Below are all of the artists who will perform during Celtic Colours 2014 in alphabetical order by first name. Click through to view their concert and community event schedules.
Pianist/vocalist Hamish Napier (Back of The Moon, Man’s Ruin) and fiddler Adam Sutherland (Treacherous Orchestra, Session A9, Croft No. 5) have joined forces in a duo that explores material from traditional songs and tunes, to contemporary numbers, to their own compositions and improvisation. The duo’s raw creativity and their outstanding musical intuition shines in this set up and performances display a kind of electricity and excitement inspired by the off-the-cuff nature of their arrangements, allowing them to highlight every nuance. Each performance is unique and demonstrates the incredible talent of two of Scotland’s foremost musicians.
Adam Young is a piano player from Marion Bridge who regularly plays throughout Cape Breton, and has showcased in Scotland, Ireland, and the United States, including a five-week engagement with Jennifer Roland’s band at Dolly Parton’s amusement park in Tennessee. Adam created and directed Louisbourg Playhouse’s Cape Breton Lyrics & Laughter, which has been performed more than 300 times and was nominated for an ECMA. He also performs with Anita MacDonald and Ben Miller, with his band The Goin’s On, and can be heard on recordings by Colin Grant, Jason MacDonald, Eric Angus Whyte, Dara Smith-MacDonald and Marilyn MacKinnon.
The musical partnership between Alasdair Fraser, long regarded as Scotland’s premier fiddle ambassador, and the sizzlingly-talented young California cellist Natalie Haas is the fulfillment of a long-standing musical dream for Fraser, whose cutting-edge musical explorations took him full circle to find a cellist who could help him return the instrument to its historical role at the rhythmic heart of Scottish dance music. The duo performs frequently in Europe, and throughout the US and Canada. They have been featured on NPR’s Performance Today, the Thistle & Shamrock, and Mountain Stage, and represented Scotland at the Smithsonian Museum’s Folklife Festival.
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 others and was a full time member of Natalie MacMaster's band for five years. Allan is Music Director at the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre in Judique and spends his time accompanying local fiddlers at dances, and in pubs and theatres.
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 released his second CD, Full Circle, in 2013, and continues to work on a book of Cape Breton fiddle tunes.
Amelie Larade is the daughter of Mark and Donna Larade. She is 11 years old and has been dancing since the age of 5. In that time she has danced for Justin Trudeau and Roch Voisine. Amelie loves to dance and has been working for le Conseil des Arts since she started.
Christopher Poirier is a grade 6 student at NDA School in Cheticamp. He has been dancing for eight years. Chris is also a member of a group called Conseil des arts with whom he performs in plays all summer long. This is his third year dancing at Celtic Colours.
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.
Anita MacDonald is a musician, dancer, and Gaelic singer from Little Narrows, Cape Breton. Anita’s fiddle playing has a distinctive sound, influenced by the deep roots of her musical family and her teachers throughout the years. Her energetic style has put her in demand as a performer and teacher, across Cape Breton and beyond. Ben Miller is a player of Scottish smallpipes, border pipes, and highland pipes, whose repertoire and style draw mainly on the Gaelic traditions of western Scotland and the Canadian Maritimes, blended with a healthy dash of Irish tunes for good measure.
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 continues to surprise crowds, whether it's Celtic Beats with Jay Andrews of Halifax (aka Sticks), or a traditional set with Maybelle Chisholm McQueen, he's always there drivin' 'er.
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.
Bob Quinn is the composer behind the widely known song, "My Love, Cape Breton & Me", which is found on Natalie MacMaster’s Blueprint album as recorded by her cousin, Kate. Jennifer (Whalen) Quinn performed often with Nova Scotia favourites John Allan Cameron and Anne Murray. Together, they will come together to celebrate Jennifer’s uncle, Buddy MacMaster, for the festival this year.
Brad Davidge is a very exciting, versatile player, full of energy and soul, a combination that is not easy to come by. His songwriting abilities are that of a true craftsman, mature yet current, and his vocal abilities are endless, possessing a 4-octave range, with both power and subtlety on demand. Brad has received coast-to-coast acclaim, including Music Nova Scotia and East Coast Music Award nominations. The Toronto-born, Newfoundland-raised guitarist/singer/songwriter joined Terry Kelly’s touring band after graduating from the St. F. X. music program and he has toured and recorded extensively with Natalie MacMaster and Mary Jane Lamond.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kelly MacArthur is a champion dancer from Cape Breton, who has competed and performed all over the world and taught Highland and Cape Breton Step Dance for the past 25 years, including 15 years at her own Dance Studio in Sydney, the MacArthur School of Dance. The school has a performance troupe called the CapeLand Dancers which consists of top level dancers from all over Cape Breton. Performing highland and step dance along with Kelly this year at Dancing Up a Suête, are both junior and senior members of the Company, all of whom are seasoned performers and top-notch dancers.
