The Colours of Cape Breton
Celtic Colours Vol. 4 - 2001

Compilation featuring tracks from Susana Seivane, Mary Jane Lamond, Danú, Haugaard & Hoirup, Maybelle Chisholm,Tony McManus, Patricia Murray, Liz Doherty, Howie MacDonald, J.P. Cormier, Chris Norman, Cameron Chisholm, Paul Cranford, Beòlach, Cliar, Suroit, Phil Cunningham, Cape Breton Fiddlers' Assoc.

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1. Susana Seivane

Tres Muineiras (Traditional)
Muineira do Vello Rilo/ Muineira de Manuel do Pazo
Muineira de Ambite

Susana Seivane: bagpipes in B, djembe, tambourine, clappers
Brais Maceiras: diatonic accordion, tarrenas, clappers
Rodrigo Romaní: guitars, bouzouki, keyboards, marimba, clappers
Xosé Ferreiros: rattles
Kim García: bass guitar

From the album: Susana Seivane
Recorded in Galicia, 1999
Produced by Rodrigo Romaní
Courtesy of Do Fol Edicións

The early expeditions by Spanish explorers flirted with Cape Breton's shores, establishing seasonal fishing routes and encampments in Cape Breton as early as the 15th century. Until the mid-18th century, Sydney was called "Spanish Harbour." Spain and Portugal were eventually eliminated from the North Atlantic fishery, and today there is just a fragment of a cultural connection between Cape Breton and Spain. Yet there are striking similarities between the traditional music of Cape Breton and the traditional music from the highland regions of Spain, Galicia, and Asturies. These ancient kingdoms on the Iberian Peninsula were settled by Celtic people in the 10th century B.C. and have retained some of the oldest Celtic artistic traditions in the world. Like Cape Breton, Galicia has a strong piping tradition, and the "Gaia" (bagpipes) are often used for dancing. There are community dance traditions and a vast repertoire that include waltzes, marches, hornpipes, and a rich repertoire of "Muinieras." The Muiniera closely resembles the Irish and Scottish double jig, which makes up the bulk of the dance repertoire in Cape Breton. On this selection, the young Galician piper Susana Seivane performs Tres Muineiras (three jigs).

2. Mary Jane Lamond

Illean Aigh (Traditional,Arranged by Mary Jane Lamond/SOCAN)

Gaelic Vocals: Mary Jane Lamond, Janet Buchanan, Marianne Jewell, Michelle Smith, and Bonnie Thompson

From the album: Òrain Ghàidhlig/Gaelic Songs of Cape Breton
Recorded in North River, Cape Breton, N.S., 2000
Recorded by Dave Hillier and Paul MacDonald
Courtesy of turtlemusik

In July of 1955, a group of tall Gaelic men crossed the campus of Harvard University. They had just been recorded by folklorist Sidney Robertson Cowell. Old Dan Morrison joked with his friends, "We could get Hollywood interested in our singing next!" Malcolm Angus MacLeod answered dryly, "You better get your hay in first!" They never made it to Hollywood but, in 1965, "The North Shore Gaelic Singers" did appear at the Newport Folk Festival. On Sunday, July 25, they gave a recital of mysterious sounding "Gaelic Psalm Presenting." Later that same day, Bob Dylan debuted his electric band to such great outrage that Pete Seeger actually attacked the electric panel in an attempt to unplug him. Puzzled at all the excitement, the fishermen returned home to the North Shore, a community that in coming years would change forever. Newport was like a premonition. For Mary Jane Lamond's latest recording, we chose the community of North Shore, recording in the former United Church now called the North River Center for the Performing Arts. Mary Jane chose this Gaelic song because of its connection with North River and the strong community of Gaelic singers surrounding it. Here, Mary Jane is accompanied by a group of local Gaelic women singers based on the North Shore who call themselves, Boireannaic Nan Òran (Women of Song).

