Buddy MacDonald
at the Festival Club, St. Ann's, Cape Breton (2007)

There's just something comforting about Buddy MacDonald up on stage.

You know what you're in for, to a certain extent: a guitar in his lap, red sneakers perched on the sides of his stool, and his warm, friendly voice rolling over the room.

Besides a full plate of performances through Celtic Colours week, Buddy opens and emcees the nightly Festival Club at the Gaelic College. On the night in question -- Tuesday night, the fifth night of the festival -- Buddy was onstage with upright bassist Ed Woodsworth.

The show started with a tired old saw, "Summer Time is Coming," better known to many as "Will Ye Go Lassie Go" or "Wild Mountain Thyme." But when Buddy called out "every voice in the room," he got them -- even my curmudgeonly (when it comes to public singing, anyway) wife joined in -- and the rafters rang with the song. That's the thing about Buddy, he gives new life to familiar pieces, and he inspires others to sing along.

Next up was "Getting Dark Again," my favorite Buddy MacDonald original, which is about an all-night house party that has rolled into its second night of music. "Down Where the River Flows," an as-yet-unrecorded new song that looks like a future classic, followed.

Buddy responded to a plea for a song from Maine with "The Garden Song (Inch by Inch)" by Dave Mallett. "I notice Dave Mallett isn't doing any of my songs," Buddy groused good-naturedly.

The set wrapped up after Buddy was joined onstage by singers Ron MacLean, Roger Stone, John Ferguson, Darrell Keigan and Allie Bennett for a masterful interpretation of Stan Rogers' classic "Northwest Passage." The powerful a cappella number featured the booming voices of all six singers on the stirring chorus -- with the crowd joining in for a truly memorable sound.

That quick, Buddy was announcing the next act for the night. I'd be disappointed, but I can always count on good music at the Festival Club -- and Buddy will be back on stage tomorrow night.

[ visit Buddy's website ]

review by
Tom Knapp

3 November 2007

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