The Unusual Suspects
at Strathspey Place,
Mabou, Cape Breton
(13 October 2006)

It felt like this was going to be one of the luckiest Friday the 13ths we'd ever had in Cape Breton. And that's what we were told as we climbed into the comfortable seats at Strathspey Place, just outside Mabou.

The large stage was packed with musicians; there was a bit of accordion section on the mid-left, horns to the right, drums to the rear, fiddles out front, pipes in the centre, a piano to the far left and guitar and harp on the far forward right.

Strong and melodic were the key words of the night and the directors were exuberant when the pieces were pulled off. A cast of talented musicians given a chance to exercise and stretch their usual limits in a structure like this group must have had a tense and yet exhilarating experience. At times, the concentration was obvious and the pieces stirred around like a musical kettle of sounds.

Some numbers featured a large horn piece, others featured fiddle, other parts of it tasted like Cape Breton music and yet others were spiced a little differently, all enjoyable. Singing added another dimension to the mainly instrumental show.

Though the show was interesting and lived up to its "unusual" title, I wouldn't expect to attend it a second time at Celtic Colours, and that's mainly a matter of personal taste. I would have liked to hear more of Wendy MacIsaac and was really disappointed Anna Massie wasn't heard more, especially on guitar.

I'm used to the up-close-and-personal aspects of Cape Breton music and enjoy the individual musician's rapport with the audience, which I missed during this concert. The musicians worked hard and were bang-on, I just don't appreciate this format.

by Virginia MacIsaac
21 July 2007