3. Danú

The Wise Maid (Traditional)
The Pigeon on the Gate (Traditional)/
The Contradiction (Traditional)

Brendan McCarthy: button accordion
Tom Doorley: flute
Eamon Doorley: bouzouki
Daire Bracken: fiddle
Timmy Murray: guitar
Donnchadh Gaugh: bodhrán

From the album: Danú
Recorded in Ring, Co. Waterford,
Ireland, 1997
Produced by Danú
Courtesy of Danú

Many of the early Irish immigrants in Cape Breton were discharged soldiers or stonemasons brought in to construct the Fortress of Louisbourg, who then stayed after the takeover by the British in 1749. By 1815, the Irish had settled in North Sydney, Lingan, and in the close-by community that eventually became New Waterford. The name was chosen by some of the Irish-born settlers in honor of the Irish seaport "Waterford," a community for which they still had strong ties. These communities were so strongly Irish that, in 1826, a missionary in New Waterford asked to ensure that his successor be someone capable of speaking Irish "since he would otherwise be of little use." New Waterford eventually went on to become one of the largest coal producing areas in North America. The mines attracted thousands of Scottish settlers from the western side of Cape Breton Island. Here, alongside the Irish, there emerged a strong, transplanted Scottish musical community and, to this day, the daily repertoire of Cape Breton fiddle music reveals the early contributions of the Lingan and the Northside Irish. The band Danú is based in the seaport of Waterford, Ireland, the ancestral home of Cape Breton's early Irish pioneers. Their loyalty to the tradition is evident in their inspiring and lively performances. Here, they perform three classic Irish reels.


4. Haugaard & Høirup

Meget gammel vals (Haugaard/Traditional)

Harald Haugaard: violin
Morten Alfred Høirup: guitar

From the album: Duo For Violin & Guitar
Recorded in Denmark, 1998 Produced by Alan Klitgaard
Courtesy of Danish Folk Music

Denmark has a long history of traditional music and ancient musical routes with Scotland dating back to the 9th century when the Danish settled in the Scottish highlands. Many of the tunes found in 18th century Danish fiddle collections have mysterious, melodic connections to many tunes found in 18th century Scottish collections. Until the 1970s, there were numerous regional styles of dance music throughout Denmark. Today, Danish traditional music has become more mainstream, yet there still are well-known, local styles in Thy, Himmerland, Laesø, and Fanø. The tiny island of Fanø on the western coast of Denmark, much like Cape Breton, has a strong fiddle and piano tradition to support a vibrant dance culture that dates back hundreds of years. Although there are different tune structures and the dancing is poly-rhythmic, the melodies have haunting similarities to the traditional music in Cape Breton. Harald Haugaard is one of the foremost contemporary fiddlers in Denmark. His style is based in the Danish tradition but inspired by many musical genres, including a strong influence from Scottish and Irish music and culture. Harald brings his highly- developed technique and new compositions to this music, such as this waltz entitled "Bladet" ("The Leaf"). He follows it with "Meget gammel vals," which is simply translated as "very old waltz."

5. Cameron Chisholm

The Fallen Chief (JS Skinner)

Cameron Chisholm: fiddle
Maybelle Chisholm: piano

From the album: Pure Celtic Hearts
Recorded in Cheticamp,Cape Breton, 2001
Produced by Brian Doyle
Courtesy of Maybelle Chisholm

When the Highland Scots emigrated to Cape Breton, they brought Gaelic language, music, customs, and the age- old tradition of Gaelic hospitality. Today, there are still many homes in Cape Breton that keep this tradition of hospitality alive, like the home of Annie Mae Chisholm in the community of Margaree Forks. Annie Mae married Willie D. Chisholm, a brother of two famous fiddlers, Angus and Archie Neil Chisholm. Their home was a house of music and generous hospitality. Annie Maes's kitchen has a long history of hosting itinerant and visiting musicians, such as composer Dan R. MacDonald and Scotland's great piper Sandy Boyd. They both enjoyed extended stays at the Chisholm home. Annie Mae's son, Cameron, adapted numerous Dan R. tunes and Sandy Boyd pipe tunes, eventually forging one of the most unique styles on the island. Cameron has enjoyed legendary status throughout his reclusive career. The home he shares with his mother, Annie Mae (now in her 80's), is still a Mecca for visiting fiddlers and pipers, a place where "the music" is the welcome mat. On this track, Cameron performs "The Fallen Chief," one of the hundreds of J. Scott Skinner compositions and also considered Cameron's signature slow air.

