Five MacDonald Fiddlers

Scottish Reels, Jigs and Strathspeys, Celtic CX 48, circa 1960

John, Hugh, Bernie, Allan, Dan MacDonald, fiddles; Joan MacDonald, piano

Tunes: Duke of Fife march / St. Kilda’s Wedding reel; Rolling off the Log jig / Green Shades of Gasque jig; Maggie Cameron strathspey / Honorable Mrs. Maules reel / Archie Brown reel; Tarbolton Lodge reel / Johnnie Sullivan’s reel / Keep it Up reel; Miss Flemming of Moness strathspey / MacIntosh of MacIntosh reel / Miss Watts reel; Lady Anne Amelia Stuart’s strathspey / Whigs of Fife reel / Susan Gordon reel; Glasgow Hornpipe / West Mabou reel / Lord MacDonald reel; The Drovers Lads jig / First of Sping jig; Corgarss Castle strathspey / Lady Forbes of Newe’s reel / Mrs. Margaret MacDonald’s Delight reel; Cutty Sark reel / Miss Dundas reel / Paddy on the Turnpike

The Five MacDonald Fiddlers, consisting of John, Hugh, Bernie, Allan, Dan and Joan MacDonald on piano are all former Inverness County, Cape Bretoners. The group met in Detroit for the first time and after several meetings at dances and house parties decided to form a group. Since that time they have played many concerts, benefits, weddings and entertained at private parties.

Dan R. MacDonald is exceptionally noted as a composer of Scottish music and during a visit to Scotland played at several concerts. Critics, after listening to Dan’s own compositions, branded him ‘Scott Skinner, the Second’.

The only relationship in the group is that of Allan and Joan who are brother and sister Hugh being a first cousin to them.

The Fiddlers of Cape Breton, Celtic SCS 57 (Compatible Sterio)
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Also check out John A. MacDonald

Dan R. MacDonald

Fiddling To Fortune, Rodeo RLP 59 - circa 1955

Dan R. MacDonald, violin; Lila Hashem, piano

Tracks: Dan Galbey's Reel / Mrs Grant of Cullen House; Mrs Douglas of Cantwell Jig / The Piastrd Jig; Greg's Pipe Reel / The Goodenwell Reel; The Mountain Jig / Father Dollard's Favorite Jig; Caramonies Rant Strathspey / Lord Kinneards Reel; Locomotive Clog / Byrnes Hornpipe; Smith's Reel / Bennett's Favorite Reel; Alex Steel's Farewell Jig / Swimming in the Gutter Jig; Lassie Look Before You (Strathspey) / Steer the Gill Reel / The Trussel Reel; Largo Law Strathspey / The eight Men of Moirhart Reel; The Bell Piano Strathspey / The Bell Piano Reel; The Fox Reel / Duchess of Athol's Favourite

Dan Rory MacDonald was born at Judique, Inverness County on Cape Breton Island in 1911, coming from a very musical family. Almost as soon as he learned his ABC's, he was at the fiddle and soon showed a natural talent for fiddling the old Scotch Jigs and Reels. At the age of sixteen, Dan R., as he was then and is still known by, was playing the fiddle at dances.

During the second world war, he was in the army and while in Scotland he played regularly over the BBC.

Dan R. MacDonald, Celtic CX 28 Mid-1950s

Dan R. MacDonald, violin; Marie MacLellan, Piano

Tracks: Portre Bay Jig - Graham’s Highland Fling; Auch Mountains Bonnie Glen march - Loch Loskin strathspey - Grant’s reel; Rosebud O’Allenvale slow air; Donald Dinnie - Coull O’Newe strathspeys; The Spinning Wheel reel; Mr Alex Irvine’s strathspey - Miss Stewart O’Foss - John Howat’s reels; King O’ The Fairies irish barn dance; Alyth Burn Jig - Johnny’s Jig; A Selection of Irish Reels: New Bedford - Doreen Cast - Glen Long Street’s; Highland Schottische - Fiddler’s Joy: Bell O’ The Stage lancaster clog; George’s Army march - Artafallie strathspey - Raigmora’s House reel; Men O The West Waltz - Mrs Mary MacEachern’s Waltz; The Burnie O’ Anchrask slow air

Dan Rory MacDonald was burn at Judique, Inverness County on Cape Breton Island in 1911, and came from a very musical family. Almost as soon as he learned his ABC’s he was at the fiddle and soon showed a natural talent for fiddling the old Scotch jigs and reels. At the age of 16 Dan R, as he was then and is still known by, was playing the fiddle at dances.

