Kate & Anna McGarrigle | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Kate & Anna McGarrigle

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The McGarrigle sisters leapt onto the folk-rock scene in the mid-70s, after Linda Ronstadt had a hit covering Kate's "Heart Like a Wheel." As a singing-songwriting team their output over 20 years has been limited and sporadic, but each McGarrigle record is packed with more than a single LP's worth of warm charm, memorable tunes, razor wit, and deadpan humor. Produced by the brilliant Joe Boyd (who also produced key records by Fairport Convention and Nick Drake), their eponymous debut introduced the world to their marvelous reedy vibratos--somewhere between Cajun-nasal and Mamie Smith's shaky blues--as well as their delightful compositions and incisive meditations on the ins and outs of relationships. Fave line: "I wanna kiss you till my mouth gets numb." Montreal-born, the bilingual siblings have a French-Canadian sensibility that sneaks into their melodies and two-steps their rhythms; in 1981 they made the bold, commercially unadvisable move of releasing an all-francophone album, French Record (Hannibal-Carthage). With Mark Knopfler on bendy guitar, the following year's Love Over and Over (Polydor) upped the rock content in their music, though the songs remained intimate, folksy, and funny. After nearly a decade out of the loop, they returned in 1990 with Heartbeats Accelerating (Private Music), proving that a New Agey gloss and synthesizers couldn't take the poignant edge off their songs. This small-venue show should be a perfect place to find out what the McGarrigles are up to these days. Friday, 7 and 10 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 909 W. Armitage; 525-7793.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Dave Gahr.

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