6. Tony McManus

Tha Biodag Aig MacThomais/ Thompson's Dirk (Traditional)
The Nine Point Cogie (Traditional)
The Spike Island Lasses (Traditional)

Tony McManus: guitar
Andre Marchand: magic feet
Alain Genty: fretless bass

From the album:Pourquoi Quebec?
Recorded in Quebec, 1997
Produced by Tony McManus and Alain Genty
Courtesy of Greentrax Recordings

Although the guitar would seem a new addition to the world of Celtic music, the Spanish guitar found its way into Scotland in the 18th century. In fact, Scottish and Irish traditional music has been played on the guitar for well more than two hundred years, since the publication in Edinburgh of Robert Bremner's Instructions for the Guitar in 1758. Almost every piece of sheet music published in Scotland from approximately 1780 to 1810 had appended an arrangement for the "guitar." The instrument found acceptance in Scotland as a solo instrument well into the 19th century, but then its popularity declined. It was not until the early part of the last century that guitars became widely available and, eventually, guitar accompaniment was featured on many of the early Irish and Cape Breton 78RPMs. In recent years, the Celtic guitar has emerged again as both a solo instrument and the most common instrument used for musical accompaniment in many Celtic nations. Guitarist Tony McManus is based in Scotland, yet he has strong ties with other musical traditions, including Cape Breton, Brittany, and Quebec. For this recording, he travelled to Quebec to the studio of another fine Celtic guitarist André Marchand. On this track, Tony is accompanied by André's magical feet, the trademark sound of Quebec musicians.

 7. Patricia Murray

A' Bheairt - Fhiodha/ Weaving Lilt (Traditional, Arranged by Patricia Murray/SOCAN)

Patricia Murray: Gaelic vocals, bodhrán
Michael Francis: guitars
Tom Szczesniak: bass, Hammond organ
Brian Barlow: drums, percussion

From the album: Primrose
Recorded in Toronto, 2001
Produced by Chad Irschick
Courtesy of Patricia Murray

In 1772, the first organized emigration from the Scottish Hebrides to Canada took place. This emigration was not to Pictou, Nova Scotia as is usually thought, but to Prince Edward Island. Immigration from Scotland to PEI increased after the closure of the United States to additional British emigrants. PEI lies next to the province of New Brunswick and has close cultural ties with the Gaspé Bay peninsula, Quebec, on the west side and with Cape Breton on the east side. On PEI, the Scottish transplanted their Gaelic communities and here the Gaelic culture flourished until the middle of the last century. A distinct PEI fiddle tradition existed until succumbing to influences from Cape Breton radio broadcasts in the 1930s. An influential Gaelic tradition of language and song also survived but, as in Cape Breton, their popularity also declined throughout the latter part of the last century. In 1997, PEI Gaelic singer Patricia Murray was chosen as best Gaelic singer in the Royal National Mod, Scotland. "A' Bheairt Fhiodha" is from the song book, Songs from the Hebrides , which is included on Patricia's new album, Primrose. This album was produced by Chad Irschick of Toronto. Chad is the architect of the modern Cape Breton sound and has worked with The Rankin Family, The Barra MacNeils, and Natalie MacMaster.

8. Liz Doherty

All in Good Time (Kevin Burke)/ Brown Ale (Traditional)
Miss Sarah McFadyen (Jennifer Wrigley)

Liz Doherty: fiddle
Ian Carr: guitar

From the album: Last Orders
Recorded in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1999
Produced by Simon Thoumire
Courtesy of Footstompin' Records/Tartan Tapes

