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November 18, 2014
Cape Breton Fiddler Andrea Beaton To Play In Richland
By Cara Lieurance, WMUK 102.1 FM

Andrea BeatonAndrea Beaton grew up on Cape Breton Island, in Nova Scotia, Canada. The Beaton family, like the Rankins and the MacMasters, came to the attention of folk music enthusiasts in the 1960s and 70s through field recordings of house parties and dances. The main purpose of the music was social. It was something that knit together the small coal-mining communities.

Today, Cape Breton-style music is an important part of the tourist trade and one of the most identifiable Cape Breton exports. But when Andrea Beaton was growing up in the midst of it, her family was content to let her find her own way to the music.

LISTEN TO AN ON-AIR CUT (MP3-4:48)

"When I'd come home from school before anyone else, I'd take the fiddle out from under the bed and play a couple of tunes. And then I'd get frustrated, and I wouldn't touch it for months. Nobody pressured me. They let me do my thing - I liked hockey, I liked other things. And then, when I moved away when I was 21, I wasn't homesick as much as I was "tune-sick." I was missing the music, and I had my fiddle there, and that's when I did a one-eighty. I was calling home all the time, asking my parents, "Am I playing this right? What about this tune?," driving them crazy for hours on the phone, trying to make sure I was doing things up to par."

Andrea Beaton began composing tunes early on. Her father, fiddler Kinnon Beaton, would help her write them down. Since 2002, she has recorded five solo albums. The latest, Little Black Book, is a tour-de-force of her new compositions for fiddle on which she also plays the backing piano accompaniment, a skill she picked up from her mother, Betty Beaton.

"It's one of the things that separates Cape Breton music from other styles of music, because the style of piano is so special," Beaton says. "It's got a ragtime-y feel to it at times. Really dance-y, a lot of our music is related to the step-dancing."

For the concert at the Richland Community Hall, Andrea will be accompanied by pianist Tyson Chen, an Ottawa pianist who moved to Cape Breton to learn the addictive style of playing. Tune sets are always led by the fiddler. She links together a series of tunes of ever increasing intensity, often on the fly. Accompanists have to develop a sixth sense for the changes.

"Piano players are kind of magical. They just have to instinctually know and feel what you're going to do, and follow. Usually there's some kind of signal with the foot. The foot sometimes starts changing in the bar before the actual tempo change. It's a little bit of a warning, a cue, but also it's for us to make the transition smooth, so it doesn't go [makes car braking sound] and then go on. We have a flow to it."

Dick Hensold, a master of the Northumbrian smallpipes, is the third member of the trio appearing in Richland this Friday. Based in St. Paul, Minnesota, Hensold wrote a grant bringing Andrea to the States for a residency, and then they put their heads together to come up with a touring program.

"We both picked some tunes. He has some stuff that he wanted me to learn, and there were some tunes we had in common that are old tunes. And then some of each of our own compositions. We put a show together so that we each have one or two solos, but most of it is stuff we arranged together. You'll see an array of instruments, and hear a few silly stories. It'll be a nice, fun evening of tunes and tales."
 

LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW (MP3-18:29)

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PANACHE: Andrea Beaton (Cape Breton, Canada), Donna Hebert (Amherst, MA), Veronique Plasse (Quebec, Canada) and Jane Rothfield (Havertown PA) get together in Amherst MA - April, 2013



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March 12, 2013
Andrea Beaton fiddles at the Palladium
TBN Weekly, Tampa Bay Newspaper

ST. PETERSBURG – One of Cape Breton's most promising young fiddlers returns to the Tampa Bay area in support of her 2012 release “Little Black Book.” Andrea Beaton will perform Saturday, March 16, 8 p.m., at the Palladium at St. Petersburg College, 253 Fifth Ave. N.

From a long line of acclaimed musicians, the Cape Breton native brings the best of Nova Scotia fiddling to St. Petersburg. Beaton took top honors at the 2010 East Coast Music Awards for Instrumental Recording of the Year for her CD “Branches.”

She returns to The Palladium – and she is bringing some friends. Audiences will enjoy expertly played Celtic music, along with stories and a few surprises.

According to her website biography, Beaton comes by her music honestly: it’s in her genes.

She's one of the youngest members of an elite club: There have been generations of talented Cape Breton musicians – and more than a few came from her family. Her father, Kinnon, remains one of this era’s most influential Cape Breton fiddlers. Her mother, Betty, is one of the great piano accompanists of her generation, contributing to that remarkable Beaton timing.

Her paternal grandfather, Donald Angus Beaton, was one of the strongest and most popular players of his generation. Her paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Beaton, is a strongly rhythmic piano player, with a great love of the music.

The family affair doesn’t end there.

Her uncle, Buddy MacMaster, is the most revered fiddler on Cape Breton Island. Her cousin, Natalie MacMaster, is an enormously popular entertainer who has toured with everyone from the Chieftains and Alison Krauss to Faith Hill and Carlos Santana.

Born in 1979, Beaton grew up surrounded by music and dance. By the age of 10, she had already started playing the fiddle; at 13, she started lessons with Stephanie Wills, a fine traditional player.

Beaton released her debut CD, "License to Drive 'Er," in 2002. The recording led to a nomination as Roots Traditional Solo Artist of the Year at the East Coast Music Awards. She followed up with “Cuts” in 2004, a CD boasting performances from many of Cape Breton’s finest musicians.

“Cuts" earned a nomination for the 2005 Instrumental Recording of the Year at the East Coast Music Awards. Since then, she has released 2006’s “The Tap Session,” recorded live at a pub during a tour of Scotland; “Kinnon and Andrea Beaton,” a joint effort with her father in 2007; and “Branches” in 2009.

Her most recent release, “Little Black Book,” is a 10-cut CD filled with her original tunes. Other musicians featured include Matt Haverly on cello and Louis-Charles Vigneau on guitar.

In addition to positive critical and fan response, one of the songs on “Little Black Book” has earned Beaton international recognition.

Her original composition “Jolene & Wayne’s” recently received a semi-finalist nomination in the 2012 International Songwriting Competition. Considering the fact that the ISC attracted more than 20,000 entries from 19 countries, Beaton’s selection is an incredible accomplishment. Winners announced in April.

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 the day of the show. Call 822-3590, email palladium@spcollege.edu or visit www.spcollege.edu/palladiumnew.
 

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February 2013
Andrea receives semi-finalist nomination in ISC 2012 songwriting competition

Andrea's original composition, "Jolene & Wayne's", from her latest album 'Little Black Book', has received a semi-finalist nomination in the 2012 International Songwriting Competition (ISC). With over 20,000 entries from 19 counties, this is an incredible accomplishment! Finalists will be announced in March and winners announced in April.

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October 10, 2012
Andrea Beaton to play Skye

Andrea Beaton and multi-instrumentalist Jake Charron will be in concert at Skye Theatre Oct. 21.

SOUTH CARTHAGE — New England Celtic Arts will host traditional Cape Breton artist Andrea Beaton at Skye Theatre Performing Arts Center Sunday, Oct. 21. Curtain is at 7 p.m. with a pre-show jam starting at 6:15. Audience members are encouraged to bring their instruments. A workshop will also be offered that day from 1 to 4 p.m. Instruction will be given in fiddle and guitar.

One of Cape Breton’s most established young fiddlers, Andrea Beaton comes by her music honestly. Listen to her play, the power of her bow, the drive and swing of her timing, the crispness of her attack. She has made a name for herself in dance halls, concerts, ceilidhs, and festivals throughout North America and the UK.

Jake Charron continues to build a reputation as one of Canada’s finest accompanists for fiddle music. He has become a much sought-after musician for traditional styles, playing piano and guitar with artists across the country.

Skye Theater is located three miles west of East Dixfield village at 2 Highland Drive off Winter Hill Road and U.S. Route 2 in South Carthage.

Ticket price is $15 at the door. For reservations call Skye Theatre at 562-4445. Reservations are strongly suggested.

More information is available at www.necelticarts.com

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July 14, 2012
Be sure to take note of Little Black Book
Doug Gallant, The Guardian

One of the first Gordie Sampson songs to strike a chord with me was The Blood Is Strong, an extraordinary piece of music from his 1998 Stones CD, which spoke to his deep Cape Breton roots and voiced his profound sense of belonging.

Listening to Little Black Book, the latest offering for award-winning Cape Breton fiddler Andrea Beaton, the title of that Sampson song came almost immediately to mind.

That's because for Beaton, too, the blood is strong. Through her veins flows the blood of some of Cape Breton's finest traditional musicians.

Kinnon Beaton, her father, is a hugely influential Cape Breton fiddler, while her piano playing mother Betty is a first-class accompanist.

Donald Angus Beaton, her paternal grandfather, was an exemplary player in his day, and Elizabeth Beaton, her paternal grandmother, was a strongly rhythmic piano player.

The family tree also includes another hugely influential fiddler, Buddy MacMaster, who happens to be her uncle. (If you're keeping track of the genealogy, that also makes Natalie MacMaster is her first cousin.)

From those who came before her, Andrea Beaton inherited a great love for the traditional music of Cape Breton, the jigs, reels, strathspeys and slow airs that echo through the rafters of parish halls across the island. She also inherited a healthy respect for those who play that music well, a select group of which she is now a member in very good standing.

Beaton's love for traditional Cape Breton music can be heard throughout Little Black Book, but there are other influences at play as well in the 10 tracks that comprise this record.

One of the record's most endearing tracks, for example, is Kaitlin Heaves the Chains, which has a pronounced classical bent and features some lovely work on cello by Matt Haverly.

Haverly is one of only two players on Little Black book, aside from Beaton, and he plays on just two tracks. For most of the album, she is accompanied solely by former Vishten guitarist Louis-Charles Vigneau.

Beaton plays both fiddle and piano here, sitting down at the ivories for two tracks.

Every piece of music on the record is an original Beaton composition and believe me when I say there's some lovely stuff here.

For those who believe Cape Breton music is meant to be a call to the dancefloor for some serious step-dancing or a more cordial set square there are a number of pieces with the kind of driving rhythms that will keep you on your feet.

For those with a soft spot for something a little more subdued, Beaton has penned some lovely slower pieces, like the aforementioned Kaitlin Heaves the Chains and Crowded Thoughts, the first half of a medley which also features a spirited little gem called The Water Boiling Machine.

