Whether it’s the mesmerizing Gaelic vocals of Mary Jane Lamond or the superb musicianship of fiddler Wendy MacIsaac, these ladies have been making their mark with traditional audiences worldwide for over two decades. Wendy MacIsaac is a high energy fiddler, piano player and stepdancer from Creignish with three solo records to her credit. A favourite with traditional audiences everywhere, Wendy has toured all over the world as a solo performer and with The Rankins, Mary Jane Lamond, Ashley MacIsaac and Beòlach. Mary Jane’s sharing of time-honoured Gaelic songs and stories has earned her numerous Juno and ECMA nominations, critical acclaim and a worldwide audience. Her four recordings create a respectful and beautiful framework for ancient Gaelic songs and her spell-binding performances make these selections truly come alive. Established tradition bearers, both Mary Jane and Wendy have been recognized internationally for their solo music careers and are skilful and enthusiastic teachers in high demand at festivals worldwide.
After a frankly classical training including two Masters degrees, Rachel Aucoin specialises today in traditional music accompaniment. Now living in Beaumont, near Quebec city, Rachel directs the Maréemusique project, which includes a community-based teaching program. Deeply influenced by such musicians as Simard, Bruneau, Labbé, Messervier and Montmarquette, Sabin Jacques has been playing accordion since age 14. Living in the cosmopolitan musical community of Montreal allowed him to make significant acquaintances with musicians in popular and commercial music. Sabin worked with iconic Acadian signer Edith Butler between 1993 and 2001. His most recent recordings present traditional tunes from Quebec played with his fellow musicians from band Tidal Wave / Raz-de-marée.
Armed with a love of jigs, reels and ballads honoured in Newfoundland, and an energy found more often in 3 piece punk rock bands than 5 piece folk acts, their accordions, fiddle and talent have shaken national festivals including Winnipeg, Mariposa, and Vancouver. Barely into their twenties, they’ve intuitively become the keepers of the songs we love and have sought out tunes that may have otherwise been lost to the culture forever. A new breed of folk musician with a wide sense of the world and a firm belief that Newfoundlanders can hold their own with the best players the world has to offer.
A stunning synthesis of virtuosity and energy, The Outside Track’s marriage of Canadian, Scottish and Irish music and song has been rapturously received around the world. Hailing from Scotland, Ireland, Cape Breton and Vancouver, its five members–Norah Rendell, Mairi Rankin, Lily Neill, Fiona Black, and Cillian O’Dalaigh–are united by a love of traditional music and a commitment to creating new music on its foundation. Using fiddle, accordion, harp, guitar, flute, step-dance and vocals these five virtuosos blend boundless energy with unmistakable joie de vivre.
Stewart MacNeil is best known for being a member of the international recording group the Barra MacNeils – 6 siblings who have recorded and toured extensively for more than 25 years. He plays a multitude of instruments including accordion, piano, flute, whistles, bass, guitar, bouzouki, bodhran, pipe organ and harmonica. As an arranger, his stamp on The Barra MacNeils’ music has contributed to the band’s identity. A graduate of Mount Allison University with a major in classical piano, Stewart now spends much of his time learning Gaelic songs and is a dedicated student of the language.
Vishten’s music is a hardy mixture of the French, Irish and Scottish styles of Eastern Canada, with fiery fiddling and powerful step dancing taking front and center. The rhythms and melodies are inseparable, and reflect a special joie de vivre unique to the Acadian culture, with flying fingers, tapping feet, and an unabashed sense of celebration.
Fronted by Ireland’s piano accordion maestro, The Alan Kelly Gang has been taking their audiences by storm with music from throughout the Celtic regions and original compositions that stem from a deep traditional sensitivity. Each a highly respected artist, the four members of The Alan Kelly Gang — Alan Kelly (accordion), Maureen Browne (fiddle), Steph Geremia (flute & vocals), Tony Byrne (guitar) — combine their individual virtuosity with unparalleled musicianship and group empathy to produce a sound that pushes the conventional boundaries of traditional music yet remains sympathetic to the past, present and future of it. The Alan Kelly Gang was a big hit at the Festival last year and we’re really excited to see them back.