The Early Recordings of Angus Chisolm: Legendary performances of traditional Scottish Fiddling, Shanachie Records 14001, 1978
Angus Chisholm, fiddle; Maybelle Chisholm, piano; Bess Sidall MacDonald, piano; Elizabeth Mellett, piano; Mickey McIntyre, guitar
Produced by Richard Nevins & Daniel Michael Collins; Jacket art and design by Robert Burger; Remastering by Richard Nevins, 1978
Tracks: Newcastle / President Grant; Medley
of Inverness Jigs; Mrs Murray / The 10 Pound Fiddle / The Baker; Miss Lyall
/ Brother's Letter; Miss Minnie Foster / Fred Wilson's Clog; Glengarry's
Dirk / Bonnie Lass of Fisherow / The Bird's Nest; Rothermurches Rant /
Braes of Auchertyre / Braes of Glencoe; Moonlight Clog / Hennessey's Hornpipe;
Miss Cambell's / Jordie Jig; Lochaber Gathering / Bob Johnson's March &
Reel; Tea Gardens / Mrs McGee; Irish Hornpipe / Marguerite McNeill / Joan
This album consists of all the commercial recordings made by Angus Chisholm, the finest exponent of traditional Scottish fiddling ever to record. His playing is defined by the exciting perfection of his brisk, articulate phrasing, each note shaped with total control and exquisite tone, the product of bowing almost too good to be believed. And too, the feeling, the rare eloquence of his music is without peer. Angus Chisholm's playing is the standard all Cape Breton fiddling is measured by. And more, it is esteemed now around the world for its artistry and beauty.
Many thanks for their help to: Catherine Potter, Leo Sullivan, Angus Chisholm, Lauchena Chisholm, Gabe Arsenault, Florence La Forte, and Eugene Frain.
1) Newcastle / President Grant -- These are two American hornpipes from Coles 1001 Fiddle Tunes (originally Ryan's Mammouth Collection published in the 1880s). At the time they were recorded, Angus had a radio program in Sydney, Cape Breton, which went on for several years. Those were the times that he was playing for hundreds of Cape Breton dances, often travelling through blizzards that would have discouraged anyone less dedicated.
2) Medley of Inverness Jigs -- Angus' unique, highly influential style, distinguished for its gaiety and lightness, shines on this track made during his second recording session which too place in Montreal shortly after his first session. Angus went up there with A.A. Gillis and Dan J. Campbell, well known Inverness County, Cape Breton fiddlers. The jigs are "Thompson's" and "Light and Airy."
3) Mrs Murray / The 10 Pound Fiddle / The Baker -- The first tune is a strathspey, a form of reel originating in the area near the Spey river in Scotland. Strathspeys are the most distinctively fiddle music in Scotland and are highly regarded there, and in Cape Breton, for their beauty, both in listening and stepdancing. The second and third tunes are reels that can be found in Scott Skinner's Scottish Violinist.
4) Miss Lyall / Brother's Letter -- A grand performance! Miss Lyall was and is quite popular in Scotland and has been more often recorded there. My Brother's Letter is in the MacQuarrie Collection of Cape Breton violin music, and was composed by Vincent MacLellan.
5) Miss Minnie Foster / Fred Wilson's Clog -- Both tunes are in Coles. Fred Wilson's was a popular tune around Margaree (Angus was born in Margaree Forks). This track was recorded in Boston (Roxbury), where Angus also played regularly on the radio. He also played for dances at O'Connell Hall, solo and with Alec Gillis and the Inverness Serenaders.
6) Glengarry's Dirk / Bonnie Lass of Fisherow / Bird's Nest -- This beautiful, utterly unforgettable performance was recorded in Montreal. The first two tunes are Scots pieces. Both Angus' parents were Gaelic speakers. He remembers his mother singing a song in Gaelic to the tune of Bird's Nest, and he learned the tune from her.
1) Rothermurches Rant / Braes of Auchertyre / Braes of Glencoe -- This track was recorded at Angus's first session which too place at Roxbury. Angus does not remember hearing anyone play Rothermurches Rant and he learned it from the music. Both this and the second tune are in the Kerr's violin collection.
2) Moonlight Clog / Hennessey's Hornpipe -- Angus also recorded these tunes at the first session which took place in the middle 1930s. Both tunes are in Coles. During this period of his life, besides devoting much of his energies to music, he also taught school, was a forest warden, and worked for a time in the Arctic.
3) Miss Cambell's / Jordie Jig -- These two jigs were recorded at Angus' last session (as were the next three tracks) in Sydney in the early fifties. The accompaniment for this session was provided by Angus' niece Maybelle Chisholm (Doyle) on piano and Mickey McIntyre on guitar (all of side one features Bess Sidall MacDonald on piano, and the first two tracks of this side feature Elizabeth Mellett).
4) Lochaber Gathering / Bob Johnson's March & Reel -- Angus remembers that he and Maybelle had to drive from Margaree through a blizzard to get to the recording date in Sydney. The normal hour and a half drive took them five hours and when they arrived they had to record almost immediately.
5) Tea Gardens / Mrs McGee -- Angus found Mrs McGee in the almost legendary Sky Collection, a very influential 19th Century compilation. Tea Gardens was composed by Angus as he was waiting for a bus in front of a Chinese place by that name in Sydney; he wrote down enough of it on the bus going home so that he could remember and sort it out later. It is the only one of Angus' compositions which he himself recorded.
6) Irish Hornpipe / Marguirite McNeill / Joan McDonald -- The inclusion of tunes from Irish sources shows Angus' wide knowledge of related styles and tunes. The second and third tunes are Cape Breton Reels.
Glendale ‘79 Live, Inter Media Services IMS-WRC1-1273 - 1979
Roger Collette, London SDS 5081 - 1970
Roger Collette, violon
Tracks: Acorn Hill Breakdown; Rosy's Jig*; Valse Marcel*; Busy Fingers*; Fiddling Rag; Roger's First Change*; Boil Them Cabbage Down; Valse Maxime*; London Derry Hornpipe; Cotton Patch Rag*
Roger Collette, violon; Tex Roach, guitar; Roger Collette, bass
Production par Gaétan Richard; Enregistrement 12 janvier 1977
Tunes: Polka du bucheron*;
Valse Cécile*; Reel de Jean-Paul*; Polka du chasseur*; Valse du
clair de lune*; Quadrille des danseurs; Valse familiale*; Schottish de
chez-nous*; Valse du prisonnier*; Polka des buveurs*
Roger Collette a vu le jour dans l’Ouest Canadien, précisément à St. boniface Manitoba: Centre français de l”ouest Canadien.
Arriva dans la Province de Québec en 1954. Il fit de la télévision pendant trois ans avec Jimmy James à Rouyn-Noranda Abitibi. Ses instruments principaux sont le violon et la contrebasse, six long jeux sur le marché Canadien. Il a son propre orchestre depuis dix ans ‘Les Rodéo Silver Stars’.
A travaillé longtemps avec les artistes tel que ‘Roger Miron, Marcel Martel, Paul Brunelle, Ti-Blanc Richard, Monsieur Pointu et bien d’autres.’ Il fait pour que la musique Western prenne toujours de la montée.
Prod. Gaétan Richard
Fiddle Park Favourites, Icicle Records - ICL 5005 - 1980
Big Jim Connors, fiddle; Wilf Arsenault, acoustic and lead guitar; Bob Sally, bass; George McKay, drums; Merv Wilson, banjo and dobro; Bob Tierney, acoustic rhythm guitar
Produced by Jim Connors; Engineered by David Dennison; recorded at Snocan Studios, Ottawa
Tracks: Morning Star; Pine Tree Jig; Maidens Prayer; Westphalia Waltz; Happy Acres Two Step; Orange Blossom Special; Willow Tree Hornpipe; Hillbilly Calypso; Messer's Memorial Waltz; Maple Sugar; Railroad Hornpipe; Stepdance Medley: Clog - Scottish Clog / Jig - Fairy Toddler / Reel - Winding Streem
Tracks: Red Haired Boy; Maid Behind the
Bar; Bonnie Prince Charlie; Fisher’s Hornpipe; Shamus O’Brien; Mother’s
Reel; Sputnik Breakdown; Two-Step Polka; Pretty Little Girl; Big John MacNeil
- Dusty Miller; Sleepy-time Jig; High Level Hornpipe
Jim Connors is a husky, full-blooded Mohawk Indian who was born near the Eastern Ontario town of Napanee. Because this area lies relatively close to the Quebec border, “Big Jim” grew up with the sounds of nearby French Canada, and in particular the distinctive Quebec style of fiddle music. Jim loved this music from an early age, and hearing his father playing in the local square dances, finally decided he too would like to play. One of his idols was the late Isadore Soucy, whose famous lilting style became synonymous with Quebec fiddling over the years. Jim’s work on radio and TV in Ontario and New York State finally brought him to Arc’s attention.
While Jim’s style is unmistakably “Canadien”, his selection of tunes featured here include some of the all-time favourite fiddle tunes played everywhere including ‘Red Haired Boy’, ‘High Level Hornpipe’ and the Don Messer favourite ‘Mother’s Reel’.
The use of these great old standards dressed up in French-Canadian style has resulted in a unique sound that fiddle fans will enjoy owning and playing for dancing or just plain entertainment.
Heritage Fiddles, Ind., WRC8-6981
Shane Cook, fiddle; Kyle Cook, fiddle; James Bickle, fiddle; Art Covey, bass; Bill Donaldson, guitar
Produced by Gerry Smith; Engineer: Will Meadows; Recorded at Soundworks Studio, London, ON
Tracks: Red Lion Hornpipe / Village Bells
Hornpipe; Yellow Rose Waltz; Star of Munster Reel; Our Highland Queen;
Black and White Rag; Reel For Carl; Banks Hornpipe / Madame Neruda; Hector
The Hero / Clarke Road march ; Marchioness of Huntley Strathspey / A Cape
Breton Welcom to the Shetland Islands; The Mathematician Clog / Jig / Donegal
Reel / Bonnie Kate Reel; Cancun Waltz; Nearer My God To Thee; Rag Time
Annie; What A Friend We Have In Jesus; Ashokan Farewell; The Old Box Stove;
Lake Superior Waltz; Reg Bouvette Two-Step; Smile The While
I would like to thank everyone who bought my first release, "Cookin On The Fiddle". I trust you will enjoy this album as we enjoyed putting it together just for you.
Is is always a pleasure working with fine musicians like Art Covey, Bill Donaldson, Gerald Hamilton, James Bickle and Gerry Smith.