County Donegal is in the northwest corner of the Republic of Ireland. Donegal has a large Gaeltacht (an Irish-speaking region), a vibrant fiddle style, and a rich repertoire of music. As in Cape Breton, this style of music is strongly influenced by the Scottish fiddle and pipes. Cultural exchange between the Irish and Scottish actually predates the highland clearances and continues into the 21st century. Donegal fishermen shared the same fishing grounds with Scottish fishermen. Industrial workers from Donegal would go to Scotland in the summer and bring back Scottish tunes with them. Donegal fiddlers found some of their repertoire in Scottish tune books and later learned from records of Scottish fiddlers like J. Scott Skinner. In recent years, Donegal fiddlers have looked to Cape Breton for inspiration. Donegal fiddler Liz Doherty arrived in Cape Breton in April 1992 to pursue her academic studies leading to her MA from the University College Cork. In 1993, Liz was responsible for bringing over a dozen leading Cape Breton musicians to Cork for "Eigse na Laoi," the UCC Traditional Music Festival. For Liz, this event evolved into a four- year PhD program on Cape Breton music. Her thesis, "The Paradox of the Periphery: Evolution of the Cape Breton Fiddle Tradition c. 1928- 1995," highlights numerous contradictions in existing views on Cape Breton Music.

9. Howie MacDonald

Bras D'Or House (Pipe Major A.MacDonald)
Cabot Hornpipe (Winston Fitzgerald)
Bobby Cuthbertson (John Wilson)

Howie MacDonald: Fiddle, Piano, Guitar, Voices
From the album: The Dance Last Night
Recorded in Howie Center, Cape Breton, 1998
Produced by Howie MacDonald
Courtesy of Howie MacDonald

The 1982 release of Jerry Holland's album, Master Cape Breton Fiddler (re-released in 2001) heralded a new generation of Cape Breton fiddlers. Inspired by the freshness Jerry brought to Cape Breton music, young fiddlers around the island honed their skills. Fiddlers Dougie MacDonald and Howie MacDonald were both directly influenced by Master Cape Breton Fiddler and went on to release their own albums in the early 1980s. Howie released several studio albums throughout his career and in 1993, he released rare recordings of live house parties held at his mother's home in Westmount. The immediate success of these live recordings would change his approach to recording music. He went on to record The Dance Last Night, a recreation of a dance in Inverness County complete with humour, conversations, and a fight at the end of the night. Howie had found a way to blend his music with his exceptional wit. He followed up with Why2Keilidh, a recreation of a house party held after the dance. Although these recordings are noted for their outstanding humour, Howie does not compromise the music.Both recordings delve deep into the Cape Breton tradition. This track features three exceptional pipe tunes that he learned from a home recording of Winston Fitzgerald. The last tune was introduced to the Cape Breton repertoire by Scottish piper Sandy Boyd.

10. J.P. Cormier

Now That The Work Is Done (JP Cormier/SOCAN)

J.P. Cormier: guitars, bass, percussion, strings, vocals
Dave Burton: drums
Dave Gunning: harmony vocals
Kieran O'Hare: Uillean pipes

From the album: Now that the Work is Done
Recorded in Pictou, N.S., 2000
Produced by JP Cormier and Dave Burton
Courtesy of JP Cormier

Even after the great waves of immigration of Highland Scots to Cape Breton that began in 1802, immigration to Cape Breton continued in staggering numbers through the turn of that century. The lumber camps of North River, the vast shipyards of North Sydney, the coal mines of New Waterford, Sydney Mines and eventually, the steel mills in Sydney, ushered in an era of industrialization in Cape Breton attracting workers from all over Europe and eastern North America. This boom in industrialization lasted until the 1960s when it began a slow decline and emigration from Cape Breton to the big cities of North America picked up its pace. Today, the era of industrialization is reduced to a memory as the coal mines and steel mills have all been closed. Cape Breton has been forced to build a new economy in which traditional music still plays an important role. This new economy has given birth to a strong music industry. Since JP Cormier moved to the western side of Cape Breton, his ancestral home, he has emerged as a fine Cape Breton fiddler and a talented songwriter. JP composed "Now That the Work is Done" as a tribute to the thousands of Cape Breton miners that were given an empty handshake at the end of the day.

