Next Generation Leahy

Ten years since the Fifty-Five Plus Lifestyle Show was launched, it’s also a decade since Next Generation Leahy started entertaining and wowing audiences. Both are better and bigger than ever. In fact, there are ten—10!—Leahy siblings performing at this spring’s blockbuster show.

All 10 Next Generation Leahy siblings are performing in this spring’s Fifty-Five Plus Lifestyle Show.

“You will want to get up and dance,” Doug Leahy predicts. He’s talking about the irresistible, crowd-rousing energy of the performances by Next Generation Leahy, happening April 19 and 20 at the Fifty-Five Plus Lifestyle Show.

Doug knows a thing or two about stellar entertainment. Part of the famous musical Leahy clan, he has rhythm in his DNA. Starting back in the 1980s, he and his siblings toured as The Leahy Family, later earning Juno awards and international attention as the band known as Leahy.

Today? Doug’s kids own the spotlight as Next Generation Leahy. And these multi-talented sibs are back by popular demand, at Ottawa’s largest lifestyle show, five years after bringing packed audiences to their feet at the EY Centre. Their act is nothing short of electrifying.

Wayne Rostad was master of ceremonies at the First Fifty-Five Plus Lifestyle Show a decade ago and he’s back on stage entertaining this spring.

It’s a fitting way to mark the 10th anniversary of the Fifty-Five Plus Lifestyle Show, launched by George and Carole Coyle of Coyle Publishing in September 2014. For this special celebration, fan-favourite entertainers from the past decade are returning to centre stage. At the very first show, the master of ceremonies was Wayne Rostad and this spring, the beloved entertainer will also reappear on the entertainment schedule.

Since he began his musical career as a radio DJ many moons ago, Wayne has become a Canadian icon. He’s been a band leader, an acclaimed solo artist, a revered broadcaster and a philanthropic leader.

Back in the day, he founded the Wayne Rostad Gatineau Clog, a major summer festival, and his own club, Rostad’s, in downtown Ottawa. For two decades he hosted the well-known CBC-TV series On The Road Again and these days you’ll see him on television as the spokesperson for Davidson Hearing Aid Centers. Wayne is a member of the Ottawa Valley Country Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and the Order of Canada.

Michael O’Byrne is host of the Fifty-Five Plus Lifestyle Show

Fans can await his compelling songs and powerful, one-of-a-kind storytelling. In fact, there’s a whole lot to look forward to at the lifestyle show, hosted by retired CTV Ottawa newsman Michael O’Byrne.

If you do take to dancing in the aisle or stay in your seat to tap your feet and clap your hands during Next Generation Leahy’s high-octane performance, you won’t be alone. Don’t anticipate a repeat of the concert from 2019, though.

“Expect to hear some new music, meet some new entertainers and be moved by the energy and passion of this dynamic group,” says Doug Leahy. “The music they play is music that reaches your soul.”

Ten Sibling Performers

Your heart might also skip a beat when you see how much these young musicians, their musicianship and their band have developed. The last time Next Generation Leahy took to the stage for the lifestyle show, there were six core performers step-dancing, singing, fiddling or playing piano. Adele, 17, also played cello and ukulele; Gregory, 15, could play accordion and drums; Angus, 13, played guitar; Cecilia, 12, played mandolin; Joseph, 10, played accordion; and Evelyn, eight, rounded out the group.

Now, Adele is 22, Greg is 20, Angus is 18, Cecilia is 17, Joseph is 15, Evelyn is 13 … and you should see them go. “New instruments are being added and taking a front on stage. New music has been written with influences from the Latin, pop, and rock genres,” Doug enthuses, adding new Leahy siblings have been added to the act, too.  “Our youngest four children are also becoming a part of the show.” So you’ll also see Douglas Jr, 10, Eliza, eight, Isaac, six, and John, four, on stage. (John will be making a small cameo appearance.)

Of how the young Leahy stars have matured, Doug says, “They have developed not only physically, but musically and are pursuing music with more focus and drive. Their taste in music has developed. Before they were taught the music; now they are putting their own feeling, taste and ‘flavour’ into the music.

“The foundation of Celtic music is always present and strong in their performances, but as they listen to different styles of music and are writing their own music there is definitely a new edge and energy to their sound. This provides them with a good challenge and a great satisfaction when they get to play in front of a live, cheering crowd.”

It has been a decade since Next Generation Leahy started entertaining audiences.

Just as 2014 was the first year for the Fifty-Five Plus Lifestyle Show, it was also the first year Next Generation Leahy played for the public. The concert was in Bancroft and the crowd was dazzled by the skill, power and unbridled joy of the performance. In the years since, the group has played across North America and also shared the stage with The Chieftains, The Tenors, We Banjo 3, and Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy.

On a recent afternoon, Doug answered the phone and mentioned they were on the way to Florida to do some shows. Since Doug’s wife Jennifer has a teaching degree and the youngest kids are fully home-schooled, musical touring works well for this Leahy clan. So does farming.

Like their dad before them, these young performers are growing up in a big close-knit musical family on a farm in Lakefield, Ontario. Doug and his 10 siblings were raised the same way, with an organic mix of farm chores and music practice.

Doug’s father, Frank Leahy Sr., was an accomplished fiddle player and his mother, Julie, was a singer, pianist and champion step-dancer, so their youngsters—who went on to become the band Leahy—learned to play music and step-dance as they grew. At first, just the older siblings performed with their parents at public events, then more and more younger siblings joined in, so both the group and the sound evolved.

Today, those family traditions continue in Doug and Jennifer Leahy’s household. The youngest of 13, Jennifer is a pianist, singer and matriarch of this musical brood of farm kids on the Leahy Homestead in Lakefield. “They all work during the year on our family farm and at our market Leahy’s Farm and Market,” notes Doug. Check the website, and the Instagram account @leahysfarmandmarket and you’ll see smiling youngsters, often with their arms full of fresh produce and other goodies.

Truly, Next Generation Leahy is growing in all sorts of ways. In season, the farm and market at 3267 Highway 28, Douro-Dummer, Ontario, is a happening spot offering beef, chicken, eggs, baked goods, local honey and maple syrup, plus a wide assortment of vegetables and fruit. And year in, year out, there’s a bumper crop of new music.

“Now that there are older children and several drivers in the house, everyone pitches in here and there, driving to practices or games, leading a fiddle lesson or step dancing practice,” Doug says. He describes the high schoolers as “part homeschooled/part outsourced.” The eldest two, Adele and Greg, have been attending post-secondary school and Angus is looking to attend in the fall.

“They all love sports and are very competitive. There are a few pranksters in the group and often practical jokes find their way on stage,” their dad reveals. “They have their own ‘language’ on stage, with subtle looks and gestures—a way of communicating without words. There are a few that love cooking and baking and have catered for house dinners and parties, providing entertainment after they’ve served the meal.”

While they won’t be any Leahys cooking for the crowd at the Fifty-Five Plus Lifestyle Show, you can count on them to get the crowd cooking with energy and joy. Besides the musical feast, you’ll also appreciate the abundance of experts, lifestyle options, services, products, beverage samples and contests on hand to ensure you’re inspired, entertained, informed and equipped for your best days ahead.