Kolten MacDonell is a fiddler, stepdancer, and piano player from Glencoe, Cape Breton. He began playing music at a young age, influenced by many local teachers, including Stephanie Wills, Brenda Stubbert and Jerry Holland. Kolten has played for ceilidhs and dances throughout Cape Breton, and is also in demand as a teacher. He has taught piano accompaniment and stepdancing workshops for several years at St. Ann’s Gaelic College of Arts and Crafts in Cape Breton, Ceilidh Trail School of Celtic Music, and Boston Harbour Scottish Fiddle School.
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 the Colin Grant Band playing a dynamic and thoughtful mingling of beats and melodies from an extensive host of musical influences.
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 in performance throughout Canada, the United States, Ireland, Scotland, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. She lives in beautiful 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. A winner of the Top 20 Under 20 in Canada Award in 2008, Chrissy released her second album, The Departure, in 2010.
Comunn Féis Mhàbu was founded to support both children and adults in their pursuits to learn more about Cape Breton’s unique Gaelic culture. Féis Mhàbu allows individuals, particularly young people, to develop skills in the area of Gaelic language and performance arts and provides opportunities for the organizers to enhance the rich local culture with the talents and experience of tradition bearers from other areas of the Celtic world. The youth performers that will be taking part in the Festival have been faithful participants in two of Féis Mhàbu’s more unique programs, Eirich Air! and the Musical Mentorship Program.
Dwayne Côté was raised in Grande Greve, Cape Breton in a family deeply rooted in all aspects of Cape Breton, Irish and Scottish music traditions–his mother being a renowned dancer, instructor, and performer and his father is the late Gordon Côté, a celebrated Celtic fiddler/teacher. Dwayne has played all over the world and has performed with John Allan Cameron, Graham Townsend, Sean McGuire, Buddy MacMaster, Jerry Holland and Dave MacIsaac among others. He is also a composer and has more than 200 tunes registered with SOCAN. Dwayne Côté is one of the most unique players in Atlantic Canada. His musical tones are inimitable and seldom forgotten.
For as long as they can remember, Ciarán and Fiona MacGillivray have been performing for the many musical visitors who pass through their home on Cape Breton Island. (Ciarán and Fiona are the children of famed Canadian author/composer, Allister MacGillivray). Besides singing, they play piano, guitar, harp, tin whistle, and bodhrán. They also stepdance, and are studying the Gaelic language of their ancestors. They have appeared together in the Cape Breton Summertime Revue and continue to perform with The Cottars.
Haley MacPhee is an up and coming singer from St. Peter’s, Cape Breton who grew up surrounded by music and jam sessions. Along with her father, Cyril MacPhee, she has performed for the past 10 summers at the Keltic Lodge in Ingonish, Cape Breton. Her first recording at the age of 11 is included on Failte Traditions and Rob MacLean & Cyril MacPhee Duo CD. In the last couple of years, Haley was part of Rising Stars for Rock the Dock, recorded for CBC Radio, and played at Celtic Colours.
Heartwood Slacks is a five-man band that—ironically—happens to meet the criteria for a great American heritage revival band. The personnel—who bring banjo, guitars, blues harp, mandolin and bass fiddle—have shared stages and bills for years, a variety of local “band-me-downs” who were weaned on blues, metal and country music. Heartwood Slacks principle songwriter John Gill bangs out incomparably sincere, catchy, melodic bar-room shout along songs. In their year-and-a-bit history, the Slacks have been around the Maritimes tightening tunes, loosening screws, playing barrooms, living rooms and at one point, an abandoned, cobblestone hockey rink.