11. Chris Norman

Flora MacDonald
Woofin' the Cat (Traditional, Arranged by Chris Norman/BMI)

Chris Norman: wooden flute
Andy Thurston: guitar

From the album: The Flower of Port Williams
Recorded in Troy, New York, 2000
Produced by Ron McFarlane
Courtesy of Dorian Recordings

The State of Maryland was colonized in 1603. By the early 1700s, when the Irish began to arrive, there were close to 200,000 African-American slaves living in a state divided by a line between the Union and the Confederacy. Irish and African- Americans worked alongside each other as household servants in the North and on the tobacco plantations in the South. Early wood carvings depict private, mixed parties, with Black fiddlers playing for dancers. The slaves had adopted the fiddle. The fiddle became the first blues instrument and the banjo (an instrument of African origin) was introduced to America.The banjo later found its way to Ireland. After the Civil War, land changed hands, slavery was abolished and the music filtered down the Appalachian trail travelling west though the routes of humanity. Yet, in 17th and 18th century Maryland, we have a glimpse at the invisible contribution the Irish made to American blues music. The Baltimore area continued to receive Irish immigrants and quickly became an industrial Mecca for thousands of people. Like other American cities, distinct Irish communities developed in Baltimore, with strong family and musical traditions. Nova Scotia-born flute player Chris Norman has made his home within the Baltimore Irish music circles for several years. In recent years, he has taken an interest in Cape Breton music and the first tune in this track is a classic he learned from Buddy MacMaster.

12. Maybelle Chisholm

MacPhedrons (Traditional)
The Braes of Mar (Traditional)
Miss Johnston of Hilton (Traditional)
Wedderburn House (Abraham MacKintosh)

Maybelle Chisholm: solo piano

From the album: Pure Celtic Hearts
Recorded in Cheticamp, Cape Breton, 2001
Produced by Brian Doyle
Courtesy of Maybelle Chisholm

In Ireland and Irish America, styles of accompaniment for traditional music evolved from the simple skin drums (bodhráns) to the regulators of the Irish pipes, to the introduction of banjo, guitar, piano, and bouzouki. In Scotland, many of the early collections were scored with bass lines for piano or harpsichord. Yet, in the Scottish Highlands, the music was largely unaccompanied. Things would change after the Highlanders arrived in Cape Breton. Here, by the end of the 19th century, pump organs were available by mail order. The pumping of the pedals caused a short delay in the sound of the reeds, causing a syncopated feel to the rhythm. When trainloads of upright pianos began to arrive on the east coast, the pump organ was replaced. Yet, the syncopated sound carried over from the pump organ and remains as the trademark of Cape Breton piano accompaniment. Today, the Cape Breton piano style is actually a collage of styles from several pioneer piano players. One of these pioneers was Maybelle Chisholm. She began her career as a young girl by recording with her uncle Angus Chisholm. She went on to develop a personal style as flamboyant as that of Irish-American Dan Sullivan. She was also among the first to develop a solo piano style as featured on this track.


13. Paul Cranford

Isabel (Gordon MacLean & Paul Cranford/SOCAN)
Aoife O'Keeffe's Cape Breton (Paul MacDonald/SOCAN)
The Mortgage Burn (Gordon MacLean/SOCAN)

Paul Cranford: fiddle
Otis Tomas: fiddle
|Gordon MacLean: piano
Paul MacDonald: guitar

From the album: The Lighthouse
Recorded in St. Ann's, N.S., 1997
Produced by Paul Cranford
Courtesy of Cranford Publications

During the 1970s, Cape Breton Island became a haven for young people looking for a "new land." When emigration "from" Cape Breton reached its peak, young people from all over North America made Cape Breton their home. They included fiddlers Jerry Holland and Paul Cranford. From Toronto, Paul arrived in Cape Breton as a hitchiker, and then through a strange twist of fate, he landed a job as a lighthouse keeper on St. Paul's Island. A year later, he was transferred to a light station at Point Aconi and was introduced to a great Irish/Cape Breton tradition. After returning to St. Paul's Island in 1977, he embarked on an outstanding career of playing, composing, and publishing fiddle music. In 1979, he republished The Skye Collection (1887) and in 1982, he followed up with The Simon Fraser Collection (1816), both important books to the Cape Breton fiddle tradition. Over the last two decades, Paul's catalogue has expanded to include The Cape Breton Musical Heritage Series, a series of new collections of tunes. The series includes Brenda Stubbert's Collection, Winston Fitzgerald's Collection, two volumes by Jerry Holland, and Paul's own book, Lighthouse Collection. The three tunes on this track are from Paul's collection. "The Mortgage Burn" is a modern classic reel and was composed by piano player Gordon MacLean.