Even though Shane is only fourteen, he already has had a remarkable career. He has finished first over fifty times in the past four years including three consecutive wins in the Junior Category at Shelburne, he finished 2nd in the Championship class in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia at the Maritimes Championship. In 1995 and at Canada's largest and very prestigious contest in Pembroke, Ontario, Shane finished 1st in the 18 and under class beating out 26 contestants from all parts of Canada. Even more remarkable is the fact that this was the 5th consecutive win at Pembroke, including 91, 92, 93, 94 and 95.
Shane not only enjoys playing Canadian old time style but has developed some fine technique playing Irish, Scottish and Cape Breton style much to the delight of the "Forest City Maritimer's Club" in London, ON, where he and his brother Kyle and father Ken, play regularly.
Shane is already developing a style of his own which is evident once you listen to this album.
Also on this album another fine fiddler James Bickle plays harmony with Shane. Of course Kyle, Shane's ten year old younger brother is in on the action as well. Kyle's version of Ward Allen's 'Old Box Stove' would have made Ward very happy.
I would like to thank my parents for their support, taking me to lessons, concerts and contests. Also Gerald Hamilton for his guidance, instruction and patience.
The Dances Down Home, Rounder Records 7004, 1976
Joe Cormier, fiddle; Edward Irwin, piano; Edmond Boudreau, bass
Produced by Mark Wilson; Recorded at Waltham, Massachusetts 1975-76
Tracks: MacDonald’s - Keen George the IVth
reels; Miss Anderson - Braes O’Elchies - Margaret Chisholm’s jigs; Sheehan’s
- Loch Eran - donald Cameron’s Polka reels; Sou’West Bridge - The Flaggon
- Go About Your Business reels; Dan R’s Favorite - Brig O’Feugh - Donald
Stweart the Piper strathspeys and reels; Come Under My Plaidie jig medley;
Deinabo - Malcolm Finlay - Keep It Up - Prince Charlie strathspeys and
reels; Charlie Hunter’s jig medley; Fancy Hornpipe - Gillian’s - The St.
Kilda Wedding reels; Archie Menzie’s - Fisher’s - Mr Bernard reels; Miss
Hutton’s - Miss Johnson of Pitworth - Mrs Walpole stathspey and reels;
The Earl of Hyndford - Blind Norrys reels
After the expulsion of its original French population, Cape Breton Island was resettled by the early nineteenth century by a group of Scots Highlanders. Despite the extreme privations and hardships these Nova Scotian pioneers suffered, somehow the vital linkage with the culture of their homeland was not lost. Unlike virtually every other Scottish settlement within the United States or Canada, the Cape Breton community did not adulterate its music with that of other cultures. In fact, the Scots musical dominance is so marked on the island that a violinist like Joe Cormier, born and raised in French-Speaking Cheticamp, has played nothing but Scottish music all of his life. Most of Cape Breton’s accomplished fiddlers read music and speak with familiarity of the great Scottish tune collections, often eighty years or more out of print. Nevertheless, the total effect of the Cape Breton fiddle music is quite unlike anything heard in modern day Scotland. Most contemporary Scots violinists have been heavily influenced by classical techniques and their performances seem lifeless by comparison, whereas the Cape Breton treatment is nothing if not vigorous and spirited. The reason for this marked difference in style is rather mysterious. A native-born partisan of Cape Breton music has told me that the original settlers brought absolutely all of Scotland’s true fiddlers with them to Cape Breton, leaving Scotland as bereft of violinists as Ireland was of snakes. Since the subsequent generations of fiddlers in Scotland were then forced to begin again from scratch, it is small wonder that the two styles turned out different.
Personally, I would be inclined to put the true explanation for the divergence within another quarter, however. The soul of authentic Cape Breton music - and I would extend this claim to any vigorous folk instrumental tradition - is based upon the institution of the dance. Some Cape Breton players may be proudest of their slow airs, their marches or hornpipes, but the vital pulse that drives all of their music flows from the basic jigs, reels and strathspeys of dance playing. As Sam Cormier remarks in his notes in the enclosed booklet of this album, dance playing is still the great training ground for all Cape Breton fiddlers and provides the metronome by which all of their music is regulated. It is the dance which, above all else, harkens back to the old days in Scotland. To be sure, a contemporary dance set in Cape Breton is not the same as it once was in the old country. Since the turn of the century when the first public dance halls were erected on the island, standard quadrille figures of the Lancer variety have virtually crowded out the more old-fashioned Scotch Fours and eight-handed reels of earlier days. Today each locality has its own favored species of quadrille consisting of simple figures familiar to square dance enthusiasts everywhere. But the vital spark that makes Cape Breton dancing so individual stems from the fact that its practitioners have incorporated the old Highland forms of step-dancing into the quadrille. A Cape Breton fiddler must match the intricacies of this peculiar gait and supply enough additional excitement so that the dancers can temporarily overlook the physical exhaustion that the enterprise entails. A source of pleasure this bracing has always proved a great temptation for reformers and by the end of the nineteenth century most folk dancing in Scotland had been refined way into the more genteel development of the country dance societies. But the Cape Breton pioneers were not about to relinquish their chief pastime so easily! Old-timers in the area will still mutter darkly about the well-intentioned village priest who attempted to confiscate all the violins in Mabou - in the very heart of the fiddling region. A proud old fiddler and churchman told me recently, “It must a damn foolish interpretation of religion that’d ask a man to set aside his violin for the church!” This indomitable affliction for the dance has persisted amongst Cape Bretoners to this very day.
And so this record is dedicated to Cape Breton dance music. the tunes heard here are typical of a modern square set anywhere in Cape Breton. Some are as old as the earliest Scottish tune collections, whereas others represent the recent compositions of Cape Breton favorite sons such as Dan R. MacDonald and Dan Hughey MacEachern. Today a brace of quadrilles will invariably consist of a medley of jigs, followed by two sets of reels. Towards the end of the evening, the caller may invite some of the best dancers onto the floor for an exhibition of solo step-dancing and then the ancient strathspey and reel combinations may be heard. For myself, I would always prefer the relative modesty of the dance hall to concert hall renditions of Scottish music any day. There is no experience quite comparable. I think, to hearing an eerie melody like The Sou’west Bridge Reel wailing out over a crowded dance floor, each measure begging one’s feet to get up and dance. No matter how noisy and boisterous the crowd, this music will reach into every corner of the hall.
This is Joe Cormier’s second album for Rounder. Joe is well-known for the great lift and spirit in his dance playing and we were pleased with he suggested making a record of tunes for a typical down-east square set. Again Joe is joined by Eddie Irwin on piano and Edmond Boudreau on bass.
This album is dedicated, not to the square dance taught in city studios by technicians but to the dance which was an emanation from the soul of a people - the square dance with which I grew up on in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. When we speak of the Cape Breton square dance we are not merely referring to a form of recreation but to an institution. It revealed much more about the community than the inhabitants’ capacity to jump and swing. Rather, in a small Cape Breton village the dance formed a basic instrument of social cohesion.
Like all square sets, the Cape Breton dance form lends itself readily to general definition. It is made up of four couples. It must have musical accompaniment. In Cape Breton that is always a fiddler. There is a ‘caller’ who shouts orders for the different moves and formations. The square set in action is made up of three ‘figures’. The first is danced to a jig and the remainder are done to reels or ‘breakdowns’ in the words of the older folk.
In my native village of Cheticamp, the dance seemed to have been borrowed from the Scottish communities and introduced into French Cheticamp around the time of the First World War. Prior to this they had a dance which was very much a square set but which they called a ‘huit’ or ‘eight’. The huit was a standard dance with no variation and did not require the services of a caller or prompter. It was like the square dance, a very lively dance and done to the reel. There was less holding around the waist between swings and that is probably why it was more acceptable to older and more moralistic members of the community than was the square set. As late as the early thirties the huit would be featured at weddings by older people as a novelty and nostalgic look at the past, but by 1940 it had disappeared.
With no cocktail bars or ice-cream parlours around in which to congregate, a teenage boy in Cheticamp in the thirties would have been forced to visit the house of his selected girl without introduction or invitation. Given the shyness of the typical French-Canadian country boy, the results would surely have been a society of bachelors and spinsters and ultimate group suicide. But the square dance offered an open opportunity to meet and dance and perhaps a chance to walk the girl home. Once boy met girl and a bit of compatibility, the rest was unbelievably simple.
At that time, your men were allowed to visit their girlfriends at their homes only on two specific evenings each week: Wednesdays and Sundays. Young men who tried this on different nights or more frequently would be badly seen by the girls’ parents and by neighbouring parents. (In addition they would be judged by their own peers as prime candidates to be future married henpecks since male chauvinism reigned supreme in the Cape Breton of the thirties) But the square dance offered the chance to beat the date night ritual since it was freely acceptable for a girl to go to a dance on other than a date-night and to be taken home by the boyfriend. It can easily be deduced that the young men of the community kept very busy at organizing house dances or parties on every conceivable pretext.
The square dance was an ideal arena for the resolution of conflicts and provided an excellent social laxative for discontent. A community that does not know violence is one which has found a manageable safety valve for hostility. In my village of Cheticamp, a square dance was judged to be no better than an indifferent success if there had not been a good scrap. In the fray of drinking, dancing and being huddled closely together the stage was set for people to get their hostilities off their chest. this would lead to lively but safe fist fights. there were unwritten rules against the use of sticks, feet, bottles, and so forth and strength, courage and wit were pitted against same. That would always lead to reconciliation and long, pent-up resentments were thus few and manageable.
The dance was the very core of people’s recreation and was the great leveler of social class. The old and young, the poor and more affluent (no one could have really been called ‘rich’), the wise and dull - everyone participated in the dance together except for a few rigid souls who stoutly maintained strict adherence to their own recipe for heaven. I still remember a cabinet minister who told me with pride and nostalgia that the last time he had gone down home on holiday as a bachelor, he had managed to go to twenty-seven dances in his twenty-eight days of vacation. Everyone found relaxation at the dance. The shy young people who were awkward at person to person conversation could shed many of their inhibitions in the sweat and frenzy of the square dance, aided and abetted, of course, with a few swigs of the local moonshine. For those of advanced status needs, it provided an opportunity to put on their best attire, pack a pint of ‘government’ whiskey and sport a package of ‘Sweet Caporal’ ready made cigarettes at a cost of ten cents in 1937. This rural dude always carried, as well, a package of chewing gum for his own use, that of his girlfriend, and even other girls if he was the flirty type.
