The differences between Ewan MacColl’s Scottish roots and Peggy Seeger’s American ones proved more interesting than the similarities Friday at McCabe’s, where the couple demonstrated the depth and timelessness of their respective traditions in a long, casual performance. The 71-year-old MacColl, straddling a backward-turned chair and singing in a rich, powerful voice, looked as if he were in an Edinburgh pub. His wife, Seeger, on the other hand, would have been at home on an Appalachian porch as she accompanied herself and MacColl on banjo, guitar and concertina.
However, their more modern, less traditional statement songs lacked the subtlety and grace of the older material. Helping link MacColl’s and Seeger’s styles was the vocal and instrumental support of their 23-year-old son, Calum MacColl, whose renditions of medieval dance tunes on bowed psaltery provided the evening’s musical highlight.