14. Beòlach

Rector: Rector at The Feis (Ryan J. MacNeil)
Joe's Favorite Reel (Traditional)
Marianne's Reel (Fr. Angus Morris)
Pibroch O'Donnel Dubh (Traditional)

Ryan J. MacNeil: pipes
Mattie Foulds: drums/percussion
Mairi Rankin: fiddle
Wendy Macisaac: fiddle
Patrick Gillis: guitar
Mac Morin: piano

From the album: Beòlach
Recorded in Point Aconi, Cape Breton, 2001
Produced by Beòlach
Courtesy of Beòlach

Until the turn of the last century, Celtic music was essentially a solo tradition. The recording industry changed this tradition. Bothy bands began to appear in Scotland and Irish ceilidh bands began to appear in Ireland and the big cities of the United States. Cape Breton had its own ceilidh bands. In 1928, under the title of The Caledonia Scotch Band, two Boston-based Cape Breton fiddlers recorded for the Columbia label. This recording featured the Irish celidih band leader Dan Sullivan on piano. The Inverness Serenaders were another Boston- based band of Cape Breton musicians that recorded for the Decca label in the 1930s. They went on to record several records and performed on a regular basis in Roxbury District of Boston, which was the Celtic crossroads of 1940s America. The Irish went on to redefine the ensemble sound with the introduction of such renowned bands as The Chieftains and The Bothy Band. The same was true in Scotland with the emergence of such bands as The Boys of the Lough. In Cape Breton, musicians kept the solo tradition until the 1980s when The Barra MacNeils and The Rankin Family pioneered the transformation to the modern ensemble sound. Beòlach is one of the latest bands to emerge from this new tradition and their twin fiddle sound harkens back to the driving rhythms of The Inverness Serenaders.

15. Cliar

Mo Chailin Dìleas Donn (Hector MacKenzie arr. Cliar)

Arthur Cormac: vocal
Ingrid Henderson: piano, backing vocal
Mary Ann Kennedy: backing vocal, clàrsach
Maggie MacDonald: backing vocals
Bruce McGregor: fiddle, vocals
Chatz Stewart: guitars, backing vocals

From the album: traditional & contemporary gaelic song & highland music
Recorded in Scotland, 2000 Produced by Cliar Courtesy of Macmeanmna

In the early 1960s, Cape Breton music in Scotland was limited to the impressive BBC radio broadcasts and Dan R. MacDonald's visits during the Second World War. In 1964, a group of Scotland's finest fiddlers and composers gathered at the Queen's Hotel in Aberdeen, Scotland. They were there to listen to a home recording of two Cape Breton fiddlers, Bill Lamey and Winston Fitzgerald. This recording was presented by Herbie MacLeod, a Boston-based "friend of the music." It sparked a great deal of discussion and arguments that evening. Shortly thereafter, Bill Lamey himself traveled to Scotland and, along with Fr. John Angus Rankin, gave a riveting performance at the Gaelic Mod in Inverness. The news spread quickly throughout music circles and the BBC: "traditional music in Scotland had died but had been preserved in Cape Breton." The backgrounds of Scottish and Cape Breton music are still matters of much debate today. All controversy aside, the traditional music in Scotland did not die, it only changed. Scotland has one of the strongest fiddle and composing traditions in the world and an age-old tradition of Gaelic song. On this track, the group Cliar unites these traditions.

16. Suroît

Orage (Félix LeBlanc)

Henri-Paul Bénard: voice, guitar,mandolin
Luc Bourgeois: bagpipes, whistle
André Cummings: drums, percussion
Félix LeBlanc: fiddle, voice
Réal Longuépée: voice, bass
Alcide, Painchaud: voice, accordion, keyboards
Richard Perrotte: drums
Kenneth Saulnier: voice, banjo, Guitar, Mandolin, fiddle

From the album: Les Grandes Marées
Recorded in Quebec, 2001
Produced by GSI Musique
Courtesy of GSI Musique

