Craig Bakay | Apr 10, 2019
Dave and Shawn McCullough both learned to play music in their parents’ kitchen growing up.
Now, many years later, they’re starting to appreciate playing with each other and are trying to find more time for just that.
Dave is 54 (“that’s 102 in dog years,” says Shawn) and Shawn is 47. It’s taken awhile for them to get back together as both have had other musical pursuits. (Dave plays bass with Red Rose Express; Shawn plays with everybody.) But they’ve joined with drummer Bill Parsons to become the house band on Wednesday Wing Night Open Mic at The Cove in Westport.
“Officially, we started playing together around ’92,” said Shawn. “We played together off and on but in the last couple of years, we’ve been playing more together.
“We have fun and laugh at each other when one of us makes a mistake.
“Probably nobody notices but us.”
“It’s just heaven now that he’s grown up,” said Dave. “There’s nothing like blood — the harmonies, the mistakes.”
As with many musicians, both grew up trying out many instruments. Dave started off with mandolin, guitar, banjo, before settling in on the bass.
Shawn found his instrument a littler earlier.
“When he was little, all you had to do was give him a guitar,” said Dave. “He wouldn’t bother you for hours.”
It’s a little bit of a different experience for the elder McCullough playing with his brother in a trio.
Well known as a solid bottom-ender, Dave said the pressure is off to a certain extent because Shawn does a lot of the singing.
“With Red Rose Express, we have three lead instruments but a lot more of the singing falls to me,” he said. “Now, most people may not know this but singing while you’re playing bass is tougher than singing while strumming a guitar.
“You have to think differently.
“Also, it’s easier to get tight in a three-piece.”
But there also seems to be one of those intangibles going on when the brothers play together.
They’re very different.
Shawn plays 200-300 dates a year. Dave has a day job (with Ontario Parks).
Shawn can be as flashy as it gets. Dave plays a more laid-back, rhythm-section style.
“I can get flashy, I just usually don’t,” Dave said. “And there’s no need to get flashy when you play with somebody like him.”