Like the records which preceded it, Little Black Book shows Beaton is a force to be reckoned with. She's a powerful player with great technique and tremendous passion. She's also a player capable of finding the subtle nuances in every little note and bringing them out.

But don't take my word for it. You can see that for yourself later this month when Beaton plays at the Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival.

Also, if you're enrolled at the P.E.I. Fiddle Camp the week prior to the festival you can see her there as an instructor.

Choice offerings on Little Black Book include Barley Reel, Kaitlin Heaves the Chains, Jolene and Wayne's and the medley consisting of For Grandma, The Cubby House, One for the Floor, Hector on the Krispie Road and Christa and Jarrod Get Hitched.

Doug Gallant, a reporter with The Guardian, writes his music review column for The Guardian every week. He welcomes comments from readers at dgallant@theguardian.pe.ca or 629-6000, ext. 6057.

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May 31, 2012
Fiddler from Beaton clan opens up Little Black Book

Part of Cape Breton’s storied musical Beaton clan, fiddler Andrea Beaton, launches her latest CD in Halifax on Saturday at Pepper Jack’s Pub in Clayton Park.

Currently based in Montreal, Beaton will be playing tunes off the new disc titled Little Black Book, accompanied by guitarist Louis-Charles Vigneau.

The 4 pm show will also see some special guests take to the stage with the East Coast Music Award-winning musician, including her parents, world-renowned fiddle-piano duo Kinnon and Betty Lou Beaton.

Pepper Jack’s is located in the plaza at the corner of Dunbrack Street and Farnham Gate Road.

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May 8, 2012
Folk music academics on way for NAFCo conference
Derry Journal

Leading academics in the field of folk music around the world are headed for Derry next month to take part in the conference that’s part of NAFCo 2012, the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention.

The conference will be based at the University of Ulster campus at Magee. More than 80 speakers will present papers and talks on aspects of fiddle music and will address a gathering of some of the world’s leading ethnomusicologists, folklorists, ethnochoreographers, fiddle players and dancers.

About 30 of the speakers are from Ireland and the rest are from a whole range of countries, including Scotland, England, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, USA, Canada and Australia.

The academic convenor of the conference is Dr Fintan Vallely, an Armagh flute-player who edited the highly-regarded ‘Companion to Irish Traditional Music’.

Dr Vallely told the Journal; “It’s a wonderful showcase opportunity for Derry and Donegal to be bringing so many international commentators and writers who concern themselves with cultural matters.

“The rich musical heritage that the North West has makes it particularly appropriate to bring this internation convention to this region. The enthusiasm with which people greeted the news that Derry and the University of Ulster was to be the 2012 NAFCo destination has resulted in us having more people than ever at NAFco signed up to give papers and be involved over the course of the five days the event will run”.

The Conference title is “From Dancing to Listening”.

Dr Vallely said this reflects the challenges and changes facing traditional musics all over the globe as its purpose changes with the times.

“The music is moving from being a simple part of social interaction and entertainment to music for listening to. There’s a lot of change happening and that means there’s plenty of scope for debate and discussion there.”

Dance Research Forum Ireland will also be convening their fourth international conference over the course of NAFCo and they will be among those meeting in Magee during the last week of June.

Another interesting aspect of NAFCo will be the opportunity it will afford audiences to hear well-known fiddle players talk about their music and their lives in a series of afternoon discussions entitled “Fiddle Talks”, presented in the Craft Village, Waterloo Street by the Cork based fiddle player and author, Matt Cranitch.

Matt was a member of Na Fili, the pioneering traditional music group that featured Derryman, Tomás Ó Canainn.

Among those taking part in Fiddle Talks will be Martin Hayes, Paddy Glackin, Pierre Schyrer from Canada, Alasdair Fraser the well-known Scottish fiddle maestro, and Paddy Cronin from Kerry, who played for many years in America. Andrea Beaton from Cape Breton in Canada will also talk to Matt, and London-born fiddle player John Carty and Meath-based Anton MacGabhann complete the line up.

The NAFCo keynote address will be delivered by one of the foremost experts on Bluegrass and other forms of north American music, Neil Rosenberg, Professor Emeritus at Memorial College, Newfoundland, Canada. He is the author of ‘Bluegrass - A History’, widely regarded as the definitive study on the music.

Professor Rosenberg will base his address on what he has learned from his involvement in fiddle music, dancing, and listening over a lifetime. This he observes through the eyes of his various roles in music - as performer, spectator, promoter, folklorist, historian and ethnomusicologist.

NAFCo also features a host of concerts and sessions in Derry, Buncrana, Letterkenny and elsewhere. More details on www.nafco2012.com

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March 2012
Andrea receives semi-finalist place in ISC 2011 song competition

Andrea's original composition, "Kaitlin Heaves the Chains", from her latest album 'Little Black Book', has received a semi-finalist place in the 2011 International Songwriting Competition (ISC). With over 16,000 entries in ISC 2011, this is an incredible accomplishment!

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March 12, 2012
Andrea Beaton’s musical influences prominent on new CD
Dan MacDobald, The Cape Breton Post

I just got my hands on the newest recording from Andrea Beaton. “Little Black Book,” a 10-cut CD that contains all original tunes written by Andrea, displays her great playing and also gives you insight into some of her many musical influences.

You hear the traditional Mabou coal mines sound, a hint or two of Irish, a smattering of modern Scottish, a feel of classical from time to time — all things that give her the sound that makes her playing so distinctive.

“Little Black Book” is rather sparsely produced, cleanly done with no extra frills added. While all cuts feature Andrea and her fiddle, several cuts also include her added piano accompaniment. In addition, there are two cuts where you can hear Matt Haverly’s wonderful cello weaving in and out.

The most common combination has Andrea on fiddle, backed by the delicate guitar work of Vishtčn’s Louis-Charles Vigneau. He adds just enough so that you always know that he’s there, but never enough to take away from Andrea’s superb playing. What I enjoy about his playing are those unexpected — but always fitting — stray chords that seem to pop up.

One of my personal favourites includes the very traditional “For Grandma.” Another cut that really catches my ear is “Katlin Heaves the Chains.” This has the fiddle, cello and guitar doing a lovely complementary dance back and forth, more classical sounding then traditional but equally interesting. This intermingling of styles is delightful.

Make no mistake, while “Little Black Book” may not have quite as many strathspeys and reels as some of her other recordings, this is still a great CD. I would certainly recommend you add this to your collection, and if you’re like me, you’ll be playing it over and over again.

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February 3, 2012
Bagpipers coming to Seabeck
Central Kitsap Reporter

The Seabeck Conference Center will host its annual Scottish Bagpipes and Fiddlers event starting Feb. 6. The 10-day event will bring together pipers from around the world looking to train under award-winning bagpipe masters from Glasgow and Edinburgh.

“It’s really the largest school of its kind in the United States,” said Skye Richendrfer, director of the Celtic Arts Foundation.

The small pipes and fiddlers arrive on Friday to put on a performance at the center on Feb. 6 at 7 p.m.

“What’s cool about the Seabeck concert is that you’ll find a sound that is closer to what you’d find a Scottish tavern rather than a traditional bagpipe ceremony,” Richendrfer said.

Nova Scotia musicians Andrea Beaton and Troy MacGillivray will arrive with the big pipes and drums before the group moves to Benaroya Hall in Seattle for a concert on Feb. 10. The Celtic musicians are known in the bagpiping community as a “triple threat” having mastered fiddle, piano and Scottish step dancing, said Richendrfer.

Instruction for the 100 students who have enrolled with the center will start Feb. 11.

Learning to bagpipe is a “very challenging musical endeavor unlike any other instrument,” said Chuck Kraining, executive director of Seabeck Conference Center.

The students will be piping around-the-clock with night walks and midnight bag piping sessions.

“It will be 14 to 18 hours, just about as much piping as they can stand,” Richendrfer said.

Richendrfer explained that bagpiping appeals to students as a “cultural totem” of family heritage. According to a 2000 U.S. Census Bureau report approximately 25 percent of the nation’s population claimed Celtic ancestry.

The Highland pipe also has historical ties to the British military in the 19th century and the World War II storming of the beaches in Normandy.

“The instrument is just so unusual and has tremendous mystical appeal even for younger generations,” Richendrfer said.

For more information or tickets, contact Chuck Kraining at 360-830-5010.

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November 25, 2011
Gala Scottish Concert

NH.com

The turkey, parades, and football games of the holiday weekend provide the perfect prelude to the Strathspey & Reel Society of New Hampshire’s 2011 Gala Scottish Concert on Sunday, November 27. The holiday festivities create just the right atmosphere for Cape Breton fiddlers and step Dancers Andrea Beaton and Kimberly Fraser. This high-energy duo highlights the 23rd annual concert of New Hampshire’s premier traditional Scottish performance group in a concert that has become a yearly tradition for delighted New Hampshire audiences.

Kicking off at 2:30 Sunday afternoon, November 27 at the Concord City Auditorium, the concert stage again welcomes the Strathspey and Reel Society ensemble of fiddles, cellos, accordions, flutes/whistles/recorders, guitars and other instruments. Master of Ceremonies Jeremy Bell will guide the audience through a two-hour program of traditional music, dance, songs, and humor. Past attendees have described this event as “the best thing about the Thanksgiving weekend.”

This year’s Gala guest performers follow in the footsteps of dozens of major masters of the Scottish fiddle from Cape Breton in Nova Scotia. Kimberley Fraser, though still in her 20s, already has had a distinguished career. She has traveled the world, from Victoria to Afghanistan, performing at venues such as The Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., bringing Cape Breton music with her wherever she goes. Dan MacDonald of the Cape Breton Post says about Fraser’s versatility, “She has matured to become one of the stellar players of the Cape Breton fiddle tradition, equally at home at a house party, playing for a square dance, or on stage for a concert in Bras d'Or or Boston, Scotsville, or Scotland.” Kimberley has shared the stage with the finest acts in Celtic music, such as Alasdair Fraser, Martin Hayes and Lunasa.

Andrea Beaton’s Cape Breton heritage starts with grandparents Donald Angus and Elizabeth Beaton and parents Kinnon and Betty Beaton, all of who are accomplished musicians. Her uncle Buddy MacMaster and cousin Natalie MacMaster have wowed generations of audiences. Her music is at once her own and deeply rooted in the tradition associated with the Mabou Coal Mines. And, like her father and grandfather, she is a composer in the tradition, adding fine new music to the island's repertoire. Her first CD, "License to Drive 'Er," earned a nomination as Roots Traditional Solo Artist of the Year at the East Coast Music Awards. One recent listener mused about Andrea’s playing, “There's something indefinable about music's power to make people move. It's nearly impossible to talk about it. But you know it when you hear it. And Andrea Beaton has it.”