During the second world war he was in the army and while in Scotland he played regularly over the BBC.

A noted composer in his own right, Dan R has contributed much to the music of the Scot.

Marie MacLellan, one of the famous MacLellan Trio, is an accomplished pianist and well known throughout the Maritimes. She has appeared many times on Radio and Television.

The Fiddlers of Cape Breton, Celtic SCS 57 (Compatible Sterio)

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Howie MacDonald

Howie MacDonald and His Cape Breton Fiddle, Solar SAR-A-017 1985

Howie MacDonald, fiddle; John Morris Rankin, Piano; Sandy MacDonald, guitar

Produced by Dave MacIsaac, John Morris Rankin & Howie MacDonald; Engineer: John Harold Tsistinas

Tracks: Willow Tree - Sutherland’s* - Donegal reels; Peter Bailie’s Wife - Irishman’s Heart To The Ladies - Felix The Wrestler jigs; Clark road march - The Bog O’Gight strathspey - The Witch - Biodagair MacThomas reels; Lady Doune - Lennox to Blantyre strathspeys - Dan Galbey’s - Sister Dolena Beaton’s* reels; Miss Ann Carnagie - Napoleon hornpipes; Betty Matheson’s* - Mike Saunder’s - Swinging On Home jigs; Cheticamp - Dave MacNeil’s - Miss Smyth of Methevans reels; Johnny’s - The Ten Penny Big - The Broken Lantern jigs; Dundas Street March - The Westburne* - The Cavity Investigator’s* reels; Gramin - Jabe Meadow - Compliments To Doug MacPhee* hornpipes

I guess it’s save to say that the three young men on this album come by their music honestly. Whether or not the main influence was hereditary or environmental is debatable but no doubt both aspects played major roles.

Howie MacDonald’s musical heritage goes back many generations. The music comes from both his parents and to give a list of talented relatives would literally need more space than this album allows. Having spent a good deal of time in Queensville on his grandfather’s farm certainly did Howie no harm as it allowed him time with two of his fiddle-playing uncles, Donnie and Francis, and a whole host of musical cousins.

Howard and Annie MacDonald’s house in Westmount is a good place to go for a tune as well as a cup of tea. Howie is the fifth of six children. Other brother, Michael, is an accomplished piano player and composer (Howie has included at least one of his tunes). Evelyn, is a noted stepdancer and dancing teacher. Marilyn, besides being very good on keyboards, possesses a beautiful natural singing voice. Younger sister, Cheryl, can boast of a number of talents but is better known as a stepdancer. If you have been keeping track, you will realize that I have missed Judy who claims she doesn’t do or play anything -- but somebody had to drive the car.

Aside from his family, Howie has had a number of positive musical influences. One that most people can identify is Jerry Holland. Jerry, perhaps because of his drive, lift and ability in a number of styles, has inspired a good number of young players (and he is not too old himself). Another force in the music world that Howie has tried to emulate is Buddy MacMaster. Buddy always has time to explain or demonstrate some technique or another to help a young player along.

Howie has caught the public eye in the last few years with several appearances on ATV’s “Up Home Tonight”. He was also a featured guest on Ryan’s Fancy’s “On Campus” television show. He has been a regular on CBC Radio’s “Island Echoes” and “Talent Cape Breton”, and his music is often heard on a whole list of private radio shows from Sydney to Boston.

Howie is a prolific composer (as in a very nice four part reel in A composed for yours truly, but don’t ask him to play it, he forgot to write it down). Six of the tunes he remembered to write down are included in this album. As mentioned before, Howie has included a tune composed by his brother Michael. As well you will find tunes composed by Jerry Holland and Donnie LeBlanc, as well as other Cape Breton composers.

Howie has lately set up housekeeping in Halifax, and while he still makes frequent trips to Cape Breton (between trips to play in Toronto, PEI, and Newfoundland), we hope to see him back in Cape Breton on a full-time basis before long.

