Louisbourg Crossroads
at Louisbourg Playhouse,
Louisbourg, Cape Breton
(12 October 2011)

The show I took in tonight was at cute little venue, the Louisbourg Playhouse. I love this venue. It almost looks Shakespearean, the way it's all wood and the audience sits in a circle around the stage. There's not a bad seat in the house.

Beginning the show was an act that was a first for me. Les Zorvenants is an Acadian band that has worked at the Fortress of Louisbourg for years. The locals certainly appreciated them, as they were singing along to the driving songs. For one of them, Sabra MacGillivray did some steps, which added a nice touch and rhythm to it. So far, this is one of my favorite French bands that I've seen at the festival this year. There was a lot of variety in their songs and their harmonies were really tight. I enjoyed the instrumental interludes in the songs, as well, and their stage presence and stories were great.

Next, there was a change of gears from French to music of the UK, with the Tim Edey Collective. I was completely in awe of the performance he gave a couple of nights ago in Sydney Mines and I couldn't wait to see him again. He began by expressing how excited he was to be in Cape Breton and that he heard Air Canada was supposed to go on strike, and that he fully supported it, because his band doesn't want to leave. After sharing his gratitude, he kicked off his set with a guitar duo with Peter Gazey. It was jazzy and slow, but driving, and it led into a much faster reel, "Music for a Found Harmonium," which received shouts of appreciation and applause throughout the whole tune and people yelling, "do it again!" after.

He followed this impressive set with one that was just as amazing -- a set of reels on button box. With his foot pounding on the floor and a smile on his face, he wowed the crowd once again as his tunes got faster and more insanely virtuosic as the set went on. He was pounding his foot so hard, he lost his shoe!

Isobel Crowe calmed things down with a Scottish lullaby and then brought it back up with a more lively one. I still can't believe how big her voice is for how small she is. She is a natural on stage and she shows her songs as much with her facial expressions and movement as she does with her voice.

After a set of polkas and another beautiful song by Crowe, Edey finished with his tune, "Little Bird," on guitar, into a fun hornpipe. He received the first standing ovation of the evening.

Another group I was excited to see took the stage after an intermission of lovely tea and oatcakes was Troy MacGillivray and Kimberley Fraser with Louis-Charles Vigneau and Sabra MacGillivray. They began with strathspeys in F into the virtuosic "Tullochgorum," with some impressive steps by Sabra, and into reels, including "Tom & Jerry." They kept it lively with a Frank Ferrell jig.

Then Fraser played a solo of strathspeys and reels, which got some "woohoos!" from the audience and explosive shouts and applause at the end, to which Troy said, "boy, you guys sure are quiet," and got a little laugh.

To that, he took his turn at a solo. He played a tune that he learned from the Scottish band, Lau, and followed it with reels, some of which he wrote, but said he didn't really like to talk about his own tunes, because it "feels like talking about money." He should talk about them, though, because they were wonderful.

To change things up a bit, Fraser played a lovely air on the piano. It was amazing how a calming quiet came over the little theater. Outside of her piano playing, you could have heard a pin drop. A person next to me got teary-eyed over its beauty.

Sticking with the piano, Troy joined Fraser for a toe-tapping duet to bring the mood back up. They played a set of strathspeys and reels, which the audience loved and showed it by their very loud applause.

Vigneau graced the audience with a song about "Little Red Riding Hood," which he learned from the radio station out of Cheticamp. He has a really nice voice and I enjoyed the song and the variety it added to the set. It led into a reel that fit nicely with the song.

Once again, Sabra came out and blew everyone away with her fancy footwork on "The Kings Set." If you've never been to Cape Breton before, this is THE set that is played in dance halls for a step about of solo dancers.

After another blast of explosion of tunes by Troy, he invited Edey to join him on stage. They played a set they played for the CBC last year and it was incredible. These two are clearly music geniuses and should play more together. The set was virtuosic and humorous. I could see that the duo was having so much fun on the stage. It began with Edey on accordion and Troy on piano, taking turns between melody and accompaniment. Then, Troy played a solo and Edey picked up his guitar and again, they kept interchanging between melody and accompaniment. Edey continued playing and Troy picked up his fiddle. All of the transitions were flawless, with no breaks in the music. It could have been the finale, because it was the best set of the evening, as far as I'm concerned.

However, there was a finale with all of the musicians. No offense to anyone of them, and there was nothing wrong with it and I loved the songs, tunes and dancing, but nothing could even touch the set before it. That was the highlight of my night and I hope to be that excited over a set at Festival Club tonight.

review by
Kaitlin Hahn

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