No matter, these are all special players, giving new life and different twists to originals and classic folk covers. Opening medley Hold The Candle starts with lots of effective beats and a near-reggae bass on an Irish number, which then blows up into a fiddle/drum workout. Then they keep heading east: Mi'kmaq Enigma sees them cover two Arsenault writers from P.E.I., An Dro is a visit to Brittany, France, and then Cocktails in the Cabana finds them in Galicia, Spain, The lovely Paper Boats is perhaps the best example of their first-tier ensemble at work, starting as an acoustic guitar/percussion number, before recorder, fiddle and more join, doubling and tripling the lilting melody line, touches of Africa gliding in.
It's three-quarters instrumental, although when there are vocals, again, it's a wonderful sound, especially the crazy folk-scatting on Cocktails in the Cabana."
Bob Mersereau, CBC Radio
"Rant Maggie Rant – I only wish this group had more showcases. Simply brilliant! Combining a strong Celtic background with music from the seven Celtic nations, the group throws in some extra spice with flavorings of Latin, African and Mediterranean music as well as jazzy/rock/blues percussions. I wanted a second helping!!"
Ron Olesko, Traditions, WFDU-FM
"Stratford, ON Celtic rabble-rousers Rant Maggie Rant are in the midst of their 6th annual 'Frost & Fire: A Celtic Christmas Celebration! tour. It’s grown from a pay the rent project to a muchly-anticipated event in the Celtic music community. High-energy, engaging and in love with the sound, the hard-working trio has covered a lot of ground over the last two years performing, throughout Canada and logging dates south of the border. Shows in 2014 included a near sold out gig at The National Arts Centre in Ottawa, London's Home County Music Festival with Ashley MacIsaac, The Bills and The Beauties, Knox Church in Stratford with Loreena McKennitt and Trent Severn, and with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra."
Cashbox Canada, Toronto, ON
“Lovely arrangements and solid musicianship with a blast of warmth and energy – It was a wonderful performance!”
Simone Deneau, Producer, NACPresents, National Arts Centre, Ottawa, ON
"And there was a terrific Celtic band, Rant Maggie Rant, that I should (have) heard ages ago — boy, they are GOOD!”
Richard Flohil, Richard Flohil & Assoc., Toronto, ON
"Brilliant show at the Fourth Stage of the National Arts Centre last night. I can't stop smiling. I'm telling everyone to jump on this band wagon."
Fan, David S. (Comment on RMR Website)
“The show was wonderful. RMR’s repertoire moved through engaging, energetic, eclectic, inspiring and hilarious with nary a skipped beat. What a serendipitous search so many months ago…”
Jennifer Ives, AD, Orillia Folk Society, Orillia, ON
"Saw your show last night. Our third year to go and every year it gets better (not sure how you do it). For anyone who has not seen this great group be sure to next time they are in town. You are truly amazing!"
Fan, Jo-anne C. (Comment on RMR web-site)
“RMR is a great band. They packed the house and the audience left dancing. I can't wait to have them back.”
Holmes Hooke, Hugh’s Room, Toronto, ON
"I am in awe of the complexity of their arrangements and overall tightness of the band. Delivered with panache and obvious enjoyment...they are thoroughly enjoyable."
Bob Cunningham, Concert Reviewer, The Beat Magazine, London, ON
“btw, my jaw is still on the ground-- RMR is a phenomenal band! I and everyone in the house were literally blown away by your outstanding artistry and warmth on stage."
Lisa Weitz, LW Communications, Toronto, ON
“You really blew the roof off the place. Musicians and non-musicians commented that you were a very tight band... all of you engaged the audience. I really have never experienced so many e-mails in response to a concert."
Peter Garapick, Music Director, The Mary Webb Centre, Highgate, ON
“I can truly say that you were the surprise "WOW" band this year - so much great feedback about your music."
Sheila Graziano, Saline Celtic Festival, Saline, MI (USA)
London Free Press Preview:
"Nothing says Christmas like a good jig. Or a lively reel. Or a foot-stomping, eclectic mix of internationally inspired Celtic music.
Rant Maggie Rant returns to Aeolian Hall Saturday for its Frost and Fire concert, an event that’s becoming a holiday tradition.
“I think Celtic music lends itself very well to this season because of its connection to hearth and home, and kitchens and kitchen parties,” said Glen Dias, frontman for the Stratford-based trio.
Owing to its agrarian roots, Celtic culture is also closely linked to the seasons, the solstices and the equinoxes, he noted, and that’s a big part of the appeal of Celtic music at Christmas time.
Saturday’s concert is the local stop on the Frost and Fire: A Celtic Christmas Celebration tour, which will see Dias (lead vocals, recorders, percussion), Lindsay Schindler (fiddle, background vocals) and Barry James Payne (guitars, harmonica, background vocals) criss-crossing southern Ontario over the next few months with their genre-bending blend of world music.
The band comes through their hometown of Stratford on Dec. 14 to play the City Hall Auditorium.
The tour will culminate in April with a performance at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, a show that’s expected to be one of the highlights in a highlight-filled year or two for the band.
In April, Rant Maggie Rant received London’s Jack Richardson Music Award in the traditional folk/roots category.
In July, it wrapped up a successful but gruelling nine-day, 13-performance tour of Newfoundland — a place that Dias calls “the throne of Celtic music here in North America.”