John Morris Rankin is another person who was “bread and buttered” in Cape Breton music. The fourth in a family of twelve, he started in music at an early age. Besides having generations of music passed on through the Rankins on one side and the Wrights on the other, he grew up in a community rich in music culture. Whenever there was a need for musical pointers, John Morris only had to head off to see Donald Angus Beaton or Mrs Elizabeth Beaton, or Joey or Kinnon Beaton or stroll across the street to see Dan R. MacDonald. John Morris is one of the few players of today who is still master of the Mabou Coal Mines style of violin playing, a very unique and distinctive style, perhaps best exemplified in the last half century by Mary MacDonald and Donald Angus Beaton. On this album he is doing what he is perhaps most known for, playing the piano. John Morris has, over the last number of years, been the accompanist for some of the best in the business. In 1976, he was part of Cape Breton’s contribution to the Montreal Cultural Olympics. John Morris along with Joey Beaton, was part of Mabou’s Musical Mission to Manhattan. For the past few years he and Howie have been part of the Cape Breton Concerto. Like so many talented Cape Bretoners, John Morris has had to leave the island to find work. He currently resides in Halifax with his wife, Sally, and youngest son, Michael.

As I mentioned earlier, Howie MacDonald has a long list of talented relatives. One of these is his first cousin Sandy MacDonald who has been called upon to provide the guitar backup for this album. Sandy is the son of Alex and Kathleen MacDonald and as such shares common musical heritage with Howie. Sandy has been playing along for a few years now and has developed into a good and very adept guitar accompanist.

While I have mentioned the relationship between Howie and Sandy, I feel that I should note the fact that Sally (MacDonnell) Rankin is also a relative. They all share the common MacEachern ancestry (as I do). The MacEachern branch included such noted musicians as Dan Hughie and John Willie MacEachern.

I feel honoured to have been asked to fill in some information on the musicians. Besides whatever relationship may be there, all three are close personal friends., I feel confident that you will enjoy the music on this album and I hope that this is just the first of many from Howie MacDonald and friends.

(Probably) Dave MacIsaac

A Taste Of Cape Breton, Howie MacDonald Recordings WRC1-5562 - 1988

Howie MacDonald, fiddle, piano; Sandy MacDonald, guitar; John Morris Rankin, piano, bass, guitar; Jim Rankin, percussion

Produced by Howie MacDonald & John Morris Rankin; Engineer: Harold Tsistinas

Tracks: Lady Montgomery - Gandy Dancers - Uncle Victor’s reels; Kenmure’s Awa - Murray’s River - Jerry Holland’s Fiddle* jigs; Locharber Gathering march - Kames Lassies strathspey - Hayfield House - Joe’s (Moroze) Fancy* reels; Miss Ann Campbell’s - The Green Tree - The “Buddy”* jigs; Dedication to Winston ‘Scotty’ Fitzgerald: Robert Cormack, Aberdeen strathspey - Archie Menzie’s reel - Miss Barker’s Hornpipe; The Ferry - The Jean Ireland - Knights of St. Patrick jigs; The Steamboat - Irish clogs - Jacky Tar hornpipe - Patricia Wilmot’s reel; The Rambling Pitchfork jig - The Silver Spear - The White Leaf reels; Loch Na Gar strathspey; Tunes for glendale strathspey - The Jolly Beggar Man - Irish reels; Loch Lamond reel - Mountain Ranger - Saratoga hornpipes

Howie MacDonald is a young and very prolific Cape Breton composer. The Scottish influence in his heritage is evident in this, his second album.

Howie has a flair for playing for dances, as those of us who regularly attend them well know. His music is lively and versatile, a modern-day version of Cape Breton traditional music.

This album in particular combines many of Cape Breton’s favorite tunes. Some of these Howie has composed, others are kindly donated by musical friends, and some are traditional. Each and every combination of tunes on this album has a distinct ‘lift’ which will surely keep your feet stomping.

Something unique in the style of music in this recording is the manner in which it is played by all four musicians. Though Howie is young, his ear for music is well-matured. he uses this talent to slip in surprises here and there, delighting listeners of all ages.

