Original and traditional repertoire influenced by the duo’s Celtic and North American folk roots. www.haines-leighton.com
Mark Haines and Tom Leighton established themselves as a duo in 1992 with the release of their first CD, “Foot To Floor, Repeat On Beat”. They perform an original and traditional repertoire influenced by their Celtic and North American folk roots. Engaging humour and personality has made them popular in several circuits performing in theatres, festivals, concerts, and clubs. Their ramblings have taken them along Canadian highways from Ontario to the Maritimes, into the mountains of New York, across the sea to Britain and around the world to Taipei, Taiwan.
Mark’s voice is one of a kind. Add Tom’s superb harmony arranging skills, and the stories and pictures in their songs come vividly to life. They are multi-instrumentalists combining the “tug at your heart strings” traditional fiddle, accordion, guitar, bouzouki, and bodhran, blended with the “turn on your ears” new technology of synthesizers, tone generators and processors. With all this at their command they make a very big sound, Tom sometimes playing three instruments at once; left hand pumping the accordion and bass, the right hand thumping the drum, while his feet deftly work the pedals of the keyboards.
Tom and Mark were commissioned to write arrangements of Canadian traditional music for the Canada Pavilion at Epcott Centre, Disney World, Florida. They celebrated the release of their second CD, “Optimists Jig”” with a busier schedule of concerts and festivals including performances with the Kingston Symphony Orchestra. “Optimists Jig”receives air play on Canadian national radio and selected folk stations across North America and is featured as TV theme music for “Antiques Country”” WNED, Buffalo, New York.
In the fall of 1999 they hosted The Canadian Maritime Celebration at the Grand Formosa Regent Hotel, in Taipei Taiwan.
Winter 2000 found them in the cast of “The Needfire”, a Mirvish Production celebrating Canadian and international Celtic artists, staged at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto, Ontario.
“After the intermission, Tom Leighton and Mark Haines blazed their way to glory, working the crowd up with their extremely polished set. They are both multi-instrumentalists. Leighton, amazingly, plays as many as three at the same time, adroitly manipulating his DX7 synthesizer to produce sounds he and Haines lack fingers enough to play themselves, such as bass lines and percussion embellishments.
Their act seamlessly integrated synthesized and acoustic sounds. Leighton brought down the house with a solo bodhran break. Haines, who sang most of the solos, also plays a mean fiddle. Together, the two musicians played a red-hot and glowing version of the Orange Blossom Special, driving the crowd insane with pleasure.”
Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, 2000
“Mark Haines and Tom Leighton always exude a great joie de vivre in their performances and tonight was no exception. Tom is a powerhouse one man band (if he wanted to be); he sings and plays bodhran, keyboards/synthesizer and some kind of souped up accordion which I think was supplying a good backup bass sound; Mark is excellent on the fiddle and the majority of the lead vocals. Bill Usher joined them to provide some solid and complimentary percussion. Tony Burns played a Cabasa shaker which gave a nice sound on a couple of numbers. Their music almost defies description but with some interesting props and music ranging from many unusual originals to celtic, gospel, contemporary, bluegrass, vaudeville and swing influences – and great exciting polkas! – their music is in a class all it’s own. Their phenomenal energy, vivacity, charm, breadth of vision and consummate musicality results in one of the most exciting and mesmerizing shows you’ll ever hope to see and hear. Their enthusiasm and love of music is so encompassing and pervasive that the audience is swept up in a contagion of joy – many in the packed house had never heard them before and there were constant looks of incredulity on peoples’ faces and exclamations of wonder and amazement. With standing ovations and double encores, Tom & Mark invited Aengus back on stage and finished off the evening with the gospel song “I’ll Fly Away” and a rousing rendition of “Will The Circle Be Unbroken”, with everyone standing, singing along and being thoroughly transported. We got back to Toronto at 2am, but who could go to sleep, when you’re so pumped and high! On the other hand, one might argue, you’re exhausted by their overwhelming energy! However you react, this music courses through your veins and sure makes you feel alive.”