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The McKrells

The McKrells


"World domination" is not a phrase most of us would associate with a band, but Albany music critic David Malachowski thinks differently. "The only thing between the McKrells and world domination is time," he says in Metroland. Perhaps it's the culture-spanning comfort of their tunes or the worldclass instrumentation of this 5-piece band. Whatever the source, the McKrells deliver a unique musical vocabulary and humble their peers in the process. "Traditional suits-and-ties bluegrass The McKrells are not...But those hip enough...will soon be awash in a sound that can best be described as Irish bluegrass. Yes, it's bluegrass, mostly, but there's a lilt to the tunes, a bouncing drive to the melodies, the trace of an accent in Kevin's vocals, and here and there a touch of melancholy that seems to go hand in hand with the Irish persona," reports Bluegrass Now.

These winners of the 1996 Band Contest at the Winterhawk Bluegrass Festival are described as a "collaboration of red hot pickers who all happen to love Celtic music. It's deep in their genes, and it comes out in a unique mix of Irish-Bluegrass-Newgrass-experimental-traditional music that is catching on like crazy." A recent review of their "Better Days" release (Twin Rivers) adds, "With their unearthly combination of emotive vocals and fiery pickin' acoustic music was just invented for bands like them." Actually, it sounds like they're doing their own inventing.

Bluegrass lent them the tools: rhythm guitar, banjo, resonator guitar, mandolin, bass, and percussion for good measure are mixed in a sound as brisk as wild ponies in a roundup and as tight as thread on a spool. Kevin McKrell's vocals wrap around the band with a "madman's fervor and a lover's tenderness," for a sound that sets them apart from other bluegrass band touring the country.

After 15 years of performing, including two straight years as Performer of the Year (Metroland) and a decade as the principal songwriter/lead singer for Donnybrook Fair, McKrell finally assembled the players for his ideal band with the addition of Winfield Banjo Champion Chris "Lee" Leske, flatpicker Craig Vance, folk tock bassist-guitarist John Kribs and world beat percussionist Brian Melick.

Their Carnegie Hall performance was called "golden and triumphant," and the Daily Gazette added that "They would have stolen the show from anyone but Solas."