Since getting their start at a late night session during the 1998 Celtic Colours International Festival, Beòlach has established itself as one of Cape Breton’s most exciting and innovative traditional bands. Performing a lively mix of Cape Breton, Scottish and Irish tunes, the group features Mairi Rankin (fiddle, step-dance), Wendy MacIsaac (fiddle, piano, step-dance), Patrick Gillis (guitar), Ryan J. MacNeil (pipes, whistles), and Mac Morin (piano). Beòlach has released two albums, Beòlach (2001) and Variations (2004), which were both nominated for East Coast Music Awards. It is a true pleasure to welcome them back together at Celtic Colours this year.
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Gaelic supergroup Dàimh are a 5 piece band based in Lochaber in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland; an area as much renowned for its scenic beauty as for its rich musical and cultural heritage. From pyrotechnic jigs and reels to achingly poignant ballads, Dàimh runs the full expressive gamut of folk music at its best, and are justly renowned for their thrilling live shows. They have released 5 studio albums. Their most recent, Tuneship, once again sees the band blazing a new trail in the Scottish music scene with their own instrumental compositions skillfully integrated with traditional Gaelic Songs.
Darren McMullen is a highly sought after multi-instrumentalist based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. His list of instruments includes mandolin, bouzouki, tenor banjo, whistles, guitar and bass. He has released three solo albums and been busy touring and performing with a wide range of bands including the Rankins, J.P. Cormier, Dave Gunning, Matt Andersen, Bruce Guthro, Matt Minglewood, David Francey, Gillian Boucher, Troy MacGillivray, Andrea Beaton, Rachel Davis, Anna Ludlow, and Chrissy Crowley. Darren also plays in Sprag Session with Colin Grant, Jason Roach, Donnie Calabrese and Colin Clarke, and fronts his own Darren McMullen Band.
The MacKenzie brothers grew up in a Gaelic-speaking household in Mabou and the Gaelic culture has been an integral part of life from the early years. Kenneth plays highland pipes, border pipes and fiddle. He performs regularly with the Beaton Sisters Band and a host of other Cape Bretoners. Angus lives in Scotland and plays pipes and whistles with the high-energy bands Daimh and Seudan. In 2010, they were awarded the Celtic Colours Volunteer Drive’ers “Big Sampie” award and made their first record as a group, Piob Is Fidheal (Pipes & Fiddle). Calum guests on the record playing piano.
Allan, Iain and Dr. Angus MacDonald were born in the tiny Gaelic-speaking township of Glenuig in Moidart. As pipers, Allan and “Dr. Angus” achieved the most competition success, each Highland Society of London Gold Medalists and winners of the Clasp at the Northern Meeting. Iain’s fame has come mainly from his work with folk groups, Ossian, The Battlefield Band and Wolfstone, and production credits for recordings by Julie Fowlis, Dàimh, Kathleen MacInnes and his brother Allan’s recordings with Margaret Stewart. The brothers are well-known for the Gaelic influence in their playing.
Matt was born in Cape Breton and started playing whistle and pipes when he was 10. He won the Argyllshire Gathering Silver Medal in Oban, Scotland 8 years later and at 19 started recording, playing and touring the US with celtic rock/fusion group Cuillin. Matt joined Natalie MacMaster’s band after Cuillin broke up, and played pipes, whistles, banjo, percussion and guitar, touring and appearing on several recordings. His own album, a stripped-bare solo recording of his main instrument, was released in 2005. After a stint with the Canadian Forces as a musician, Matt rejoined Natalie’s band earlier this year.