Dr. Winnie Chafe is a highly respected figure within Cape Breton Island’s musical culture. The first woman to become International Fiddling Champion, Winnie has instructed a generation of pupils in the Scottish violin tradition, performed for royalty and received two honourary doctorates in recognition of her contribution to the legacy of Cape Breton’s music. As a constant promoter of musicianship, her stage has provided a showcase for young talent including well-known artists the Barra MacNeils, Natalie MacMaster and Ashley MacIsaac.
Tag Archives | Fiddle
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.
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.
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. Peter’s masterful touch on the fiddle has never wavered through decades of play. An accomplished composer and player, Kenny has tunes to go on for days. And Kevin is one of the most sought after piano accompanists on PEI. Kenny, Kevin and Peter will be joined at Celtic Colours this year by J.J. Chaisson, Koady Chaisson and Elmer Deagle.
Snowflake Trio is a great example of two strong cultures coming together to find and appreciate the musical links between two areas in the world. Representing Norway and Ireland, the band comprises Nuala Kennedy on flute, vocals and whistle, Frode Haltli on Accordion, and Vegar Vårdal on Hardanger Fiddle. With members who are equally versed and highly regarded in classical music, jazz and of course traditional music, this trio is a unique combination of virtuosic musicians who play with a great sense of pure delight and joy.
Mary Elizabeth MacInnis is Buddy MacMaster’s daughter. She began to play the piano by practicing along with tapes of her father. There are numerous home and dance recordings of Buddy spanning over forty years and they include a variety of accompanists including John Morris Rankin and Buddy’s sisters, Betty Lou, Genevieve and Lorraine. Many of these home tapes, with their long, extended sets, are perfect for learning tunes and practicing piano accompaniment. Mary Elizabeth was 14 when she first performed with her father in a concert at Judique Parish Hall and, a few years later, began playing with him at the Glencoe Mills dances. She has also traveled with her father to play in Boston, Washington and Toronto.
Wendy is an award-winning fiddler, piano player and step dancer from Creignish, Cape Breton who began performing as a stepdancer at age 5. At age 12, she began fiddle lessons with Stan Chapman. By age fifteen, Wendy was playing dances all over Cape Breton Island, forming the sound that makes her so recognizable today. With five records to her credit – including “Variations” with her Cape Breton Celtic Supergroup, Beolach – she is 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 Beolach. Wendy’s critically acclaimed release “Seinn” is a partnership with long time musical collaborator, Mary Jane Lamond.
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).