Carlton Showband

Carlton Showband. Popular Irish-Canadian troupe, formed in 1964 in Toronto.

Carlton Showband

Carlton Showband. Popular Irish-Canadian troupe, formed in 1964 in Toronto. Members by 1966 were Chris O'Toole(leader, drum, and spoons), Mike Feeney (vocals), Seamus Grew (keyboards, accordion), Chris McLaughlin (button accordion, harmonica, vocals), Sean McManus (guitar, vocals), and Freddy White (bass, banjo, vocals), all Irish-born save White of New Waterford, NS.

The group began its career playing in Canadian and US dance halls. However, the success in 1966 of its recording of 'The Merry Ploughboy' (also known as 'The Green on the Green') for the Casl label brought it wider popularity, leading to a 'residency' as the houseband 1967-77 for CTV Toronto's 'Pig and Whistle,' a variety show ostensibly set in an Irish pub of the same name. With the show's demise, the group again toured extensively in Canada, appearing in small communities as well as larger centres until it reduced its itinerary in 1987.

The Showband's early repertoire of traditional Irish material was eventually augmented by songs in country and country-gospel styles. Its performances have included a considerable quotient of broad comedy. The band won a Juno Award as top country group and a Big Country Award as top vocal group in 1975. Of its later singles, 'Any Dream Will Do' (1975), 'Sadie the Cleaning Lady' (1976), 'More than Yesterday' (1978), and 'Hard Times (Comin' Down Again)' (1980) were popular for RCA. It also had more than 15 LPs released by RCA, including the double album Gospel Favorites (KSL2-7064), whose Canadian sales exceeded 100,000 in 1979, and three 'best-of' compilations.

Feeney, Grew, McManus, and White remained with the Showband when it recorded a 25th-anniversary album for its own CSB label in 1988, at which time the group also included longtime members Gregory Donaghey (vocals) and Roddy Lee (drums, vocals).


Further Reading

  • McGuirk, Henry. 'The Carlton Showband: new album celebrates 25 years of music & mayhem'. CMN, vol 10, Aug 1989