With an interpretation, style, and energy all her own, Gillian Head delights audiences with her lively fiddling. Her influences include the variations and modern style of contemporary fiddlers, as well as the strong roots of the old traditional fiddlers of her native Cape Breton Island. A stepdancer from a young age, Gillian took up the fiddle after falling in love with the music. Studying with Stephanie Wills and Jerry Holland, and her love of dance, contribute to Gillian’s distinctive, rhythmic style of fiddling. She has played all over Cape Breton, and has recently released her debut album titled Spirit.
Tag Archives | Stepdance
Known as one of Cape Breton’s finest traditional fiddlers, Glenn Graham is also a composer, songwriter, step-dancer, music instructor and published author whose music has been featured on international hit TV shows, CD compilations, and in independent films. Described as being a prolific composer, Glenn released a book of over 200 original compositions a few years ago and also wrote the book The Cape Breton Fiddle: Making and Maintaining Tradition, released by CBU Press. With five recordings and multiple East Coast Music Award nominations to his credit, Glenn is one of Cape Breton’s most sought after performers and music instructors.
Harvey MacKinnon is a fine old-style stepdancer in the Cape Breton tradition. Harvey began teaching himself to stepdance at 19 years old and a year later was in demand as a performer. He has since step-danced for countless concerts, ceilidhs and dances in the Cape Breton area. During the 1960’s, Harvey appeared on the Don Messer television program, dancing to the music of Winston “Scotty” Fitzgerald. As an adult, Harvey started to pick up the fiddle and often performs at ceilidhs at Blues Mill. He continues to be a favourite dancer and is frequently called upon to perform wherever Cape Breton fiddle music is played.
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.
Harvey was raised in Port Hastings, Cape Breton. He began step-dancing at 14 and was soon dancing on the summer Scottish concert circuit. An accomplished dancer, Harvey is also in demand as an instructor. He has performed and taught in many parts of Canada, the US, and Europe, including University College Cork in Ireland, Sabhal Mor Ostaig Gaelic College in Skye, Feis Ross in Ullapool, and Ceòlas in the Hebrides. Although primarily known as a dancer, Harvey is also an accomplished piano accompanist who has played with a number of Cape Breton fiddlers.
Joe Rankin has been a stalwart of the dance scene ever since his youth. Noted for his energetic style, Joe represents a long line of talented dancers in his bloodline, learning from his mother, Christy Rankin. Born in Mabou Harbour, Joe has performed at many Cape Breton festivals and dances over the years.
Joël Chiasson is a veteran piano player from Cheticamp, Cape Breton. Citing Hilda Chiasson as his biggest influence, Joël 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, Joël toured extensively with Ashley MacIsaac and Natalie MacMaster. Today Joël 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.
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), and Mark macIntyre (bass).