Gordie MacKeeman (Fiddle, feet percussion, vocal)
Peter Cann (Guitar, vocals)
Tom Webb (Bass, vocals)
Jason Burbine (Bass, percussion, vocals)
There's no other band out around like Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys.
Led by fiddling wiz Gordie "Crazy Legs" MacKeeman, the roots quartet features all-star pickers and singers, with everything from down-home country to reckless rockabilly to intricate bluegrass. Now the boys are back in town with their fourth and latest release, Dreamland.
The band spent the past year exciting crowds all over the world, from Denmark's Tonder Festival and the U.K.'s Cambridge Folk Festival, to Merlefest in North Carolina and the Port Fairy Folk Festival in Australia. Crowds love them everywhere they go, thanks to Gordie's charm and flying fiddle and feet and their unique blend of just about every roots genre going. They love it all, old and new, and put on a variety show that has the fans dancing, laughing and singing along.
Along the way, they have collected a mantle full of awards and recognitions, with a grand total of 12 Music PEI Awards and East Coast Music Awards for their albums, Laugh, Dance & Sing (2015), Pickin' n Clickin’ (2013) and the self-titled debut (2011).
Dreamland is a big step forward for the group, as it features the greatest number of vocal tracks they've ever featured on an album. That highlights the development of the quartet, with all four members writing and singing their own material, and bringing their own strengths to the table.
From the Cajun rocker "Sittin' In A Bar" to classic country sounds in "Strength In Numbers" to the beautiful lullaby of the title track, the group is showing their writing skills match their playing talents. It's a versatile, wide-ranging showcase that mirrors the live show, with four singers and multi-instrumentalists.
The members are all musical Swiss Army knives, able to pull out whatever instrument or style is needed. Peter Cann handles acoustic and electric guitars, banjo and vocals, Thomas Webb can be found on stand-up bass, guitar, banjo, steel guitar and vocals, Jason Burbine moves between drums, bass, guitar and singing, and while Gordie is mainly on fiddle, he'll grab the guitar, sit behind the drum kit and sing lots too. The result is an eclectic signature sound that draws upon bluegrass, old time country, folk, rockabilly, swing, Celtic, and other styles in genre-defying fashion.
On Dreamland the band wanted to capture all that versatility, and went off in search of a producer who had extensive experience working with lots of styles. They found him in Mississippi native Robert S. Field, best known for his work with Justin Townes Earle, Steve Earle, and Tim O’Brien. "It's nice to work with someone who gets the sound," says MacKeeman. “It has bluegrass elements, it has rockabilly elements, it has old-time elements, but to us it's all the same thing. That's why we wanted someone who understands rockabilly base as well as old-time fiddle and accordions.”
In addition to songs written and sung by each member, there's room for some great cover tunes. There's a fiddle and banjo-fired version of the old '60's hit by The Hollies, "Stop Stop Stop," and beloved P.E.I. songwriter Gene MacLellan's "Just Want To Be Loved By You." And the biggest surprise is a mysterious number that turns out to be "Run With Us," the theme song from the '80's Canadian cartoon classic, The Raccoons. "The original is very 80's pop," says MacKeeman. "But we do it so different, it's been great, it's fun seeing people get that eureka moment when they realize what it is. It usually doesn't take very long."
Dreamland is an album that moves from highlight to highlight, showcasing everything the band has to offer. There's no filler here, it's packed with their very best songs and very best styles. "I'm one of those people that has to enjoy everything on an album, and that's what we were shooting for, an album that holds people until the end," says MacKeeman. "And we always like albums to be a souvenir of our live show. To bring people back to that feeling they got seeing us live."
That feeling? The playing, the singing, the music, and those crazy legs? Feel the fun, with Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys.
