Mark and Maggie O’Connor

Club Passim, Cambridge, MA


Story, photos, and video by Kathy Hicks

The showcase for Mark and Maggie O’Connor’s ‘Life After Life’ album that I was attending was at Club Passim, a legendary folk music club set in the heart of Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA. We knew coming in that the reserved section had already sold out, and I had been fortunate to be able to bring my friend, and banjo player, Jill, along as my guest. Club Passim is an intimate venue, seating a maximum of 125 people, with the stage at the far end of the room, seating around and in the center the room, with two aisles down the left and right sides leading to the stage. The sound is well dispersed and not overwhelming for it being a relatively small room. Great ambient lighting and consistent stage lighting, which made for a very pleasant shooting experience for this photographer.

Read Kathy Hicks’ interview with Mark and Maggie O’Connor HERE.

We were brought to our [reserved] seats near the front, and seated next to Mark and Maggie’s cousin, Caroline, who I had met the day before when she had hosted us for the interview, along with her wife Amy. As it turned out, they would also be running the merchandise table during the intermission and after the show. We had gotten there early enough to have dinner, and although Club Passim has a somewhat small menu, it’s a decent selection with vegan options, and very good food. Wide selection of wine and craft beer, and the meal was reasonably priced for the location.

Mark and Maggie took to the stage at 7:00pm to a roar of applause in an almost sold-out room. They opened the show with one of Mark’s instrumental compositions, “Emily’s Reel,” on duo violins, following it by an arrangement of “St. Louis Blues.” They held the audience rapt as they wove their musical spell around us all. The way they were playing together, completely in sync, yet counterpointing each other perfectly. The violin duos varied in style from Appalachian Classical to Gypsy Jazz, and while I enjoyed every single one of them, there was one piece that really tugged at this Country girls’ heartstrings. The old Bob Wills Classic, “Faded Love.”

There were quite a few instrumental duos like the violin duos I mentioned above, and also two mandolin/fiddle duos, both beautiful instrumental compositions by Mark. The first, “Butterfly’s Day Out” and the second, “A Bowl of Bula.” There were also a couple of times when Mark had his guitar, Maggie took a break, and Mark took a couple of solos of his own, playing his compositions “Flailing” and “Boogie.”

Mark switched out his fiddle for his guitar for a few songs, here and there, throughout the show. In the first guitar/fiddle duo, they played two songs off the new album. The first song, ‘Wildflowers’, is a Dolly Parton song that Mark did a new arrangement for. Maggie began to sing, and a hush went over the crowd. Her voice is so pure and feathery soft, but so powerful and strong at the same time. She is a master of her dynamic range. Then Mark joined in on harmony with her, and there was such beautiful musical synergy happening between the voices and the instruments. It carried on through into the next song, the title track “Life After Life,” which is about watching the chapters of your life unfold.

When they performed songs off their new album, (‘Spice of Life’, ‘We Just Happened to Fly’, ‘Ride Toward Home’, ‘All We Will Be’, and ‘One Sunray at a Time’, that last, a song Mark had written about raising his daughter, Autumn. These were all tracks that were written for the album by Mark or Mark and Maggie, and those songs carried a deeper meaning to them. The magic was present the entire show but was really palpable when Mark was playing guitar and singing with Maggie, and Maggie was singing lead on those
songs and playing violin with Mark. Musical symbiosis.

I very much recommend getting this album in some way. Stream it on Apple or Spotify, purchase it through Amazon. If you want to listen to something that you will feel in your soul was made from the heart for the sake of art, you need this music. And try to catch these two out on this Album Showcase Tour before it ends! Seeing these two perform together is a truly life changing and inspirational

Life After Life:





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