Bho Linn gu Linn: Generations
at Judique Community Centre, Judique, Cape Breton
(13 October 2008)

I was really looking forward to Bho Linn gu Linn: Generations. I always enjoy seeing families who carry on tradition from generation to generation, and it's really neat to hear the similarities and differences in playing from senior to junior. It was a bit of a hike to Judique from St. Ann's, but I made it in time to catch the first act of this show: Seonaidh Beag MacMillan & Calum Alex MacMillan.

When I arrived, they were singing in Gaelic and in perfect unison. It was easy to hear that Calum learned from his father. Both had really pure and clean voices -- so clean that when they sang together, it almost sounded as if it were only one person performing. My favorite parts of their performance included a song written during World War II, which was performed beautifully by MacMillan Sr., and when MacMillan Jr. played the pipes with perfect tempo. I also enjoyed their rendition of "Mairi's Wedding" in Gaelic. I could hear members of the audience humming and singing along, so they were clearly enjoying it, as well.

The second act of the evening was Aongus & Angus Grant, another father-and-son duo from Scotland. Both are brilliant fiddle players. Many may recognize Angus from his performances with the popular band, Shooglenifty. Joining the duo was the master of Cape Breton piano, Dougie MacPhee (Aongus said the audience could call him "Angus" for the evening, as well).

This duo was interesting to me because, in just watching them, I'd never think that Angus learned to play from his father. Aongus is a left-handed fiddler. His son is right-handed. Their bows were going completely opposite of each other, too. However, I could hear the influence that the father had on his son. Once again, it was so clean, it sounded as if there were one performer at times. They had really nice harmonies on a set of jigs, as well as other sets they played. Each played a beautiful slow tune.

Angus shared a couple stories from his childhood, as well. He said that when he was younger, he told his mom that he'd like to be a musician when he grows up. His mother's response was, "Son, you can't do both!"

After an intermission, the Dewar family took the stage. For me, this was a huge highlight of the evening. The family included Marion (the mom), Alan (the son) and Joan (the daughter). I have heard Marion and Alan, separately, but I had never heard Joan. In fact, this was the family's first time EVER performing together! I would have never known if they hadn't announced it to the audience. Alan said, "we've had a lot of pressure in the last few days, but we're trying to make the best of it." They were really tight, so I'd say they definitely made the best of it.

Alan kicked things off with a piano solo that included an air, with stunning harmonies, which led into reels. There was applause in the middle of it! Then Marion took his place at the piano. She played a wonderful waltz and some strathspeys and reels, which were accompanied on guitar by Alan (which I did not know he played). There was applause mid-set, twice, for this one. Then, Joan and Alan did a fiddle duo (I didn't know Alan played fiddle, either!), with their mother accompanying them on piano. It was fantastic, except that Joan's microphone wasn't turned on, so it was hard to hear her, but from what I could hear, it was really good! There was applause throughout the set. The whole performance was exciting and the Dewar's should definitely do this more often!

The last family to take the stage was the Beatons: Kinnon, Betty Lou and Andrea. I always enjoy hearing members of this family play, separately or together, because they have so much drive in their tunes -- especially their reels. They also play a lot of original, self-composed tunes.

They began their performance with a rousing 10-minute set of tunes. Then, they played the jigs, "'Something' Ferguson," as they put it, and "Big Mike's," which was written by Andrea. This was followed by some fancy footwork by Andrea, as her parents played "The Kings" set. Their performance also included a tune that John Morris Rankin composed for Betty Lou and a brilliant set of jigs that led into strathspeys and reels.

I'm always fascinated to see the connection between family members and their music. This concert was a great example of this. It was a really fun concert that, once again, got me excited for more music at Festival Club.

review by
Kaitlin Hahn

18 April 2009

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