Séan McCann to ‘Sail’ into NoHo

By Ellie Rulon-Miller

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Séan McCann, perhaps best known for his membership in Canadian rock outfit Great Big Sea, will be performing at the Iron Horse Music Hall tonight with his new trio, Séan McCann and the Committed.

McCann’s new group is not a very far cry from Great Big Sea. Both have a distinctly traditional feel to them, though Séan McCann and the Committed are more American country-sounding whereas Great Big Sea is famous for their folk-rock songs. Both groups also regularly incorporate sea shanties and maritime imagery into their songs.

McCann, who toured with Great Big Sea for about 18 years, is known among fans for his instrumental capabilities – in addition to playing guitar for the band, he also played the bodhrán (a type of drum) and the tin whistle. He is also known for his vocal harmonies and for the songs he sings lead on, including the well-known folk song “The Night Paddy Murphy Died.” A native of Newfoundland, McCann has never been a stranger to such traditional ditties. Several members of Great Big Sea contributed to the production of his most recent release, “Son of a Sailor.”

With his new group, McCann is taking a step back from what he is used to – Great Big Sea has enjoyed tremendous popularity in Canada, playing to huge crowds and producing a slew of 90s alt-rock music videos to their pop-infused Celtic and folk-rock songs. The group put out 27 singles since their first, self-titled release in 1993. Most of their records have achieved Gold or Platinum status in Canada.

To prompt excitement for Séan McCann and the Committed’s tour, the group has posted a few videos on their YouTube account, including one of the trio practicing in McCann’s kitchen (just after his kids have been rushed out the door to make it to school on time, he writes). The group also appeared on CMT earlier this year, performing “Simple Song.” On Sept. 9, McCann wrote about the commitment he sees in his fans – anybody who buys advanced tickets to one of their performances can win an additional pair of tickets to the same show, and McCann himself will give one lucky person (and their friends) a private lesson on how to play the bodhrán.

McCann’s first album outside of Great Big Sea, “Lullabies for Bloodshot Eyes,” was released in Feb. 2010. “Son of a Sailor” came out in February of this year and, according to both McCann’s website and a number of others, “provides the listener with a collection of first person narratives” and “invites the listener to briefly live in the life of another.” In traditional folk fashion, his songs tell stories. Of the album, McCann writes, “Long nights on the road mated with extended periods of time off have confused my Gemini mind sufficiently to convince it that poetry melting into melody can make sense of my world.”

The doors for the show are at 5:30 p.m. and McCann’s set begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are available for $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

Ellie Rulon-Miller can be reached at [email protected]