The accompanying musicians on this album are John Morris Rankin and Sandy MacDonald, both of whom appear on Howie’s First album, entitled “Howie MacDonald and His Cape Breton Fiddle” (1985). Jim Rankin, who plays percussion, appears for the first time on record. All musicians are synchronized and each selection is well-delivered. The four men complement each other’s many musical talents in both timing and liveliness. I guess we could say with Howie and Sandy(cousins) and John Morris and Jim (brothers) it should be a ‘relatively’ good album.

So enjoy this recording, which is only the second of many from Howie MacDonald who ensures that this music is only ‘A Taste of Cape Breton’. There’s lots more to come.

Note on the Liner:

“...well, music is like everything else, it gets to you, it gets into you, you know? yeah, I can go there in (front of) three or four hundred people and make them feel happy, y’know? ...But the most time I enjoyed music was when I was at a house party or something and (about) a dozen listeners and then you didn’t mind playing... A dance, you really went there to give the people a good time, and of course meet a lot of people...”

Winston ‘Scotty’ Fitzgerald (1914-1987)

Cape Breton Fiddle Music Not Calm:Ind. HMDCD156 - 2001

Ashley MacIsaac, fiddle; Howie MacDonald, fiddle, piano, guitar; Matthew Foulds, percussion

Produced by Howie Macdonald; Engineer: Mike Wadden; Recorded at Spectrum Studios & Howie Centre

Tracks: Intro: Ashley; Old Time Wedding Reel Medley: Old Time Wedding Reel / Hamish the Carpenter#2* / A Mary MacDonald Reel / Jennie's Chickens / Andy Renwick's Ferret / The Campbell Brothers / Barry's Trip to the Shetlands / Jenny's Welcome to Charlie / Lively Steps / Julia Delaney; Mocking Bird Medley: Mocking Bird / Southern Melodies / McNab's Hornpipe / Maureen Glynn / St. Anne's Reel / General Stuart / Miss Baigie Reel / Uist Lansers / Fairy Dance; Buttermilk Mary Medley: Campion Jig / Fairbanks Jig / Stool of Repentance / Buttermilk Mary; Constitution Breakdown Medley: Miss Johnson's reel / King of the Clans / '38 Ford Reel / Constitution Breakdown; River Bend / Mason's Apron Medley: Murry River Bridge / Road to Skye / River Bend Jig / The Race of Kildare / Tripper's Jig / Rosewood Jig / Mason's Apron Reel / Dillon Brown's Reel / Clumsy Lover / John Mirrison Kelsae Brig Reel / Black Mill / Kelsae Brig Reel / Sleepy Maggie / The Musical Priest; Tulloch Gorm Medley: Braes of Tullymet / The Ewe With the Crooked Horn / The Cloud Strathspey / Tulloch Gorm / Paresis Reel / Miss Johnson's Reel / Patti on the Turnpike / If I had a Bonnie Lass / East Nuke of Fife / Highland Plaid / Lord Seaforth / Angus on the Turnpike / David's Favourite / A Hornpipe / Cotton Wood Reel / A Duncan MacQuarrie Reel / Garfield Vale / Morning Dew / Charlie's Brother / Molly McGuire

This music is a tribute to the memory of John Morris Rankin (1959 - 2000)

John A. MacDonald

Scottish Fiddling, Celtic CX 11 - Mid 1950s

John A MacDonald, Fiddle; Barbara MacDonald, piano

Tracks: Medley of Cape Breton Jigs; Sir James Stewart (slow) Strathspey - Lady Betty Moore Strathspey - Earl of Dirleton reel - McGregory reel; My Brother Grand Jig - The Five MacDonalds’ Jig; Shady Nook Clog - King of the Clans reel - Reefed Man’sil reel; Mniller O’Hirn - Clach-na-Cuddin, strathspeys - Pretty Peg - Lady Mae Moira, reels; Murdoc Morrison - Mrs Dorothy Macdonald, strathspeys - Laggan Hall reel; Briley’s Brook march - Loch Caron reel; Buddy’s Favourite - Bells of Queensville - betty Lou’s Fancy, jigs; Victoria Road march - Peter Milne’s strathspey - Hamtramck Harbour reel; Tulchan Lodge - Happy Tom, strathspeys - Left Handed Fiddler reel; Lady Francis of Boharm’s - The Duchess of East Craigs, strahtspeys - Tulloch Castle - The Marquis of Dalkeith, reels; Bonnie Ann march - Memories of Foot Cape strathspey - Mrs. Neil R. MacDonald’ - The Highlanders Rant, reels

John A. MacDonald is a member of the now famous Five MacDonald Fiddlers, who sparked to fame on Rodeo International some three years ago, and a former resident of Detroit, Michigan for many years and has carried the tradition of the Cape Breton Fiddle to the Detroit community.