Amazingly, these two fiddle masters find time to stay sharp with some of the most fantastic step-dance footwork that you will see anywhere in the U.S or Canada. They break into dance mode spontaneously and feed off each other’s energy.

Highland dance, whether a Fling, a Sword dance, a or a Lilt, displays the grace and artistry of the Scots. This year’s Gala welcomes back the Highland dancers from the Calder School of Highland dancing. Highland dances may have originally signified a victory in battle, but today they showcase the dexterity and graceful skills of the dancer, and the Calder School’s dancers are some of New Hampshire’s finest.

Jeremy Bell calls himself simply “a man in a kilt.” But his exploits on stage, at whiskey tastings, and corporate events across the country have endeared him to thousands throughout the United States. Jeremy brings an irreverent Scottish sense of propriety, along with his unique brand of humor, to every event he hosts. He will surprise and delight you.

The magic of the 2011 Gala starts the minute you approach your seat this year with a pre-concert audience warm-up by Fellswater, a Boston-based Celtic performance group. Fresh off a turn on the stages of the New Hampshire Highland Games, Fellswater’s lively music will get you in the mood for the whirlwind that follows at 2:30.

Tickets prices for this year’s Gala remain unchanged from previous years and range from $20.00 ($22.00 at the door) to $10.00 ($12.00 at the door) depending on the location within the grand Concord City Auditorium. You can order your tickets online at www.srsnh.org, or by calling (603) 673-5145.

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Andrea Beaton's Cape Breton Band Lab plays during the Band Lab Concert
Saturday, July 9, 2011 at the American Festival of Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, WA
Video courtesy: trilby41


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May 26, 2011
Cape Breton weekend: Celtic music and dance

Celtic Cultural Alliance, Valley Contra Dance and Godfrey Daniels are bringing one of Cape Breton's most promising young fiddlers to Bethlehem this weekend. Andrea Beaton will present workshops and performances Saturday and Sunday.

The weekend program kicks off at Unitarian Universalist Church of the Lehigh Valley at 424 Center St. with a traditional Cape Breton dance workshop 4-6 p.m. Saturday ($8). The dance will be followed by a free potluck dinner 6-7 p.m.

A contra dance at the church is 7:30-10:30 p.m. ($10), preceded by instruction for new dancers at 7.

On Sunday, a master fiddle class is 4-5 p.m. at Godfrey Daniels, 7 E. Fourth St. ($10). The weekend ends with a concert by Beaton 7-9 p.m. at Godfreys ($12.50).

More info and tickets at: www.celticfest.org.

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April 25, 2011
'Attack' flutes and fiddles coming to Irish cultural center
By Jackie Loohauis-Bennett, The Journal Sentinel

Flying fiddles, furious fluting, and the sound of Irish singing and step-dancing return to Milwaukee's Irish Cultural and Heritage Center, 2133 W. Wisconsin Ave., when Andrea Beaton and Nuala Kennedy make a repeat appearance there at 7:30 p.m. May 21.

The pair bring the traditions of Canada, Scotland and Ireland to their shows. Kennedy combines original material from Ireland and Scotland on her flute. Beaton's fiddle "attack" technique won her the 2010 East Coast Music Award in the Instrumental Recording of the Year for her most recent album, "Branches."

Tickets are $19 in advance and $23 day of show, at (414) 345-8800 and www.ichc.net.

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February 17, 2011
Cape Breton kitchen party coming to Skye, Unity
Sun Journal

Andrea BeatonCARTHAGE — New England Celtic Arts will present Cape Breton fiddlers Wendy MacIsaac and Andrea Beaton at Skye Theatre Performing Arts Center on Wednesday, March 2. The two will also perform on Thursday, March 3, at Unity College Center for the Performing Arts.

MacIsaac, also a piano player, began her career at age 4 as a step dancer, and went on to take fiddle lessons at age 12. By 1990, she was well established as one of the top new young fiddler/pianists in Cape Breton and was in demand for dances and festivals. She has since entertained audiences across Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe and Brazil.

A founding member of the band Beolach, MacIsaac has also performed with The Cape Breton Summertime Revue, Capercaillie, The Chieftains and Ashley MacIsaac; toured with The Rankin Sisters; and toured and recorded with Mary Jane Lamond for 14 years. She has released three albums, "The Reel Thing," "That's What You Get" and "Timeline," and has taught step dancing at festivals worldwide.

Beaton is one of Cape Breton's most promising young fiddlers, making a name for herself in dance halls, concerts, ceilidhs and festivals.

She is the youngest of generations of Beaton musicians. Her father, Kinnon, is one of today's most influential Cape Breton fiddlers; her mother, Betty Beaton, is one of the great piano accompanists of her generation. Her paternal grandfather, Donald Angus Beaton, was one of the strongest and most popular players of his generation, and her paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Beaton, is a strongly rhythmic piano player.

Curtain is at 7 p.m. at Skye and at 7:30 p.m. in Unity, with a preshow jam session 45 minutes prior to each concert. Tickets are $15. Skye Theater is at 2 Highland Drive; UCCPA is at 42 Depot St. in Unity. For tickets, call Skye Theatre at 562-4445 or UCCPA at 948-7469.

Wendy MacIsaac

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March 2010
Andrea at the East Coast Music Awards, Celtic Colours Festival Stage
With: Tracey Dares (piano), Darren McMullen (mandolin), Patrick Gillis (guitar),
Cheryl Smith (drums), Chris Babineau (bass)
 

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March 8, 2010
ECMAs take the Beaton path
Judique fiddler Andrea Beaton and Mabou fiddling sisters Dawn and Margie Beaton win first ECMAs on night dominated by Joel Plaskett
Laura Jean Grant, The Cape Breton Post
(photo courtesy: Mark Ringwood, Roots Around the World)

SYDNEY —Three Cape Breton fiddlers can add East Coast Music Award winner to their resume reel. 

On a night when The Rankin Family, one of the winningest acts in ECMA history, received the organization’s highest honour — Judique fiddler Andrea Beaton and Mabou fiddling sisters Dawn and Margie Beaton began their own award history, each taking home their first treble clef-shaped ECMA trophy.

“I’m in shock. Yahoo! I’m glad to have this happen in Sydney,” said Andrea, in accepting her award in the instrumental recording of the year category. “I want to thank friends and family for their support. I wouldn’t be doing this without all of them.”

Backstage, she said she’s particularly thrilled to win for her album, Branches.

“I’m delighted. I’m absolutely delighted. Writing your own tunes and putting that out there is always a little bit scary ... it’s really sharing a piece of myself with people, besides just playing. It’s all of my own thoughts and ideas coming out, so I’m thrilled.”

Dawn and Margie Beaton won in the roots/traditional group recording of the year category for their album, Taste of Gaelic.

“I really am shaking,” said Dawn. “It’s the biggest honour. This is what we’ve dreamed about and I can’t believe this is happening.”

“To us, we’re still those little girls who were watching (the ECMAs) and looking up to it like it was the Oscars,” added Margie. “It was this big show and to see people that we knew like Natalie (MacMaster) and The Rankins achieve success and go so far, it’s a wonder to us that we’re here and on that same stage.”

Cape Breton rock band Forever featuring Keith Dawson, Bernie Eagles, Peter Christmas, and Mark Hawkins took home their third ECMA for aboriginal recording of the year.

“This is really awesome,” said Dawson, taking time to pay tribute to the other nominees in the category. “Hats off to them. They all deserve it too.”

Sydney’s Tom Fun Orchestra won video of the year honours for Throw Me to the Rats, directed Alasdair Brotherston and Jock Mooney.

The highlight of the night for many in the crowd was a performance by The Rankin Family before they were presented with the Director’s Special Achievement Award, the most prestigious award given out by the ECMA board. It recognizes exceptional contribution to the music industry on a national and/or international level. The legendary family band from Mabou brought the crowd to its feet with a rousing performance of You Feel the Same Way Too.

In accepting the award, Jimmy, Cookie, Raylene and Heather remembered their brother and bandmate John Morris, who died in 2000, and thanked all those who have contributed to their success.

“And finally, last but not least, to our fans who supported us and continue to support us by buying our recordings and coming to our shows, thank you for making this such a fantastic ride,” said Raylene.

The ECMA also remembered the late Jerry Holland who died this past summer. Friends Ashley MacIsaac, J.P. Cormier, Hilda Chiasson, Howie MacDonald, Brenda Stubbert, Gillian Boucher, Dave MacIsaac, Chrissy Crowley and Holland’s son Jerry Jr. took part in the tribute.

The Dr. Helen Creighton Lifetime Achievement Award honour went to the late Scotty Turner in recognition of his profound and lasting effect on the Atlantic Canadian music industry. Turner (born Graham Turnbull in Sydney) did it all as record producer, musician, songwriter and publisher. Turner died last year.

The big winner of the night was Halifax’s Joel Plaskett who took home six music awards, including entertainer of the year, recording of the year, and songwriter of the year.

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February 19, 2010
Review: Andrea Beaton – Branches (Independent, 2009)
by Anne Louise Campbell, Whats Goin' On Magazine

Andrea Beaton comes from a long line of great fiddlers from Mabou, on the western side of Cape Breton Island. Since her debut album License To Drive’er (2002), Andrea has shown that she is a fiddle player not to be taken lightly. Her latest album Branches is nominated for the 2010 ECMA Instrumental Recording of the Year award. Andrea’s new album delivers her unmistakable drive and lift to the tunes, and also highlights some new talents by taking a turn at a vocal selection.

Branches grabs the listener right away with a dandy bunch of reels, and refuses to let go until all of the marches, jigs and reels have been played. From the first few notes you know that you are in for a real treat. High energy tunes combined with interesting mixes of tunes will keep your dancing shoes happy and your ears wanting more. Andrea is joined on the album by Tracey Dares on piano, Remi Arsenault on guitar, and Jamie Gatti on upright bass.

What would a new Andrea Beaton CD be without a few little twists? On the track “Starfish” she shows her ability to combine tunes together; it begins as a set of jigs you may hear at one of her dances, which flows nicely into a waltz “The Mist Covered Mountains of Home” and without missing a beat, pianist Tracey Dares continues to keep the jig timing while quickly heading back into the spirited jig “Happy Hops” written by Kaitlin Hahn of Wisconsin which finishes off the track.

