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McKrells make music a family affair

Because Irish songs tend to emphasize storytelling, Kevin's quick to admit he doesn't have a great grasp of the technical side of music. In fact, he doesn't even know how to read music " he plays by ear.

"It's like hieroglyphics to me," he said. "I just fuddle along."

Katie, on the other hand, has studied music theory, and in her formative years, she spent a lot of time listening to the likes of Joni Mitchell and Simon and Garfunkel. Harmonizing is one of her strengths.

One of her dad's strengths, she said, is simply his experience. When he makes a suggestion, Katie knows he knows of what he speaks.

At the same time, her dad is flexible enough to respect her suggestions, she said.

The result is a musical collaboration that's free of power struggles.

"We're really good at the things that cause bands to break up," Katie said. "We naturally " maybe instinctively " just get along. He didn't even realize it, but he raised me to be the perfect band mate."

For his part, Kevin said performing with his daughter is "an enormous amount of fun."

"It's like doing it for the first time myself," he said.

The two have shared the stage not only locally, but as far away as Italy and Scotland. Kevin has also traveled and performed extensively in Ireland.

At this time of year, they both always look forward to the Home Made Theater show, an annual event held in the Spa Little Theater in Saratoga Spa State Park.

"Home Made Theater is a gem of a theater," Kevin said, noting the venue's outstanding acoustics. "I've played some great theaters around the world, and that's one of them."

The Parting Glass, where Katie works, has its own selling points. Billed as "Saratoga's original Irish pub," it always draws a packed house on St. Patrick's Day.

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