Celtic Pub
at The Creamery,
Port Hawkesbury, Cape Breton
(14 October 2005)

The last concert I had the opportunity to attend at Celtic Colours this year was a very unique one. It was the Celtic Pub, held at The Creamery in Port Hawkesbury.

As I walked through the door, I could see that the atmosphere of this show was much more relaxed than the others. It was held later at night (but not so late that I would completely miss Festival Club!) and we sat at tables, rather than in rows. Of course, since it was set up as a pub, beer and wine were served at the canteen throughout the evening.

There was a big crowd for this show, as well. My friends and I had a hard time finding a table that had some empty chairs! This should have been expected, though, because on the bill for the evening were Old Blind Dogs, Jennifer Roland and Beolach.

Since I missed Old Blind Dogs at a previous concert I attended, I was really excited to see them here. Even though they've been to Milwaukee a few times, which is very close to where I live, I had never had the opportunity to see them in a live show. After hearing them, I wished I had. Their music was really fun and the audience took to it well. There were people bouncing and dancing in what little space there was in the venue.

My favorite song that they performed was called, "To the Beggin' I Will Go." I've heard this song many times, because we do it in our band at home, but it was really neat to hear their rendition of it. The audience must have agreed because I heard some of them singing along. I also enjoyed their instrumental sets. They, too, had the audience bouncing. Because the show was so lively, Old Blind Dogs received two standing ovations! They left me wanting to hear more, so I hope they come back to Milwaukee soon.

The next performer to take the stage was Jennifer Roland. She also put on a wonderful show. She reminds me very much of Natalie MacMaster because she NEVER stops moving. Nor does her bass player! His dark curly locks were bouncing to the music the whole time. (To make things a bit confusing, his head was moving up on the down-beat and down on the up-beat. He left me wondering if he ever gets whiplash.) This did not seem to bother the audience, though. They were more entertained by Jennifer's tunes and her great sense of humor.

While I enjoyed Jennifer's traditional medleys of tunes, and rocking renditions of others, my favorite piece was one that she wrote for her late father called "This Flower I Pick for You." It was a beautiful, slow tune, and I could see in Jennifer's eyes that it meant a lot to her to perform it.

While the slow tune was my favorite, the audience seemed to enjoy her dancing the most. For this, she received another standing ovation.

Last up was Beolach. As always, the local band had the audience going from the very first note. If people weren't on their feet and dancing, they were bouncing in their seats and tapping their toes. Although there were some issues with sound in the beginning, the audience did not seem to mind at all, judging from the appreciative clapping, whistling and hissing. They were too entertained by lively tunes to be annoyed.

I can understand why. To me, Beolach is probably the most creative Celtic band out there today, in terms of how they arrange their tunes. I never get bored when I listen to them. Their shows include a wonderful mix of traditional and modern, fast and slow, and because there are five people in the band, different instrumental arrangements. The variety is amazing. As I was watching them, I kept thinking, "Wow! I can't really pick a favorite set, because they're all really good," but then, at the very end of the show, they did a number where Mairi Rankin, Mac Morin and Wendy MacIsaac all got up and danced. That was definitely my favorite. It, too, ended in a standing ovation.

This venue was a great place to see my last Cape Breton concert for the year. I left feeling both energized and a little sad that my trip was almost over. At least I still had Festival Club to look forward to!

by Kaitlin Hahn
4 March 2006