The Îles de la Madeleine (the Magdalen Islands) are a group of 16 islands that lie at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River in eastern Canada and directly in the path of the great trade routes to Upper Canada. The islands host the second largest marine cemetery in North America. Archeological research confirms that Micmac natives were present on the Magdalen Islands prior to the arrival of the Basques and other Europeans. In 1534, Jacques Cartier wrote, "This said island is the best land that we've seen, and an acre of this here land is worth more than all of the New Land." After The Great Deportation in 1755, a group of 200 Acadians searching for land and peace, dropped anchor in the Magdalen Islands and populated the archipelago. By this date, 177 English-speaking families had already settled on the eastern part of islands. Today, the unique music on these islands is a vibrant mixture of French, Cape Breton, and Irish music and the band Surîot embodies that sound. The fiddle, accordion, mandolin, and bagpipes are blended with French mouth music to create a patchwork of North Atlantic musical traditions. Their repertoire includes many new compositions, including the music of Cape Breton's Jerry Holland. The medley "Orage" was composed entirely by fiddler Félix LeBlanc.

17. Phil Cunningham

Tøndor (Phil Cunningham)

Phil Cunningham: piano accordion, keyboards
Aly Bain: fiddle

From the album: Another Gem
Recorded in Scotland, 2000
Produced by Phil Cunningham
Courtesy of Compass Records

In Scotland, the violin was being used to play folk tunes as early as 1680. During the following century, there emerged a tradition of composing tunes for the violin, most notably by the Gow family. Tune collections began to appear in the bookstores of Edinburgh. However, in Cape Breton, these books were rare items. This situation changed in the early 1940s when Cape Breton fiddler Dan R. MacDonald enlisted in the Canadian army, solely to travel to Aberdeen, Scotland to meet all the great composers of the day and acquire all the music books he could. He sent many of these music books home to various fiddler friends in Cape Breton. Interest in these collections grew and some fiddlers corresponded with mail-order publishing houses in Scotland. Eventually, a highly literate population of musicians developed in Cape Breton that adores the music of Neil Gow as much as the music of J. Scott Skinner. In Cape Breton today, old anonymous Gaelic tunes stand alongside the music of the 20th century Scottish composers.Piano accordion player Phil Cunningham is one of the foremost composers in Scotland today. He is especially noted for his slow airs such as "Tønder," named after the prestigious folk-music festival in Denmark.


18. Cape Breton Fiddlers' Association

Miss Lyall Set (Traditional)
Miss Lyle King George the Fourth
Kings Reel/ Miss Lyle's Reel
Old Time Wedding Reel
Hamish The Carpenter
Put Me In The Big Chest

Cape Breton Fiddlers' Association: fiddles
Betty Lou Beaton: Piano
Sheumas MacNeil: Piano

From the album: 25th Anniversary
Recorded in St. Ann's, N.S., 1998
Produced by Wendy Bergfelt
Courtesy of The Cape Breton Fiddlers' Association

In 1973, the documentary film entitled, "The Vanishing Cape Breton Fiddler," romantically portrayed the decline of "the music." It was a controversial film and for a good reason. In actuality, many of Cape Breton's finest players were in the prime of their careers. Cape Breton had enjoyed a long uninterrupted Golden Age of Fiddle Music. The music was entrenched in both the local communities and in the Cape Breton communities in Boston, Detroit, and Toronto. This invisible musical network was well documented by home recordings. Fr. John Angus Rankin's reply to this film was: "The vanishing Cape Breton fiddler, what is that? As long as there are Scotchmen, Irishmen, Frenchmen, and Micmac Indians who love Scotch music, we are gonna have the Cape Breton fiddler." Fr. Rankin was a piano player and a close friend to many of the fine fiddlers on the island. In July 1973, he persuaded more than 130 fiddlers to appear on an outdoor stage in Glendale before several thousand people. This event marked the birth of The Cape Breton Fiddlers' Association and the birth of an unprecedented revival of traditional music. This track is an excerpt from the 1998, 25th anniversary performance by the Cape Breton Fiddlers" Association in St. Ann's, Cape Breton.
Also Available

Vol. 10 2 CD set
Live at Celtic Colours - $25.00
compiled from recordings made on festival stages from 1997-2005


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