Hard-driving but clean, lively and passionate, traditional yet original; Colin Grant’s fiddle playing has stepped to the forefront of the East Coast traditional music scene. 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. Besides having received an ECMA nomination for Roots / Traditional Solo Album of the Year for his self-titled debut album, Grant currently performs with contemporary Celtic instrumental group Sprag Session and the new traditional quintet Còig.
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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.
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!”
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, his Duo with Mike Marshall, and other ensembles. An Associate Professor at the Berklee School of music, he has recorded and produced scores of important recordings since 1977, and is a featured soloist on dozens of recordings and motion picture soundtracks.
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. They have performed together throughout Canada’s Maritime Provinces and the New England States and have released three recordings. Derrick and Melody are currently acting as coordinators for a Féis Mhàbu project named “The Mabou Musical Mentorship Program”. The program’s focus is on using house sessions to bring together talented young performers of Cape Breton music and dance with well established tradition bearers.
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 at home. Her father, a Cape Breton traditional music lover, always had fiddle music playing in the house. Donna-Marie is very active in Cape Breton’s music scene, playing for ceilidhs and dances around the island and as in-house fiddler at the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre in Judique where she regularly entertains visitors from around the world. Donna-Marie lists Shelly Campbell as a big influence on her playing.
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.
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.