Breabach delivers a thrilling and unique brand of contemporary folk music, which has earned the group international recognition on the world and roots music scene as one of the UK’s most dynamic and powerful bands. Voted Best Group at the Scots Trad Music Awards, Breabach have also received nominations in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and as European Folk Group of the Year in the German Folk Awards. The band intertwine highland bagpipes, fiddle, guitar, bass, flute, bouzouki, step dance, Gaelic and Scots song to produce a diverse and captivating performance.
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Heartwood Slacks is a five-man band from Cape Breton who, with their lineup of banjo, guitars, blues harp, mandolin and bass fiddle, could easily be mistaken for an American heritage revival band. The players have shared stages and bills for years—a variety of local “band-me-downs” who were weaned on blues, metal and country music. Heartwood Slacks principle songwriter John Gill bangs out incomparably sincere, catchy, melodic bar-room shout along songs. In their three-years together, the Slacks have been attracting attention with performances around the Maritimes and have just released their first album, cleverly named Heartwood Slacks.
Recognized by his peers as one of Canada’s best performing songwriters, Lennie Gallant is a native of Prince Edward Island now living in Nova Scotia. The prolific songwriter has recorded nine albums (seven in English and two in French), winning a host of awards and nominations from both the JUNO Awards and East Coast Music Awards. His song “Peter’s Dream” made it to #4 on the CBC Radio Top 10 Canadian Songs of All-Time. As a performer, Gallant’s intense delivery reaches down to the very soul of his audience, moving effortlessly through stirring narratives, comic observations, and hard driving rhythms. He has toured extensively internationally, playing festivals and concerts accompanied by roots rock bands, and in acoustic settings.
Lisa Ornstein, Normand Miron, and André Marchand are legends of Quebec’s traditional music scene. Between the three of them they have been on the roster of virtually every ground-breaking band over the past 30 years. Fiddler Lisa and guitarist/singer André first met as bandmates in La Bottine Souriante, Quebec’s longest-running powerhouse super group. Button-accordionist/singer Normand Miron and André are currently bandmates in Les Charbonniers de l’enfer (The Coalmen from Hell), an award-winning a-capella singing ensemble. Lisa, André and Normand have been playing as a trio since the 1990s, delighting audiences with their fiery dance music and finely-wrought vocals.
No stranger to the Savoy, Marilyn is honoured to be part of this Rankin tribute. She began at a young age singing and accompanying her brother Howie on piano mainly in local venues. Her singing career began with the Johnny Aucoin Trio eventually releasing her first recording in 1990, My Love Cape Breton and Me. This past fall she released a second CD, Be Still. She has also provided back up vocals for Sam Moon, Chad Tetford and brother Howie. Proving an accomplished actress, Marilyn began with the Summertime Revue in 1990 and continued over the years with Howie’s Celtic Brew and several dinner theatres including Casino Nova Scotia.
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.
Kyle Mischiek is a teenage Pop/Hip Hop performer, and independent recording artist from Cape Breton. Kyle’s sophomore release “Fallin’ In Deep – EP” is a 7 song short album that offers a blend of hard hitting modern EDM tracks, ’90s R&B influenced slow jams, and some light pop-rap. Behind the scenes is ECMA winning producer Jamie Foulds, songwriting collaborations with the likes of Gordie Sampson, Steven MacDougall, Breagh MacKinnon, Dylan Guthro, and a couple of high energy club beats by Halifax artist MattyBoh. Kyle’s debut EP “570” featured the hit Cape Breton single “We are an Island Remix”. The song caught the attention of Cape Bretoners all over the world, and helped him attract over 170,000 YouTube hits.
Lucy MacNeil, the only girl in a family of five boys, may be described as the heart of The Barra MacNeils. Her crystalline vocals are immediately identifiable with the group’s sound. For Lucy, music has always had a heartbeat and she recalls it as the centre of her childhood home where family, neighbours and visiting musicians were often known to gather—the rhythm of everyone’s feet tapping with the music would lull her to sleep on many nights. Lucy’s own musical journey officially began when she was 9 years old, but even before that she was step dancing alongside her mother, a well-known local dancer and teacher. Her career with The Barra MacNeils has seen her opening tours for international stars such as Celine Dion, Kenny Rogers and Rita MacNeil.