“Fire on the Lino” takes flight with a reel composed for her Aunt and Uncle’s 50th Wedding Anniversary. She continues the set with two more original reels which have an energetic and spirited feel.

The majority of the tunes on the cd were composed by Andrea, with a few traditional numbers thrown in for some good measure. She has also included tunes by some of today’s newest composers including Shelly Campbell, Glenn Graham and Colin Grant, just to name a few. Andrea has a wonderful style of composing tunes; they have a great animated feel to them.

On this record, Andrea shows us that not only is she a fantastic fiddler, but also a great vocalist. On the track “Hector” she shows off her vocal skills on a song written by PEI’s Patricia Murray and set to the air “Hector the Hero”. Andrea does an impressive job singing so hopefully it will continue into future projects.

Andrea’s latest foray will keep your ears happy and your mind eagerly awaiting her next release. A solid ECMA award contender, this cd will impress young and old alike.

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December 13, 2009
Celtic Colours people helping launch festival in Cuba
Rannie Gillis, The Cape Breton Post

“In parallel with the music scene of my native Nova Scotia, traditional music (in Cuba) is enjoying a resurgence, thanks to the interest of Cuba’s younger generation.”

When young Cape Breton fiddler Chrissy Crowley wrote this in the May 2009 online issue of Celtic Life magazine, she was referring to a musical visit she had just made to Cuba, along with fellow Cape Breton fiddler Dawn Beaton. The name of her story was Gaiteros de La Habana (Bagpipes go Cuban). I have a subscription to this wonderful magazine, which is based in Halifax, and I was quite impressed with her writing skills, especially since she is not yet 20 years old.

I had heard Chrissy for the first time when I attended October’s Celtic Colours concert in Belle Cote, not too far from Cheticamp. The concert was a tribute to Chrissy’s grand-uncle, Angus Chisholm, one of the greatest Cape Breton fiddlers, and this vibrant young lady was one of the talented musicians who entertained the capacity crowd that stormy evening.

Her name came up again when I met for lunch in Sydney with the dynamic young Cuban bagpiper Marcel Nazabal. He mentioned the fact that Chrissy and Dawn had visited with him and his piping friends in Cuba, and had taken part in an impromptu Celtic concert at one of Havana’s most historic hotels. They even got to play with a young Cuban fiddler by the name of Angelica Gongora, who knew some Cape Breton fiddle tunes. She had picked these up by listening to CDs of various young Cape Breton musicians.

Marcel went on to explain that Chrissy and Dawn, along with himself, were founding members of the Canadian-Cuban Celtic Society, a group set up to promote musical contacts between young musicians from the Celtic parts of Canada, especially Cape Breton Island, and fellow Celtic musicians in Cuba.

One of their first projects is the first-ever Celtic Festival held in Cuba. It will be called Celt-Fest Cuba, and will take place next spring from April 6-14, in Old Havana, the most historic part of this vibrant Cuban city. Among the many young Celtic musicians who will be there, Chrissy Crowley and Andrea Beaton will represent the Cape Breton fiddle style. It should be a great time.

Marcel also told me of the help and support he has received from Joella Foulds, Jim Kelly, his driver Jim Norman, and other members of the Celtic Colours International Festival organization. In the same way that people from Scotland’s Celtic Connections Festival helped our festival get underway, our group can now pass on some of their knowledge and experience to help others develop their own events.

He also made mention of the fact that Dr. Jacqueline Thayer Scott of Cape Breton University is looking at the possibility of setting up an academic exchange between our university and the University of Havana. That would be a wonderful project and would certainly compliment the musical connections that have already been made between Cape Breton and Cuba.

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November 12, 2009
Andrea Beaton to perform in Unity
Kennebec Journal, Maine

Unity College Centre for the Performing Arts will host a show put on by up-and-coming Cape Breton fiddler Andrea Beaton at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 19. Beaton is currently touring to support of her newest, self-released CD titled "Branches." During an interview, she talked about the show in central Maine as well as a bit of her personal history.

It seems that musical talent runs deep and wide in Beaton family. Her cousin is famed fiddler Natalie MacMaster, daughter of Buddy MacMaster. It is easy to see that her roots run deep.

"Do they ever," she said, "on both sides, actually. My dad is a fiddler, my mom's a piano player, my father's father is a fiddler, and his father was a fiddler and a piper; and my grandmother -- my father's mother -- is a piano player, and they used to play a lot of the dances around here, so," she said, "I had both sides -- from that generation -- kind of going at it, and then both my parents and some of their siblings played music around the area."

Add to that a plethora of cousins on both sides of her family and you can see that she comes by her talent honestly.

"I was just surrounded by it," Beaton said, "here on Cape Breton."

Touring was the next subject of discussion and one was curious to know if she had ever performed in Maine before."

"Yes, I have ... yeah, I've played at the Skye Theater in South Carthage and I've played at the Unity Centre before, actually, but with Beolach -- I wasn't playing as myself with my band. I went on a tour with that band in 2006, I think, so I've played in Maine quite a few times over the years."

Some of those shows involved, maybe, two or three performances over a couple of days -- not really a full-blown, weeks-on-end tour -- and on those gigs, sometimes her folks would come along and supply musical support.

"On this trip, though," she said, "I wanted to release my new album and tour with guitar and piano, and do kind of as many shows along the way as I could put together in a coupla weeks -- so it's gonna be great to actually play stuff from my new album instead of just playing random stuff."

Okay, so this show will feature a trio performance. Who will be with her for this performance?

"On piano will be Hilda Chiasson Cormier -- she's married to J.P. Cormier -- she's been playing with fiddlers around here for years and years," Beaton said, "and we've played together a little bit here and there around Cape Breton, so I thought it would be great to bring her along. On guitar, I have Remi Arsenault -- he's on the new album and he's from P.E.I. (Prince Edward Island), I knew him when I was in school over there."

She recently reconnected with him at a jamboree over on the Island, where she and her parents were performing. She invited him on stage with them and had so much fun that she asked if he'd like to be on "Branches"... the rest, as they say, is history.

"We all clicked musically," she said, "and had a lot of fun recording that album."

Now, is her music exclusively instrumental or does she have vocal tunes that she interjects into the sets?

"There's one song on the album," Beaton said, "but I haven't performed it live -- 'cause I'm a chicken."

"I keep saying that I'm gonna do it and, actually, I had planned to do it at the release (party) but I've been fighting this cold for two weeks and for the last few days, I've only ever been able to talk for a coupla minutes before losing my voice completely. I'm hoping that, with rest, I'll get it stronger before the tour, but I don't know whether I'll do the song or not. It all depends on how brave I get."

As the interview wound down, I asked if there was anything the fiddler wanted passed on to the readers of this article?

"Well, you could mention my Web site -- www.andreabeaton.com -- because there's lots of information on there: where we're playing ... there's everything on there that's on your usual Web site, I guess," she said. "I'm hoping that some people want to come out and hear some tunes."

Lucky Clark is a music journalist celebrating his 40th year of writing this year. He can be reached at lucky@megalink.net for questions or comments.

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October 27, 2009

The ECMA announced today at the Capri Cabaret, Sydney, the artists who will perform on the official ECMA showcase stages as part of the 2010 East Coast Music Awards, Festival & Conference set for Sydney, Cape Breton from March 4-7.

ECMA ROOTS ROOM - Venue: Membertou Trade and Convention Centre
David Myles, NS; Colette Cheverie, PE; Duane Andrews, NL; The Once, NL; Steven Bowers, NS; Meaghan Blanchard, PE; The Keats, NL; Ryan LeBlanc, NB; Pascal Lejeune, NB; Andrea Beaton, CB.

For a complete list of showcasing artists, visit www.ecma.ca

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October 21, 2009
Five female fiddlers play Friday
The Journal Pioneer

SUMMERSIDE – The kickoff for the Pumpkin Festival will take place on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Centre Belle-Alliance. For the opening, an Acadian kitchen party, “Le Violon au feminin,” will offer an opportunity to see five of the best women fiddlers on stage together. The invited fiddlers are Louise Arsenault, Anastasia DesRoches, Karine Gallant, Samantha Gallant and Andrea Beaton.

Louise Arsenault and Samantha Gallant are members of the newly formed all-female group Gadelle, who represent the spirit of the Acadian people with their fiddling, their songs, their stories and their dance in every performance. Anastasia DesRoches is not only an accomplished fiddler, she is also a teacher, musician, comedian and guardian of Island Acadian tunes. She was awarded the Golden Fiddle Award in 2008 from the Atlantic Fiddler Jamboree for her enormous contributions. Karine Gallant mixes her Acadian roots with Celtic sounds.

Organizers also welcome Cape Bretoner Andrea Beaton, who was brought up in a world of music and traditional dance. Homesick while taking a two-year course in P.E.I., she really began playing her violin during that period. Beaton has recorded four solo albums and has participated in other numerous recordings, such as two of the Kinnon family’s, “Cape Live take 2” and “Kinnon and Betty Beaton - Cape Breton fiddlers compilation”. In 2008, she also published a book of her compositions accompanied with a CD. Her most recent album, “Branches” was launched in 2009

The Pumpkin Festival is organized by the Centre Belle-Alliance.

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June 25, 2009
Musicians back for more toe-tapping tradition
Marshfield News-Herald

Back by popular acclaim and guaranteed to set your toes tapping with their high-energy Celtic fiddling and step dancing, the four incredible young artists of "Nova Scotia Traditions" return to Chestnut Avenue Center for the Arts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Whether you were lucky enough to enjoy their 2008 appearance, or simply enjoy lively Cape Breton and Celtic music, prepare to be wowed by this year's show. Multi-talented performers Andrea Beaton, Kimberley Fraser and Troy MacGillivray, with special guest Nuala Kennedy from Ireland return to entertain you with fiddle, flute, whistles, piano, song and dance.

"Last year, we were honored to have this group play in Wisconsin. They completely blew their audiences away with their beautiful arrangements of tunes and their energy," says Kaitlin Hahn, tour organizer. "We just had to bring them back for more because we can't get enough."

The music, dance and language traditions of Nova Scotia -- "New Scotland" -- date back hundreds of years. It has been said that the music played in Cape Breton, an island off the coast of Nova Scotia, is the oldest form of Scottish traditional music existing today. "Nova Scotia Traditions" features the next-generation artists who carry on this musical heritage, bringing a remarkable level of musicianship to their work.

