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McGarrigle Sisters
Kate and Anna McGarrigle

Live @ Vicar Street

The Legendary McGarrigle Sisters play Vicar Street on November 2nd.

Tickets are priced at 27.50 Euro and are available from Ticketmaster and usual outlets nationwide.
"La Vache Qui Pleure"
Out Now on Munich Records


The first of Kate and Anna McGarrigle’s recordings was released by Warner Bros. in 1976 to much critical acclaim. Prior to that, they were known by a small circle of musicians for their song-writing and two of their songs, The Work Song (1973) and Heart Like a Wheel (1974), were covered by the most famous women singers of the day, Maria Muldaur and Linda Ronstadt.

Born and raised in French-speaking Quebec, one of their trademarks from the onset was to include a French song on their English recordings. The first of these La complainte pour Ste-Catherine, an anarchic shambles of a reggae beat, folky cajun instrumentation and high close harmonies pricked the ears of the Dutch and some other Northern Europeans and became a hit. The song was translated into a variety of languages and covered by many artists. The most recent incarnation of Complainte is entitled Dancing in the Midnight Sun, by the Danish group April Band in 2004.

Their latest cd La vache qui pleure (The Crying Cow) is a collection of French songs written with their long time friend and co-writer Philippe Tatartcheff. When he isn’t writing songs Philippe has worked as a dairy farmer among other things and brings his intimate knowledge of cow behaviour and the vagaries of nature to this oeuvre. Lately he’s been spending a lot of time trying to coax a porcupine to come out from under his woodshed so he can photograph it. When they had the idea for the song about the crying cow they were convinced that it was an original concept, a beautiful notion that inspired pity and the antithesis to that sell-out La vache qui rit. That cow made bad cheese (or, that cow logrolls for punk cheese). The old adage "There’s nothing new under the Sun" came a-knockin’ when their fiddler Joel Zifkin discovered while googling the existence of the similarily titled 8,000 year-old rock engraving on a mountain in Southern Algeria. Is La vache qui pleure a warning to us all to steer clear of McDonald’s and Burger King? Is it speaking to us from the end of the world….

Kate and Anna have produced nine recordings since 1976 and all of them have been cherished by their fans and loved by many music critics.

They have co-written and recorded a handful of songs with their good friend and fellow musician Emmylou Harris and most recently appear with her on her newly reissued Christmas album, Light of the Stable, where they sing and play on three new tracks. One of these songs, Man is an Island, was written many years ago with their sister Jane McGarrigle in a gloomy Los Angeles apartment waiting for a phone call from Warren Zevon that never came. Turns out they had forgotten to turn up the ringer on their new-fangled phone and it’s too late now.

Kate’s song I Eat Dinner with its recurring mantra of resignation “when the hunger’s gone,” first heard on Heartbeats Accelerating (1990), appears on the soundtrack of the sequel to Bridget Jones’ Diary where it is sung as a duet by Kate’s son Rufus Wainwright and the British pop diva Dido.

Over the past few years they have been part of two Hal Willner extravaganzas. The first, The Harry Smith Project, were three tribute concerts to the late great American recorded music archivist, experimental filmmaker and homeless person. These assembled an eclectic variety of artists, encouraging musical collaborations and as a result the sisters ended up doing background vocals on recordings for Nick Cave and Geoff Muldaur, and later for Lou Reed’s The Raven a celebration of Edgar Allan Poe.

The second is the ongoing Leonard Cohen Tribute, which travels to Sydney, Australia in 2005 after sell-out concerts in Brooklyn, NY and Brighton, UK. Following the Cohen concerts, Kate and Anna continue touring Australia with Rufus and Martha Wainwright in a family show. The McGarrigles expect to be in Europe this Spring to play the new songs from La vache qui pleure and some of the old ones with their great band of musicians, Michel Pépin on guitar and bass, Joel Zifkin on fiddle and Thom Gossage on drums

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  What the Press have to say  
  The Observer

Kate & Anna McGarrigle
La Vache Qui Pleure

It's been quite a year already for the McGarrigle/Wainwright dynasty, with albums from both offspring - Rufus and Martha Wainwright - and Kate McGarrigle's ex-husband, Loudon III. A new album from Kate and her sister, Anna, the august Canadian folk duo, completes the family set; their daughters Martha and Lily help out on backing vocals. The McGarrigles already have an album called French Record from 1980, so they've titled this French-language album with a bad pun (it translates as the Weeping Cow, a play on the Laughing Cow of cheese fame). The title track, though, packs a harrowing punch despite its easy-going, flute-filled flow; it's about the sorrow of a cow whose calves are ripped away from her every year, bound for the slaughterhouse. The sisters' Quebecois home is felt especially keenly on 'Rose Blanche', a maudlin ballad. As ever, the McGarrigles' strength lies in how their voices intertwine. While not especially classic, La Vache Qui Pleure manages to avoid the trendy production pitfalls that have plagued mid-period McGarrigles records, making it a gentle, unfussy listen.

The Independent

Album: Kate & Anna McGarrigle
La Vache Qui Pleure, MUNICH
By Andy Gill
Published : 15 April 2005

Springtime 2005, and the Wainwrights are thick on the ground, vying for the folk-rock dollar. Rufus and Martha and their estranged dad, Loudon, have all released albums within the last six weeks, and now it's mom Kate's and aunt Anna's turn, with this intermittently engaging collection of French-language songs, mostly written or co-written by Kate. Presumably named in opposition to the synthetic connotations of the French processed cheese, La Vache Qui Pleure (Crying Cow) features folksy arrangements of Acadian fiddles, accordions and banjos, with the sisters' harmonies adding an Enya-esque gossamer quality to tracks such as "Petite Annonce Amoureuse" and "Sunflower (Ah Tournesol)", where the swelling and subsiding of the backing instruments is like the lapping of an ocean on a distant beach. There's a keen awareness of the plight of powerless outsiders, be they the homesick refugee of "Ce Matin", the natives of Michel Rivard's "La Complainte du Phoque en Alaska", lamenting the way their youngsters leave for the US, or the cow of the title-track, weeping for her lost calf. Most quirkily enjoyable is the reading of Malvina Reynolds' folk standard "Little Boxes (Petites Boites)", rendered as a lolloping cajun waltz of fiddle, accordion and guitars.

Kate and Anna McGarrigle
La Vache Qui Pleure

Robin Denselow
Friday April 15, 2005
The Guardian

These days, there's a danger that Kate McGarrigle could become better known for who she is, rather than what she does. She is, of course, the former wife of Loudon Wainwright and mother of those much-praised newcomers Rufus and Martha Wainwright - but it should not be forgotten that she is as distinctive and original a musician as any of her family. She and her sister Anna emerged from Montréal in the mid-1970s to shake up the country, rock and folk scenes with their blend of gentle songs, breathy, delicate and elegant harmonies and classy multi-instrumental work. This new set, with all but one song in French, is a nod to their French-Canadian roots.

Kate plays guitars, banjo, piano and violin, Anna adds accordion and the occasional dash of synthesizer, and Martha helps out on harmonies. The production is more gutsy than in the past, the singing and playing are fine as ever, and the songs range from the thoughtful Ce Matin to Petites Boîtes, an unexpectedly refreshing reworking of the well-worn Little Boxes, the Malvina Reynolds song made famous by Pete Seeger.

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