The square, however, was never free from moral connotations in Scottish and French communities of Cape Breton. To the clergy and their blindest lay supporters it was a serious sin - deserving of hell fire. In their eyes, physical contact of any kind between male and female was always regarded as evil. It logically followed that square-dancing was a sin or at least a ‘proximate occasion’ of sin, as the priests and missionaries would refer to it. An individual believer was in danger of being in a perpetual state of guilt and fear of hell but at a square dance he had lots of company in his ‘sinning’ and that helped make the subsequent guilt and fear more manageable. And then the men and women who engaged in square dancing found a moral interpretation for the dance as effective as it was shrewd. They were hardly disposed to stand in full confrontation of the clergy on a moral issue. Instead, using the clergy’s very doctrine about sin and proximate occasions of sin, they would readily and unanimously admit that square dancing was an occasion and then would dip into their pragmatic temperament and express their readiness to stop square dancing at the very moment when the acknowledged proximate occasion of sin had indeed turned to sin. Armed with such a foolproof defense, it is a matter of history that the square dance continued and thrived.
Ultimately, the reason that the square dance was able to eventually defeat the clergy lay in the fact that it transcended social class. If the dance had been the exclusive preserve of the lower classes it probably could have been effectively banned. It is easy for the church to target on the moral degradation of people who are not regular in their religious habits wither at the worship or money raising level. But when the Church wardens and the heavy Church contributors’ very sons and daughters - if not themselves- were participating in the dances, the clergy was reduced to vague declarations of moral theology and frightful threats of hell. But no particular person could be named or directly persecuted for dancing because it would destroy the strength of the parish and, thus, God’s work on Earth (or, at least, in Cheticamp!). I well remember sitting with Joe in Church, at the ages of twelve and nine, respectively, listening to the priest shouting that the road to hell was paved with people who went to house dances. the parents who allowed their children to participate in them, the fiddlers who abetted the actual dancing, and the moonshine makers who provided the atmosphere, were labeled as willing or unwilling agents of the devil. Poor Joe was already a sandlot fiddler himself and I’m sure he would have been scared to death if his young mind could have grasped what the fuss was all about.
The more rigorously devout in the community either shunned square dancing all together or invented ingenious ways for differentiating between a moral and immoral dance. My older sister, Bette, well remembers when she and Sarah Bourgeois, both aged sixteen, were given permission to go to a house dance in the general neighborhood. A third girl wanted to go but her father was firm and rigid patriarch who might blow his lid at the mere asking. It was therefore agreed that my sister and her friend would call for the girl on their way and their presence might give her mother the courage necessary to approach the old tyrant. The ploy worked. When the old boy was presented with the request, he ruminated for a minute and his stance was firm and clear. “If it’s a dance, she may go; if it’s a frolic, she may not.” He was assured it was indeed a dance and off the young girl went. Nobody will ever know what a frolic meant to him - probably games of post-office or worse!
Certain dances were able to receive the reluctant approval of the clergy, however. Dancing at parish picnics and at the weddings and public dances held at the parish hall was sanctified by the church since it brought in some revenue to the parish. For sheer square-dancing pageantry nothing in Cheticamp approached the annual two-day parish picnic. It was anxiously awaited by everyone. There was something fore everybody; bingo and all kinds of other games, soft drinks, ice-cream, meals at the parish hall, etc. But the center of gravity in the whole activity rested with the two large square dance platforms erected on the picnic field. Each stage could accommodate four square sets at once. They were surrounded on the sides and the top by spruce and fir branches to keep the force of the sun away from the dancers and the fiddlers. The fiddler had his own special elevated and protected corner and he would bow away from one o’clock in the afternoon till midnight for two days in a row. The main fiddler then was the dean of Cheticamp fiddlers, Petite Placide. the second stage would be serviced by less prestigious fiddlers but excellent square dance players all the same. Those I remember best in this arena were the brothers Dan and Angus Roach and their cousin, Joe AuCoin.
But wherever else the square set was staged, it was condemned as something like the orgy would be in our day. Probably the worst places from this viewpoint were the dances in the two small district halls at Point Cross and Petit Etang. They were managed by a loose committee of local laymen and were not money-making institutions. They were the best of the frustration-curing arenas and the best brawls were staged there. They were also highly regarded by the one-man federal police force since he could not have begun to justify his employment if it had not been for these little halls and the bootleggers who serviced them.
But the soul of Cape Breton square dance was in the home. If it wasn’t for the house dances, the activity would not have been widespread or intense enough to make the square dance a Cape Breton institution. The home was a very dynamic social centre in those days and whenever there was a lull in the social life of the young people, some pretext would be discovered to con a home-owner into staging a dance at his house. Then his house would become a shelter not only for the usual residents of the same but for all their relatives, in-laws, friends, and neighborhood snoopers.
A house dance was composed of three distinct groups. Foremost, of course, were the fiddler and his caller. Then there were the dancers, which meant everyone else within the house. Finally, outside the house were the window peekers. These were the teenaged boys of thirteen to fifteen years of age who were old enough to sneak out of their own homes past nine p.m. but who were too self-conscious to break into a house dance since they knew well that they had not yet reached the age of public square-dancing in t he eyes of the community. these teenage boys were very hardy souls, standing outside at windows in the full rigors of a Cheticamp winter. A few brave souls might venture inside but they were never invited to venture further. Their real interest was not in learning the square dance, but in seeing the older boys do their courting through the medium of the square dance. After all, these teenage peekers were at most three years away from the time they themselves would become the central actors in this little drama.
House weddings began in the fall season preceding the beginning of December which marked the beginning of the Church’s ecclesiastical year since no weddings could get the blessing of the Mother Church between December 1 and January 6 except in very extreme circumstances. (I can imagine that a tertiary-stage pregnancy might have so qualified but I don’t remember such a case arising.) Then, the wedding would start again and last till Lent. This provided a space of about six weeks in which many weddings would take place. Some were accompanied by a dance at the parish hall but most were celebrated in the home. any self-respecting father of bride or groom would need to stage an all night wedding celebration in order to be classed as a pretty fair wedding. To be considered as a truly memorable wedding it would need to last three days and the fiddler who stayed through it would have indeed earned his spurs and whatever the pay he was able to extricate from the exercise. these events were a mixture of eating, drinking, dancing, brawling and reconciliation which left the neighborhood in peace and harmony until next year’s wedding season.
But there were a hundred other special occasions suitable for staging a house dance and one can be sure that their ingenuity of the local dance promoters did not leave any of the excuses untouched. There were the silver and golden wedding anniversaries and the birthdays of particularly old people. there were pre-nuptial wedding showers, which were integrated community events, not the modern female chin wags on behalf of the bride or the male stag parties for the groom. Gifts would be brought, and after they were opened the future bride and groom would be dumped in the country wash tub in which the gifts had been assembled. This would always create a big laugh and a sudden relaxation of the tension. Within minutes the fiddler and the caller would be on tap and the dancing would be under way.
And there were going away parties. While the 1930s were not years of great mobility, there were usually five or six persons who left every year to search for a life in more economically promising regions. It would have been a cause of deep collective community shame to let any such event take place without the proper ceremony, e.g. an all night party and square dance. And if one had to have a dance for those who left, one needed to have a dance for those who returned. At least three times as many natives of Cheticamp live outside of Cape Breton as at home. The migration started sometime before the 1900, mainly to the United States until 1940. During the 1930s many of these expatriates would come home every summer for their vacation. I still remember how awestruck we were with these white-skinned relatives, wearing whit pants and shoes, fancy straw hats and driving a nice car, rented or otherwise. Whether or not they were actually prosperous made no difference to us. They certainly looked affluent and that was plenty good enough. Every young fellow dreamed of growing up, going to the Boston States and returning for visits wearing fancy clothes and driving a fancy car. And with all these prodigal sons and daughters returning every summer, the sequence is ridiculously simple to imagine. It meant house dances in their honour. So there was no evening in July or August when there was not square dancing in one or another of Cheticamp’s three hundred homes.
In the fall and winter we had work bees which were generally associated with the heating of houses. There were firewood cutting bees in the mountains, and wood-sawing and chopping bees. Cape Breton in the 1930s was not a cash economy and few homeowners had the resources to pay for help in getting their firewood cut, sawn and chopped. That was no problem to the home-owner who had several rugged teenage sons with lots of time on their hands, but it was not so simple for the man who only had a bunch of daughters or baby sons. for such a father, the work bee was a Godsend. The young men of the neighborhood would throw themselves with true abandon into those work bees for no pay as long as it was understood that there was to be a dance in the evening. And it was seen as a good bargain by both sides. Paddy Boudreau, for example, who had four teenage daughters before his first son was born would always stage three bees a season. The young men of Cheticamp could then look forward confidently to three house dances in the coming season and they would tally these away in their mental dance file.
Some dances, of course, needed no excuse but were organized purely on the spur of the moment. A typical scenario might go like this: a group of teenage boys and girls of fifteen to twenty years of age are at someone’s house on a Sunday evening, playing cards and swapping stories. the father and mother of that particular home might be playing cards with their peers in one of the neighbouring homes. All of a sudden, somebody mentions that it would be nice to have a little kitchen racket. Instant agreement. The first requirement is music. Hopefully there is a fiddle, mouth organ or juice harp player in the group. But if not, the next step is to see if a nearby fiddler can be fetched. For me, this was always easy. I would simply land into my parents’ home and get my brother Joe, often when he was just ready to go to bed. The fact that I was taking him over and bringing him back in an hour was enough to secure parental consent. At the beginning, Joe could only play four or five different tunes but that was sufficient for our dances and that is how Joe commenced his public fiddling career.
The spontaneous square set, therefore, was Joe’s sandlot and I imagine it was the sandlot of all Cape Breton square dance fiddlers, as casual and unimportant as this activity appears on the surface. From these little skirmishes came the invitations to the organized house dances, the dances at the small halls, the house weddings and to the prestigious dances at the parish hall.
The fiddler was certainly the central character in the square dance institution and was placed on a pedestal all of his own. The corner where he had to sit to fiddle was perhaps a small one but it was the best in the house and it was inviolate. Through all the arguments, fights and brawls, the fiddler was never touched. Even the most drunken bully had the basic instinct to see that molesting the fiddler would be an act of gross-aggression against the community itself. A fiddler quickly became one of the best judges of character in the community. He didn’t play for a fixed fee but for the collection. This collection would be taken with a hat at separate intervals and without warning. The fiddler could see the disappearing acts and quickly learn who were the regular guys and who were the freeloaders.