Andrea Beaton of Judique, Cape Breton, earned her stellar reputation playing fiddle in dance halls, concerts, ceilidhs and festivals. She plays piano, step dances and sometimes plays guitar, drums and banjo. Beaton is the youngest of generations of Beaton musicians and has three albums to her name.

Kimberley Fraser of Sydney Mines, Cape Breton, has been step dancing since the age of 2, playing fiddle since age 6 and piano since age 9. With two self-produced albums, she's performed all over the world, including a tour with Cherish the Ladies. Fraser occasionally plays the harp during performances.

Troy MacGillivray of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, carries on a long-standing family tradition of music. He has step danced since he was very young, taught piano by age thirteen, and picked up his fiddle soon after that. MacGillivray has been impressing audiences all over the world with his talents, and recently released his fourth album. He's been known to play bass, accordion and guitar while on tour.

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March 28, 2009
Nova Scotia fiddlers play rhythm of generations
Tampa Bay Newspaper

ST. PETERSBURG – Andrea Beaton and Troy MacGillivray play music with the power to make their audience move on Sunday, April 5, downstairs at The Palladium Theater, 253 Fifth Ave. N., St. Petersburg. Doors open at 7 p.m. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m.

Purchase tickets for $20 in advance, $25 at the door, from The Palladium Box Office, 727-822-3590.
The room will be set up with chairs – no tables – to make room for step-dancing – Nova Scotia style.

Andrea Beaton grew up to the rhythm of generations. Her father is one of the leading fiddle players of his generation, her mother, an accomplished pianist. So were her grandfather and grandmother. In fact, her grandfather, Donald Angus Beaton, was just awarded the 2009 Stompin' Tom Award by the East Coast Music Association (ECMA) for significant contributions to the east coast music industry. Her uncle, Buddy MacMaster, is revered in Cape Breton. Andrea Beaton continues the rhythm in her own dynamic style.

Troy MacGillivray's heritage is equally impressive. For generations, the MacGillivrays and MacDonalds have been keeping the Gaelic tradition alive in Lanark, Nova Scotia. His parents are talented musicians, his sister Kendra is a two-time East Coast Music Association award-winning fiddler, and his sister Sabra is a skilled dancer and percussionist. His grandfather, Hugh A. MacDonald, is a member of the Nova Scotia Country Hall of Fame.

Nova Scotia is steeped in musical and dance tradition, and Andrea Beaton and Troy MacGillivray uphold that tradition. Andrea's debut CD, "License to Drive 'Er," was nominated for Roots Traditional Solo Artist of the Year at the East Coast Music Awards. Troy MacGillivray is an accomplished pianist, fiddler, and stepdancer. His fourth CD, "Live at the Music Room," was the 2008 Instrumental Recording of the year, and his CD "When Here Meets There," a collaboration with Canadian and U.S. National Fiddle Champion Shane Cook, won the 2009 ECMA Award for "Roots/Traditional Group Recording of the Year."

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February 17, 2009
Media Release: For Immediate Release
East Coast Music Association Announces 2009 Stompin' Tom Award Recipients

(Corner Brook, NL) - The East Coast Music Association is proud to announce the recipients of the 2009 Stompin' Tom Awards. The awards are given annually to the unsung heroes of the East Coast Music industry and will be presented this year at the Industry Awards Brunch on Sunday, March 1st, at the Pepsi Studio in Corner Brook.

The 2009 recipients are: Mark Hill from New Brunswick, Ray Walsh from Newfoundland & Labrador, Narcisse Gautreau from Prince Edward Island, Joyce Seamone from mainland Nova Scotia, and Donald Angus Beaton from Cape Breton.

"These well-deserving recipients have all made significant contributions to East Coast music and have over the years kept our music industry vibrant and dynamic," says Wade Pinhorn, board chair of the East Coast Music Association. "They have all demonstrated deep-rooted commitments and we are proud to be honouring them."

The Stompin' Tom awards are presented annually to one individual or group from each of the five regions of the East Coast Music Association: New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, Prince Edward Island, mainland Nova Scotia and Cape Breton.

The award was conceived in 1993 when Stompin' Tom Connors was presented with the Dr. Helen Creighton Lifetime Achievement award. Instead of accepting the award, he requested that an award be created to honour musicians who have made long-term contributions to the East Coast music industry and paved the road for many successful East Coast artists today. The East Coast Music Association has recognized more than 75 of these musical pioneers to date. The recipients are chosen by a committee of Atlantic Canadian folklorists in consultation with the ECMA board of directors.

For more information on the recipients of the 2009 Stompin' Tom award, please see the attached backgrounder.

The East Coast Music Awards, Festival & Conference is an annual event organized by the East Coast Music Association. The ECMA is a not-for-profit organization whose mandate it is to foster, promote and celebrate East Coast music locally and globally.

The East Coast Music Awards return to CBC. Fans of East Coast Music can catch the star-studded spectacular live at 8:30pm NT/8pm AT/7pm ET on CBC's digital channel bold or on the internet at cbc.ca/eastcoastmusic. The main CBC Television network will broadcast the East Coast Music Awards at 11pm in all time zones/11:30pm NT.

The Fan's Choice Award is the only East Coast Music Award voted on by the public, and fans have until Friday, February 27th at midnight (AT) to cast their vote. Cast your vote online at cbc.ca/eastcoastmusic or ecma.com. Please note that only one vote per computer will be tabulated.

The 2009 East Coast Music Awards, Festival & Conference has received financial support from the Government of Canada through ACOA and Service Canada, Province of Newfoundland and Labrador through the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, and the City of Corner Brook. The East Coast Music Association would also like to acknowledge the financial support of FACTOR and the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage (Canada Music Fund) and of Canada's private radio broadcasters.

2009 Stompin' Tom award recipients

Mark Hill- New Brunswick
Ray Walsh - Newfoundland & Labrador
Narcisse Gautreau - Prince Edward Island
Joyce Seamone - mainland Nova Scotia

Donald Angus Beaton - Cape Breton

Donald Angus Beaton inherited his father's love for the fiddle at the young age of 7. Performing for the first time at the age of 12, Donald Angus learned to read music and also picked up a large repertoire of traditional songs from his fellow fiddle playing family members, including his uncle Johnny Ronald Beaton.

Proficient in what is referred to as Mabou Coal Mines style of music, Donald Angus passed on his zealous love for traditional music to his nine children and many grand children, one of whom is The Honourable Rodney MacDonald, Premier of Nova Scotia and a Cape Breton fiddler.

Although Donald Angus Beaton had established himself as a highly regarded musician within his community and surrounding area, he worked hard as a blacksmith, taxi driver and mail carrier, in order to support himself and his family. He was also a frequent friendly face at countless dances, weddings and community events.

Mr. Beaton's musical legacy is shared and preserved all over the world by way of the Donald Angus Beaton's Cape Breton Scottish Violin Music, published in 1987, as well as in The Beaton Collection, released in 2000.

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January 29, 2009
Fiddlers off to Emerald City
Andrea Beaton and Jerry Holland headed to Seattle to teach at Celtic Arts Foundation
LAURA JEAN GRANT, The Cape Breton Post

Two of the island’s finest fiddlers will share their talents with students south of the border next week. Cape Breton’s Andrea Beaton and Jerry Holland will travel to Seattle, Washington to instruct participants in the Celtic Arts Foundation’s winter school for fiddling, beginning Saturday and running all next week at the Seabeck Conference Center.

According to its website, the foundation runs schools in fiddling, piping and drumming with a mission to “raise the Scottish arts in the Pacific Northwest to world class levels” by presenting the best bagpipers, Scottish drummers, fiddlers and Highland dancers in the world for concerts and instructional seminars.
Holland and Beaton will lead the fiddle instruction at the week-long winter school this year.
Beaton, described as one of Cape Breton’s most promising young fiddlers and a favourite performer at dance halls, concerts, ceilidhs, and festivals, said she was thrilled with the invite and is excited about the opportunity to teach.

“Definitely, it’ll be fun,” she said. “I think there’s five days of instructing and then there’s a big concert they do at the end, a finale concert.”

The show, entitled Mastery of Scottish Arts Concert, will take place Feb. 6 at Benaroya Hall, one of Seattle’s most treasured facilities and home of the Seattle Symphony. Instructors in all winter school disciplines will share the stage for the special show.

In addition to Holland and Beaton, pipers Alasdair Gillies, Bruce Gandy, Murray Henderson, Stuart Liddell, Euan MacCrimmon Roddy MacLeod and Niall Matheson will perform, as well as drummers Steven McWhirter, Michael Cole, Tyler Fry, John Scullion and Blair Brown.

Beaton leaves Friday for Seattle, but in the meantime, she’s busy at Soundpark Studios in Sydney where she’s recording her next album. It will be the fourth solo CD for Beaton, who began work on the project in the fall. She hopes to have the album ready for release in May.

“There’s a lot of my own tunes. At least half the album is my own material. I have Tracey Dares on piano and Remi Arsenault, who is from P.E.I., on guitar,” she said, noting that having the same musicians with her for the whole CD will make for a “more consistent sound throughout the album.”

Beaton’s 2002 debut album, License to Drive ’Er, was followed up with Cuts in 2004, and The Tap Session was recorded live at The Tap Inn in Scotland and released in 2006. She and her father, fiddler Kinnon Beaton, recorded a CD in 2007, Kinnon & Andrea Beaton. Beaton also published a songbook last year titled Tunes from the Albums. The 62-page book of original compositions recorded on those albums, also contains tunes written by her that have been recorded by Glenn Graham, Timothy Chaisson, and Kinnon. Stories accompany each composition.

Once she returns from the United States, Beaton will have only a couple of weeks before she hits the road again, this time for the East Coast Music Awards weekend in Corner Brook, N.L., Feb. 26 to March 1.

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January 8, 2009
Traditional meets contemporary
Fiddlers Boucher and Beaton showcase different styles and play together
By ANDREA NEMETZ, Halifax Herald

Gillian Boucher and Andrea Beaton have played churches, funny little halls and boats, and Boucher once fiddled at a dump site in Manila, so performing at an art gallery doesn’t seem all that out of the ordinary.

Boucher and Beaton, who have never played together before, take out their fiddles and bows on Friday at 8 p.m. for the latest in Argyle Fine Art’s Sight on Sound series, at the gallery in Halifax’s Historic Properties.

