sun shone outside, but music shone inside.
The Willis Clan are not only multi-talented, but each and every one of them extremely beautiful. Natural beauty exudes for each child and it comes across in conversation. This is not any musical compilation. This is a family who have put their amazing talent together and are now showcasing it to the world. Donegal was very fortunate last night having them in 'the Backroom' and I for one will eagerly await their return visit.
Heaven is available to purchase now at all good record stores nationwide, and online. As Nike would say, 'just do it'!

G McC
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