As a child, Larry tapped his feet on the rails of his crib to the music of Winston Fitzgerald, Angus Chisholm and many other local fiddlers who came to his home during kitchen rackets. His first instrument was the guitar and he has gone on to teach himself fiddle, mandolin and piano. The instrument he spends the most time playing, though, is the fiddle. A long-time member of the Cape Breton Fiddlers’ Association, Larry was instrumental in establishing the Thursday night sessions at Rollie’s Wharf in North Sydney, now in its twelfth year.
A native of Sydney Mines, Cape Breton, Leanne comes from a family steeped in music and tradition. She has performed in many parts of Canada, the US and Ireland. Her debut album, All Set, which features Tracey Dares-MacNeil, Dave MacIsaac as well as members of her family, was recognized in 2008 by the East Coast Music Association and was nominated in the category of Roots/Traditional Solo Recording of the Year. Now living in Halifax, Leanne also gives lessons in Cape Breton Stepdancing.
Three talented Acadian musicians with deep roots in the Chéticamp region, have been coming together as a group since 2004 to share their community’s traditional songs and the stories behind them. Jean-René Bourgeois was a founding member of Les Habitants, a band that recorded and toured a repertoire of 18th century French music with many historical connections to Cape Breton’s Acadian song traditions. Marcel LeFort has been performing professionally since his early teens. His musical adaptability has thick Acadian roots and he has played with Cyril MacPhee, J.P. Cormier, Ronald Bourgeois and the Phantoms over the years. Robert Deveaux spent much of his youth in the dance halls of Cape Breton playing Scottish fiddle and piano before rekindling his relationship with traditional Acadian songs.
Lisa started step dancing at the age of six and in her early teens took up the fiddle. She is a seasoned step dance instructor, having taught locally, nationally, and internationally. She toured regularly, playing music and dancing, with Celtic fusion group, Slainte Mhath and currently works as the Fundraising Coordinator for the Northside Community Guest Home Foundation.
Margie Beaton along with her sister Dawn, comprise the Beaton Sisters from Mabou, Cape Breton. With her ECMA winning CD, “Taste of Gaelic”, she has toured around the globe–most recently to the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention in Northern Ireland and teaching at the Ceòlas school of music in South Uist, Scotland. Her flair for intricate harmonies, graceful steps, and a tasty musical style will feature prominently at Celtic Colours this year, both in her solo performance at Fiddles and Prose, and in the Beaton Sisters Band performance at Roarin’ Roots.
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.
Mckayla began playing the fiddle at the age of 5, taking lessons with Joy Thibeau, Andrea Beaton, Shelly Campbell, Eddy Rodgers and, for the last three years, Kyle MacNeil. Mckayla joined the Cape Breton Fiddlers Association in 2004 and played in many concerts with the group around Nova Scotia and in Scotland. She was thrilled recently when she had the opportunity to play on stage with the Barra MacNeils. Mckayla has participated in the Kiwanis music festival and the Archie Neil Stage youth showcase at the Gaelic College.
Melody has been around Cape Breton music all her life. She has been step dancing from the age of five and has played the fiddle for over 20 years. Melody has danced and given workshops in the Inverness County Square Set and the Scots Four and has performed with Natalie MacMaster and Ashley MacIsaac. She has entertained all over Cape Breton in festivals, concerts, pubs and dances and with her sister, Kelly MacLellan, performed a synchronized step dance routine for The Rankin Sisters’ televised Christmas special, Home for Christmas which aired on Canada’s Bravo! network in December of 2005.