Tribute to Bill Lamey,
Celtic Colours 2002
at Glendale Parish Hall
in Glendale, Cape Breton, NS
(16 October 2002)

In Glendale, I pulled my car into the line-up of vehicles parked on the side of the Trans-Canada Highway in front of the parish hall. The parking lot just off the road was full and people were making their way toward the open doors that spilled light onto the entrance and welcomed us in.

I spoke to site manager Heather Richards on my way in and she said they try to keep the concert a traditional one each year. "It's what the people expect," she said. I'd say she knows what she's talking about because the air was rife with excitement and the chatter filled with anticipation.

The place was about as full as it could get. Chairs were close together, with a small aisle up the middle and two along the length of the side walls. I was able to find a seat on the outer aisle and had a great view of the stage.

The late Bill Lamey was a fiddler with family roots in the Glendale area, who made his way to Boston where he kept a steady supply of fiddling and dancing available for lonesome Cape Bretoners. His grandson, Doug Lamey, played a set of tunes including a march his grandfather composed in honour of Fr. John Angus Rankin, a long-time parish priest of Glendale. The young man's physical presence filled the small stage and the audience seemed to appreciate the old style sound of his violin.

Bill Lamey's daughter Peggy showed how graceful step-dancing can be when she came up to the stage and polished off a few numbers.

Mary Jane Lamond appeared right at home as she brought in the Gaelic aspect of Glendale culture by singing songs familiar to those from the area. In "Tonight My Step is Heavy" her unadorned voice expressed the great pathos of the poet. Her brief introductions gave some insight to the Gaelic thoughts the songs expressed.

The biggest hit of the evening, for me anyway, was the MacLellan Trio. Just Donald MacLellan was on the bill, but his two sisters, Marie and Theresa, also climbed to the stage with guitarist Dave MacIsaac. Emcee Paul MacDonald jokingly introduced them as the MacLellan Quartet, as they had adopted Dave for the evening.

Not only talented, but so familiar with each others' playing from years of being together, the MacLellans have a smooth, rich, and vibrant sound. They played up to the intermission when, after a few words with Theresa, I had to leave. I was sorry to miss the second half but I left contented. Only a little bit of great music and dance makes a success of a whole evening of traditional Cape Breton music.

- Rambles
written by Virginia MacIsaac
published 25 January 2003