His daughter, Barbara, has followed the footsteps of her famous father by becoming a most proficient exponent of Scottish Music on the piano.

The two combine their talents to bring you fresh spirit into the age-old heritage of the Scot - music with a flavour comparable to none.

The Fiddlers of Cape Breton, Celtic SCS 57 (Compatible Sterio)

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Little Jack MacDonald

The Bard Of Scottish Fiddling, Celtic CX 23 - Mid 1950s

Jack MacDonald, fiddle; Viola MacCuaig, piano

Tracks: Vi’s Favourite (air) - Gillis Cove Strathspey - Ronald’s Favourite Reel; Captain Carswell March - Devil In The Kitchen Strathspey - Muileann Dubh Reel; Ford’s Schottische; Forest of Qaick Strathspey - Mrs Stewart of Garth Reel; Arthur Bignal March; Start of robert Burns (pastoral air) - Mirth and Melody Strathspey - Kelvin Reel; Hundred Pipers Waltz - My Home Waltz; Mrs Menzies of Culdares Slow Strathspey - Urquart Castle Strathspey - Miss Menzies Reel; Sir Alexander Dawn Strathspey - Alexander Dawn Reel; Captain Campbell March; Welcome On Your Feet Again Strathspey - James MacLean Reel - Mrs Stewart of the Island of Java reel; Detroit Jig

Little Jack MacDonald is probably the oldest active Scottish Fiddler in Canada today and can truly be called the Bard of Scottish Fiddling. Born in Judique, Cape Breton Island, Little Jack is a member of the old school of fiddling and is well known for his excellent renditions of difficult pastoral airs.

Little Jack spent many years in the USA and finally settled in Glengarry County in the Province of Ontario, Canada.

Viola MacCuaig, who provides such excellent piano accompaniment in this album, was born in Glengarry and is widely appreciated as an accomplished pianist. Viola has performed at many gatherings and currently delights audiences with Little Jack

The Fiddlers of Cape Breton, Celtic SCS 57 (Compatible Sterio)

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Joe MacDougal & Bernie Ley

The Fiddlers of Cape Breton, Celtic SCS 57 (Compatible Sterio)

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Billy MacInnis

Fiddles Favorites, Millview - WRC1-4156

Billy MacInnis, fiddle; Bill MacInnis Sr., 2nd fiddle (Lone Star Rag); John MacInnis, drums; Margaret  MacPherson, vocal (Till We Meet Again); Allan McKinnon, piano; Rodrigue Richard, bass; Joe McGarry, steel

Produced and recorded by Lou Douse and C. Francis Drake at Millview Studios, Charlottetown PEI; mixed by C. Francis Drake and Wayne Huskins; Engineered by George MacPhee; Mastered at Novasco - SoundVision, Halifax. Musical arrangements by Bill MacInnis Sr.

Tracks: Orange Blossom Special; Billy Wilson's Clog; The Lone Star Rag; The Carleton County Breakdown; The Westphalia Waltz; Pete's Breakdown; Bowingn The Strings; The Duke Neilson Jig**; The Princess reel; Maple Sugar; Medley: Cock of the North / The Mason's Apron; Big John McNeil; Till We Meet Again

**By Billy MacInnis Sr.

Every now and then a young talent appears in our community that stands out from all the rest. It's always a source of real pleasure to watch the youngster develop and grow into that talent.

Radio people often get asked to judge talent shows. Such was the case in 1983 when, as Program Director of CHTN in Charlottetown, the Sherwood Junefest Committee invited me to act as one of the judges for their talent contest. I was glad I did!

In the middle of the evening, a shy, good-looking youngster, with a pint-sized fiddle under his arm and his Dad in tow, walked onto the stage and stole the show! He has since gone on to win a few more of those shows.

This is 13-year-old Billy MacInnis' first album. Buy it... it'll be a collector's item someday. This boy is bound to have many more!

All the Best Billy! And keep writing more good tunes like your "DUKE NEILSON JIG".  You've got a great future.