The two will also play Lunenburg’s Pearl Theatre on Saturday at 8 p.m. in a Lunenburg Folk Harbour Society show.

Both were raised in Cape Breton and are of the same generation, but they have vastly different styles. Beaton, daughter of Cape Breton fiddler and pianist Kinnon and Betty Lou Beaton and niece of Buddy MacMaster, plays traditional music. Boucher’s influences are contemporary.

The two will each play their own music and come together on a few pieces.

Boucher, who has been splitting her time between Antigonish and New Zealand for six or seven years, has a new album coming out soon, Elemental, recorded at CBC’s Studio H under an emerging artists program.

Her husband, acclaimed finger-style guitar master Andrew White, is from New Zealand and with family on two continents they spend a lot of time on planes. In fact, by the time their daughter Lily Rose, now six, was two, she had been on 36 international flights. White is in New Zealand now, Lily Rose heads down with Boucher’s brother at the end of the month and Boucher herself will fly to New Zealand at the end of March.

Boucher will soon begin to work on the album’s promotion in advance of the summer festival season.

"Glenn Meisner recorded one of Andrew’s albums, Live, and I pitched him my idea for Elemental," says Boucher, sitting in Argyle Fine Art one snowy afternoon.

"It’s all written by contemporary composers from various styles of music and backgrounds. It’s not traditional fiddle playing at all. There are composers from Scotland, New Zealand, England, Eastern Europe and jazz. It’s new music by new composers and good friends like Andrew White, John McCusker, Michael McGoldrick — anything that caught my ear."

Boucher says it’s hard to reproduce what’s on the album without a full band, so Argyle Fine Art patrons will hear music that’s mellow and acoustic but with the same "funky" arrangements.

Beaton, who grew up in Port Hawkesbury and now lives in Judique, also has a new album in the works in which she’s accompanied by fellow Cape Bretoner Tracey Dares on piano and P.E.I.’s Remi Arsenault on guitar.

"It’s my fourth album by myself. I wrote a lot of the tunes, it’s still a bit traditional, but not as traditional as my other albums," says the ECMA-nominated musician who made her first album, a live recording, in 2002.

This concert, the third in the Argyle series, is the only Celtic/traditional show in the lineup, says Argyle owner Adriana Afford.

"Over the years we’ve done a lot of music and art events and this space lends itself well to music. We’ve noticed within the last couple of months there’s been a reduction in where musicians can play. Often the venues are bars, which isolates some people and some people want to really listen to the music rather than have it in the background."

The gallery, which she bought three years ago, provides an intimate space to experience music and art.

The first concert was a singer-songwriter circle in October/November, followed by a show with folk rockers Don Brownrigg and John McKiel. At the latter concert, visual artists created work throughout the show.

A Feb. 19 concert will feature Ryan McGrath, whom Afford describes as a singer-songwriter reminiscent of Rufus Wainwright, whose intense, romantic work seems suited to February’s show, For the Love of Letters.

Concerts with the Whiskey Kisses and Carmen Townsend are also in the works.

The gallery, at 1869 Upper Water St., has hosted close to 100 people as a venue for the jazz festival, but Afford says she hopes for more intimate audience, about 60 people for the Sight on Sound series.

Tickets are $15 and are available at the gallery or by calling 425-9456. Tickets for the Lunenburg show are $15 and available at Rose Bay General Store, Bridgewater’s Town’s End Strings & Things, Kinburn Pharmasave in Mahone Bay, Fulton’s Pharmacy in Lunenburg or from the Folk Harbour office or website www.folkharbour.com

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June 7, 2008
Small but mighty: The inaugural Festival of Small Halls, June 14-22, shows how
important these buildings are to Island communities and Island music
SALLY COLE, The Guardian

Richard Wood has warm memories of performing in small halls.

“Long before I ever played the fiddle, I would step dance during benefit concerts in tiny halls across PEI. I remember my parents taking me there when I was about seven or so,” says the award-winning PEI. fiddler.

With traditional musicians to jam with and homemade biscuits and fudge to sample at intermission, he quickly developed a taste for this type of social event.

“It was always a real treat,” says Wood, who has since moved on to take his music around the world, performing with The Chieftains and appearing with Shania Twain on The David Letterman Show and Good Morning America, as well as entertaining Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan.

So when he was asked to be one of the headliners for the inaugural Festival of Small Halls, it hit a sweet spot.

“It’s going to be a real treat to go back to these communities and into these small halls to perform again, this time with my fiddle,” says Wood, who is one of 50 musicians taking part in P.E.I.’s first music/dance/art festival that runs June 14-22.

It’s a brilliant idea whose time has come, says artistic director/event manager Ward MacDonald.

“Over the years, traditional music went from the kitchen to the local hall to the world, and now we’re taking some of the artists from P.E.I. who have taken our music to the world and we’re putting them back in the rural hall, alongside artists from off-Island and local performers,” he says.

In total, 14 music and dance performances will take place over nine days. Other headliners include Ron Hynes, Vishten, Saddle River String Band, Les Girls, Troy MacGillivray and legendary fiddlers Ivan and Vivian Hicks.

Together, with several dozen other artists, they’re hitting the road.

“We’re going tip to tip from Tignish to East Point, from Murray River to Abrams Village showcasing artists in all the small halls,” says MacDonald.

“Each concert will include a song and dance component as well as a fiddler.”

New Brunswick fiddler Ivan Hicks also has fond memories of small halls.

“My first public appearance was with my dad, Curtis Hicks, for a dance at a small hall in Baie Verte, N.B., in 1946. I was six years old and accompanied my dad (who played the fiddle) on the mandolin.

“Over the years, I played regular dances at this hall and concerts and dances at other small halls around the area. There are many memories and many friendships, including the warm, smoky summer nights, the occasional ruckus but perhaps most of all, the good times.

“Needless to say I’m really looking forward to performing at the Festival of Small Halls,” he says.

Besides being a source of great entertainment these concerts have an important cultural value, says MacGillivray.

“There is a need for the preservation of the traditions of the East Coast more than ever and this is a great way to get the information out there,” says the award-winning fiddler/keyboard player who also began his career in a tiny room.

“The first gig I played was definitely in a small hall just outside the Pictou Town Rotary. The hall was just around the corner from musician Dave Gunning’s house and he was there, too. I was pretty young. I think I did a few dance steps,” he says.

Hynes believes the festival is a step in the right direction.

“Small venues lend an air of intimacy to a performance and for a singer/songwriter that’s exactly the vibe that’s required,” says the Newfoundland singer-songwriter.

“Whether your audience is 50 or 5,000 you should always do the same show, but there are times when just 50 who truly appreciate what you’re doing will make your day, your night, your whole year,” he says.

After spending years performing at the Celtic Colours International Festival at home in Cape Breton, fiddler Andrea Beaton sees the potential for something comparable happening on P.E.I. with this cultural offering.

“I think this festival will bring people from far away to the Island and possibly even begin the tourist season a bit earlier. It’s also good for locals. What better way to bring people out than to bring the music right to their very own communities?” she says.

The idea for this community series germinated with Ray Brow, an ECMA board member and president of Music P.E.I., who is currently out of the country and unable to comment, says MacDonald.

“He saw a need for rural economic development. He felt there was a need to put some things into small halls and at the same time recognizing there are a lot of shows you can go to on P.E.I. of all types, but the big shows were professional productions with sound and lighting technicians,” he says.

Brow wanted smaller communities to have similar advantages.

“For the communities taking part in the festival, it’s a full professional production with sound and lights for each show.

“Part of the Festival of Small Halls initiative is to also leave the halls in better shape than we found them, not just with money but with sound equipment and other things like that,” he says.

This sort of approach is exciting news for the executive director of Music P.E.I.

“It’s a fantastic idea to revitalize some of our cherished halls. They’re great places, and this kind of event will help to keep them alive,” says Rob Oakie.

Dancers will also benefit from the exposure, says dance co-ordinator Genevičve Ouellette.

“We have really talented dancers on the Island and we’re going to bring them on stage at every single show. “So the festival is going to take the dancers to the next level where the musicians now are.”


Head to a hall
What: Festival of Small Halls.
Where: Across P.E.I.
When: June 14-22. All shows start at 7:30 p.m. with the exception of the Kid’s Brunch at the Tracadie Community Centre, Saturday, June 21, at 10 a.m.

Tickets: Are available at the individual halls, or for all shows call 1-800-708-6506.
Festival schedule: See www.smallhalls.com.

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May 6, 2008
Cape Breton Live: 'Take 02' Compilation CD featuring
14 live tracks released May 1st.

After the success of the "Take 01" CD, the Cape Breton Live team has released a second compilation CD featuring 14 live tracks from various Cape Breton Live shows. The recording includes tracks recorded live at square dances, concerts, pubs and house parties and showcases some of the finest players in the Cape Breton traditional style. The CD was produced by Andrea Beaton and Cheryl Smith.
 
Featured on the recording are unique live performances by: Natalie MacMaster, Donnell Leahy, Buddy MacMaster, Brenda Stubbert, Kimberley Fraser, Kinnon Beaton, Betty Beaton, Kenneth MacKenzie, Jackie Dunn MacIsaac, Wendy MacIsaac, Howie MacDonald, Troy MacGillivray, Doug MacPhee, Jeff MacDonald, Mary Jane Lamond, Andrea Beaton, Cheryl Smith, Ian MacDougall, Mac Morin, Jerry Holland, Carl MacKenzie, Ryan J. MacNeil, Marion Dewar, Dave MacIsaac and more...

Cape Breton Live was born in 2005 as a joint venture of Natalie MacMaster, Donnell Leahy and Cheryl Smith. The online radio program began with the intent of broadcasting 5 trial shows of live traditional music showcasing the talents of Cape Breton musicians. The initial run of shows were so well received worldwide that the program has now been online for over 2 years, has broadcast close to 50 shows, toured Quebec and Ontario and released 2 compilation CD's. 

Now you can take a little piece of  Cape Breton home with you. The CD is available online at: www.capebretonlive.com and will be made available in local stores shortly. Track listing and sound clips are also available online.

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January 19, 2008
'Natalie MacMaster & Friends' on Bravo! TV Tonight

A repeat broadcast of the Cape Breton Live concert filmed at The Rose Theatre in Brampton, Ontario in November 2006. Featuring Natalie MacMaster, Andrea Beaton, Troy MacGillivray, Glenn Graham, Howie MacDonald, Cheryl Smith, Buddy MacDonald, Kate Quinn and Bob Quinn.

