All of the artists who will perform during Celtic Colours 2013 in alphabetical order by first name.
Click through to view their concert and community event schedules.
These three brothers from Foot Cape, Inverness County, have been playing music together since they were young. Kyle MacDonald is the fiddler of the group, and also plays mandolin, and percussion. Kyle’s twin brother Keith is the piper and guitarist while eldest brother Colin, who studied Gaelic Language and Traditional Music on Isle of Skye, Scotland plays piano. These three musicians create a powerful Cape Breton sound and guarantee a lively performance.
Allan's background in the Cape Breton musical tradition is the backbone of his ability to accompany any fiddler, past and present—from Carl MacKenzie, Buddy MacMaster, Rodney MacDonald, Howie MacDonald, John Morris Rankin and John Pellerin to the new generation fiddlers including Troy MacGillivray and Shelly Campbell—for dances and ceilidhs. Allan has toured all over the world with Jerry Holland and many others and was a full time member of Natalie MacMaster's band from 2001-2006. Allan is now Music Director at the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre in Judique and spends his time accompanying local fiddlers at dances, pubs and theatres from Nova Scotia to Scotland and beyond.
Multi-instrumentalist Allie Bennett has toured internationally and has over 125 album projects to his credit as a studio musician. Frequently called on to play the role of musical director and band-leader for events like the East Coast Music Awards, the Cape Breton Summertime Revue and Howie's Celtic Brew, Allie has won East Coast Music Awards for co-producing Dave Gunning’s A Tribute to John Allan Cameron and the prestigious Musician’s Achievement Award. Always in demand for studio and touring work, Allie has just released his second CD, “Full Circle”, a follow-up to his 2004 debut “It’s About Time”.
Andrea Beaton is the youngest of generations of Beaton and MacMaster musicians. Like her father (Kinnon) and grandfather (Donald Angus), she is a lively violinist and composer, adding fine new music to the island's repertoire. Andrea has released six albums including 2010 East Coast Music Award winning "Branches" and her latest, "Little Black Book", released in 2012. In 2007 she released an album with her father, Kinnon Beaton and in 2006 she recorded "The Tap Session" in Scotland with Troy MacGillivray, Fin Moore, and Luke Plumb. Her previous two releases, "Cuts" (2004) and "License to Drive'er" (2002), were both nominated for East Coast Music Awards.
Anita MacDonald is an accomplished musician, dancer, and Gaelic singer from Little Narrows, Cape Breton. Her passion for Cape Breton music has inspired her to work with the cultural component of Féis an Eilein in Christmas Island. In 2011, she received the Frank “Big Sampie” Sampson Award from the Festival Volunteer Drive’ers Association to record her debut album, “Stepping Stone”. A recent graduate of Cape Breton University with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Gaelic, Anita performs throughout Cape Breton and she is often sought after to conduct workshops in music, dance, and song. She is performing at Celtic Colours this year with Tyson Chen and Evan Bonaparte.
Antti Järvelä is a musician, music teacher, composer, and arranger who has dedicated his existence to music (nearly) since was born in Kaustinen, Finland. Nowadays he has his base in Alahärmä, which in spite of one of the biggest amusement parks in Finland, is a very nice and quiet small town in the Southern Osthrobotnia region. Touring around the world mostly with different international and domestic music groups, Antti plays upright bass, violin, guitar, mandolin, tenor banjo, piano, reed organ, and more. He has found himself involved lately with the following performing bands: Frigg, Baltic Crossing, JPP, Kings Of Polka, Troka.
One of Finland’s premier fiddlers, Arto Järvelä has, over the past three decades, been a member of more than ten folk music groups. He's primarily known as founder, second fiddler, composer and arranger of Kaustinen fiddle legends JPP, in action since 1982. Throughout the JPP history, Arto has demonstrated profound talents as a remarkably skilled player and as a gifted composer and multi-instrumentalist. As one of Finland’s most talented folk musicians, Arto has represented Finnish culture in more than thirty-five countries. Concert appearances have taken him as far as Cuba, Peru, Australia, Pakistan, Thailand, Egypt, USA and most of Europe.
