Ceilidh anns a'Bhraigh: Ceilidh in the Glen
at the Parish Hall, Glendale, Cape Breton
(15 October 2008)

The Glendale concert is always one of my favourites. There are several reasons that I go out of my way to try to do Glendale. It's a small wooden venue with a welcoming old-time concert feel; it showcases lots of home-grown talent; and displays the type of concert you'd see in Glendale almost anytime of the year.

The setting is a wooden parish hall on church grounds, shadowed by the imposing Creignish Hills to the west, located just a few minutes from the Canso Causeway at Port Hastings. On a clear fall evening, the roadway is dark, the parking lot is near, light and voices float through the open doors into the night as the concert begins.

Ceilidh in the Glen opened up with the musicians all together on stage, playing in memory of the late Fr. John Angus Rankin, Glendale's former parish priest who was a driving force behind the formation of the Cape Breton Fiddlers Association and the Glendale Fiddling Festival. It was a great opening, with a tune composed by Jerry Holland.

During the evening, we had a taste of several different fiddlers. Young Brandi McCarthy played a lovely slow air and finished her set with some lively jigs. She's a talented fiddler and dancer and she received a warm, well-deserved reception. Ashley MacIsaac was an unexpected bonus, and he sat at the piano as accompanist. Instead of the fiddle under his chin, the piano keys were under his hands and it reminded us that his musical range is far beyond ordinary.

Brian Doyle, one of the best acoustic guitarists that I've ever heard, ran through some jigs with Ashley, again, accompanying on piano. Dave MacIsaac did a fiddle set in tribute to Alex Francis MacKay, a long-time Glendale-area player who was sitting in the audience, has played numerous Celtic Colours events and is known for the Gaelic accent in his playing.

Speaking of Gaelic, a Scottish father and son team of Calum Alex MacMillan, singer and piper, and Seonaidh Beag MacMillan, singer, gave a great performance of songs, as did Colin Watson, a Gaelic singer from Cape Breton. Since Glendale has been active in supporting the revival of the Gaelic language I think it was fitting to include the singers here. The Gaelic songs have such a unique rhythm and pathos that they catch the ear even if you can't understand the words.

I enjoyed the traditional flavour of the concert and though the venue can seem crowded, the sound is great and the view of the stage is good even from the back seats. And it was a quick trip home for me after the concert.

review by
Virginia MacIsaac

10 October 2009

what's new