Bravo! TV Canada, 7:00pm ET  |  Bravo Website
Portions of this concert can be heard on Cape Breton Live

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December 14, 2007
Beaton clan continues to pump out traditional, contemporary music
DAN MACDONALD, The Cape Breton Post

Andrea Beaton has just released a new CD in conjunction with her father. Just called “Kinnon & Andrea Beaton”, it contains 11 powerful duets, well-selected and carefully paced. This is Beaton music at it best, giving you a good cross-section of old and traditional tunes, mixed liberally with contemporary material, including several of their own compositions, as well as tunes from other members of the extended Beaton family.

Other than the two fiddles, the only instrumentation is Betty Beaton (Kinnon’s wife and Andrea’s mother) on piano and Sandy MacDonald on guitar. The playing is well matched, particularly on the older Mabou Coal Mines-style tunes. Only occasionally does their variance in style show, though, and you can hear slight differences in bowing or ornamentation that allow you to tell one from the other.

This is a great CD, produced by Kinnon and Andrea and recorded at Lakewind Sound Studios by Mike Shepherd. For fiddle fans, this is a winner, and will likely be a welcome gift. If you want to hear them live, Andrea, Kinnon, Betty Beaton and Joel Chiasson are playing for a dance at the Boisdale Firehall, Dec. 26.

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October 10, 2007
The New Tunemakers at Strathspey Place, Mabou, Cape Breton
Rambles.net

It all started with a four-day incarceration.

The New Tunemakers, as the Mabou concert was wisely named, was just that -- a spotlight on 10 young music composers, who'd just spent the past few days working in close quarters to compose, arrange and rehearse music of their own devising.

This is, of course, one of the areas in which the Celtic Colours festival shines. While many similar events might place an excess of attention solely on traditional melodies, the Colours team recognizes that composition is also part of the tradition, and the festival focuses on new work as well as timeless classics.

Festival co-founder Joella Foulds deserves an immense amount of credit for bringing her vision to life with this particular event. Kudos, Joella!

Concert emcee Ron MacInnis said the 10 young musicians -- representing Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island, Scotland and Manitoba -- were sequestered in a small A-frame house for four days to get the job done.

Before bringing the musicians themselves onstage at Strathspey Place, MacInnis first showed a brief video documenting their days apart from the masses. "I consider it an honor to be here when we all find out what happened when those young people were left together for four days," he said.

Later, he called the music "intoxicatingly lovely."

The inmates of the house in Beinn Bhreagh were fiddlers Andrea Beaton, Glenn Graham, Colin Grant, Troy MacGillivray (who doubled on keyboards), Sierra Noble and Aidan O'Rourke. Also in the mix were singer Patricia Murray, who also played bodhran and piano, singer Kris Drever on guitar and bass, Martin Green on accordion and Ryan J. MacNeil on low whistle and pipes.

Aidan, Kris and Martin, a Scottish trio known collectively as Lau, were artists in residence at the festival this year and were in charge of overseeing the creative process at Beinn Bhreagh.

Their efforts culminated Wednesday evening, and the Mabou stage rapidly filled with musicians. Colin started things off with a lone fiddle tune on a crowded floor. The orchestra built slowly until the whole group was going full force, as melodies were passed to Glenn, then Andrea and finally Kris. The opening selection had a traditional foundation in its sound, but a fresh feeling and dramatic flourishes to suit the occasion.

All too soon, it was over, and Aidan celebrated the group's freedom. "It's great to be here after being locked up in the Beinn Bhreagh 'Big Brother' house since Sunday," he said. He then introduced Andrea, who started a series of spotlights on each individual's solo compositions. Her selections were "Starfish," "Gordie Sampson's" and "Fire on the Lino" (based on an incident at Nuala Kennedy's house), and the whole group joined in the fun.

It was, Martin said, a reflection of the fun they had at Beinn Bhreagh. "There were a lot of personalities in the house, and even the biggest house becomes small after a few days," he said with a chuckle. His contribution to the evening's playlist was a mellow piece composed for Flo Sampson, whose job at the house "was to make sure we were never hungry."

"This came together quite late, after most of the group stuff was finished," the accordionist explained. "I had eaten so much, there was no chance of playing jigs, reels or even marches." Slow, but solid, the well-rounded trio piece also featured Aidan on fiddle and Kris on upright bass.

Next, Troy joined Kris (on fiddle and guitar, respectively) to support Patricia, who perched behind the piano.

"About 11 months ago, I had a baby girl named Rowan Marie," she said. "Every night I sing to her, because she's not a big fan of sleeping. Well, they say write what you know." The result was a heartbreakingly beautiful lullaby, aptly titled "Sleep Baby Sleep."

Ryan was up next on the low whistle, with a selection of tunes he'd never named; he quickly came up with titles: "Big E," for his son Ewan, followed by "Schooner Lane" and "Shoot to Kill." Kris and Martin provided support. Then Sierra, down from Winnipeg in Manitoba, joined in the party with "The Warrior's Lament," a tune co-written with another pair of musicians in 2001.

"The tune evolved drastically" over a series of performances at various war memorials and battle sites, Sierra explained. "It's become an honor song for our fallen soldiers, our veterans, for our serving military today and our military families as well. All of those people are warriors, and we should remember and thank them every day." Aidan, Troy and Kris provided the foundation for Sierra's weeping fiddle.

Kris next sang "The Banks are Made of Marble," a song he recently revised. "I really like the words," he said. "The tune didn't offend me, but I saw fit to write a new one. So if you like the old one, please don't be offended. It does still exist." This time Aidan, Ryan, Martin and Patricia bolstered the sound; Kris and Patricia in particular sounded good together vocally.

And the baton kept passing, as Colin next came out for a set of fiddle tunes. Indicating the hard work of his backup band -- Aidan, Kris and Martin -- he recalled Kris earlier that day, sacked out on the couch, worrying: "I don't even know if it sounds good anymore. It's all just noise." The audience, with its applause, hastened to assure the crew that it was coming together just fine. The successes continued with Colin's pieces, "Windsor Whirlwind" and "Trolley's Reel."

"I hope you're happy. I know we're happy," Martin said before the full ensemble closed the first half of the evening with a brilliant set of pieces written by various members of the party. Another powerful group blast signaled the start of round two.

Troy had the first spotlight, seated behind the piano for a slow solo number that had no rehearsal. "I'm just going to mess around a little bit," he warned the audience. "I didn't get a chance to compose yesterday, so I'm composing right now." It worked -- so well, in fact, I'm half convinced a few hours of preparation time could only have spoiled the process. From there, the tune picked up for a lively piano/bass duet, followed by the reel "Earth to Troy," named for an e-mail he'd just received, that also featured Martin's accordion and Aidan's and Andrea's fiddles, while Kris swapped his bass for guitar. Somewhere along the way Troy stepped out from behind the piano with his own fiddle, but I missed the seamless transition as Colin and Sierra joined the fray.

Patricia then returned with a Gaelic praise poem for Prince Edward Island for which she'd written a tune; she and Martin performed the music as the Gaelic lyrically and hauntingly described the PEI landscape.

Martin said the project was arranged in the hopes that "spontaneous tune-writing would occur within groups of people who hadn't met or worked together before," and to a large extent it worked exactly as planned. He, Aidan, Colin and Ryan proved their worth next with an improvisational piece titled "Beinn Bhreagh," followed by the disturbingly named "Porcelain Surprise."

After another round of musical chairs, Glenn led off a set with his air, "Lost," with Troy on piano, followed by a family-themed strathspey and the reel set "Amy's Hockey Reel," "Water in the Gas" and "Kinnon Beaton's." Andrea, Aidan, Martin and Patricia jumped for some of the faster bits. Then it was Aidan's turn, with a slow and lovely tune inspired by a beach in the Outer Hebrides and another, livelier tune that sprang from a dull tour of Germany titled "Bah, Hamburg."

Patricia dialed the energy level down a bit with a mournful song she wrote to the tune of "Hector the Hero," about a fierce and oft-honored soldier in the Scottish army just over a century ago who was accused of homosexuality by jealous peers. Arrested for his alleged transgressions, Hector committed suicide to keep the shame from spreading to his family. Already immortalized in the well-known pipe and fiddle tune, Hector has been resurrected again in Patricia's sad, stirring ballad. Ryan's pipes at the end, soaring over the massed fiddles, was chilling.

Aidan announced the close of "our spasm of music" with a final group blast. It was, as so many festival concerts are, over way too soon. But I headed out of Mabou content in the knowledge that the tradition of composition is being carried forward with pride by a gifted generation of young musicians who pour their hearts and souls into every note.

Nine of the 10 musicians -- lacking Ryan, who "fell into bad company somewhere in Mabou" -- reprised their music and their crowd-pleasing success at the Festival Club that night with three sets ("Frank & Flo's," "Girls & Boisdale" and "A Night in Skye") bracketing another take of "Hector the Hero."

Patricia noted later that 35 to 40 percent of the music performed Wednesday night was scribed during the preceding four days, while the rest was arranged from songs and tunes the 10 musicians had brought with them to the four-day writing session. The isolation, she noted, was useful. "It really took us out of things and allowed us to focus on our writing."

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October 9, 2007
Celtic Colours project strikes a chord with group of musicians
LAURA JEAN GRANT, The Cape Breton Post

» View Photos from The New Tunemakers

BADDECK — Take 10 talented musicians, a picture-perfect setting, and Flo Sampson’s home cooking and you have all the ingredients needed to make musical magic. For the past four days some of the best Canadian and Scottish roots/traditional artists have been holed up in a Beinn Bhreagh home sharing their own songs and collaborating on new material and tunes which will be performed publicly for the first time tonight at Strathspey Place in Mabou, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The New Tunemakers is a special project of this year’s Celtic Colours International Festival and features well-known local musicians Glenn Graham, Andrea Beaton, Troy MacGillivray, Ryan J. MacNeil, Colin Grant, Prince Edward Island’s Patricia Murray, Metis fiddler Sierra Noble and the three members of Scotland band, Lau, - Aidan O’Rourke, Martin Green and Kris Drever.

