Collectively Celtic
at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Sydney Mines, Cape Breton
(10 October 2011)

I'm happy to return to the beautiful little venue, St. Anne's Presbyterian Church in Sydney Mines, where first I got to hear the smooth sounds of singer/songwriter Archie Fisher. I've only had the opportunity to hear him a couple of times, but I love his calming voice and have been looking forward to hearing him again. He has a great sense of humor and his stories of how his songs came to be are wonderful. He told one of a man he saw on the road that was dragging a golf cart with a propane tank, so he stopped an introduced himself. The man said, "I know who you are. Do you do charity concerts?" Fisher answered with, "Yes, who is it for?" and the man answered, "Me. I have a lot of police fines coming," so Fisher wrote a song for him, which was equally as funny as the story.

Next, he tuned his guitar to "Gaelic" tuning -- "G-A-E-L-I-C," as he put it. Then he sang a song for a friend and his wife with the lyrics, "I never found a river before as deep as you." It was beautiful. I really enjoyed Fisher's performance.

The lovely Wendy MacIsaac was emcee for the evening. Her wit and humor make her perfect for the job. She introduced the next act, who I was anxiously awaiting. The Tim Edey Collective band is one I never had the opportunity to hear, but I had heard Edey at the Festival Club last year and was completely blown away by him, so I couldn't wait to hear more. He always has a smile on his face and looks like he is having fun. It is easy to see he enjoys playing for and entertaining audiences. He began with a rousing set of reels on the accordion. One of the tunes had some really crazy chord changes and his guitarist, Peter Gazey, was completely unfazed by it. The set got faster and more virtuosic. It was fantastic. There was applause in the middle of the set.

Then, for "a little chill out," Isobel Crowe joined them for a song from Ireland, called "My True Love." I was taken by how high Crowe could sing. Her voice is very developed, but clean. Every note can be heard, high or low. It was beautiful.

Edey followed the song with a tune called "Baltic Crossing," which he wrote for a cruise gig he agreed to play that turned out to be a car ferry. He had the audience participating by giving a nice "whoop!" on the end of each phrase. It was a lively polka that made me want to dance. I had the same feeling on the song they sang right after it. They had the audience singing along and there were tight harmonies between Edey and Crowe. He finished with a set of tunes including the craziest version of "The Mason's Apron" I've heard to date ... even crazier than the Sean Maguire rendition. Edey is an inspiration.

The last act of the evening was Mary Jane Lamond and Wendy MacIsaac. Their modern renditions of old Gaelic songs are always interesting and a treat to the ears. They've added mandolin and accordion to the mix of the talents in this band, which gave it a slightly more folk sound as opposed to the more rock sound Lamond has had in the past. I enjoy hearing the lilting of the Gaelic songs with the Cape Breton tunes this band combines.

One thing I particularly enjoyed hearing was the stories the two told about each other. It's always nice to hear about bands that have stuck together and had good laughs along the way. MacIsaac even shared a tune she wrote for Lamond in a medley that immediately got the listeners' toes tapping.

Accompanying the duo was Seph Peters on guitar and Kathy Porter on "everything else," as Lamond put it. She sang a love song about a man who was telling his love that he could never stop loving her and that he'd rather have one kiss from her than anything else in the world, but she sadly loved someone else.

They finished with a combination of a song called "If Ever You Were Mine" and a tune titled "The Drunken Landlady." Even more interesting was how the song was a lullaby, but it had such a driving, upbeat rhythm. Nevertheless, it was a great finish for the duo.

For the finale, Edey joined MacIsaac for an explosion of tunes, some of which Edey had learned only a few hours before. It was impressive. Neither of them missed a beat, and Edey played tunes on both accordion and guitar. For me, this was the perfect way to end this show, and I decided to head to the Festival Club for more.

review by
Kaitlin Hahn

12 November 2011

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