In contrast to the fiddler, it must be said that the caller was very much neglected by the community. there was never any collection for him and seldom any thanks. It seemed that the community had concluded that his calling of sets was a full reward in itself, but the callers took it all philosophically. Few of them were very impressed with their skill and seemed to do it out of a sense of community responsibility. There were a few exceptions, however. I knew one caller who prepared for each assignment by putting on his best clothes and lotions, buying a government store pint at his own expense and investing seven cents in a box of cough drops to protect his throat.
My commentary on the social institution that was the square dance has been targeted on my native village of Cheticamp. My readers may rest assured, however, that any difference between the Cheticamp square dance and what went on in other Cape Breton communities was a matter of detail rather than one of essence and spirit. To be at a square dance anywhere in Cape Breton was, and still is, to be culturally at home. It is from this mass dedication to sound, time and rhythm that there have emerged the largest group of truly outstanding square dance fiddlers ever produced in one generation by a community of 150,000 inhabitants. If this appears to be an exaggerated boast, allow me to do a cursory listing, not of all Cape Breton fiddlers because it would be too lengthy, but some of those who can match anyone in the world in the jig and reel. How many of these have you heard about: Angus Allan, Alex and Ambrose of the Gillis clan, Angus, Archie, Neil and Cameron of the Chisholm family; Donald and Theresa MacLellan; Dan J. Campbell and son John of Mabou; Dan R., Johnnie Archie and Little Jack MacDonald; Sandy MacLean, Malcolm Beaton, Winnie Chafe, Joe MacLean, Bill Lamey, Alcide AuCoin, Winston Fitzgerald, Buddy MacMaster, Tena Campbell, Arthur Muise, Lee Cremo and Wilfred Prosper? Talent may be born within a person but it requires the proper social environment in order to emerge and develop. It’s doubtful that Cape Breton has more raw square-dance fiddling talent than elsewhere but it certainly has provided the ultimate in schooling for a budding fiddler.
In recent years, there appears to have been an explosion in square-dance groups in the cities of North America where we see classes from different square dance schools performing at various cultural events. Usually, they are impressive in terms of technical and choreographic accuracy, but they never fail to sadden me because they lack the essence of what the square dance means to me: rhythm and wild abandon. Nor is the urban square dance conducive to the development of the great square dance fiddler. They hire what are considered to be accomplished fiddlers, who have all that is modern in sound equipment but who are limited by their musicians’ union to three square sets per evening. There is no place for the young unknown fiddler to show his wares. But a young fiddler living in Cape Breton rural community in the 1930s was totally immersed in the square dance and all of its social implications. Some raw data will indicate how the square dance once stood at the centre of recreational and social intercourse. With an average of twelve weddings per year, you have twelve wedding dances. Then you can multiply this by a factor of two to cover the pre-wedding showers. Add to these at least thirty dances associated with work bees, six for going away parties and dances, sixty summer house dances to fete the visitors from the Boston States and at least thirty birthday and anniversary dances. Aside from the religious seasons of Advent and Lent when dancing was absolutely forbidden, one has a full calendar of square dancing. when one considers all the private homes on Sunday evenings, it can be wondered how Cape Breton people found energy to carry out their normal day-to-day chores. Economic times were very hard in the thirties but they were universal and there was only so much work one could do. There were no industries with night shifts and everyone was finished with the chores by supper time. The evenings then provided for true leisure time and the Cape Breton people knew how to use this leisure! The modern organizations which now consume people’s evening hours are largely the product of the Second World War and did not exist in my Cheticamp of the thirties. If only the modern organizer of leisure activities could be taken back to a Cape Breton house wedding of forty years ago, he would learn what the intelligent use of free time really means!
The fiddler of rural Cape Breton had to do his thing without a sound system or accompaniment, except for the sound of the dancers’ feet, which constitutes the best fundamental source of rhythm in the end. In the winter he sat by the stove and in the summer by an open window, and he was expected to play from eight o’clock in the evening until the guests took a notion to go home, however late that might be. These circumstances forced the fiddler to develop that truly unique method of bowing and of keeping time which forms the heart and soul of Cape Breton music. If the fiddler could not learn these tricks quickly enough, his only alternatives were to admit failure or collapse from sheer physical exhaustion.
The Cheticamp Connection: Hommage à Cheticamp - Phase II, independent PLP-1057, 1986
Joe Cormier, fiddle; Edmond Boudreau, bass; Ethel Cormier, piano; Producer: Anselme Cormier
Technical advisers: Buddy MacMaster, Doug MacPhee, Gabe Arsenault, Doug MacNeil; Recorded at Ambience Inc., Ottawa, Ontario, February 21, 1986
Tracks: MacGregor Jig - Murray River - Lost
My Love; The Laddie with the Pladdie Hornpipe - Forester Hornpipe - Liverpool
Hornpipe - Durang’s Hornpipe; Silver Wedding Waltz; The Duke of Fife’s
Welcome To Deeside - Balmoral Castle - Tom Rae Reel - The Way To Mull River
reel; Medley of Irish Reels starting with Master McDermotts; Regina Stubbert’s
Jig - The Dougal Creature; Chapel Keithack Air - Bothwell Castle - Democratic
Rage Hornpipe; Milling Song; Shaking of The Pokey - Mrs Nath. Gow - Randall’s
Hornpipe - Vinton’s Hornpipe; Coils Field House - A march - Red Mill Reel
- Walker Street Reel
Following on their first album, Joe Cormier, Ethel Cormier and Edmond Boudreau are pleased to come out, after a three year interval, with Phase II of the Cheticamp Connection. This project began in 1985 and is dedicated to Cheticamp’s 200th anniversary which was grandly celebrated in 1985. An in whose events our trio participated along with thousands of returning Cheticamp natives!
Since publication of the first album, Joe Cormier and Edmond Boudreau have been kept busy in the Boston area and also at such larger events as the Pittfield Highland Games, the Loon Mountain Games and the British American Folk Festival of 1984. This latter event featured four Cape Breton fiddlers over a 4 day period. The group was composed of John Campbell, Carl MacKenzie and Buddy MacMaster in addition to Joe Cormier, with Doug and Edmond Boudreau respectively tending the piano and guitar.
For Joe Cormier, 1984 and 1985 were big years. In 1984 he was awarded the prestigious National Heritage Fellowship of the National Endowment for the Arts while in 1985 he was chosen Man of the Year by the Massachusetts Federation of Franco-American Clubs.
Ethel Cormier continues to be a busy piano performer in the Toronto region and has worked regularly with Sandy MacIntyre, a member of the impeccable Cape Breton Symphony, first assembled by John Allan Cameron. Ethel, in all justice, must be acknowledged as the leader of the Cheticamp Connection trio. Teaming up with the two others once or twice in three years she manages, in addition to her excellent musical performance, to set the pace and get the best efforts from the group.
Cape Breton fiddle music is renowned far and wide for its beauty, its moods, its beat... Cheticamp, with its own performers and its large enthusiastic and appreciative audience, continues to make its vital contribution to the development and maintenance of this precious heritage. Long may it do so.
Return to the Cape with Hilda Chaisson-Cormier, Borealis Recording Company BCD003, circa 1996
J.P. Cormier, fiddle, guitars, bass, banjo, mandolin and synthesizers, piano; Hilda Chaisson-Cormier, piano
Produced and Mixed by J.P. Cormier and Bill Tripp at Beachtree Recording Studio, Sanford, North Carolina. All tracks recorded using MTR-OM-2 Microphones.
Tracks: The Haggis / Caber Feidth; Cowie's
Clog / Winston Tune; Jerry Sullivan's Strathspey / Tammy Sullivan's Reel;
Flannigan's Favourite / Ole French Reel / Kelly's Reel; Slow Air / Moving
Cloud; Horseshoe Reel / Winter Carnival Reel / Pigeon On the Gate; Hilda-Chaisson-Cormier
Reel / Temperance Reel; Shetland Hornpipe / The E Flat Tune; Holland Wedding
Reel / Stool of Repentance / Sleepy Maggie; Niel Gow's Lament for Dr. Moray
of Abernathy / Niel Gow's March / Slieveman's Clog; Highland Dream; Reel
Made with Hilda / Miss Watson's / Return To The Cape
1. The Haggis / Caber Feidth - A couple of my favourite Winston Fitzgerald tunes. I remember my father playing these tunes.
2. Cowie's Clog / Winston Tune - The first is a tune from Scotland and the second I heard as part of Winston's 'Heather on the Hill' medley
3. Jerry Sullivan's Strathspey / Tammy Sullivan's Reel - A couple of tunes for some musicians I worked with in the States.
4. Flannigan's Favourite / Ole French Reel / Kelly's Reel - I decided to represent the old-time music here, playing some tunes I remember hearing from players like Don Messer and Graham Townsend. The last tune I composed for an old college room-mate.
5. Slow Air / Moving Cloud - I don't remember where I heard the air, but I certainly recall hearing the Chieftains playing the second piece
6. Horseshoe Reel / Winter Carnival Reel / Pigeon On the Gate - some French music my Dad used to play.
7. Hilda-Chaisson-Cormier Reel / Temperance Reel - The first melody was born through my deep and appreciative love for my wonderful wife. Thanks Hilda!
8. Shetland Hornpipe / The E Flat Tune - The first is from Aly Bain and the second I wrote and recorded five years ago but I felt I could do it justice here.
9. Holland Wedding Reel / Stool of Repentance / Sleepy Maggie - The first tune was composed by my wonderful wife. Her playing on this tune captures the spirit of the moment. We really had a lot of fun cutting these pieces. The last two are tunes done by my idol, Winston 'Scotty' Fitzgerald. They were worn off the LP by my father after he purchased the record.
10. Neil Gow's Lament for Dr. Moray of Abernathy / Neil Gow's March / Slieveman's Clog - These are tunes that I've always considered to be among the most beautiful I've ever heard.
11. Highland Dream - A lonesome recollection of home.
12. Reel Made with Hilda / Miss Watson's / Return To The Cape - The first is written by one of my heroes (Jerry Holland) and the last one is a salute to all the wonderful people back on Cape Breton. This album is dedicated to YOU!
"One person in a thousand plays an instrument well. One in ten thousand plays well enough to be considered professional. One in a million has the gift and J.P. Cormier has received the gift along the way. J.P. plays eight instruments and sings with the virtuosity that seems impossible for one man to possess."