Ashley MacIsaac was performing as a dancer in concerts by the time he started school and added fiddle and piano a short time later. While still in high school he found himself working with Paul Simon and performing in a Phillip Glass off-Broadway production. Since first recording in the early 1990s, he has experimented with musical styles and evolved into an award-winning, genre-bending performer, writer, and singer. Ashley is currently working a new project of Celtic Beats with Jay Andrews of Halifax (aka Sticks), the previously unreleased Beautiful Lake Ainslie CD with Barbara Magone is set for release later this fall as is a re-issue of his Crossover CD.
The Barra MacNeils are one of Canada's premier Celtic groups. The family band from Sydney Mines is deeply rooted in Celtic music, culture and history, and consistently wows audiences with their captivating vocals, harmonies and musicianship. After more than 25 years, the group is as busy as ever, having released two new recordings in 2012--a live album with Symphony Nova Scotia and a special project recorded with a variety of musical guests from Celtic Colours. With multiple lead vocalists, beautiful sibling harmonies, top-drawer instrumental prowess on a wide variety of instruments, dancing, storytelling, Gaelic songs and a journey through an ancient culture, The Barra MacNeils live in concert must be experienced to be believed.
Since getting their start at a late night session during the 1998 Celtic Colours International Festival, Beòlach has established itself as one of Cape Breton’s most exciting and innovative traditional bands. Performing a lively mix of Cape Breton, Scottish and Irish tunes, the group features Mairi Rankin (fiddle, step-dance), Wendy MacIsaac (fiddle, piano, step-dance), Patrick Gillis (guitar), Ryan J. MacNeil (pipes, whistles), and Mac Morin (piano). Beòlach has released two albums, Beòlach (2001) and Variations (2004), which were both nominated for East Coast Music Awards. It is a true pleasure to welcome them back together at Celtic Colours this year.
Betty Lou Beaton began playing the piano at the age of five. Although she has a couple of years of piano training, all her Cape Breton piano playing is done by ear. At fourteen years of age, she started playing dances with her brother Buddy and has been accompanying fiddlers for dancers ever since. She is most often paired with her husband, fiddler Kinnon Beaton, and the duo is in high demand to play for dances.
Janet Cameron, Paul Wukitsch and the late Joe Peter MacLean performed together as The Boisdale Trio for over twenty years. Janet is from Boisdale and has been a community accompanist for many years. Paul immigrated to Cape Breton in the 1970's and became close friends with fellow fiddlers Johnny Wilmot, Wilfred Prosper and Joe Peter MacLean. Paul and Joe Peter would play dances and ceilidhs throughout the rural areas around Boisdale in the early 1980s. The Trio came together with Janet in the late ‘80s after she retired and moved back to the family home in Boisdale. Janet and Paul will be joined by Janet’s brother Father Francis in paying to tribute to Joe Peter this year.
Breabach delivers a thrilling and unique brand of contemporary folk music, which has earned the group international recognition on the world and roots music scene as one of the UK’s most dynamic and powerful bands. Voted Best Group at the Scots Trad Music Awards, Breabach have also received nominations in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and as European Folk Group of the Year in the German Folk Awards. The band intertwine highland bagpipes, fiddle, guitar, bass, flute, bouzouki, step dance, Gaelic and Scots song to produce a diverse and captivating performance.
Brenda Stubbert is an extraordinary fiddler, pianist, and composer from Cape Breton. Two books of her compositions are in print, and her tunes are in repertoires everywhere Celtic fiddle music can be heard. Brenda is in constant demand throughout Cape Breton. Her dances are lively and well attended. Since 1986, Brenda has released 7 albums, including Endless Memories (2008) which won the East Coast Music Award for Traditional Recording of the Year, and her most recent, Different Strokes with Different Folks (2011).
Descended from the Chisholms of Margaree, a family of exceptional musical talent which includes Cameron and Maybelle Chisholm, Brian Doyle is a well-known guitarist. His playing encompasses a variety of styles, from the rock'n'roll of his earliest days to the traditional music of his ancestors. Brian has played on many recordings and toured nationally and internationally. Brian won an East Coast Music Award in 1998 for Scott Macmillan Presents: The Minnie Sessions Vol 1. Brian has also been nominated in the Instrumental and Rock album of the year categories.
Brian MacDonald grew up in Westmount, Cape Breton. He spent a great deal of time surrounded by Gaelic music and culture in Inverness County. He is married with five children and living in St. Andrews, Antigonish County. Brian has been playing the fiddle for many years for dances and concerts around Cape Breton, Ontario and Detroit and formed a group a few years ago called the Antigonish County Fiddlers. Brian is a Gaelic learner and has been instrumental in organizing Gaelic language programs for adults and students in the Antigonish area.