“And we were really, really honoured by having Newfoundlanders coming up to us and saying, ‘I can’t believe you guys are not from Newfoundland,’ ” he said.
In September, the band released its third CD, a self-titled effort that was recorded at its sold-out performance at the highly regarded Hugh’s Room in Toronto on St. Patrick’s Day, unbeknownst to the musicians and the crowd.
The band’s sound engineer John Hazen asked members beforehand if they wanted him to record the show, and they declined.
“But it’s in John’s nature to press record, so he did, and we are very, very glad he did,” said Dias.
“This is a live album that we are incredibly proud of, and some of the spontaneity of it was the very fact that we had no knowledge that it was being recorded,” Dias said. “And the audience at that show was so along for the ride with us.”
That comes across on the CD.
People can be heard clapping and cheering and stomping along to the rollicking parts of the tracks like Kitchen Set and Port na Deori Set, but they fall pin-drop silent for the lovely lament Bachelor’s Hall.
“The audience is as much a part of that recording as the band,” said Dias.
He’s hoping for the same connection at upcoming concerts.
They will feature a good representation of the band’s Celtic repertoire, with jigs, reels and ballads, as well as classic carols and seasonal songs, original compositions and a few selections that are “a little off the beaten track,” noted Dias.
The trio will be joined by guest musicians Rob Larose on drums, Steve Clark on bass and Daev Clysdale on Irish whistle, Irish flute and accordion."
Mike Beitz, Sun Media
"Rant Maggie Rant (Independent)
Most albums are planned in advance. Not the recent self-titled release from Rant Maggie Rant. The Stratford-based, Celtic trio of fiddler Lindsay Schindler, guitarist Barry Payne and lead vocalist Glen Dias had no intentions of recording a St. Paddy's Day concert at Hugh's Room in Toronto. Unbeknown to the band and the audience, the sound engineer went ahead and recorded the concert. The result is an album brimming with high energy, Celtic-inspired music. On this, their third album, the band's three founding members are joined by Steve Clark on bass, Graham Hargrove on percussion and Loretto Reid on flute, whistle, concertina and button accordion. If you want a taste of Rant Maggie Rant live, this is the sonic dram for you."
Robert Reid, Arts & Entertainment Reporter, Waterloo Region Record
“Despite highland festivals in Cambridge, Fergus, not to mention Goderich’'s Celtic Roots Festival and Guelph’'s Riverside Celtic College, Southern Ontario is not generally viewed as a hotbed of Celtic music.The high energy quintet with attitude is determined to correct that erroneous perception through Rant Maggie Rant, a band with a pro-Canadian vision that extends beyond the pan-Celtic world to embrace musical traditions from Appalachia, through Latin and South America, to Africa.”
Robert Reid, Arts & Entertainment Reporter, Waterloo Region Record
"Rant Maggie Rant CD is the BEST live Recording in Years!
I have listened to many live recordings including mainstream albums but once in a while something pops up and takes the cake. I am talking about the new album by Rant Maggie Rant recorded live. They say good things come in minimalist packages. Don’t let the serene green CD package fool you. The album is packed with the most endearing Celtic tracks.
Big kudos to the sound engineer who recorded this performance because it captures the energy and the nuance of the band. They play so tightly and perfectly that you would wonder if this is really a live recording. Only when you hear the enthusiastic cheering of the audience then you know it’s really live. The strong points of Rant Maggie Rant are their rhythms, vocal presentation and arrangements. I think I (will) play this CD at least three times a day starting in the morning when I wake up because it is really a perfect album to greet the day. There’s this huge positive vibe that wraps itself around you.
I love the Irish Gaelic track Cunla because I’ve heard this performed by other bands before but RMR has given it a different twist! All the tracks are feet jerkers because of their energetic style. Gooseberry Bush did it for me. The fiddling is as delicious as ripe apples. I also love their slower moments like Bachelor’s Hall. Glen Dias has that Celticky vocals ( that’s how I call singers with that distinctive type of singing voice filed under Iarla Ó Lionáird, Loreena McKennitt, Connie Dover, Moya Brennan, Luka Bloom and other singers). Lindsay Schindler always shines in reels and jigs like the breath-taking Kitchen Set. As for the guitar of Barry James Payne, all I can say is : his guitar playing is always luminous, wispy and stunning.
The special guests can also hold their own like Loretto Reid’s fantastic tin whistle, Steve Clarke’s grooves and the foot stumping percussion of Graham Hargrove. I warn you. This album is addictive. Potent and magical stuff there. A great way to celebrate Halloween to liven up misty hearts and sleepy heads."
October 17, 2013 - By Baxter Labatos, The Celtic Music Fan
Rant Maggie Rant • S/T
"Serendipity is not without its rewards. Having followed 2009’s World’s Edge with 2011’s live set Frost & Fire as they built up a solid reputation for razor-sharp stage shows, Stratford-based alt/Celtic band Rant Maggie Rant offer up their eponymous new release, an impromptu live album. Unbeknownst to them their sound engineer John Hazen recorded their annual St. Patrick’s Day gig this year at prestigious Toronto folk venue Hugh’s Room despite the fact the band had passed on the idea. Happily, both their current and future fans can enjoy this crystal-clear document of the beautifully performed show RMR put down that night. There’s nary a dropped beat or duff note to be heard and the level of delighted engagement by the audience is obvious throughout. Recommended.
> Performance: B+/Production: B+ • Indie
Rod Nicholson, Scene Magazine, London, ON