Reviews - Dreamland
“A master of bluegrass fiddle, Gordie ‘Crazy Legs’ MacKeeman is an old hand at country, rockabilly and bluegrass styles. MacKeeman’s newest album, Dreamland, sees more musical exploration than ever before, featuring astonishing versatility from his Rhythm Boys. Peter Cann plays acoustic and electric guitars, banjo and sings, Jason Burbine plays drum kit, bass guitar, guitar and sings, while Thomas Webb plays double bass, guitar, steel guitar and (again) sings. This allows MacKeeman time to shine on the violin and do some dancing about, in keeping with his well-earned nickname. Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys always give a raucous live performance. Covers of timeless country tunes are interspersed with originals; each is treated to the stunning musicianship and hearty feel of these pros.” - Songlines
“The guys proudly and enthusiastically espouse - and display a mastery of - almost every roots style from down-home country to rockabilly, bluegrass to jangly folk-pop, all being dispatched with a zest and élan that makes the band a big hit on the live stage. “ - Stirrings, UK
“These guys from Canada do it all. Rooted in roots, Canadians, Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys go from old-timey string band sound to bluegrass and even honky tonk. They even include a polka and a reel, and they prove themselves highly adept at all of it.” - Country Music People
“A fiddle fuelled, frenzied hootin’, tootin’, pickin’ and clickin’ old-time, that’s what. Sound like a mouthful? Exactly.” - Scenestr
“Dreamland, the fourth album by the Prince Edward Island quartet Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys, is a welcome entry in the contemporary roots category. Produced by Nashville veteran, Robert S. Field (Steve Earle, Justin Townes Earle, Stoney LaRue), the 13 tracks represent an entertaining and electric mix of covers and original drawing on styles ranging from folky bluegrass (I Just Want To Be Loved By You & Morning Train) to Cajun two-stepper(Sittin in a Bar) and traditional lullaby (Dreamland). Add a dose of rockabilly, a helping of old-time country, a dash of Irish/ Celtic and a polka rendered on lap steel and you’ve got a polyglot repertoire worthy of any back porch, roadhouse floor or festival stage.” - Songlines
“A fantastically joyful ensemble, that whip up a storm of rockabilly influenced country; and wow Gordie’s dancing is something to behold, as all the band locked into a ferocious hoedown!”. - Cambridge Folk Festival Review
“Gordie and the boys have a reputation for lively shows, and at a festival, they’re in their element. So Gordie gave plenty of opportunities to see why he has the nickname “crazy legs” with his combination of frantic fiddle playing and lightning fast step dancing. And, there was his traditional closer, climbing onto the double bass while Tom Webb keeps to a rock steady bass line and Gordie fiddles up a storm. Visually, the performance is stunning, but it wouldn’t be half so memorable if the musicianship was anything short of excellent. Gordie has his work cut out keeping his legs under control so otherwise sticks to fiddle and vocals; Peter Cann delights on a range of acoustic and electric guitars while Tom and Jason Burbine happily swap between bass, banjo and guitar with Jason also looking after percussion. There’s a core to their music, both traditional and their own compositions but they also spread into bluegrass, old-time and whatever else they fancy.” - folkradio.co.uk
“I would say Gordie MacKeeman, of Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys, is a virtuoso fiddle player, except I need a more exhilarating word than that. He doesn’t just play at lightning speed, he plays with the fiddle under his arm while he is doing a thundering step dance. He plays standing on top of a double bass, while the double bass is being played by someone else. I daresay he could play under water or falling out of the sky. Rhythm is the word. This is surely the most cheerful music in the world.” - The Hunts Post
“The newest album from Gordie MacKeeman & His Rhythm Boys is here to make you dance, and they’re not asking much else of you. Dreamland is a thirteen-track earworm sure to bring life back into any dusty bones. There’s very little downtime on this album. We’re given thirteen tracks that are packed to the brim with foot-stomping rhythms. No matter how fast or slow the tempo, for the most part there’s this steady heartbeat that’s present. A pulsing vein runs through the tracklist guiding us from start to finish.” - The East Coast Magazine
“Capturing the same energy and excitement in a recording studio that you put out there in a live show like that can be a daunting task but on “Dreamland”, his much-anticipated fourth album, MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys do just that. “Dreamland” is unquestionably their best effort to date. It’s also their most diverse, with a broader mix and more vocal tracks than ever before. Push the furniture against the wall, roll up the carpet, crank up the music and do some steppin’ of your own.” - The Guardian