Brittany Haas is a 5-string fiddle player from the San Francisco Bay Area, now residing in Nashville. She grew up honing her craft in fiddle camps nationwide, and came to her unique sound through the old time fiddling of Bruce Molsky and the innovative stylings of Darol Anger. She toured, performed with Darol's Republic of Strings and seminal chamber-grass band Crooked Still, Yonder Mountain String Band, Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas, Abigail Washburn, The Waybacks and recorded on Steve Martin's Grammy Award-winning CD, "The Crow," performing in his band on Letterman and SNL.
Bruce Guthro has captivated audiences around the world with his honest, straight-to-the-heart songwriting and live performances that are as engaging and personal as the man himself. Troubadour and storyteller, Bruce's music gets to the heart of the matter, and his success can be attributed to his ability to connect with his audience. His songs cross the boundaries of pop, folk, and jazz and showcase the vast abilities of the songwriter to put into words many diverse experiences as though he has lived them all. Along with his solo career, Bruce has toured for over a decade as lead singer for the Scottish super group Runrig.
Buddy MacDonald, from the North Shore of Cape Breton, has been a singer/songwriter for over thirty years. He has entertained international audiences and shared the stage with Celtic artists including Natalie MacMaster, Ashley MacIsaac, Dave MacIsaac and Howie MacDonald. Buddy has made a number of appearances in the U.S., and at Scotland's Orkney, Shetland, and Perthshire Amber Festivals. Buddy has hosted the Celtic Colours late night Festival Club since its beginning in 1997. Whether in a small country hall, pub, festival or concert theatre, his love of writing, singing and entertaining comes across to bridge the gap between performer and listener.
The Cape Breton Chorale has been thrilling audiences since its formation in 1973. In the 40 years since, the Chorale has given more than 200 performances throughout the Maritimes, England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. The Chorale has shared the stage with a variety of musical stars, ranging from Celine Dion to Rita MacNeil and has performed before numerous visiting dignitaries including Queen Elizabeth II. The Cape Breton Chorale has released five albums and demonstrated, through its versatility and repertoire, its well-deserved reputation for excellence. This year we celebrate the Chorale’s 40th anniversary with a special concert to close the Festival.
Preparation for the 1973 Festival of Cape Breton Fiddling in Glendale gave birth to the Cape Breton Fiddlers' Association whose main mandate has been to preserve and promote traditional Cape Breton fiddle music. In 1998, the Association celebrated its 25th anniversary with 202 fiddlers on stage at the Gaelic College. Ten years later, nearly one hundred members embarked on a ten-day tour of Scotland. By providing workshops and opportunities to learn new tunes and techniques, publishing tunes, and providing venues for musicians, the Cape Breton Fiddlers' Association is flourishing. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the Cape Breton Fiddlers’ Association will be featured in a very special closing concert.
Cassie and Maggie MacDonald are a dynamic Celtic sister duo, born in Halifax with strong roots in Antigonish, who have been wowing audiences across Canada with their unique blend of original and traditional Celtic music. Together these delightful sisters bring more than your average fiddle and piano duo; Fiddle-playing Cassie is also an award winning highland and step dancer and also sings harmony for Maggie. In addition to her piano playing, Maggie sings lead, plays guitar, banjo, accordion and is also an accomplished step dancer. Their music fits together seamlessly encompassing various styles from Cape Breton reels to Antigonish polkas, Quebecois fiddling and footwork to down east standards.
Born and raised in Chéticamp, Cape-Breton, Sylvie and Christine Doucet have been dancing for as long as they can remember. They were both founding members of La swing du suête and have shared their love of dancing with many audiences over the years. Christine now lives in Sydney where she teaches step dancing to young students and is in charge of the dance troupe Pieds en cadence. Sylvie lives in Chéticamp where she teaches step dancing to adults and is assistant director of the dance troupe La swing du suête. Both sisters are happy to be reunited on stage to share their love of dance and celtic music.
