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.
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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.
Brenda Stubbert is an extraordinary fiddler, pianist, and composer from Cape Breton. Two books of her compositions are in print, and her tunes are in repertoires everywhere Celtic fiddle music can be heard. Brenda is in constant demand throughout Cape Breton. Her dances are lively and well attended. Since 1986, Brenda has released 7 albums, including Endless Memories (2008) which won the East Coast Music Award for Traditional Recording of the Year, and her most recent, Different Strokes with Different Folks (2011).
Fionia String Band is a meeting of two generations of folk musicians with a shared passion for traditional melodies. They deliver rustic and lively folk music from polkas and lyrical tunes to warm-hearted waltzes, mainly from the Scandinavian repertoire as well as traditional music from Québec and Cape Breton. The band consists of two of Denmark’s top fiddlers, Michael Graubæk and Jes Kroman, with Theis Juul Langlands, a teacher at Denmark’s only traditional music academy, on piano. They play with passion and intelligence and are obviously having a great time playing together. The music is easily accessible and offers a refreshingly modern interpretation of Danish traditional music.
Sheumas, the eldest of six siblings who make up the Barra MacNeils, began playing piano at a very young age. He soon teamed up with his younger, fiddle-playing brother Kyle and the duo performed regularly at local square dances. Together they set the stage for what is now the Barra MacNeils. Sheumas studied music at Mount Allison University where he received his Bachelor of Music Major in Pipe Organ.
A native of Sydney Mines, Cape Breton, Leanne comes from a family steeped in music and tradition. She has performed in many parts of Canada, the US and Ireland. Her debut album, All Set, which features Tracey Dares-MacNeil, Dave MacIsaac as well as members of her family, was recognized in 2008 by the East Coast Music Association and was nominated in the category of Roots/Traditional Solo Recording of the Year. Now living in Halifax, Leanne also gives lessons in Cape Breton Stepdancing.
Cape Breton fiddler Kimberley Fraser has built a distinguished career, performing all over the world at venues from Afghanistan to Victoria. She holds degrees in Violin performance from Berklee College of Music where she was a member of The Berklee World Strings and also a degree in Celtic Studies and Jazz Piano from St Francis Xavier University. A master at the trio of fiddling, step dancing and piano, Kimberley is a much sought-after performer and teacher for all three. She has performed at Celtic Colours annually since 2000, and this year is one of the Celtic Colours Artists in Residence.
For as long as they can remember, Ciarán and Fiona MacGillivray have been performing for the many musical visitors who pass through their home on Cape Breton Island. (Ciarán and Fiona are the children of famed Canadian author/composer, Allister MacGillivray). Besides singing, they play piano, guitar, harp, tin whistle, and bodhrán. They also stepdance, and are studying the Gaelic language of their ancestors. They have appeared together in the Cape Breton Summertime Revue and continue to perform with The Cottars.