Troy MacGillivray
at the Festival Club, St. Ann's, Cape Breton (2007)

After a two-year absence, I was jonesing for some fiddling like you'll only ever hear at Celtic Colours. And, for my first Cape Breton fiddle experience of festival week, it was a joy to dig in for a simply amazing blast -- a "CD release party," as it were -- by the incredible Troy MacGillivray.

OK, we'd seen J.P. Cormier earlier that Saturday evening at Wagmatcook, but for the portion of the show we saw, J.P. was in singer/storyteller mode, and he never touched his fiddle.

And yeah, if you want to be picky about it, Troy is a Nova Scotian fiddler, not a Cape Bretoner -- but he and his musically talented family from Antigonish have so fully ingrained themselves into the Cape Breton scene, I think we can sweep that objection away without further thought on the matter.

But, back to my point, Troy is a tremendously gifted musician, and he is coming more and more into his own. He was joined on stage for this occasion by Allan Dewer of Antigonish on piano and Brent Chaisson of Prince Edward Island on guitar.

Several years ago, when I first made the acquaintance of the MacGillivray clan, Troy was content to hang in the background; the spotlights shone brightest on sister Kendra, unquestionably one of the hottest stars among Maritime fiddlers, and sister Sabra, who always demanded your complete attention whenever she stepped forward to dance.

So much talent in one family is truly not fair, by the way -- but music runs strong in so many Cape Breton bloodlines, you can't hold it against the MacGillivrays.

So anyway, Troy....

This was a different young man than I've seen on Cape Breton stages in the past. He was more confident, more of a showman, quite comfortable alone in the spotlight. Perhaps it's indicative of Troy's new showmanship that he did most of his Festival Club showcase -- with the exception of one keyboard set and his final fiddle montage -- standing. I think this is the first time I've seen him play where he wasn't seated for the set.

It's also fair to say Troy has played around with arrangements quite a lot over the past two years. He has added a personal stamp to the performance.

Troy's talent has never been in doubt. He is a superb -- and tireless -- performer. But after witnessing his outstanding display at the Festival Club, I think we can add "consummate professional" to the list.

Oh, did I mention he can stepdance while fiddling at a breakneck pace? How do they do that without breaking their necks?

By the way, Troy's latest (fourth) CD was scheduled for release at the beginning of the Celtic Colours week, but didn't arrive 'til the end. If you want to check out a masterwork, visit Troy's website and order a copy.

[ visit Troy's website ]

review by
Tom Knapp

20 October 2007

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