Chrissy Crowley, Rachel Davis, Colin Grant, Jason Roach and Darren McMullen got together in 2010 for a tour promoting Celtic Colours. The engaging line-up of well-known solo acts—featuring expertly-played fiddle, piano, guitar, mandolin, whistle and banjo—enjoyed playing together so much that they decided to perform as Còig ("Ko-ick" - Scottish Gaelic for “five”) whenever they can. And we’re happy they are together for the Festival this year. With busy solo schedules, these musicians do not get a lot of chances to play together as Còig. Take advantage of this rare opportunity to see them in action.
Hard-driving but clean, lively and passionate, traditional yet original—Colin Grant's fiddle playing has inconspicuously stepped to the forefront of the East Coast traditional music scene and people are sitting up and taking notice. Although most at home with traditional Cape Breton fiddle music, his versatility as both a lead and side musician has given him experiences in a variety of traditional styles, in addition to folk, rock and country genres. Colin has put this experience to use with Sprag Session, playing a dynamic and thoughtful mingling of beats and melodies from an extensive host of musical influences. In addition to solo performances, Colin will also be playing with Sprag Session and Coìg during Celtic Colours this year.
Colin Watson was raised with Gaelic as a first languages and has an avid enthusiasm for all aspects of Cape Breton's Gaelic tradition. His specialty is Gaelic singing. With a repertoire of mouth tunes and song, he has sung for BBC Scotland and appeared at concerts and milling frolics throughout Nova Scotia. Colin graduated from Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Memorial University in 2011 after living in Newfoundland for four years. He currently lives in Jamesville, Victoria County, Cape Breton.
The four MacDonald siblings that make up the group Company Road were raised in a musical family in Port Hood, among seven brothers and sisters. Although traditional Cape Breton fiddle music and dance is undeniably in their blood, Country music had a strong influence on their musical sensibilities. Although brothers Brennan and Mitch are no strangers to the stage, Gordie and Kelly Jean have only recently been convinced to come out of the kitchen and bring their talents to the stage. Each brings their own style and voice to their music, from Kelly Jean’s amazing control and power, to Gordie’s incredible sense of harmony, Mitch’s soft indie-esque vibe and Brennan’s musical comfort and writing combined with family humour and personality. You’ll be in good company with this crowd. Kelly Jean, Mitch, Gordie and Brennan absolutely love singing and performing together and that is certainly evident when watching them.
Growing up just outside of St. Peter’s in a musical family, Cyril MacPhee was immersed in Cape Breton ceilidhs and heavily influenced by his father’s Scottish and Irish fiddling, Country and Bluegrass music, and Folk singers like Stan Rogers. His musical influences are extremely varied, from the Beatles to Harry Hibbs, and this shows through in his songwriting and musical style. MacPhee has a versatility in his music that is a truly unique blend of folk, country and Celtic music. He has released five albums, three with the popular power-folk group Brakin' Tradition and two as a solo artist.
Exceptional among modern fiddlers for his versatility and depth, Darol Anger has helped drive the evolution of the contemporary string band through his involvement with numerous path-breaking ensembles such as his Republic Of Strings, the Turtle Island String Quartet, the David Grisman Quintet, Montreux, the Duo and other ensembles. Today Darol can be heard on NPR's "Car Talk" theme every week, along with Earl Scruggs, David Grisman and Tony Rice. He has recorded and produced scores of important recordings since 1977, is a MacDowell and UCross Fellow, and has received numerous composers' residencies and grants. He is a featured soloist on dozens of recordings and motion picture soundtracks.
Darrell's musical career began twenty years ago, playing house parties, and local halls in Cape Breton. Celtic music was introduced to Darrell at an early age by his parents--his mother Mea being a beautiful Gaelic singer, and his late father, John, a gifted traditional singer and guitar player as well. Over the last two decades, Darrell has played to audiences throughout much of Eastern Canada, and has shared the stage with many great singers and musicians. From local songs and stories to those taken from Scottish, Irish and Cape Breton history, Darrell's love of music is evident in his performance.
Darren McMullen is a highly sought after multi-instrumentalist based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. His list of on-stage instruments includes mandolin, bouzouki, tenor banjo, whistles, guitar and bass. Darren started young on piano and then guitar and played his way through the popular pub band scene until he landed a gig with J.P. Cormier in 2004 which took him throughout Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. Since then he has released two solo albums and been busy touring and performing with a wide range of artists. In the Darren McMullen Band, he has teamed up with Zach Smith on percussion, Rachel Davis on fiddle and vocals, and Ben Furey on mandolin and vocals. Darren will also be performing with Sprag Session and Coìg.