Loran Fevens

Congratulations Bill on your first album. May there be many more in what promises to be a good career in country music. Your devotion and what it represents has pleased audiences across the Island and through C.B.C.'s Sounds of the Island and Compass programs. May you never lose sight of your personal goals and the ability to attain excellence in whatever you tackle in Life.

Best of Luck

Roger Younker
Announcer C.B.C.

Thanks To:

- My mom Lorraine for good meals and patience while recording.
- I dedicate Cock Of North and The Mason's Apron to my grandfather Johnny MacInnis, who ws also a fiddler and to three other island fiddlers of the pas: Lyman Dunsford, Joe-Pete Chaisson and Bill Weatherbe.
- Tourism PEI
- Mike Daye

Fiddlin' with Tradition, No Label - WRC8-7432

Billy MacInnis, fiddle, guitar & piano; Wayne Gallant, drums, bass & piano; Billy & Wayne, additional instruments

Produced by Billy MacInnis and Wayne Gallant; Engineered by Wayne Gallant with Lars Davidson at Davidson & Gallant Studio, Charlottetown, PEI

Tracks: Waldo Munro Shuffle*; Bully of the Town; Island Ferry; Shannon Waltz; Alabama Jubilee; Opry Capers; Soggy Reid's Reel*; The Duke Nielson Jig*; White Fish On The Rapids / Lightning Hornpipe; Trail Blazer's Two Step; Orange Blossom Special; Angel Eyes

Thanks to: Wayne, for your hard work and great ideas. I'm proud to have had you work on this project with me.

Special thanks to: Lisa for her love and support.


On The bow Again, No label - WRC8-7703

Billy MacInnis, fiddle, guitar; Jonathan Ross, piano; Wayne Baker, percussion

Produced by Billy MacInnis; Engineered by Wayne Baker

Tracks: Back Up And Push; 8th of January / Bill Cheatham; Cecil MacEachern Special*; Ice On The Road; St. Lawrence Jig; Four String Polka; Lisa Deanne Waltz*; D'Armond Two Step / Reel De Point au Pic; Whiskey Before Breakfast; Listen to the Mockingbird; Lonestar Rag; Rippling Water Jig; Georgianna Moon; Canadian Medley; Red Wing; Crazy Creek; Trouble Among the Yearlings

Special thanks....

To my family and Lee Drake and the Morning Crew and staff at 630 CFCY radio in Charlottetown, PEI for all their promotional support.

Billy MacInnis

Billy MacInnis salutes Wally Hennessey and Harness Racing On PEI, No label - WRC8-7015 - 2001

Billy MacInnis, fiddle; Robbie Duncan, bass; Jonathan Ross, piano; Wayne Baker, drums; Vance Cameron, track commentary; Lee Drake, Introduction of Wally into the Winner's Circle

Produced by Billy MacInnis; Engineered by Wayne Baker

CD Single - Salutes Wally Hennessey & Harness Racing on PEI

I would like to express special thanks to: Kent Oakers, Lee Drake, Charlottetown Driving Park for their assistance and ongoing support.

PS Please support live harness racing on PEI

The Fiddle Player From PEI, No label or serial

Billy MacInnis, fiddle; Leon Gallant, acoustic Rhythm guitar; Remi Arsenault, bass guitar; Jonathan Ross, piano; Roger Carter, drums; Chris Gauthier, Telecaster guitar, Acoustic guitar, slide steel; Mike Pendergast, accordion; Peter Webb, banjo; John Matthews, bodhran

Produced by Billy MacInnis; Recorded, mixed and mastered by John Matthews at Big Grey Sound Studio, Charlottetown

Tracks: The Reel Stompin' Tom*; Alex and Maureen's Two Step; Louis Riel Reel; Raemona's Waltz; Constitution Breakdown & Cheticamp Reel; Maple Sugar Sweetheart; Teardrop Waltz; Happy Acres Two Step; Juliana's Breakdown; Cajun Fiddle; French Jig's; Tammy's In Love

Hi everyone!

I would like to thank all of you who purchased this album, it is my 7th recording and I hope you enjoy it.

I would like to thank all of the musicians who worked on it. They are guys I get to work with quite often and they are some of the hardest working players I know. Also special recognition to Leon Gallant for composing Juliana's Breakdown.

