various artists,
Traditional Music from Cape Breton Island
(Nimbus, 1993)

In 1993, the best place to hear Cape Breton music may well have been County Cork in dear old Ireland. That's when 13 of Cape Breton's top musicians accepted an invitation to participate in the 1993 Cork University Traditional Music Festival.

This was a real Who's Who of Cape Breton talent: Jerry Holland, Buddy MacMaster, Natalie MacMaster, Carl MacKenzie, Brenda Stubbert and Dougie MacDonald on fiddle, Howie MacDonald and John Morris Rankin on fiddle and piano, Dave MacIsaac on guitar and fiddle, Tracey Dares and Hilda Chiasson on piano, and Paul MacNeil and Jamie MacInnis on pipes.

The focus of this festival was obviously on the fiddle, with the spotlight sometimes shining on the pipes and with strong support from guitarists and pianists. Cork certainly provided an appreciative audience, evidenced by the whoops, cheers and applause which greeted the visiting performers. Cape Breton's distinctive brand of stepdancing also received ample acclaim.

The CD provides 80 minutes of music, with the Cape Breton performers acting in small and large groups. It's a dazzling recording -- my only question and complaint is ... why wasn't this released as a double CD, with twice as much music from this wonderful festival?

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 14 December 2001