Joey Beaton’s musical career began on the piano at age thirteen and he has become one of the most respected piano accompanists of Scottish music in Cape Breton. He has performed in Canada, the United States and in Scotland many times. He is an acknowledged authority on Scottish and Cape Breton music and has presented lectures and workshops throughout Canada and the U.S. From 1971-1979, Joey was a principle organizer of the Glendale Fiddlers’ Festivals and he hosted CIGO radio’s popular Highland Fling program from 1975-1977. As a composer, Joey has published two books of his own music, Mabou Music (1980) and Tunes & Ties (1997).
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Ashley MacIsaac was performing as a dancer in concerts by the time he started school and added fiddle and piano a short time later. While still in high school he found himself working with Paul Simon and performing in a Phillip Glass off-Broadway production. Since first recording in the early 1990s, he has experimented with musical styles and evolved into an award-winning, genre-bending performer, writer, and singer. Ashley is currently working a new project of Celtic Beats with Jay Andrews of Halifax (aka Sticks), the previously unreleased Beautiful Lake Ainslie CD with Barbara Magone is set for release later this fall as is a re-issue of his Crossover CD.
Hilda Chiasson is one of the most sought after piano players of this generation and has played on more than 50 recordings in Canada, Ireland, Scotland, Denmark and the US. A native of Cheticamp where she played for dances and recorded since she was a teenager, Hilda is also a very good step dancer and has played and recorded with a who’s who of Cape Breton fiddlers including Winston Scotty Fitzgerald, Donald Angus Beaton, Jerry Holland, Carl MacKenzie and J.P. Cormier. Hilda has performed throughout Canada, the US, Scotland, Ireland and Denmark as well as in Dubai, Bahrain, and Afghanistan.
The Barra MacNeils are one of Canada’s premier Celtic groups. The family band from Sydney Mines is deeply rooted in Celtic music, culture and history, and consistently wows audiences with their captivating vocals, harmonies and musicianship. After more than 25 years, the group is as busy as ever, having released two new recordings in 2012–a live album with Symphony Nova Scotia and a special project recorded with a variety of musical guests from Celtic Colours. With multiple lead vocalists, beautiful sibling harmonies, top-drawer instrumental prowess on a wide variety of instruments, dancing, storytelling, Gaelic songs and a journey through an ancient culture, The Barra MacNeils live in concert must be experienced to be believed.
Howie MacDonald is a well-respected fiddler from Westmount, Cape Breton County. He has released eleven albums and a DVD and spent many years touring and recording with the Rankin Family. Howie has expanded his talents and gained popularity as a comedian recently for his roles in musical comedy revues Island Mania, Howie’s Celtic Brew, The Dance Last Night, and the Cape Breton Summertime Revue. Howie is also very much in demand for dances, concerts, ceilidhs and recording sessions and can be counted on to pop up in the most unexpected musical circumstances.
Jennifer has been wowing audiences in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Holland, England, Scotland, the Arctic and all across Canada and the US for years. Jennifer’s performances are always filled with emotion and energy, and she has three albums to her credit—two of which earned her East Coast Music Award nominations in the Instrumental Recording of the Year category (2001, 2007). Jennifer continues to tour, compose music and owns and operates her own school of music in Dance. Jennifer’s band includes Jason Kempt (piano), Keith Mullins (percussion), Lyndon MacKenzie (guitar), Allie Bennett (bass), and dancers Shelby Matthews and Courteney Waye.
Jason MacDonald is an entertainer who reels listeners in with his dynamic acoustic musicianship and keeps them beguiled with his storytelling through the authentic songs he writes based on real-life experiences. his passion for music plays out with energy, wonderful storytelling and a warm personality that connects immediately with his audience. Jason has released four recordings since 2002 toured in Canada and the U.S. Jason will be joined by Wally MacAulay on guitar and vocals, Anita MacDonald on fiddle, and Adam Young on piano.
Joel Chiasson is a veteran piano player from Cheticamp, Cape Breton. Citing Hilda Chiasson as his biggest influence, Joel has provided piano accompaniment on more than 25 recordings by artists including Natalie MacMaster, Ashley MacIsaac, Mary Jane Lamond, Buddy MacMaster and Andrea Beaton over the past 20 years. In the late 1990s, Joel toured extensively with Ashley MacIsaac and Natalie MacMaster. Today Joel lives in Sydney with his family and works as a school teacher, but thankfully he still manages to get out and play for concerts and dances in and around Cape Breton.