I am dedicating The Happy Acres Two Step to my friend Cecil McEachern who composed this tune. Cecil was a member of Don Messer's band "The Islanders".

I also dedicated The Reel Stompin' Tom to the man himself, who I have had the honor of working with over the past 6 years so, I composed this tune for Tom.

Thanks Again.


For more info or other recordings you can search me on the web or email me at

Dan Joe MacInnis


The Cape Breton Fiddle of Dan Joe MacInnis, Banff Rodeo RBS 1066, circa 1961

Tracks: Duke of Fife’s Welcom To Deeside march - Mrs Rose of Tarlogie reel; Devil In The Kitchen strathspey - The Old Lady of Rothesay - Maragree reels; Miss Isa Forsyth - Miss Catherine Stewart jigs; Miss Crawford air - The Strong Man of Drum strathspey - Duncal On The Clainstones reel; Mrs Wright of Laton strathspey - Mrs Melville - Miss Johnston of Hillton’s reels; Stodger Laddie - Marie’s Family jigs; Captain Campbell - Cullen House strathspeys - The Oyster Rant reel; Marnoch strathspey - Mr Thomas Rae - The Black Mill reels; Miss Christina Stewart - Lady Charlotte Murray jigs; Broley’s Favorite - Duke of gordon strathspeys - Peggy Menzie - Perwig reels 

The Scottish Canadian Fiddle of Dan Joe MacInnis:Celtic CX 14, circa 1965

Dan Joe MacInniss, fiddle; Doug MacPhee, piano

Tracks: Little Pickle / The rover's Return / Walking the Floor jigs; Colonel Sutherland Strathspey / Alexander MacDonald  / Burn of Forgue reels; John MacDonald of Glencoe march / Scotsville reel; The Highlands of Banffshire / Miss Mary MacInnis strathspeys / Miss Gordon of Knocksport / Francis Romily reels; Duke of Richmond pastoral / Mr. Masson strathspey / Charles Stewart / Lady Madeline Sinclair's Birthday reels; Margaret MacPhee's / Council Gathering jigs; Fraser's / Sally's / Mrs. Watson's Favourite jigs; Balmoral Castle / Allowa Kirk / Grand Lodge strathspeys / James Bennet / O'Donald O' Donald reels; Dan the Cobbler / The Quick Step / Catherine MacIsaac's Wedding Day jigs; Duncan Davidson strathspey / Miss Lane MacInnis / Miss Glennie's reels; Bishop MacDonald (in memory of the late Fr. Michael MacCormick) - slow air; The Tweedsdale Club strathspey / Mrs. L. Stewart / Lady Muir Mac-Kenzie reels; Glen Grant / Lucy Campbell strathspeys / Wee Davie / Miss Cameron reels

Dan Joe MacInnis (violin) and Doug MacPhee (piano) are Cape Bretoners.

Both have been interested in the music of the forefather's since early childhood and their interpretation of Scottish Music is a delight to the ears.

This is Dan Joe MacInnis's second album for the Company. The first being released on Banff (RBS 1066) which was a great success. No-one interested in Scottish Music should miss purchasing this album.

Scottish Canadian Fiddle Music:Banff RBS 1247. corca 1965

Dan Joe MacInnis, Piano; Loretta Beaudry, piano

Tracks: The Highway to Dublin / Farewell to the Creeks / Three Little Drummers; Isabel's Strathspey / The Smith's Burn / O She's Comical reels; Farewell to the Glen / Tom Dey / Raigmore House / Bridge of Bucket; The Hills of Lowloon / Dungarvin Irish jigs; Coilsfield House / Nighe ann Donn / The Burning of the Bridge / Miss Thom's; John MacColl's Farewell / Forfar Hunt; Caledonia's Wails for Neil Gow / The Sportsman Haunt / High Road to Fort Agustus; Barney O'Neill / Jaskson's Fancy / The Walls of Lisearrol/ Willie Fraser's / Stephanie Marie MacLean / MacKenzie Fraser; March to the Rendezvous / James Wares / Miss Fogo; Brookside Jig / Miss Russell; Sir James MacInnes / Mrs J. Forbes / Mr Jamison's

