The Original Guitar Summit
at Judique Community Centre,
Judique, Cape Breton
(12 October 2006)

The original Guitar Summit was performed in 1995 at the Centre Bras d'Or Festival of the Arts in Baddeck, when the G-7 political leaders' summit was in Halifax, and J.P. Cormier probably thought something just as important should happen in Cape Breton ... and so it did.

The Guitar Summit has been an integral part of Celtic Colours in Judique for a number of years, and its presence is especially enjoyed by Highland Guitar Society members who jam in Judique every second Sunday during the off season.

Tonight, the concert revisited the original show of 1995. On stage were Cormier on your far left, next to him Gordie Sampson, in centre stage colourful Scott MacMillan, then Irish-American guitarist John Doyle and on the far right Dave MacIsaac -- a powerhouse of players who made the wood trusses reverberate with fast and furious guitar thrums, jigs and reels, and highland pipe-like arrangements.

Ian MacNeil opened sans kilt, and said, "I don't have to tell you that all these men can write, compose and play like hell." The five silver microphone stands and the empty red chairs on stage were soon filled with their presence and the evening began with them all playing and I wondered, "How is this possibly going to get any better?"

Mainly, the guitar players came on in groups of two instead of all being on the stage all the time, and J.P. told the audience that he liked this format much better. On Dave's turn, he mentioned Theresa Morrison's CDs and played a couple of tunes in her honour. After his intense set, the concert could easily have been named the "Extreme" Guitar Summit.

All evening the players continued to bring out special effects, intricate arrangements and duets, and there was a wonderful sense of playing off of and at each other. J.P.'s "Toyota Tailpipe" is a flippant piece that had a lot of hootin' and a bit of hollerin' in it. Next he and Scott gathered for "Sweet Georgia Brown" and it was a blast and a half, full of diddle diddling. If J.P. played with podiatrial digits on his hands he'd be called "twinkle-toes." Luckily for him he uses fingers.

John Doyle and Scott did a few Irish tunes and a version of "Dawn" John called "Dawn Upside-Down" because he finished it off a little differently. As they worked this set, there were moments when it seemed like the beauty of the eighth day of creation was unfolding. Gordie and John shared "some good old Cape Breton tunes" and a couple of energetic pieces from the Unusual Suspects concert.

The second half continued with a funky "Wild Colonial Boy" by John Doyle; and J.P's solo where he somehow pulled a bagpipe or two out of his guitar; Scott & Gordie's set of "Sara Lee's Trip to Ottawa," "Homogeneous Hornpipe," "The Three Buoys (pronounce boo-ees)" and "Scotia Prince"; and Dave and JP with "a few tunes in the key of C." Dave's guitar glowed fiery-red under the lights matching his light-speed playing.

The concert encore finished with the Celtic boys showing they've got a lot more up their sleeves, and showering the audience with an amazing rendition of Bo Diddley's "Look at Yourself." This was an absolutely amazing night of music.

by Virginia MacIsaac
14 July 2007