Wind on the Water
at the Community Centre,
Bras d'Or, NS
(11 October 2004)

It was a foggy, windy, rainy night, with Tropical Storm Nicole headed our way. I'll blame the weather for making me miss the turn-off that led to the Bras d'Or Community Centre. By the time we arrived, Buddy MacDonald was halfway into his set, the first portion of Wind on the Water, a Thanksgiving Day concert in the 2004 Celtic Colours series.

Still, a little Buddy is better than none, and his warm, rich voice -- "Eight More Hours," "We Remember You Well," "Billy Be Fair" and "Will Ye Go Lassie Go" -- helped to settle the remains of my second Thanksgiving dinner of the week.

For a cross-oceanic experience, the next part of the show featured Scotland's Anna Massie (fiddle and guitar) and Nova Scotia's Troy MacGillivray (fiddle and piano). Their opening fiddle duet got the hall's crowd of Cape Breton stompers going, as well as a smattering of clappers from the U.S. The pair rolled through a series of fiddle-guitar, fiddle-piano and piano-guitar duets, including an impressively precise "Reel Beatrice."

Several tunes went nameless; Anna said anyone who knows the titles should drop her a note and let her know.

Anna spent most of her time utterly wrapped around her guitar, surfacing at one point to thank new friends in Baddeck for an entire box of pie leftover from a surprise Thanksgiving dinner earlier that day. When their final set rolled to a close, Buddy returned to stage to laud "two young people from both sides of the water, joined together to make such music."

Buddy next had the pleasure of introducing Quebecois band Le Vent du Nord: "I haven't had so much fun with a band that I don't understand in a long time," he said.

The French-Canadian quartet brought high-energy pizzazz to the evening. Featuring a mix of fiddle and guitar, hurdy-gurdy and jaw harp, accordion and squeezebox, varied percussion and vocals (entirely in French), the majority of numbers benefit from intense, frantic arrangements. The band just refuses to rest.

To prove me wrong, Le Vent du Nord switched midstream to a slow waltz, a band original. The gorgeous piece may have reined in the frenzy for a short while, but only briefly -- long enough to catch a breath. Then the energy kicked up to even higher levels for a rapid succession of tunes, Quebecois stepdancing, call and response songs, French-Canadian line dances and endless fun.

The finale began with Buddy's classic pub song, "Getting Dark Again," followed by a trademark fun blast of tunes. And the night had just begun, with only another foggy drive over Kelly's Mountain between us and buckets of music at the Festival Club.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 6 November 2004

Visit the Celtic Colours website.