The Barra MacNeils mark 25th anniversary with release of The Celtic Colours Sessions

The Barra MacNeils’ new studio recording The Celtic Colours Sessions is the result of 10 days of musical collaboration between the band and an outstanding collection of guest artists. These tracks were recorded in consecutive days during the 2011 Celtic Colours International Festival. The material ranges from new original songs to traditional tunes and re-workings of existing standards, including traditional Gaelic material, all buoyed by the collaborative process.

Over the past 25 years, this group of siblings from Sydney Mines, Cape Breton has built a deep, almost indefinable, connection with their fans through stirring energetic live performances and enduring time tested recordings. The authenticity and folk-traditions found on every Barra MacNeils recording resonates throughout this new release. With the Barra MacNeils as the musical foundation and recording studio “house band”, The Celtic Colours Sessions came together over ten days at Jamie Foulds’ Soundpark Studios in Cape Breton. The collaborative process culminated with a magical sold out closing concert featuring some of the recording’s guests on stage with the Barra MacNeils.

There is so much variety represented on the recording that it is difficult to call out favourites or stand outs. In each case, the musical selections and interactions between the Barra MacNeils and the guests are unique and stand strong on their own merit. The range runs the folk-roots-traditional-Celtic gamut: from the “stop you in your tracks” Ron Hynes ballad duet (with Lucy), “Gone to Canada” to the ballroom lullaby sing along of Old Man Luedecke’s “Little Bird” and the dark beauty of “Strange Lover is a Coalmine” with Archie Fisher and James Keelaghan, over to the Acadian anthem, “Amène Le Vent”, with fellow Cape Breton native, Acadian singer songwriter Ron Bourgeois. There are also more traditional songs in both English and Gaelic.

A musical match made in heaven is “Tarry Flynn” featuring the Black Family with the MacNeils. “‘S Fliuch an Oidhche/Hé Mandu” features Scottish Gaelic singer Cathy-Ann MacPhee, born and raised on the Scottish Isle of Barra, the namesake of the Barra MacNeils. She sings like no other. The recording’s opening track features Cape Breton siblings Ciaran and Fiona MacGillivray (The Cottars) on the Gaelic song “An t-Alltan Dubh”. The sibling collaboration is certainly a recurring theme on this project! Musical whiz, and all around great collaborator, Tim Edey is featured on the spirited driving closer, “Tim Edey With The Barra’s”. A very special and perhaps somewhat overdue collaboration is also included with local musical hero and contemporary, Matt Minglewood, with a rocking version of “As I Roved Out”.

From start to finish this is a project that is all about the music, regardless of genre or the special guests featured. The pure enjoyment of the experience by those recording is audible and almost tangible as one lets the tunes roll by. A project like this could easily become a dry, somewhat clinical, exploration of common ground between the various worlds and sounds of the common peoples’ music, but instead, it is so much more. Mostly, it is a fantastic, fun, entertaining musical release that will surely bring enjoyment and musical discovery to many for years to come.

A special charity fundraising MP3 download/purchase of the Ron Hynes ballad duet (with Lucy and the Barra MacNeils), “Gone to Canada” is available now, with all net proceeds from the sales of the single going directly to assist Ron Hynes as he fights his own battle against cancer. We all wish Ron a speedy recovery. This is a way to help in a small but meaningful way and to celebrate his talent as a writer and artist. For more information please visit:

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