The folk-music duo, Men of Worth, was formed by James Keigher (Ireland) and Donnie Macdonald (Scotland) in 1986.
It was through the Celtic music scene in Southern California that James and Donnie first met, and within a couple of years a partnership developed that was simultaneously serious and fun.
Geographical changes now find James and Donnie living in Southern Oregon and Northern California respectively. Whilst remaining true to their Gaelic roots, Men of Worth has successfully evolved as entertainers. Success breeds success, and a natural progression toward education and travel has sealed an exciting and pioneering era for the versatile duo.
Men of Worth’s tunes and songs are so authentic, so closely connected to their heritage, that Scotsman Donnie Macdonald sings some in his native Gaelic; while Irishman James Keigher includes time-polished pieces saved from the oral traditions of his native County Mayo.
The pair could not escape the emotion and tradition of their homeland song heritage. “We could not grow away from those sounds”, said Macdonald, “so we have preserved them as accurately and authentically as we can, in our performances. We entertain people with the real music of our regions; we have an ancient yet fresh musical story to tell”.
Sometimes that music comes from prosaic sources – Keigher wrote one song after overhearing two old ladies gossiping about him in a village market – and sometimes from traditional music passed down the generations. Several of Macdonald’s songs come from his mother’s own poetry and from Hebridean crofters’ airs.
They have played concerts across the U.S., from Alaska to Texas. They also take guided tours to their own musical roots: leading folk fans to the western isles of Scotland and to Ireland’s heartland to hear the real music of the isles in its own home.
Together Men of Worth blend their voices with harmony and support their collection of songs with their varied selection of instruments. They have a very simple approach to their presentation, and in keeping with tradition, remain true to the music and story. Their show is a unique combination of humor, exciting tunes, and soulful, heartfelt ballads.
The real essence of Men of Worth is found in their live performances. It’s clear that after twenty five years these two are still enjoying what they do. They’re funny guys - not only expert musicians but extremely engaging performers, spiking their traditional tunes with wonderfully told tales about their homelands and plenty of unscripted comic interplay. There is passion in their performance; when they play, you can sense the delight they find in the music.
They tour both nationally and internationally and have released eleven albums on their own label. Critics praise Men of Worth especially for their authenticity; while both sing in English, Donnie also sings in his first language, Scots Gaelic and James in Irish Gaelic.(vocals, mando-cello, concertina, octave mandolin, bodhran, banjo and guitar) www.menofworth.com.
The folk duo, Men of Worth, who position themselves firmly at the extreme, traditional end of the Celtic music spectrum, will provide a program for the Conrad school in the afternoon. Their public performance is at the Orpheum Theatre/Wiegand Auditorium at 7 4th Ave. SE in Conrad on May 2, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for students and will only be sold at the door.
Editor’s note: This article as submitted by Jane Holtzer of Conrad.