Chrissy Crowley, Rachel Davis, Colin Grant, Jason Roach and Darren McMullen got together in 2010 for a tour promoting Celtic Colours. The engaging line-up of well-known solo acts—featuring expertly-played fiddle, piano, guitar, mandolin, whistle and banjo—enjoyed playing together so much that they decided to perform as Còig (“Ko-ick” – Scottish Gaelic for “five”) whenever they can. And we’re happy they are together for the Festival this year. With busy solo schedules, these musicians do not get a lot of chances to play together as Còig. Take advantage of this rare opportunity to see them in action.
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The four MacDonald siblings that make up the group Company Road were raised in a musical family in Port Hood, among seven brothers and sisters. Although traditional Cape Breton fiddle music and dance is undeniably in their blood, Country music had a strong influence on their musical sensibilities. Although brothers Brennan and Mitch are no strangers to the stage, Gordie and Kelly Jean have only recently been convinced to come out of the kitchen and bring their talents to the stage. Each brings their own style and voice to their music, from Kelly Jean’s amazing control and power, to Gordie’s incredible sense of harmony, Mitch’s soft indie-esque vibe and Brennan’s musical comfort and writing combined with family humour and personality. You’ll be in good company with this crowd. Kelly Jean, Mitch, Gordie and Brennan absolutely love singing and performing together and that is certainly evident when watching them.
Darrell’s musical career began twenty years ago, playing house parties, and local halls in Cape Breton. Celtic music was introduced to Darrell at an early age by his parents–his mother Mea being a beautiful Gaelic singer, and his late father, John, a gifted traditional singer and guitar player as well. Over the last two decades, Darrell has played to audiences throughout much of Eastern Canada, and has shared the stage with many great singers and musicians. From local songs and stories to those taken from Scottish, Irish and Cape Breton history, Darrell’s love of music is evident in his performance.
The Cape Breton Chorale has been thrilling audiences since its formation in 1973. In the 40 years since, the Chorale has given more than 200 performances throughout the Maritimes, England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. The Chorale has shared the stage with a variety of musical stars, ranging from Celine Dion to Rita MacNeil and has performed before numerous visiting dignitaries including Queen Elizabeth II. The Cape Breton Chorale has released five albums and demonstrated, through its versatility and repertoire, its well-deserved reputation for excellence. This year we celebrate the Chorale’s 40th anniversary with a special concert to close the Festival.
Born into a musical family in Cape Breton, Donnie Campbell has enjoyed a long involvement in traditional music as a singer, collector, and broadcaster, hosting the popular radio program “Celtic Serenade” for forty years. In the early 1970’s, Donnie was a member of Miller’s Jug, and he has shared stages with Tommy Makem, Phil Cunningham and the Tannahill Weavers, Ron Hynes, and John Allan Cameron and Cape Breton fiddlers like Carl MacKenzie, Buddy MacMaster, Winnie Chafe, Jerry Holland and Kinnon Beaton. Donnie sings songs that matter to him with a repertoire that runs the course of the folk music revival, songs of Cape Breton, the ancient songs of Scotland and Ireland as well as more recent songs.
Jamie has remained at the top of the list of ‘first call’ players in eastern Canada for over 15 years. As a multi-styled, multi-instrumentalist musician/sideman, Jamie has and continues to work alongside many of the highest profile artists in the region – Jimmy Rankin, The Rankin Family, Gordie Sampson, George Canyon, Lennie Gallant, Bruce Guthro, Damhnait Doyle, Dave Gunning, Christina Martin, Symphony Nova Scotia and dozens more. In addition to his work as a sideman, Jamie is also highly sought after for his musical direction and band leading skills, as a producer, and for his prolific songwriting.
Helene Blum has thrilled audiences throughout Europe, and from Canada to Japan, with her intensely expressive, crystal clear voice. Her artistic focus embraces both traditional roots and innovation. Using ancient songs and ballads as a base, she reinvents them with contemporary expressions and mixes them elegantly with newly written songs, including her own. She is deeply rooted in Danish music traditions, but at the same time not afraid to challenge them. With her versatility and the many facets of her talent and voice, she is a unique singer with a strongly personal expression – at times understated and whimsical, radiant, intense and commanding. An outstanding communicator, she has the rare ability to unite sensitivity with power.
The Iona Gaelic Singers are just a few of our remaining native Gaelic Speakers on Cape Breton Island. They have an unrivaled passion for the preservation and presentation of Gaelic songs, specifically Gaelic milling songs, composed both here in Cape Breton and from the Old Country, Scotland.