O’Rourke said the project was devised by Celtic Colours co-director Joella Foulds and inspired by Scotland’s Burnsong project where a dozen artists spent a week together collaborating on new material.
With just four days to prepare for tonight’s show, O’Rourke said Sunday was the icebreaker day where everyone got to know each other and one another’s music during a jam session, and Monday and Tuesday were full days of writing and practising new tunes. The group will hold a final day of rehearsal today at Strathspey Place.
“It’s quite interesting for us as a band to work under this kind of pressure,” he said, noting he, Green and Drever typically spend a lot of time fine-tuning new songs before performing them.
With a wall of windows overlooking the Bras d’Or Lakes as their backdrop, a fireplace keeping things toasty and lots of good food and snacks to keep the creative juices flowing, Green said the past few days have been a unique experience.

“It’s been fantastic,” he said. “We’re in a beautiful spot and that never hurts.”
O’Rourke said working with other musicians and creating new traditional tunes makes the time and effort required worth it.

“It’s really rewarding to know these quality new tunes are being written,” he said, adding, “The atmosphere is good, morale is high.”

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October 2006
Review: Andrea Beaton -  The Tap Session
By MaryBeth Carty, Penguin Eggs

Andrea’s third independently released CD of traditional Cape Breton fiddle music is as warm and glowing as the red and orange tones of its package. Recorded live in an evening at The Tap Inn, a pub in Birnam Scotland where she has worked for two consecutive winters, this 20-something fiddler from the famed Beaton family of Mabou puts down a selection of jigs, strathespeys, and reels that are as old as the hills, with a few of her own compositions mixed in, including a lovely clog she wrote for her dad’s 50th birthday and a co-write with Gordie Sampson called The Bush Administration Reel.

Troy MacGillivary’s  incredibly innovative piano accompaniment would impress even the jazz-afficianado, and one of his more experimental passes earn one set the title The Airplane Landing. Whoa! Andrea’s fondness for switching from major to minor mid-tune give these sets alot of ‘oumf,’ not to mention her jumpy, ornamented playing. The last track, a duet with small-piper Fin Moore is sheer musical ecstacy. Between song giggles and liner notes are so endearing, and this cd is so upbeat that you will want to hug Andrea and Troy after each cut. And you may think you can, live sound and all.

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December 14, 2004

Andrea has been nominated for the ECMA "Roots Traditional Solo Artist Of The Year" Award for her latest recording 'Cuts". Andrea has also been chosen to perform a showcase in the 'Roots Room' during ECMA weekend. More details to follow. The ECMA's will be held February 17-20, 2005 in Sydney, Cape Breton. 
For a complete list of nominees and showcase artists, please visit www.ecma.ca.

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October 12, 2003
Celtic fireball opens colourful festival MacMaster, piper Nunez headline Centre 200 concert
By Stephen Cooke - Halifax Herald

Sydney - After seven years you'd think the Celtic Colours gala opening concert at Sydney's Centre 200 would get to be old hat, or rather old tam o'shanter, but the 2003 installment on Friday was a real topper with some of the best variety, sound and presentation of any of them.

Certainly the 3,000 music lovers in attendance would be hard-pressed to disagree, if three separate standing ovations are anything to go by.

According to the concert lineup, the Cape Breton festival's definition of Celtic includes island fiddling (natch), Scottish balladry, instrumental guitar, an Irish ensemble, Newfoundland shanties and Spanish bagpipes.

Opening honours belonged to Lt. Governor Myra Freeman who praised visitors, musicians and sponsors for helping to make the festival possible before handing the mic over to the evening's hosts, CBC's Ian MacNeil, showing more leg in his kilt than co-host Laurel Munroe in her long, shimmering red number.

Their enthusiastic "Ciad mille failte" was amplified by the massed violins of the Cape Breton Fiddlers' Association, celebrating 30 years of preserving the island's most famous tradition.

As for the stage, ringed with trees and shrouded in smoke, it resembled Birnam Wood from Shakespeare's Macbeth, which suited Scottish singer and artist-in-residence Mairi MacInnes to a tee.

A native of South Uist, MacInnes's textured lilt floated like wind through the barley on the a capella I Am a Gael, a song about maintaining your cultural identity no matter where you roam.

Fellow artist-in-residence, guitarist Dave MacIsaac, joined MacInnes on stage, tearing off a set of tunes with the help of bagpiper Matt MacIsaac, pianist Troy MacGillivray and dancers Sabra MacGillivray and Kelly MacArthur whose lithe fling provided a graceful contrast to the bluesy inflections MacIsaac slipped into his six-string manipulation.

Irish quintet Lunasa lit up the stage with breakneck playing and precision timing, as the uillean pipes, tin whistle and fiddle got their kick from syncopated guitar chords and the deep groove of a stand-up bass.

While a typical set of Irish tunes called Good Morning Nightcap highlighted Lunasa's bright spirit, its versatility shone through on a set of Galician tunes from northwest Spain, full of sunlight and warmth as it found earthy joy in the strange-yet-familiar melodies.

The second half kicked off with a bang thanks to Natalie MacMaster and her five-piece band.

Having recently celebrated the first anniversary of her marriage to fellow fiddler Donnell Leahy and about to enjoy the launch of the new bluegrass-themed CD Blueprint on Nov. 5, the Troy musician had plenty to smile about as she struck a jaunty pose with her hips and drove 'er with effortless abandon.

"I was just flipping through the book," said MacMaster of her first glance at the Celtic Colours program guide. "It looks just wicked!"

Expressing her eagerness to reunite with members of her family - both musical and blood-related - MacMaster took pains in her set to highlight the skills of her bandmates, including piper MacIsaac who dueted in perfect unison, and former guitarist Chris Corrigan, filling in for Brad Davidge whose wife happened to be giving birth in Halifax.

It's no surprise the Celtic fireball earned herself a standing ovation.

The rich, lusty voices of Newfoundland's A Crowd of Bold Sharemen provided a respite for the changeover from MacMaster's setup to that of the final headliner, Carlos Nunez, and their tales of bold crews and mercenary pirates were a refreshing blast.

Rich with the history of the island and the perils of working at sea, both ancient and modern, the vocal quintet's two songs served as a tasty appetizer for its appearances later in the week.

Wishing the audience a hearty "Buenos noches!" Galician piper Carlos Nunez proceeded to blow away the Celtic Colours for the second time in two years, this time with a full band that included fiddle and bouzouki, along with brother Xurxo on drums.

Taking his ensemble through a blur of changing time signatures, Nunez went through an arsenal of instruments including flute, whistle and bagpipes, his fingers dancing on the holes like Fred Astaire doing the beguine.

Dedicating the tune Don't Trust a Man's Love to the late Chieftains harpist Derek Bell (whose passing occured during last year's festival), Nunez played a passionate fandango, while his tale of learning pieces from a 100-year-old Cuban piper was followed by a spicy rhumba that lived up to the story.

Finally, there was a Galician hoedown during which the ebullient Spaniard turned his band into a high-stepping chorus line and a bagpipe finale with a blistering drive that was practically punk rock in its intensity.

Nunez acted as pied piper for the grand finale, conducting a huge ensemble that was practically spilling off the stage, from the Technicolor-clad Fitzgerald Irish Dancers to square dance caller Burton MacIntyre, who even managed to get Lt. Gov Freeman up on her feet and whirling around.

After hours at the Festival Club in St. Ann's, the Gaelic College's Hall of the Clans wasn't as densely packed as it will get later in the week, but it was only the first night and people are likely pacing themselves.

The music was certainly of the highest standard, with fiddle guru Brenda Stubbert leading an ensemble that included fetching Newfoundland fiddler Lisa MacArthur, guitarist Doug Johnson and pianist Melissa Emmons, while born fiddler Andrea Beaton (daughter of Kinnon and Betty Lou) kept it going until after 3 am. with pianist Troy MacGillivray and drummer Cheryl Smith.

All in all, a roaringly successful first day for Celtic Colours 2003 and a good omen as the shows spread out to widespread communities across Cape Breton.

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February 13, 2003
East Coast Roots Branching Out.
Fresh faces inject new ideas into flourishing traditional music scene
By Stephen Cooke - Halifax Herald

Nowhere in the country do you find as many types of music crammed into one region as in Atlantic Canada, with a storied history of performance that stretches from the natives and European settlers to country and rock bands to DJs and rappers.

And while new artists continue to push musical boundaries forward, there remains a rich vein of folk tradition to be tapped that nurtures players and listeners in terms of both performance and composition. It's a cornerstone of the East Coast musical identity, one that continues to flourish on its own terms.

Despite the annual round of stories asking "Is Celtic music dead?" that crop up around the East Coast Music Awards, the sound is always a presence at the event, with established performers like Natalie MacMaster and Ashley MacIsaac showing how to expand the possibilities of the music and fresh faces such as Slainte Mhath and The Cottars injecting the genre with young vitality and new ideas.

Carving out a career has been a life's work for musician and entrepreneur Brian Doherty, best known as half of the Irish folk duo Evans and Doherty. The pair is also nominated for an ECMA, in the roots/traditional group category - the first time they've been nominated through the current submission/jury process (they were previously listed in 1991, before it became a region-wide event).

Both Doherty and musical partner Kevin Evans have become familiar faces on the pub and folk festival circuit, and of late are finding even more listeners through the Internet, but it's taken time to build that audience. 

"Over the years we've built up a large number of loyal followers and fans who aren't industry people, they're not influenced by any of the hype. They just like what we do and we've been able to survive on that. We've reaped the rewards with no awards, if you like.

"It's a constant hustle to pick up the phone and look for gigs, you don't sit back and wait for the phone to ring. (CBC Atlantic producer) Glenn Meisner summed it up one time when he said that they'll have someone on the show and they'll promote their album, but then it's up to them to best maximize the exposure they've gotten. Some people will actually call back a month later and ask what they're going to do next."

Although her professional career as a musician has been relatively short, Cape Breton fiddler Andrea Beaton has been steeped in Celtic tradition since she was "in the womb." As the daughter of fiddle/piano duo Kinnon and Betty Beaton she can honestly say the music is in her blood, paving the way for her first ECMA nomination for her debut CD Licence to Drive 'Er.

A familiar face at Cape Breton dances and events like Celtic Colours, Beaton is just starting to make a name for herself off the island and find out how to make the most of the opportunities that are coming her way.

"I don't know what (the nomination) means in terms of where my music is heading, but it's nice to know there's going to be a whole new audience of people out there," she says. "I usually play around home, or maybe go somewhere like Windsor, but I've never played a lot in Halifax.

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