It’s time for Celtic music lovers to raise their glass for the return of Toad in the Hole, the band whose passionate fans succeeded in cracking the floor at Max’s Tavern during a St. Patrick’s Day show in 2005. After a six-year hiatus, punctuated by another well-attended St. Paddy’s Day at Luckey’s two years ago, Toad in the Hole is back and ready to prove that Celtic music and tradition is alive and well.
Original members Matthew Hayward McDonald (guitar and vocals) and Jon Conlon (bass) have been involved with numerous other projects in the last few years, McDonald as frontman for Circled By Hounds and as a solo artist, and Conlon as upright bassist and sound guy extraordinaire for Betty and the Boy. Both agree that they are better musicians this time around and that regrouping has been exciting and familiar.
The current lineup has evolved to feature original members Jason Kelly on guitar and Joel Kenney on bodhrán (an Irish frame drum) along with Sarah Ditson on fiddle and Sara McCurry on tin whistle. Some original members have moved or are involved in other projects. McDonald says that is a “characteristic of Celtic music, the ebb and flow of it.” Conlon says, “This is going to be my favorite lineup; we don’t need to prove ourselves this time.”
McDonald’s recent return to Eugene spurred the reunion. “Eugene is vibrant musically, and it feels like home. Toad in the Hole has been my most rewarding musical project, as a writer and for my own growth. It’s also a tremendous amount of fun,” he says. Conlon agrees, “The group, and our supporters, is absolutely family to me.”
Toad in the Hole brings their signature mix of traditional Celtic arrangements, punk and bluegrass to Luckey’s Jan. 25 where there will be a limited number of their first CD, Piss Away Your Charms, for sale. They will be playing the old songs fans have come to love, along with new arrangements. “It’s good to be home and it’s a wonderful time to raise a pint together. We’d love to see all of your smiling faces again,” McDonald says.
Toad in the Hole plays with Tater Famine 9 pm Friday, Jan. 25, at Luckey’s; $5.