Rodney MacDonald is an accomplished Cape Breton performer who has toured throughout Atlantic Canada. He is the grandson of the great fiddler and composer, Donald Angus Beaton. He began learning stepdancing from his parents at the age of four and soon picked up the fiddle. Rodney recorded his own solo recording in 1995 entitled Dancer’s Delight, Traditionally Rockin’ in 1997(with Glenn Graham), and was included on the 2004 Smithsonian release The Beaton Family of Mabou: Cape Breton Fiddle and Piano Music. The former Premier of Nova Scotia is working on a new CD for 2014.
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Born and raised in West Bay Road, Inverness County, Shelly has been playing traditional Cape Breton music for more than eighteen years. Influenced by local fiddlers Stephanie Wills, Theresa MacLellan, Gertie Coffin and Alex Francis MacKay among others, Shelly is a popular player for dances and has taught Cape Breton style fiddling in workshops and private lessons throughout Cape Breton and in Scotland. Shelly also has an avid interest in the Gaelic language and its preservation in Cape Breton. Her playing is powerful, lively and graceful and deeply rooted in the traditions she grew up listening to.
A high energy traditional trio comprised of Colin Grant (fiddle), Jason Roach (piano), and Darren McMullen (multi-Instrumentalist) is integrated with the rough and red-eyed blues/funk rhythm section of Merlin Clarke and Donnie Calabrese to produce a kind of Celtic fusion that is as much Béla Fleck and the Flecktones and Frank Zappa as it is Ashley MacIsaac. While their lively sound never strays too far from its Cape Breton roots, Sprag Session has caught the ear of everyone from indie scenesters to blue-haired bingo stampers, earning themselves an international reputation as one of the most dynamic and versatile live acts in the Celtic music world (and beyond).
With roots going back six generations, this family of players shares a legacy of tradition. Ever since Joe Pete Chaisson formed the PEI Fiddlers Association and established the Rollo Bay Fiddle festival, the family has worked to preserve and protect traditional music and dance on Prince Edward Island. Joe Pete’s three sons–Peter, Kenny and Kevin–still set the standard for younger generations to follow. This year the younger generation–J.J. (guitar, fiddle), Koady (guitar, tenor banjo), Brent (guitar), Tim (fiddle, vocals, guitar), and Darla (piano)–takes centre stage at Celtic Colours.
When Karrnnel Sawitsky (Fiddle), Ivonne Hernandez (Fiddle), Eric Wright (Cello) and Trent Freeman (Fiddle) got together to rehearse for the first time, they spent the next 10 days writing, arranging, and practicing until The Fretless emerged as a band. The Fretless take string music to fascinating places, transforming fiddle tunes and folk melodies into intricate, beautiful, high-energy arrangements. This approach to folk music is gaining high acclaim around the world. The Fretless is an innovation in music that must be heard. They harbour all the energy of fiddle tunes, while shattering all expectations in writing, creativity and performance.
Stewart was introduced to traditional Cape Breton music by his mother at the age of three while attending the Big Pond Festival. Many years later, while at Riverview High School, Stewart took step-dancing lessons from Joe Sampson and Marie Currie-Wilson and soon began to play fiddle. Now an accomplished Cape Breton instrumentalist on a variety of instruments, he has gone on to perform at Celtic Colours as a member of the Cape Breton Orchestra, and is as comfortable in a concert hall as he is in a friend’s kitchen, enjoying both equally. Stewart will be performing with Darrell Keigan at Celtic Colours this year.
The Beaton Sisters Band consists of sisters Dawn (fiddle and dance) and Margie (fiddle, piano and dance) Beaton. Piano-player extraordinaire, Jason Roach from Cheticamp, Cape Breton is a lively rhythm based soloist and accompanist with a powerful beat to keep the tunes cooking! Kenneth MacKenzie, from Mabou, Cape Breton is a piper and fiddler. His roots are strongly Gaelic and his piping styling is up-tempo, made perfect for any step-dancer. Together, these artists will have your toes tapping and your legs dancing!
Whether playing piano or fiddle, or showcasing his stepdancing capabilities, Troy MacGillivray displays intense commitment to the Celtic heritage he inherited from his Highland ancestors. His versatility has had him performing across Canada and the US and overseas from Switzerland to Australia. Troy’s first three albums – Eleven (2005), Boomerang (2003) and Musical Ties (2001) were each nominated for East Coast Music Awards. His fourth album, Live At The Music Room, won the 2008 ECMA Instrumental Recording of the Year and When Here Meets There, recorded with Shane Cook, was named 2009 ECMA Roots/Traditional Group Album of the Year.