Carl MacKenzie is a regular performer at dances, concerts and workshops across Cape Breton and has also performed throughout Canada, Ireland, Scotland and the United States. A traditional fiddler from Washabuck, Victoria County, he has a vast repertoire, which he prefers to learn from books. Carl has composed over fifty tunes and his playing is expressive of the musical magic and soul that sets him apart from so many other musicians. Carl has released 11 CDs, the latest being Highland Classic (2007). We are fortunate to have him back with us this year.
Chrissy Crowley is a traditional fiddler and recording artist from Cape Breton who, since the 2007 release of her debut album, has been captivating audiences on an international level. Coming from Margaree, a place known for its cherished musical culture which incorporates not only the tunes of the Scottish Gaels but also those of the area's Irish and French-Acadians, Chrissy has been inspired by the traditions of artists who have gone before, embracing the music of her Celtic roots and making it her own. Chrissy's third album, Last Night's Fun, won the 2013 Canadian Folk Music Award for Instrumental Solo Recording of the Year.
Born and raised in Chéticamp, Cape Breton, Sylvie and Christine Doucet have been step 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. Both sisters live in Cheticamp and are involved with the local arts council and dance troupe. They 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.
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.
Colleen is the daughter of famed pianist Maybelle Chisholm McQueen. Growing up in a musical family as the Chisholms of Margaree, Colleen has developed her unique style. She'll be performing with her son Cameron as well as other members of the extended family.
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.
Gaelic supergroup Dàimh are a 5 piece band based in Lochaber in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland; an area as much renowned for its scenic beauty as for its rich musical and cultural heritage. From pyrotechnic jigs and reels to achingly poignant ballads, Dàimh runs the full expressive gamut of folk music at its best, and are justly renowned for their thrilling live shows. They have released 5 studio albums. Their most recent, Tuneship, once again sees the band blazing a new trail in the Scottish music scene with their own instrumental compositions skillfully integrated with traditional Gaelic Songs.
Dannsa are gaining great respect in Scotland and abroad for their traditional and innovating dancing. Believing the relationship between the music and dance is fundamental to the spirit and style, core dancers Caroline Reagh and Sandra Robertson, and piper and stepdancer Fin Moore always dance to live music - fiddle, pipes and Gaelic song. Rounding out the lineup for Celtic Colours are original member Frank McConnell, Artist in Residence Mac Morin from Cape Breton, and Scottish fiddler Sarah Hoy.
Dara Smith-MacDonald, originally from Antigonish, began playing the fiddle at the age of 12. For the past number of years she has been playing at concerts, dances and ceilidhs and teaching fiddle lessons both in her home and over Skype to students from Canada, the USA and Scotland. She has also been teaching fiddle at the Gaelic College for over a decade. Throughout her years playing music, she has traveled to all the Atlantic Provinces to perform and teach as well as parts of the United States.
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, and 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 instruments includes mandolin, bouzouki, tenor banjo, whistles, guitar and bass. He has released three solo albums and been busy touring and performing with a wide range of bands including the Rankins, J.P. Cormier, Dave Gunning, Matt Andersen, Bruce Guthro, Matt Minglewood, David Francey, Gillian Boucher, Troy MacGillivray, Andrea Beaton, Rachel Davis, Anna Ludlow, and Chrissy Crowley. Darren also plays in Sprag Session with Colin Grant, Jason Roach, Donnie Calabrese and Colin Clarke, and fronts his own Darren McMullen Band.
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!"
Born in Scotland but living in Canada since childhood, David is a singer and a storyteller who can establish, in minutes, a personal rapport with his audience. His wry humour and astute observations combined with his openhearted singing style have earned him a loyal following. David's songs have been performed by artists world-wide and he is always a welcome visitor to Celtic Colours, having played here many times through the years. A three time Juno Award winner, he celebrated the release of his 10th album in 2013.
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.