Great Big Sea swells local performing arts center
October 06, 2009


The musical group Great Big Sea gathers to open the second half of their performance in Joplin recently.

Great Big Sea surged like the ocean from which they take their name when they performed recently in the Taylor Performing Arts Center at Missouri Southern State University.

Dr. Chad Stebbins, director of the Institute of International Studies was excited to report that over 1,000 spectators filled the auditorium on October 5, 2009, to listen, clap and sway to the music of this Celtic rock group from Newfoundland. Clearly, the event was the most popular of the events scheduled for the Canada Semester, the theme designated for fall 2009 that includes a free series of events meant to acquaint students and the community with many aspects of a chosen country considered vital to the United States.

The band's cult following were quickly on their feet in what they considered the best position to embrace the music. With a backdrop of ever changing lights and visual images, the five musicians, playing several instruments that kept a grip hopping, pushed the boundaries of their art and music. The sounds reverberating throughout the theatre were as thunderous at times as waves crashing against the shore...helped out as time progressed by the sound man who upped the intensity.

The easy-going repartee of the group worked well with the introduction of several Irish folk tunes, although it appeared that the lyrics chosen were less bawdy than the musicians might have been accustomed to singing. After All, thoroughly mesmerized by what he was seeing and hearing, Jack, a wee tot, was in the front row with his mom and grandmom. He momentarily became part of the show when lead guitarist Alan Doyle lifted him high into the air.

Based on his bio "lusty songs of loose women and pirates" would best be attributed to Sean McCann into whose hands a bodhrán was placed at an early age. The Celtic frame drum made of stretched goatskin has become more popular because of its increased versatility, going beyond the creation of traditional Irish music.

Demonstrating that he could play several instruments well was Bob Hallett. Besides joining the group on the fiddle, Hallett soloed with a flute and paraded around the stage compressing and expanding the bellows of a small accordion.

The drummer was Kris MacFarlane. He also is a known multi-instrumentalist. Most importantly, his Scottish background adds a unique flavor to the beat.

Photographer Vince Rosati has captured the intensity of the musicians and their audience in the photos that follow. Click on a thumbnail for a larger view.





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