The Crossing have been performing a mix of traditional Irish and Scottish, as well as original songs and tunes, since 1984. Though all members but one are natives of the U.S. (Hilde the cellist is from Norway), the roots run deep to the celtic soul that allows their original songs to fit seamlessly with, and be infused by, the old tradition. The themes in their music vary from pure story-telling ("Endurance," about Sir Ernest Shackleton who set sail for Antarctica in 1914), accounts of hardship and victory ("Niki," about a friend who was an immigrant after World War II; "I'll Take Your Promises With Me," about immigrants from Sudan) to setting celtic prayers and psalms to music ("Mourning Into Dancing," "Psalm 136"), to jigs and reels.
The band uses the fact that they all reside in inner-city Chicago, in the Uptown neighborhood, as a source of inspiration. They feel that it does not distance them from the tradition, but rather unites them in that their music is like a refuge in the midst of sometimes trying times. Though all members come from a Christian stance and world-view, and certainly spiritual themes are weaved throughout their sets, the overall mood is one of hope, joy and celebration that appeals to people of all convictions.
The instrumentation at a Crossing show keeps both the musicians and the audience engaged. Most members are accomplished at not only one, but many instruments. Tony, the group's front man, is at home with guitar, bouzouki, bodhran, bagpipes and whistles, as well as his comforting and seasoned voice. Mark, the band's "fluter," also beautifully plucks the harp. Hilde's main calling is cello, which provides a great low-end to rhythms and melodies, but also fills out the sound with piano and contributes lead vocals. Jennifer focuses all her energies on being the fiddler extraordinaire, and Eric, the newest member, is another jack-of-all-trades with melody guitar, bouzouki, bodhran (played with a hairbrush even!), and djembe. All members sing harmonies, which makes for a transcendent experience when all combined!
The Crossing have been influenced in their sound by The Tannahil Weavers, Altan, The Chieftains, and other groups in the same vein. Whether playing at festivals, college campuses, pubs, churches, etc. they've been extremely well received and look forward to the opportunity of doing it more! Their new album, titled Home, will be available in Spring 2010.
Among their other releases is an absolutely timeless celtic Christmas album, Court of a King. When the season is right, they are pleased to throw in a couple of those tunes in the midst of the others (at promoter's request) to make for an unforgettable celtic holiday evening.