Pianist Maybelle Chisholm McQueen comes from one of Cape Breton's best known musical families – the Chisholms of Margaree. Maybelle studied music with the Sisters of St. Martha for many years and this classical training shows up in her playing of Scottish tunes. She played her first dance at age ten with her uncles, Angus and Archie Neil Chisholm, and is recognized for her innovative rhythmic techniques. She has recorded with many Cape Breton fiddlers including her uncle Angus, Johnny Wilmot and Howie MacDonald. Maybelle’s latest recording, Pure Celtic Hearts, was released in 2001.
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Tracey Dares MacNeil is a piano player from Marion Bridge, Cape Breton County who has accompanied the finest fiddlers of this generation, and been featured as a soloist in concert and on recordings. While recording and touring with Natalie MacMaster throughout England, Ireland, Scotland, Europe, the U.S. and New Zealand for most of the 1990s, Tracey released her debut recording Crooked Lake in 1994 and a piano instruction video in 1997. Known for the quality and versatility she brings to her instrument, Tracey is one of those rare performers who can accompany other artists of varying musical styles with ease and sensitivity, keeping her very much in demand to accompany a variety of Cape Breton fiddlers and performers from around the world.
The Beaton Sisters Band consists of sisters Dawn (fiddle and dance) and Margie (fiddle, piano and dance) Beaton. Piano-player extraordinaire, Jason Roach from Cheticamp, Cape Breton is a lively rhythm based soloist and accompanist with a powerful beat to keep the tunes cooking! Kenneth MacKenzie, from Mabou, Cape Breton is a piper and fiddler. His roots are strongly Gaelic and his piping styling is up-tempo, made perfect for any step-dancer. Together, these artists will have your toes tapping and your legs dancing!
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).
Whether playing piano or fiddle, or showcasing his stepdancing capabilities, Troy MacGillivray displays intense commitment to the Celtic heritage he inherited from his Highland ancestors. His versatility has had him performing across Canada and the US and overseas from Switzerland to Australia. Troy’s first three albums – Eleven (2005), Boomerang (2003) and Musical Ties (2001) were each nominated for East Coast Music Awards. His fourth album, Live At The Music Room, won the 2008 ECMA Instrumental Recording of the Year and When Here Meets There, recorded with Shane Cook, was named 2009 ECMA Roots/Traditional Group Album of the Year.
Susan MacLean was born and raised in Washabuck and now resides in the Sydney area. She has performed with various Cape Breton musicians at dances, concerts and house rackets and has taught Cape Breton style piano accompaniment for many years at St. Ann’s Gaelic College. She is also a member of the Cape Breton Fiddlers’ Association, plays fiddle and writes music. Susan’s enthusiasm for Cape Breton style piano comes from influences within her own extended family including grandfather Michael Anthony MacLean, uncles Carl and Hector MacKenzie and cousins in the Barra MacNeils.
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.
The Men of the Deeps is a choir of working and retired coal miners from Cape Breton Island, organized in 1966 as part of Cape Breton’s contribution to Canada’s Centennial Year. The Men of the Deeps have released nine albums, been the subject of two NFB films and one book, toured around the world and frequently been featured on TV and radio. Today the Men of the Deeps are more than a singing group – it is a social institution. There is a camaraderie amongst the members of the group that carries over to their audiences wherever they perform.