The Judique Flyers
at Judique Community Centre,
Judique, Cape Breton
(9 October 2006)

A full house at the Judique Community Centre applauded when emcee Ian MacNeil took to the stage to make an announcement about car lights left on. This is an example of the high spirits and enjoyable sense of anticipation surrounding a Celtic Colours' venue as the audience waits for the concert to begin.

Later, at the real opening, Ian read two verses from the stately song composed by late Lake Ainslie songwriter Stanley Collins to celebrate the "old black beauty," the steam engine that ran the Inverness rail line, and then he welcomed Ferintosh. This is the right group, sure "to generate a good head of steam and turn the corners with great skill and precision," he said, setting the stage for fiddler David Greenberg, cellist Abby Newton and harpist Kim Robertson, plus dancer Sabra MacGillivray, who all set up a fine pace to start the evening. Greenberg expressed his joy to be "in Judique, the home of so many great players."

The band's talent for baroque and Celtic flavours was revealed with their fast and gentle touches on "Paul's Reel," a composition by the late John Morris Rankin, and a few traditionals, followed by a slow air by Robbie Burns and a dance tune by John Clayford from the folk music of 1690.

Lithe and graceful, Sabra danced across the stage to two tunes by Simon Fraser. Then these adept musicians changed from a hypnotizing, graceful flow of tunes to taking 'er home on the back stretch, adding Sabra on bodhran, to end their set.

A touch of the Irish took to the stage with intense fiddling by Liz Carroll and the energetic guitar of John Doyle. They started with a few reels, one suitably called "The Train" and another called "Top of the Stairs." They moved into some jigs, "Battering Ram," and a tune called "The Island of Woods" that included some good heel bangers.

Buddy MacMaster was the Cape Breton anchor of the night and he thanked the crowd for a standing ovation "though I haven't played yet." He sat down and opened with "some jigs, two Irish reels, 'Fitzgerald's Jig' by Sandy MacIntyre" and he moved on to "'Miss Maxwell,' an old Scottish tune, a very old strathspey and 'Fir Tree' strathspey." Accompanied by the instinctive and talented Marion Dewar on piano, Buddy adroitly charmed sweet notes from his fiddle.

A set of reels then showed why Buddy is a reputed dance player with smooth execution and great timing. He served up "'Miss Lyle's Reel' and some other old reel," and he invited everyone to "Get up and dance ... and drive 'er on the floor." There wasn't much room for that, but the appreciative whoops and hollers as Buddy dug into a little bit of dirt showed us once again why dancers enjoy his playing so much, and it surely gave him some pleasurable feedback, too.

This October Buddy celebrates an 81st birthday, receives an honorary doctorate of letters from the University of Cape Breton and plays at Celtic Colours. If you heard the questions Ian MacNeil posed before welcoming Buddy to the stage, you would understand just some of the influences this man has had on Cape Breton music and Cape Breton communities.

Entrancing and comical Haugaard & Hoirup, from Denmark, were musical boy wonders with awesome bowing techniques and guitar blasts that never stopped. Guitarist Hoirup joked with the audience, "you can hum along, but you don't have to, because you paid to get in." Easy banter and musical expertise dished out enjoyable Danish folk music and original compositions that won't be forgotten.

Jerry Holland proved once again that he's a fantastic musician with a lot of heart. He shared beautiful tunes and the stories to go with them -- for instance, "Lonesome Eyes" and a tune he wrote for the late Marie MacLellan. He played some "Buddy tunes" and sounded pretty Scottish until the Irish came out a few sets later when he talked about his dad. Marion Dewar knows exactly what to do and kept pace all the way.

Around the 1770s, a Capt. Samuel Holland wrote Holland's Description [of] Cape Breton Island. Jerry Holland, musician and composer, creates beautiful tunes of equal merit to describe and map the landscape of modern Cape Breton; its people, places and events. Jerry plays far and wide and his music is well known as evidenced by the many requests from the audience tonight.

Almost three hours went by in a flash. Let's do it again next year!

by Virginia MacIsaac
28 October 2006