Beyond the Pale: Have Dulcimer, Will Travel

By Barbara King

Trying to classify or pigeonhole the music of Dallas-based band Beyond the Pale is an exercise in futility. Compare it to asking a world class chef for an ingredient list and getting the response of ‘a little pinch of this and a tad of that.’

This band is truly unique, and each and every concert is a wild, spirited blend of Celtic, Americana, and traditional folk tunes. Together for 15 years, the band is comprised of husband and wife duo, Christy and Gordon McLeod, joined by Betsy Cummings and rounded out by John Delaney, each talented musicians in their own right.

Settle in for a one of a kind experience, ranging from haunting melodic tunes with strong Celtic influences to swing to a Tex-Mex polka or an Irish jig.

Christy McLeod, who also manages and books the band, says “it’s a labor of love for us to perform in East Texas. This area is definitely our strongest fan base. And it means the world to us to see our audience singing along as we perform.” Having lived in Tyler for over 30 years before moving to Dallas, the McLeod’s realize the value of support from smaller towns and the commitment people show to local artists and live music. Beyond The Pale has recently captivated audiences locally on the patio at Fresh By Brookshire and the Winnsboro Center for the Performing Arts.

You might even get a glimpse of instruments you’ve never seen before, as between the four band members they play a grand total of fifteen different ones. You’ll be transfixed by the sounds of the fiddle, hammered dulcimer, flute, accordion, guitar, concertina, clarinet, harmonica, mandolin, tambourine, saxophone, tin whistle, mandolin, and bodhran.

Gordon McLeod, a gifted writer and producer, also plays a mean fiddle. Their song set will entrance the listener with stories of ancient Ireland to the English tale of Anne Boleyn to an amusing battle between a widow and the devil. The lyrics transport the audience to times of tragedy, strength, and perseverance. McLeod has penned poignant songs with titles like “Hester,” inspired by a gravestone of Irish lineages, as well as a Swing number called “ Catfish Nightmare Blues.”

Just when you feel that you’ve gotten a handle on their material and style, Christy steps up to the mic with a mesmerizing cover of a Beatles oldie or a Pink Floyd favorite. To coin a phrase, “expect the unexpected.” This is not one of your staid, ‘applaud politely after each song scenarios.’ Audiences clap, whistle and stomp their feet and dance the jig at a typical Beyond The Pale concert. It’s a concert that will appeal to the whole family, and the kids can dance right along.

Superb vocals and melodious harmonies spotlight the voices of Betsy Cummings and Christy McLeod, with solo vocals also by Gordon McLeod and John Delaney. Each band member is a complimentary piece of the whole, as they each take center stage as the selections change. The band members are all strong, creative performers that obviously love what they do. Throw in some “sweep you off your feet” fiddling and you’ve got a night to remember.

“Music is our passion,” explains Christy, “and an integral part of our lives.” The band members have daily challenging corporate responsibilities, but the joy of entertaining and storytelling never wanes. Gordon and Christy are both songwriters and have a studio at their home in Dallas. “We haven’t collaborated on any songs together up to this point,” says Christy, “but when we’re at home Gordon will pick up the fiddle and I will pick up the guitar and we’ll play together because we love it.”

The band plays about 30 gigs a year and have performed in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and West Texas. Their venues are as varied as the band themselves, including concert halls, theaters, music festivals, private house parties, and corporate events. “We’ve really enjoyed being part of the music community in Texas,” says McLeod “and have had the joy of sharing our stories and music all across the State. Our motto should be…have dulcimer, will travel. If it’s drivable from Dallas, we’d love to perform.”

To hear their music or to find out more information about bookings, go to or contact Christy McLeod at (972)530-0757, or on Facebook at Beyond The Pale (musician/band).

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