...gospel recording artist Jerry Sullivan
Still in his 20's, J.P. Cormier has already established himself as a first call sideman and has toured extensively and won the respect of stars like Waylon Jennings and Marty Stuart. Return to the Cape sees J.P. exploring his Cape Breton Celtic and Acadien musical roots.
This collection contains both traditional and original material but J.P.'s knowledge, arrangements and brilliant musicianship make it difficult to separate the two.
On this recording J.P. plays fiddle, guitars, bass, banjo, mandolin and synthesizers. He also plays piano on Ole French Reel and the Neil Gow selections. Noted Cape Breton traditional musician Hilda Chaisson-Cormier plays piano on all the other cuts. She is also married to J.P. ... but that's another story.
"Return To The Cape is a solidly imaginative collection of classy Cape Breton neo-traditional music."
the Halifax Daily News
This is a first-rate package of old and new instrumental music from a pair of master musicians."
Dirty Linen #64
(note: this is not a fiddle album, therefore only the tracks mentioned are fiddle tunes - ed.)
J.P. Cormier, guitars, fiddles, bass, banjo, mandolin, various percussion; Hilda Chaisson-Cormier, piano; Adrien Aucoin, guitar; Gervais Cormier, bass
Executive Producer: J.P. Cormier & Max Macdonald; Produced by Paul Mills and Bill Garrett for Garrett, Mills and Stubbs Productions; Engineer: Jamie Foulds; Recorded at Lakewind Sound Studios, Point Aconi, Cape Breton Island, NS, November 1996 - January 1997; The 'Fiddle Set' was recorded at CKJM Studios, Cheticamp; Engineered by Angus LeFort, Produced and mixed by JP Cormier. Special thanks to Community Radio.
Fiddle Tracks: The Fiddle Set; The Mathematician
/ Sleepy Maggie
The Fiddle Set: Bouree in E Minor / Joel Chaisson's Reel* / Fern Maillet's reel* / Prelude in A Major / Down The Broom - My love for classical music bled into the interpretation of these fiddle tunes. I have always believed that the Cape Breton style of fiddling is just as complex as any concert violinist's performance and, in fact, the two styles of music work quiet well together, even complimenting each other. I hope everyone has as much fun listening to this as we did recording it!
The Mathematician / Sleepy Maggie - This is a bit of flash that we perform live at all our shows to wake the folks up. It's presented here pretty much as we do it on stage with just a couple of added touches.
JP Cormier, fiddles, guitars, bass, banjo, mandolin, drums, persussion, strings, synthesizer, piano; Hilda Chaisson-Cormier, piano; Gelas Larade, guitar; Rene Lefort, mandolin; Wayne Robichaud, drums, percussion
Engineered by Angus Lefort & JP Cormier; Mixed by JP Cormier; Mastered at Lakewind Sound, Point Aconi, NS., by Jamie Foulds; Recorded 1996, 1997 & 1998 at CKJM Radio, Cheticamp and Cormier Soud, Cap Lemoine, Nova Scotia
Tracks: Alan's Set; Martin's Set; Kenny
Baker Lives!; Christie Married a Frenchman; Fleetwood MacInnis; Aren't
We Feeling 'Jiggy' Today...; Paps Goes the Weasel; Rawhide; Me & Gelas;
Scotty Meets Rene; My Bach is Worse Than My Bite; Tulloch Gorum (a.k.a.
Broken Fingers); May I Have This Dance?; Here's To You, Scotty!; The B
Minor Set; Banjomusk
It has been almost five years since I released an album of fiddle music. My apologies to my supporters for taking so long: it was completely unintentional.
In my life the fiddle has brought many pleasures, friends and travels that I would not have found if I had never drawn a bow. i can't remember a time in my life when I didn't hear at least one fiddle tune a day, even when I was 2500 miles away working in a foreign country. It was the feeling of loss for that special fellowship that violin music brings to people that called me back to my native soil of Cape Breton, and it is here that I intend to breathe my last and be laid to rest with my fathers that came before me. That is, after I've played my arse off for another fifty years!
It is my sincere hope that you feel and appreciate the 'Heart and Soul' that are contained within these recordings and take a little bit of the joy that I feel along with you for the rest of your lives.
God Bless. JP
Alan's Set: Chandler's Hornpipe / Alex R. Findlay / Mrs. Dundas of Arnisdon - This medley was originally inspired by our friend, the actor, Alan Arkin. He is a fine musician and enjoys toying with different treatments of 'Cape Breton Rhythm.' Seeing as the first tune is a Winston piece it was only fitting to place two more with it!
Martin's Set: The whistler from Rosslea / Connor Dunn's / The Good Natured Man - These are tunes borrowed from the repertoire of the awesome Sligo fiddling of Mr. Martin Hayes. He's a tremendous player, and I'm glad to know him. Just one more of the many fine people I've met through trying to be a fiddler.
Kenny Baker Lives!: Twinkle, twinkle / Calgary Polka - Two great Texas-style tunes in the tradition of one of my very favorite fiddlers: Kenny Baker. Kenny helped to define the role of the violin in American roots music and has influenced just about anybody who ever tried to play 'Uncle Pen.'
Christie Married A Frenchman: Christie Campbell / The Hangman's Reel - This is one of my favourite strathspeys coupled with a great French reel, which as been interpreted by everybody from Jean Carignan to Aly Bain. I think Ol' Christie and the Hangman are an item...
Fleetwood MacInnis: Cry of the Eagle / Never Going Back Again - Sharon Shannon did this medley with accordion, so I decided to transpose the entire dish over to guitar and fiddle. I especially enjoyed taking the reel into the Chet Atkins finger-style realm. It was a real challenge. The last piece speaks for itself. It's one of the tastiest musical ideas I've ever heard from on the the best rock bands ever.
Aren't We Feeling 'Jiggy' Today...: Angus Chisholm's / Little Judique Jig / Bette anne's Jig* / Max MacDonald's Jig - These are jigs I enjoy playing at square dances. The last two are from a writing session that I had one night over a case of beer at my buddy Rene Lefort's house in Belle Marche; the tiny community where my father was born and raised.
Paps Goes The Weasel: The Paps of Glencoe / Reel for Melodie and Derrick* / Claran O'Hare's* / Duntroon - This is my favourite march. I was asked to play it many times at our gigs, so I finally learned it off an old Winston 78. The middle pieces are ones that i built, named after close friends in the 'bis'. The last tune is a reel that was my father's 'tour de force' tune. He usually finished a night off with this one.
Rawhide - I've always had a special place in my heart for Bluegrass. I learned to play this tune from the master himself (Bill Monroe) and spent many hours trying to capture the nuances of his impeccable delivery. This music also makes for hot fiddle playing. I'm always asked to play Bluegrass when we're out on the road, so this is for all the Monroe fans out there. I had a lot of fun doing this one. I don't get to play the banjo very much anymore...is that you, Earl?
Me & Gelas: Cameron Chisholm's reel* / Jerry Holland's Reel* - My second cousin, Gelas Larade, is one of my favorite picking partners. We spend hours on end down in his basement listening to records and playing fiddle and guitar and basically enjoying life. He has one of the wickedest rhythm styles for Cape Breton fiddle that I've ever heard and we make a powerful team. I decided to make sure that style was featured in this selection. they are tunes I made for two of my heroes. I'm proud to say that they are also my friends. Good Boy, Gelas!!!
Scotty Meets Rene: Spring Bank House / Stirling Castle / Lord Lyndoch / Devaux's Requirement* / Doreen's Reel* / The Fifty-Fifty Reel* - These are some of my favorite Winston tunes, along with some more originals from the pens of myself and Rene Lefort. Rene plays the mandolin on the last tune and quite well I might add. It was a real pleasure to work with him in the studio on this one. We do so much playing at his house we should be paying rent! I should also mention that I attempted to put as many Estwood Davidson licks into the first three tunes as I could. I learned to play by listening to him accompany Scotty on the old records and feel that he was and still is the founding father of true Cape Breton back-up guitar.
My Bach Is Worse Than My Bite: Prelude in A Minor / The Earl of Hyndford / Everybody's Hornpipe - My love for classical music and mating it with fiddle is well known, if not annoying! This is yet another idea I came up with after hearing my favorite uncle, Joe Cormier, play the reel that follows the classical section. It's a very difficult tune in C Minor and Hilda tells me it was a very popular tune in this area at one time, but no one plays it anymore. It can be found originally on 'The Dances Down Home' circa '78 or '79 by Joseph Cormier.
Tulloch Gorum (a.k.a. Broken Fingers) - Tulloch Gorum / Sheldon MacNeill's Reel / The Mason's Apron - This is pretty well the group of tunes that I used to introduce myself to the Cape Breton fiddle audience the first year I was home. Tulloch Gorum has been recorded many times and has been played even more, but it still remains one of the most beautiful and challenging pieces to play in our repertoire as fiddlers here on the island. Ray's tune is probably one of the best and most original pieces (Sheldon MacNeill's) I've heard in the last 15 years; also a wicked tune for square dances. The Mason's Apron I learned from Arthur Muise.
May I Have This Dance?: The Crystal Waltz / The Canadian Waltz / The Blue Mountain Waltz / The Rosebud of Avonmore - The waltz must be one of the most beautiful things that can be done with a fiddle. They can make you laugh, cry or dance. These are some of my personal favorites, from some of the great waltz players I've heard in my lifetime.
Here's to You, Scotty!: The Marchioness of Huntley / The Honorable Mrs. Maules / Lady Glenorchy - In my humble opinion, Winston 'Scotty' Fitzgerald was the greatest Cape Breton violinist that ever lived. He had heart and soul, but mostly he had fire. I have tried my entire life to capture that fire in my own playing, and am still struggling to this very day. Every time I pick up my bow, I think of him with the utmost love and determination that his incredible gift to us will never be forgotten.
The B Minor Set: Allie Bennett's Strathspey* / The Ten Minute Reel* / Richard Burke's Reel* - I am particularly fond of this key, and particularly fond of the musicians I named the tunes for.
Banjomusk: Dinkie Dorrian's / Moneymusk - Here's a little more banjo to send you on your way. Thank you and god Bless you for buying this album and I hope that we see you somewhere down the road soon.
Special Thanks to: My wife Hilda and family, the Leforts, the Larades, Grit Laskin at Borealis Records, The Royal Bank Financial Group, Rave Entertainment, all the fiddlers who ever took the time to help and inspire me, Dr. Winston Parkhill for saving my hands, and The Good Lord Himself for giving me 'the strength to rosin my bow.'
