Since getting their start at a late night session during the 1998 Celtic Colours International Festival, Beòlach has established itself as one of Cape Breton’s most exciting and innovative traditional bands. Performing a lively mix of Cape Breton, Scottish and Irish tunes, the group features Mairi Rankin (fiddle, step-dance), Wendy MacIsaac (fiddle, piano, step-dance), Patrick Gillis (guitar), Ryan J. MacNeil (pipes, whistles), and Mac Morin (piano). Beòlach has released two albums, Beòlach (2001) and Variations (2004), which were both nominated for East Coast Music Awards. It is a true pleasure to welcome them back together at Celtic Colours this year.
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Betty Lou Beaton began playing the piano at the age of five. Although she has a couple of years of piano training, all her Cape Breton piano playing is done by ear. At fourteen years of age, she started playing dances with her brother Buddy and has been accompanying fiddlers for dancers ever since. She is most often paired with her husband, fiddler Kinnon Beaton, and the duo is in high demand to play for dances.
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.
Janet Cameron, Paul Wukitsch and the late Joe Peter MacLean performed together as The Boisdale Trio for over twenty years. Janet is from Boisdale and has been a community accompanist for many years. Paul immigrated to Cape Breton in the 1970′s and became close friends with fellow fiddlers Johnny Wilmot, Wilfred Prosper and Joe Peter MacLean. Paul and Joe Peter would play dances and ceilidhs throughout the rural areas around Boisdale in the early 1980s. The Trio came together with Janet in the late ‘80s after she retired and moved back to the family home in Boisdale. Janet and Paul will be joined by Janet’s brother Father Francis in paying to tribute to Joe Peter this year.
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.
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).
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.
Allan’s background in the Cape Breton musical tradition is the backbone of his ability to accompany any fiddler, past and present—from Carl MacKenzie, Buddy MacMaster, Rodney MacDonald, Howie MacDonald, John Morris Rankin and John Pellerin to the new generation fiddlers including Troy MacGillivray and Shelly Campbell—for dances and ceilidhs. Allan has toured all over the world with Jerry Holland and many others and was a full time member of Natalie MacMaster’s band from 2001-2006. Allan is now Music Director at the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre in Judique and spends his time accompanying local fiddlers at dances, pubs and theatres from Nova Scotia to Scotland and beyond.