Keith Mullins has always played music. A lifetime of songwriting, a degree in classical music with studies in Africa and Cuba, and growing up in a musical Cape Breton family has made Keith into a one-of-a-kind musician whose versatility has put him on stage with the East Coast’s finest musicians. The multiple ECMA-winner released two albums in the past year, his debut Localmotive Farm on which he plays many of the instruments and is joined by Gordie Sampson, Dutch Robinson and Jorge Chicoy, and The Wood Buffalo Youth Song Project where Keith, Thom Swift and Steven Bowers wrote songs with students and recorded an album to be used for fundraising.
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.
Singing in English, Scottish Gaelic and Irish, Lewis MacKinnon has performed in coffee shops, pubs and concert halls throughout Eastern Canada. MacKinnon has played in every Atlantic Canadian Province, Ontario, Scotland and Ireland. In 2007 he was a featured performer at the Féile Ámhranaíochta (The Irish Song Festival) in Belfast, where his Gaelic song “Ailean Duinn” was selected to be included in the Festival’s 2007 compilation CD. In 2006 he released an all Gaelic recording titled, A’ Seo (“Here”) which earned him an ECMA nomination in the Roots/Traditional category.
Lisa Cameron was raised among a musical family in Margaree Forks. Since the 2004 release of her album End Of Blue (produced by J.P. Cormier), Lisa has been no stranger to stages across Nova Scotia. She has been featured on CBC Radio, the 2005 ECMA stage, and the 2005 compilation Lullabies of Our Cape Breton which won a 2006 ECMA for Best Children’s Recording. For the past couple of years, Lisa has been playing local venues and writing with a small group of Cape Breton songwriters. She released her second record in the winter of 2009.
Maxim Cormier is a young guitarist in his 20′s from the Acadian village of Cheticamp. Maxim flatpicks Scottish fiddle tunes and composes contemporary finger-style guitar music in the style of Don Ross and Michael Hedges. He has performed with his father, Gervais Cormier, for a couple of years now, playing Celtic tunes, fingerstyle guitar music and some of his father’s compositions, which range from folk to gypsy jazz and beyond. Maxim is this year’s recipient of the Festival Volunteer Drive’er Association’s Frank “Big Sampie” Sampson Award, which grants recording studio time to a young up-and-coming artist in the Celtic Arts.
Madison Violet is a Toronto-based duo, consisting of Cape Bretoners Lisa MacIsaac (vocals, guitar, fiddle, mandolin) and Brenley MacEachern (vocals, guitar, banjo, harmonica). Their first disc, “Worry the Jury” (2004), introduced the lush arrangements and radio-friendly harmonies that would become a Madison Violet hallmark, with their sophomore album “Caravan” (2006) further exploring and incorporating country-infused, toe-tapping melodies. Their breakthrough album, “No Fool for Trying” (2009) showcased Madison Violet’s heartfelt lyrics in brilliant contrast to their uplifting arrangements, pushing their graceful harmonies to the surface. With their newest album, The Good in Goodbye (2011), Madison Violet prove they’re among Canada’s brightest singer/songwriters.
Drawing on the rich musical heritage of the Oriel region, Gerry O’Connor, Nuala Kennedy, and Martin Quinn will be joined by Breton Guitarist Gilles le Bigot to showcase local songs and tunes many of which have been recorded for an album to be released this year. With strong influences from Scotland and Europe, Oriel music has developed as an eclectic mix of rhythms and melodies with strong poetical lyrics to the regional songs.
Papilio is a neo-traditional band from Nova Scotia that captures the organic spirit and drive of traditional Celtic, Folk, Nordic, and World music while giving it a new, contemporary, creative twist that is all their own. More than a ceili band, they are a progressive neo-traditional trio inviting the listener on an auditory journey through Ireland, Scotland, the Maritimes, Brittany (the Celtic region of France), Galicia/Asturia (Celtic regions of Spain), Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and beyond, adding a sprinkle of folk ballads and their own “in-the-tradition” original compositions. They reflect the connections that Nova Scotians feel to both their deep-rooted history and to the multi-cultural, multi-faceted realities of modern society.