Joe Cormier, violin; JP Cormier, violin, guitars, bass, percussion, keyboards, piano, banjo; Hilda Chaisson-Cormier, piano. Live sessions: Gervais Cormier, guitar; Gelas Larade, guitar; Hilda Chaisson-Cormier, piano; JP Cormier, bass (overdub)
Produced by J.P. Cormier; Arranged by Joe Cormier & J.P. Cormier; Executive Producer, Terry Eagan; Recorded, mixed and mastered at Cormier Sound Studio, Cap Lemoyne, NS, March 2000
Tracks: The Tea Garden: Temperance Jig / Walker St. Reel; Sir William Wallace: Mrs. Grand of Lagan / The Reconciliation / Last Night's Fun; Live Session... The Chorus Jig / The Sailor's Wife; Hiawatha: Thom's E-Flat Clog / The Banks / The Rat Reel; Capers: Tom MacKormack's / Malcom Burke's / Go To The Devil and Shake Yourself; Live Session... Mrs Beatty Wallace / The red Shoes / Wedding Reel / MacDonald's Reel; Joe's Solo: Corarif Castle / An Angus Strathspey / Col. MacBain / Johnny Made a Wedding of It / Gin I Had A Bonnie Lass; Killicranchie: Albert Finlay's Reel / Miss Mary MacEachern's Reel; Bonnie Isabelle Robertson: John Howett / Rachel Rae / The Earl of Seafield; Live Session... A Set of Wedding Reels; The College Set: Master of Francis Sitwell / Kin of Wiltshire / Lady Walpole / Memories of R Beaton / The College; JP's Solo: Miss Hutton / The Braes of Tullymet / A Howie Tune / Miss Louisa Duff / The Reel for Maurice* / Little Donald in the Pigpen / The Grey Old Lady of Raasay; The Nameless Lassie; The Marquis of Tullybardine
One late August evening, my friend Joe Cormier invited me over to meet his nephew J.P., who was in town from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, for a gig in the area. I jumped at the opportunity, and was at the Cormier's in Waltham, Mass. about ten minutes later.
The next few hours were mesmerizing and beyond joyful. Joe and J.P. sat side by side on the piano bench and played right through a Winston 'Scotty' Fitzgerald tune book together. It was stunning, with Joe and J.P. beaming like children opening their Christmas presents. J.P. looked at Joe in reverent-like glee, and Joe smiled in J.P.'s direction in admiring fashion.
When the fiddles were nestled back in their cases, I suggested that they collaborate on an album that I felt would capture the heritage of the fiddle music from their roots in Cape Breton. As it turned out, each had harbored the desire to do so for a number of years! A trip or two down home by Joe to J.P.'s studio on the Island, and this musical masterpiece became a reality. It should soon be in libraries and music collections anywhere there is even an inkling of interest in masterful Cape Breton fiddling.
As exquisite as the music is, the sense of family, friendship, and generosity that these two artists exemplify is equally important and noteworthy. At the core of Patio Records is the goal of seeing garden patios created for cancer patients undergoing the rigors of treatments. The idea was first proposed by my wife Mary Eagan (1947-1992), who wished to see the creation of a patio for future patients so they could be comforted by the sun in an outdoor setting during their inpatient stays.
When the idea of raising funds through hosting benefit concerts arose, Joe Cormier was one of the first people who came to mind. Mary and I first got to know Joe twenty-something years ago as we watched our sons play together on hockey teams from Squirts right on through high school. We would go with a group of hockey parents to catch Joe playing at the French Club, where this soft-spoken and humble guy could surely get the dance floor hopping! Several years back, Joe jumped at the opportunity to perform at benefit events for the hospital garden. At the April 21, 2001, ribbon-cutting ceremony and opening of the Mary Eagan Garden at Waltham Hospital Joe performed a set of fiddle tunes with Gerry Robichaud (a native of St. Paul, New Brunswick), accompanied by Joe's lifelong friend Edmond Boudreau on guitar.
It was J.P.'s suggestion to make Velvet Arm, Golden Hand a Patio Records release. He has embraced the idea of garden patios for patients with great fervor, and is eager to see the fruits of this musical collaboration contribute to the comfort of others.
As you enjoy listening to this wonderful confluence of Big-Hearted Geniuses, please join me in a warm 'thank you' to Joe and J.P. for sharing their talents and offerings with us as they help bring solace to those our hearts go out to with every album sold.
Thanks Joe and J.P.
A Word From J.P.
Joe Cormier was born about seven years after his brother Paul in the tiny fishing village of Cheticamp, Cape Breton Island. Paul was my father, and in many ways, Joe has become a father to me as well. My Dad's passing in the winter of '77 was mourned by all of us and by Joe in particular, who has always said "He had a special way of playing..."
Joe Cormier has proven time and time again that he has an even more "special way" about his music. He was the first Cape Breton player to ever record this music for an American commercial label (Rounder Records) and has opened the door for all others after him who tried their hands at selling Cape Breton music to the North American masses. His recordings during the last thirty years are like tiny photographs of the history of our music and our Island.
He has been honored by Presidents, Kings, and received the coveted "American Heritage Fellowship Award" for his massive contribution to the longevity of Celtic Music in the United States and abroad. With all this said, he is still Caper in every sense of the word.
I have been extremely privileged to play with Joe, eat his Fricot, and play cards with him until the wee hours, but the greatest experience came in the spring of 2000 when he arrived at my home to record this album. We worked for a week and came up with some of the most brilliant stuff I've ever heard. There were many stories and a few tears and some great sessions with friends (some of which are contained herein).
I have since lost count of how many records I've made or been on, but this is one that will always stand out as something I can truly be proud of. When I watch Joe, I'm 7 years old again watching my Dad play, the only difference now is, that I'm old enough to play along and share in the wonderful gift that is carried to the world through this magical music. Uncle Joe, thank you for all you've done for Hilda and me and for being Dad to the little boy that's still in my heart.
January 3rd, 2002
This album is dedicated to our brother and uncle Sam Cormier
Canadian Junior Fiddle Champion: Marathon MMS 76054 - 1974
Tracks: Big John McNeil; Andy's Jig; Waylon's Breakdown; Shannon Waltz; Ole French Reel; Angus Campbell; Jacket Trimmed in Blue; Joys of Wedlock; Whiskey Before Breakfast; Black Velvet Waltz; Way Down Yonder; Honest John
The young fiddle player you are about to hear on this album is a young French-Canadian lad, who was born on June 13, 1961. Ricky Cormier, who lives in Bay Ridges, with his musical family has been for six years under the insured guidance of Mr. Vic Pasowisty, who was born in Mountain Road, Manitoba and now makes his home in Whitby, Ont. Vic is a former champion of the Canadian Open Fiddle Contest in Shelburne, Ontario. Ricky, wo has been helped immensely by his father Ed Cormier, already has begun to gather a list of achievements - he won the 12 and under class in Perth in 1971 and 1973, the 16 and under class in Marmora in 1973 and 1974, 3rd in the 12 and under in Shelburne in 1971 and second in the 12 and under class in Petrolia in 1974 and 1st in the 12 and under class in Cayuga in 1974, among other accomplishments. I am sure this very talented young geltleman, in the person of Ricky Cormier, has a very bright future ahead of him in the field of old-time fiddling.North American Fiddle Champion: Condor - 977-1461
Support old-time fiddling!
Tracks: Poor Girl's Waltz; Rick's Reel*; Jubilee Jig; Holiday Polka; Thkunder Bay Jig; Fiddle Fingers; Trudeau's Reel; Nobody's Business; Andy's Reel; Westphalia Waltz
Among the crop of new Canadian musicians making a name for themselves on the music scene, is a young violin master by the name of Ricky Cormier. At age 15, the boy from Bay Ridges, Ont., is not only an old-time fiddle champion but a member of the Oshawa Symphony Orchestra as well. At age 10, he won the Canadian Old Time Fiddle Championship in the 12 and under class. By the time he was 12, he had recorded his first album. Three years later he copped the top prize by winning the North American Old Time Fiddle Championship in the 18 and under age group. Ricky's current album features his own composition, 'Rick's Reel', as well as the three pieces he played to win the North American title.
His dream is to become a concert master violinist and of being a future North American Open Fiddle Champion. He also dreams of girls, dogs, skiing, photopgraphy and a whole truck load of things that a 15 year old boy dreams about.
His Greatest love is of course his music. For Ricky believes in the old saying,....."Without music life would be a mistake".
Un Nouveau Violon "New Fiddle": London SDS-5142
Paul Côté, violon; autre instruments: piano, guitare, bass, batterie; Production: Levis Bouliane
Tunes: L'archet que Roule (Drivin' The Bow - reel); Paul Côté Special* (On The Roak Reel); Valse des maritimes (The Norwegian Waltz); Two Step Québécois (Andy's Centennial - two step); Reel du champion (Graham Townsend's - Reel); Le violon du Tennessie (Tennessee Breakdown); Reel de la cornemuse (Hi Lily Hornpipe); Valse Sherbrookoise (The Dawn Waltz); Gigue du pecheur* (Good Fishing Jig); reel des camionneurs (Bill Chatterman Breakdown)
Partners To Peaces, Astro Custom Studio ACC 49209
Gordon Coté, fiddle; Mary Jessie Gillis, piano; Albert Martin, guitar; Gordon MacLean, piano
Tunes: Dr. Angus MacDonald's New Piano* / Little Burnt Potato jigs; Second battalion Scots Guard's Welcome to Malta (march) / MacKenzy Hay strathspey / The Brides Reel; O'roney's Favourite Reel / A Rainy Day Reel; the Braes of Bracklet march / the Black Kilt Purse & Marquis of Townshead strathspeys / Bill Ewen's Reel; Whiskey in the Furac strathspey / My Mary Ann reel; Combined Effor / Mrs MacGee jigs; William Donald's Favourite (marching air) / Mr Masson Maws of Botriphne strathspey / The Laddie with the bonnet so Blue Reel; Don Side strathspey / Lady Georgina Campbell & The Perry Wig reels; Sliablantarainn & Bob Casey's Reels; The Taking of Beaumont Hammel march / Gorgarf Castle strathspey / Don Leo Rankin's Reel; O'Gallagher's Frolics / Trip To Sligo / The Merry Old Maid jigs; The Bridge of New strathspey / Murdoon Hill & Mrs J. Forbes reels
Gordon Coté was born near St. Peters, Cape Breton. Being of French, Scottish and Irish descent, he listened to his father, Donald Coté, who was fluent in Gaelic, French and English, singing old Scottish and Irish airs. Gordon played guitar at an early age. later he went to the fiddle. He later played pipes in the Blackwatch of Canada Pipe Band. He continues to play his fiddle today and his music is widely known.
