BY GARRET LEIVA
TRAVERSE CITY — Canada's Leahy family lights up the City Opera House stage on Sunday, Dec. 2, with a high-energy Christmas show.
"A Leahy Family Christmas" kicks off the holiday season with sacred hymns, fiery Celtic tunes and traditional Christmas carols. Known for their blend of musical styles and genres, the Leahys are a triple-threat of fiddle-driven music, dance and vocals inspired by their Irish and Scottish roots.
The holiday tour is really a large family Christmas gathering brought to the stage, said Doug Leahy, who plays fiddle.
"In our family, Christmas is a solid weeklong celebration of music and fun," said Leahy, who shares the stage with three brothers and four sisters. "We can't bring everyone to our house for Christmas, so the tour brings our house to them."
The Leahy family lineup features eight musical brothers and sisters who have played together their entire lives. The band includes a trio of fiddler brothers: Donnell, Doug and Angus, with Frank on drums. The Leahy sisters are Siobheann, bass guitar, dance and vocals; Denise, guitar, piano, vocals and dance; Erin, piano, dance and vocals; and Maria on guitar.
"Music has always been an important part of family life," said Leahy, whose parents taught all 11 of their children to play music between chores on the family's beef farm in the small town of Lakefield, Ontario.
"Now that I have my own children, I can see how our parents made a conscious decision to provide us with a musical environment," he said.
The Leahy siblings get a chance to share the stage with their parents as their father and mother reminisce about family Christmas gatherings and traditions in recorded audio. The next Leahy generation performs as well, with children of various members joining the singing and dancing — just as they would at a family gathering back in Canada.
"They will shock people with what they can do," said Leahy. "It will blow you away."
The family's musical upbringing became the subject of an Oscar-winning documentary, "The Leahy: Music Most of All." Since that time, the Leahys have released four albums and toured worldwide.
Leahy has won Juno awards in Canada for Best New Group, Best Country Group and Best Instrumental Album. They also received the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada award for Folk/Jazz instrumentalists.
"A Leahy Family Christmas" is at 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets range from $30 to $40 and are $15 for students with ID. Tickets are available by calling the City Opera House box office at 941-8082 or online at www.cityoperahouse.org.