Internationally recognized as a master of stringed instruments, Dave MacIsaac is a musician's musician. He plays traditional fiddle tunes with fiery passion, and his stunning guitar playing, whether solo or as accompaniment, is industry legend. Always interested in expanding his knowledge of Celtic music, Dave has thousands of recordings of Cape Breton traditional music. He also possesses an archival knowledge of tunes, and is often called upon to name that tune for recordings, as well as being in high demand for session work. John Allan Cameron often stated that, "If a cod fish had strings... Dave MacIsaac could play it!"
David Greely’s French Louisiana music is opening a new wing in his tradition. David has taken the swampy syncopations of Cajun music and its renaissance French dialect to a new level of sophistication without losing its urgency and texture. In solo acoustic performance, he sounds like two or three fiddles, weaving accompaniment to his vocals as if it’s someone else singing. Presenting his concerts in English or French, he embraces all the aspects of his heritage that a fiddle and voice can reach—ancient ballads, cane field blues, yearning waltzes and fiery two steps—and melds his ancestral legacy with his own adroit compositions and stories of the rich souls who kept this music and language alive.
Helen MacDonald and Dawn MacDonald-Gillis began step dancing at the ages of 5 and 8 under the tutelage of Kaye Hanrahan in New Waterford. With strong ties to the Iona area, they grew up surrounded by traditional Cape Breton music. By the time they had reached their teen years, their synchronized footwork saw them invited to perform in many concerts in Cape Breton and beyond. They began teaching step dancing, both privately and for other dancing schools in the industrial Cape Breton area. They both continue to teach step dance workshops at various professional conferences as well as at the Gaelic College, St. Ann’s and at Fèis an Eilein, Christmas Island, among others.
A songwriter with impressive instrumental abilities, Décota McNamara is an up-and-coming artist whose roots range from traditional Irish, bluegrass, and French to contemporary pop and country. Moving effortlessly between acoustic and electric guitar, banjo, mandolin and dobro, his command of string instruments is as impressive as his rich vocals and clever songwriting. Overflowing with energy and charisma, Décota is a top-notch entertainer whether playing in kitchens, pubs or concert halls. His soul is deep, his fingers are fast, and his stories are captivating.
Delores Boudreau was raised in the small Cape Breton community of Arichat. Growing up in such a richly musical and bilingual community, it is no surprise that she developed her singing skills in both English and French. The music of this multi-genre dynamo is best described as Maritime folk, bluegrass-inspired, lively and upbeat. Her songwriting speaks of the inner life familiar to us all. Delores has released two albums and been honoured with nominations for the Nova Scotia Music Awards in Folk Roots and Best Female Artist categories. She is also a past winner of the Vocal Performance Category at Le Gala de la Chanson de la Nouvelle-Ecosse.
Derrick and Melody Cameron live in Mabou, Cape Breton on the small dairy farm where Derrick was raised. Melody is an accomplished Cape Breton style dancer and fiddle player and they have performed together throughout Canada's Maritime Provinces and the New England States. Highlights include playing the Stan Rogers Folk Festival and the Washington Irish Folk Festival, teaching workshops and performing at the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention in Aberdeen, Scotland and playing for many dances, pubs and concerts throughout Cape Breton Island. They were featured in the documentary "And They Danced" and have released three recordings.
Dirk Powell combines deep-running roots in rural American tradition with an overarching artistic vision that speaks poignantly to the audiences of today. From learning banjo and fiddle at the feet of his grandfather in Kentucky, through founding the Louisiana Cajun group Balfa Toujours, to extensive recording and film work with such artists as Jack White, Joan Baez, T-Bone Burnett, Anthony Minghella, Loretta Lynn, and Spike Lee, Dirk has arrived at a place all his own - one where tradition, inspiration, and innovation meet without borders.
Donna-Marie DeWolfe, of River Tillard near St. Peter’s in Richmond County, has been playing Cape Breton fiddle music since she was ten years old. As a child, Donna-Marie heard plenty of fiddle music in her home. Her father, a Cape Breton traditional music lover, always had fiddle music playing in the house. At the age of 18, she has already become very active in the Cape Breton music scene and plays for ceilidhs and dances around the island. Donna-Martie was the in-house fiddler at the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre this past Summer where she entertained audiences from around the world.