25th Anniversary Special Silver Edition Album, RSC Home Entertainment RSC2500
Featuring George Pistun, Baldwin Malec, Bev Stewart, Delores Bell, Wes Stubbs and Llewellyn Bell
Tracks: Tony’s Polka; Snow Waltz; My Wife
Got Drunk Polka; Beyond the Reef; Schottische; You Are My Own True Love
Waltz; Saturday Night Dance Party Polka; Bird Dance; Big John McNeil; The
French Song Waltz; Polish Picnic; Traditional Dance Medley: French Minuet
- Heel & Toe Polka - Seven Step - Barn Dance; St. Bernard’s Waltz;
Why Me Lord?
This record says thanks to the many thousands who have listened to, danced to, or viewed the Cottonpicker Band during the past 25 years.
At weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, school graduations, community events, official openings, parades and fairs - at McIntosh Point, the Manhattan Ballroom, The Big Dipper Dinin Theatre, The Red Barn or the closing of The Trianon Ballroom - on television, radio and in person - in cities, towns, villages, and communities from Vancouver, BC to Thunder Bay, Ontario - their theme “music any way you like it” has always brought forth an exciting response.
It is a tribute also to the various members of the band, who, over the years in addition to their musical contributions, have added their influence of friendship and guidance in the evolution of a style and sound that is truly unique.
Perry Craft, fiddle
Tracks: Big John McNeil; Year of Jubilo; Pan Handle Rag; Denegal's Jig; Gold Fiddle Waltz; Down Yonder; Fundy Bay Reel; Farmer's Jamboree; Manitoba Golden Boy; Monkey's Wedding; Girl of My Dreams; Home Sweet Home
Fiddlin' Favorites - Aragon Records ALP.105 - circa 1957
Red Crawford, fiddle; Freddy Lang, fiddle; Lucky Ambo, fiddle.
Tracks: Hurricane Hazel's Ghost*; Big Bill Cheadum; Kawliga's Wedding Dance*; Lady of the Lake; Curly Hair (composed and played by Freddie Lang); President Jackson's Rag*; Fiddlin' Rag; Black Mountian Rag; Orange Blossom Special (arranged and played by Lucky Ambo); Fiddlin' Around (played by the Radio Rangers)
Note: The Radio Rangers, Freddy Lang and Lucky Ambo are also featured on this disc. ed.
The Dancer's Favourite - Prime time Records - PTR-105 - 1982
Winston Crawford, fiddle, mandonlin, bagpipes; Bob Crawfrord, 6 and 12 String Guitars, 5 string banjo; Frank Crawford, bass; Richard Crawford, drums; Edie Crawford, piano
Produced by Winston Crawford; Engineered by Owen Vallis. Recorded at Prime Time Studios, Sussex NB.
Tracks: The Old Box Stove; St. Martin's Polka*; The Grizley Bear; Micmac Gathering*; Red Carpet Waltz; Fiddlin' Sam Stephenson*; Coocoo's Nest; Grandfather's Wake**; Twin Sisters; Anne Marie Waltz*; The Irish Fiddler; Dancing Slippers; Sylvia's Waltz*; On the road To Moss glen*; Duke of Fyffes
Note: Don't be frightened; it's not your woofer out of whack, that's Winston doing all the growling on this one (Grizzly Bear).
It's a sad fact that many of the great fiddlers of history were never recorded.
Nero, for instance, who fiddled while rome burned, never made a record.
Winston Crawford, I'm sure will see the humour and the pathos of that great loss to history and culture. (For instance we'll never know now what tunes Nero played).
Winston happily hasn't made either of Nero's mistakes. he's learned how to fire up a really hot fiddle without losing control and he's made a record. Even more happily he hasn't waited until he was past his prime to get it down on vinyl.
Winston has played since his early teens but admits he always thought of himself as "just another fiddler." In fact, he didn't even consider entering a fiddle contest until a couple of years ago. Locally he's won all the firsts since then however.
On the other hand Winston has performed as a dance fiddler for years...since he was 12...and is well known in such places as the Moss Glen Legion and St. Martins, and of course Sussex where he lives with wife Edie and sons Steve and Mark.
Edie plays piano or bass guitar at dances with im and brother Bob usually picks guitar, brother Richard on drums. Bob and Richard are accomplished musicians and songwriters. Bob is heard on this record playing 6 and 12 string acoustic guitar and 5 string banjo. He also wrote one of the tunes "Grandfather Wake". You could say, come to think of it, that this record is a "family affair". Winston's other brother, Frank, makes a cameo appearance on bass also. Completing the full sound of this instrumental music spectacular Winston is heard on mandolin and bagpipes through the magic of overdub as well as on fiddle.
It is an understatement to say Winston Crawford started his musical career early. By six he was playing guitar and at twelve acquired an old fiddle. One day he was just "sawing around with it" when a neighbour Sam Stephenson (sometimes called "fiddlin' Sam") heard him and offered "a lesson or two to get him going". Sam is another man who should have made a record years ago.
"That started it all off," says Winston. "Since then I've been influenced by a lot of players, mostly through records. Ward Allen, Scotty Fitzgerald, Graham Townsend and Matilda Murdoch to name just a few. "It was like a dream come true a few years back when I actually met Scotty Fitzgerald. What a thrill it was, a moment in time I'll always treasure."
One can't help being surprised on meeting Winston at how modest and unassuming he is...for instance last year at the Atlantic National Fiddle Contest in Saint John when he was announced one of the three finalists he was excited at the prospect of coming third. As it turned out when the "fiddle off" was over, he'd come first (as usual) and he was overwhelmed. But Winston has known his moments of dark despair and ultimate sorrow also. The dark moment when his beloved four year old daughter succumbed to a fatal malady just ten years ago. How can you describe the awful wrenching of the soul such a tragic loss can deal to a musician as sensitive as Winston. For him and Mrs. Crawford it seemed like the end of the world.
Something of his feelings for his daughter is revealed in one of the selections on this album. "The Ann Marie Waltz". It is a memorial to the little girl who lives always in their memory.
To say that the tunes on this album run the full spectrum of emotions is a truism indeed. There are lilting fiddle sonatas, follicking traditional aires, tribute tunes like the one to Fiddlin' Sam, an emotional reminiscences in melody like "Sylvia's Waltz" a tune dedicated to his mother.
This record includes 15 purely melodic reasons why Winston Crawford has won the Johnny Mooring Memorial Trophy hands down two years in a row.
If you like exciting fiddle music played by an infectious craftsman, a showman with few equals in Maritime music circles you'll take this record home. Once there, unwrap it gently and carefully place it on your turntable. Just sit back then, relax and prepare to be served a musical feast....appetizer, full-course meal and dessert. There's meat for every taste right here on this platter.
Folk-Country World, the Telegraph Journal
Fundy folk Night FM 98
Winston Crawford, fiddle, bagpipes; Robert Crawford, guitar & bass; Edie Crawford, piano; Richard Crawford, drums
Produced by Winston Crawford; Engineer: Kevin W. Herring; Recorded at Atlantic MultiMedia, Fredricton, NB
Tracks: McNabb's Hornpipe / Farmer's Daughter Reel; The Myrt Stephenson Waltz*; Prince County Gig; Conrad Soucy Reel*; The Old Southern Waltz; Amazing Grace; The New Brunswick Bicentennial Waltz*; The High Level Hornpipe; Medley: My Lily / Uncle Jim / Mason's Apron; Blue Violet Breakdown; Medley: Antigonish; The Green Hills of Tyrol
Winston Fiddles, Pipes and Picks Again
Unbelievable as it is, two years have passed since Winston Crawford cut his first lp. In those two years he has been over a lot of bridges and there has been a lot of water under all of them.
It was my pleasure to write the liner notes for that album. However, I should have included a warning on the cover. Something about a record in the hand sometimes being worth a dozen or more on the rack. Because of what happened with that lp I think I had better include that warning on this record back, something appropriate like this:
You may be holding a collector's edition. Winston Crawford's first lp is already that; a bonafide rarity. Even though it was only pressed in 1982 it sold out so quickly that many fans who hesitated to buy it have been looking for a copy ever since. (A few still exist in stores here and there but if you see one, grab it, they are few and very far between.)
It, like this one, was a limited pressing and Winston has gained a lot of stature and popularity since then. In fact the immense popularity of this artist, who became the 1982 Maritime Open Fiddle Champion just a month after that lp was released, almost certainly will take this lp into a second pressing. But it is an uncertain age .... why take chances.
In those two years Winston also competed in the North American Fiddling Championships in Shelbourne, Ontario placing high in a field of hundreds of American and Canadian professionals. While there he met and was befriended by one of his great childhood inspirations, recording star, Graham Townsend and his wife Eleanor, herself a champion class fiddler.
Winston, who hadn't even entered a fiddling competition until about four years ago (in a couple of years he had won just about every prize the Maritimes had to offer), claims he had always thought of himself "as just another fiddler". In fact, I knew Winston for years and didn't know he fiddled. He never once mentioned it though he had been playing for dances since he was 12. Unknown to most people in his community near Sussex, his name by that time was already synonymous with danceable fiddling from the Moss Glen Legion to St. Martin's Community Centre.
In developing his present style, Winston has been influenced by a lot of fiddlers, many known to him only by records; Ward Allen, for instance and Scottie Fitzgerald, the legendary Cape Breton Fiddler whom he later had the pleasure of meeting.
Winston no only fiddles, he plays bagpipes, mandolin and guitar as well. A couple of the selections on this album, "Amazing Grace" and "The Green Hills of Tyrol" feature him on bagpipes. By six he was chording and beginning to finger pick guitar. At 12 he fell heir to an old fiddle. On day he was just 'sawing away on it' when a neighbour, Sam Stephenson, whom area people call Fiddlin' Sam, heard him and offered 'a lesson or two to get him started'. (Sam, by the way, is still fiddling, as well as building and repairing fiddles.)
Since then Winston has been committed to the instrument and has steadily developed his skills. He is a two time winner of the Johnny Mooring Memorial Trophy. A measure of the esteem with which Winston is held by the oldtime music community was demonstrated recently when he was invited to appear along with Graham Townsend and several other top Canadian fiddlers as a featured guest of the 1984 Maritime Fiddlers Championships in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
Like his first disc this record is 'a family affair'. The Crawfords are a very musical family. Brother Bob plays rhythm guitar and bass; brother Richard is the drummer and wife, Edie plays piano which is such an important part of the "Crawford Sound" and bass. Winston, of course, plays fiddle and bagpipes on it; sometimes both of them at once through the magic of overdubbing.
The album includes three original tunes composed by Winston. "The New Brunswick Bicentennial Waltz", "The Myrt Stephenson Waltz", (a tribute to Sam's wife) and the "Conrad Soucy Reel" (a tribute to a fiddle fan and friend). The other selections include such traditional favourites as "McNabb's Hornpipe", "The High Level Hornpipe" and "The Old Southern Waltz". Also such contemporary classics as Earl Mitton's "Blue Violet Breakdown" and Graham Townsend's "Prince County Jig".
There will be other Winston Crawford records in the future but remember the one you are holding in your hand now may quickly become the collector's classic of tomorrow. Don't put it down ... take it home with you!
Folk & Country World, The Telegraph Journal
Feature Writer for Canadian Bluegrass Review
I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to all who have supported me in the sell-out of my first album; also thanks for the encouragement and requests which led me to get another recording off to you. This being our Province's Bicentennial, I have written a tune I call "The New Brunswick Bicentennial Waltz:, to honour the beautiful Province in which I have always lived.
I wouldn't like to end a session at the recording studio without playing "Amazing Grace", and why not on the Bagpipes, especially for Jim Hargreaves and my many Coles Island friends; and Mrs. Banks, "The Green Hills of Tyrol" is for you and Happy Birthday.
Please enjoy and God Bless!
Your Fiddling Friend,
Lee Cremo Lee Cremo And His Eastern Variation, Audat 477-9010
Produced by Dr. A Feeney; Engineer: Mas Kikuta; Recorded at Audio Atlantic, Halifax, NS
Tracks: Swallow Tail Jig; The Lasses of
the Stewardon; Here Comes A Young Man Jig; Cameroouian Glant reel; Schubenacadie
Reserve Reel; Orange and Blue Jig; West Mabou Reel; I Lost My Love Jig;
McNab’s Hornpipe; Judique Jig; Cookoos Nest; Sandy Cameron’s Reel; Snow
Deer; Bow and Strings; Cactus Polka; Rubber Dolly; Ragtime Annie; Archie
Menzie; MacLeod’s Reel; Cock Of The North; Surveyor’s Reel; Little Burnt
Potato; MacLellans Special; Patty on the Turnpike
From drums to piano, from bass to mandolin, Lee Cremo has perfected his style. However, fiddle is still Lee’s main instrument.
He started playing seventeen years ago under the guidance of his father and close friend Wilfred Prosper. It was due to their supervision and knowledge that helped Lee gain the training required to win the maritime Old Time Fiddling Contest held in Dartmouth, from 1966 to 1968.
Other members of the group include:
Gabriel Sylibay - bass guitar, and been with the group for eight years
Wilfred Paul - lead guitar, has just recently rejoined the band after a four year absence. He resides in Eskasoni.
Joseph MacMullen - piano with the group for the past two and a half years, he also doubles on guitar. He comes from Bisdale, Cape Breton.
Peter Stevens - drummer, has been with the group one year. Besides drums he also sings, and plays guitar and piano. He also is from Eskasoni.
James Poulette - rhythm guitar and most of the singing. Also a resident of Eskasoni, James has only been with the group four months.
Produced by Grant Kennedy; Engineer: Al Feeney; Recorded at Audio Atlantic
Tracks: Duke of Edinborough; Nyanza Indian Bay Jig; Pete’s Breakdown; The girl I Left Behind; Golden Wedding Bells; Strathspey and Reel; Westphalia Waltz; Newcastle Clog and Hornpipe; Carnival Waltz; Bonnie Lass of Scotland; Let’s Have A Celeidh; Eskasoni Breakdown
Once again, Lee Cremo’s flying fiddle has reached
new heights in Country music. lee’s incomparable style has been thrilling
maritimers, and, especially Cape Bretonners, for many years now.
Lee’s home and base of operation is Eskasoni and most of Lee’s group come from that area. Equally at ease with drums, piano, bass and mandolin, Lee is still best known for his fine fiddle stylings. If you have never heard Lee before we know you will enjoy being introduced to his fine music. If you are a Lee Cremo fan there is no need to tell you more; you already know how talented Lee is
Produced by Bill Guest; Engineer: Grant Kennedy; Recorded Audio Atlantic, Halifax, NS
Tracks: Crooked Stovepipe; Sugarfoot Rag;
Whykagama India Jig; Irish Fiddler; Point Au Pic; Old Rose Waltz; Londonderry
Hornpipe; Turkey in the Straw; Honeymoon Polka; Joys of Quebec
The music of Lee Cremo is happy, toe tapping music that runs from the traditional tunes of the land to the current styles of fiddles and bows.
There are very few people as talented as Lee Cremo but there are a great many who recognize and appreciate his talents and the number is consistently increasing.
If you are a Lee Cremo fan of long standing, or have just discovered his music, this, his third Audat album, is sure to bring a happy note to your ears.
Recorded at Audio Atlantic, Halifax, NS
Tracks: Old Rose Waltz; Turkey In The Straw;
Sugarfoot Rag; Crooked Stove Pipe; Inverness Gathering; Irish Jig; Road
To The Island Forge; Chinese Breakdown; Lee’s Tune*; Irish Melody
Once again Lee Cremo’s flying fiddle has reached new heights in Country Music. Lee’s incomparable style has been thrilling Maritimers for many years now.
Few people have as wide a knowledge of country fiddle music as Lee and it’s safe to say that no one can master all the styles of fiddle music as Lee does.
If country fiddle music is your choice, welcome to the delight of a true master... Lee Cremo!
Tracks: Mason’s Apron; Little Beggerman; Irish Bay Jig; Nellie & Elizabeth Anne Hornpipe - Heather on the Hill; Larry’s River Reel; O’Leary’s Reel; Old Southern Waltz; Paddy On The Turnpike; Galway Bay Jig; Dedicated to Indian Union of N.S. Indians*; Yellow Bird; Wheels
Roland Croisetiere Vol 1, Trans World TWC-5501
Roland Croisetière, violon
Produced by Jean Boucher & O'Neil Ouellet
Tracks: St-Gabriel Breakdown*; Valse des Laurentides*; Gigue de Piedmont*; Black Donat Special*; Grand Isle Breakdown*; Reel du Mont-Tremblant*; Reel des molicittes*; Valse de la république*; Reel de la p'tite rivière*; Roland's Paul Jones*
Joseph Allard: Grand Violoneux Hommage, Association Québécoise des "Loisirs Folkloriques" CAM 105.2
Yvon Cuillerier, violon; Gisèle Forcier Dupuis, piano; Guy Dion, Contrabasse; Luc Lavallée, guitare
Tracks: Reel des skieurs (Quadrille indien); Gigue des capuchons; Gigue canadienne; Reel de l'hôtelier; Reel de Limoilou; Gigue du violoneux; Reel du cultivateur; Reel des ouvriers; Reel des moissonneurs; Quadrille de Beauharnois; Reel de la tuque bleue; Reel Poco; Reel de Châteauguay; Reel des bottes sauvages; Gigue du sous-marin; Reel Madame Renaud; Reel du régiment; Reel Saint-Sauveur; Quadrille français; Gigue du la débauche; Danse écossaise; Reel de l'enfant; Reel de Cabano; Quadrille montcalm; Reel de Tadoussac; Reel de Napoléon
(Ed. Note: This CD appears to be an original Joseph Allard but it ain't.)
Scottish Fiddler, Pentagon Records ALS-134
Also released on Paragon Records ALS 206
Tracks: Joe McKinnon’s Reel; Ron David Nyma Hornpipe; Slow Tune Strathspey - Welcome Altogether to you Feet Reel - Bonnie Lass of Fishersrow & Bird’s Nest Reel; The Miss Lyle Strathspey - The Kelly Mountain Reel; Down East Fiddling - Down East Hornpipe; Survaiers Hornpipe; Home Town Waltz - Village Carasel - Twighlight Waltz; Banks of Loch Strathspey - Cappreese reel; Snow Shoe Reel; Cheap Meal Reel; Shelburne Hornpipe
L’Homme au Violon Blue, Bonanza B-29684
Clement Cyr, fiddle; Fern Pelletier, piano; Gilles Gosselin, percussion; Gilles Pouliout, bass; Yves Giguère, guitar
Production: Denis Champoux
Tracks: Le Violon Bleu*; La Violonée*; La Giboulée*; La Marche Des Duchesses*; L’Érablière*; La Grand Gigue Simple; Le reel du Beau-Père*; La Valse Claudette*; La Ronfleuse; La Débâcle*
Minuet to a Fiddler, Theriault Records 13010011995 - 1994
Kenneth Davidson, guitar; Dan Theriault, guitar; Jean Fenner Forman, violin; Jennifer Jones, violin
Produced by Deniel Theriault and Kenneth Davidson; Engineer: Kenneth Davidson
Tracks: Waltz for Two Roses; Osprey Lodge Jig; Dorothy Lynn & Cy's Clan Theme; Those Little Thoughts; March to the Bay; Peggy Lynne; Galatea's Dance; Hillside Rondo; Minuet to a Fiddler; Schooner For Two; Pastel Lands; Bon Portage; Huttenson House
(all composed by Kenneth Davidson)
Minuete to a Fiddler is a special recording dedicated to Tara Lynne Touesnard, one of Nova Scotia's finest fiddlers. This collaboration with composer Kenneth Davidson was to be her fourth album. Tragically, this 21 year old River Bourgeois native died early in the development of the project.
Tara Lynne was a four-time champion at the Maritime Old Tyme Fiddling Contest. She won more than 30 trophies and awards including two Terry Fox Humanitarian Awards, and the Don Messer Trophy. She was a finalist in the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Contest. She was studying violin at Acadia University with Jennifer Jones.
This fine musician, and friend to all who knew her, will be sadly missed and remembered always for her big-hearted generosity and her contribution to the musical fabric of Nova Scotia.
Jean Fenner Forman plays with Symphony Nova Scotia and is a dedicated teacher of the violin. Of Minuet to a Fiddler, she says "I found new freedom in playing these pieces. Somewhere within classical, folk, maritime, and country, this finely crafted music comes from the heart."
Jennifer Jones has spent numerous summers performing at festivals in Canada, the United States, England and France. She is first violinist for Symphony Nova Scotia and teaches at the Maritime Conservatory of Music. Tara Lynne's teacher for a short time, Jennifer says "I watched as she used her creative imagination to express herself in every style of music she played."