Rodeo Records Salute to Sydney Cape Breton Island on its 175th Anniversary, Banff Rodeo RBS 1051
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The Fiddlers of Cape Breton, Celtic SCS 57 (Compatible Sterio)

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Sandy MacIntyre

Let’s Have A Ceilidh with Sandy MacIntyre, Ceilidh Records – CLP-1001, circa 1974

Sandy MacIntyre – fiddle, piano, guitar

Tunes: Tulchan Lodge Strathspey / Earl Gray Strathspey / The Waverley Ball Reel; Jeqanette (MacDonald) Beaton’s Jig / Princess Margaret’s Jig; Gehudi Menukon’s Welcome to Blair Castle March / Doug MacPhee’s Strathspey / Sir Reginald MacDonald Reel / Honourable Mrs. Maule Reel; Kirkmichael Plough’s Slow Air / Irish Fancy Hornpipe; The Muir O’Gillan Strathspey / Ariel Reel; Friendly Visit Clog / The Crooked Road To Dublin Reel / Lord MacDonald Reel; John Fred MacLean’s Strathspey*  / Mrs Forbes Reel / Sandy MacIntyre’s Reel*; Peter Warner’s Jig* / Donald Angus Beaton’s Jig* / Buddy MacMaster’s Jig*; Caledonia’s Wail for Neil Gow –  Slow Air / The Sportsman’s Haunt Strathspey / High Road To Fort Augustus Reel; Inverness Gathering March / Miss Henney MacKenzie Reel; Margaret Ann Robertson’s Waltz; Canty Jean Solo Strathspey / Miss Rattray Reel / MacNabb’s Hornpipe

Of all the varied styles of old time fiddling which exists in different regions of North America some of the most distinctive and pleasing sounds are flourishing along t shores of Cape Breton Island. Generations of Scottish influence is very much in evidence throughout the beautiful hills and valleys of Inverness county.

In this new album you will meet Sandy MacIntyre, another one of Cape Breton’s fine fiddlers. Sandy was born into a family of musicians in the town of Inverness on April 17, 1935. His mother and father were both Scottish fiddlers. His mother had long been considered one of the liveliest square dance fiddlers in the county. Sandy is one of ten children, six boys and four girls, all of which play musical instruments. Sandy is married to the former Lucy LeBlanc of Margaree Forks, Inverness county. They have two children, Brian 15 years and Stephen, 12 years. Both are showing signs of following in their father’s footsteps.

Some of Sandy’s guest appearances included the Mariposa Folk Festival at Toronto in 1971 and 1972 where he represented Cape Breton fiddlers.

He also performed at, and managed, the Scottish Talent Club in Toronto for approximately eight years.

Sandy also performed at the Royal York Hotel, Toronto, during the Prince Edward Island Centennial Celebration held there during the summer of ’73.

He is presently playing for dances in Detroit and Ottawa, and will be making guest appearances in Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton and Boston later this summer.

Sandy’s latest accomplishment is his regular appearance on ‘Ceilidh’ – a thirteen part series on C.B.C. TV featuring Cape Breton fiddle music.

A number of selections on this album were composed by Sandy himself.

Modern recording technology permits Sandy to display some of his many talents as he performs on fiddle, also handles the accompaniment on the piano and guitar.

Each instrument is recorded separately on tape and they are then blended together to produce these very pleasing sounds.

For those of you who are enthusiastic owners of Cape Breton fiddle music albums, this one is a must for your collection.

For those of you who are not as familiar with Down East fiddle music, be careful, you could very easily become addicted, because this album, like Sandy himself, is just plain likable.

Cape Breton... My Land In Music, SLM 1001

Sandy MacIntyre, fiddle, piano; David MacIsaac, bass, guitar

Produced by Sandy MacIntyre; Engineer: Kevin Doyle and Robert Digidia; Recorded at Sounds Interchange, Toronto, ON

Tracks: Lord Alexander Kennedy march - Old Scottish Reel; The Humours of Castle Comer - Sandy McGaff jigs; Killicrankie marching air - Rothiemurcus Rant strathspey - Argyle Bowling Green - Feargan, reels; The Honeysuckle clog - Durang’s hornpipe; Shetland Reels: The well Wynd - Millbrae; Westphalia Waltz; Irish Reels: Gan Ainm - Geatleys; The Kosb’s Farewell march - Craiglash - Leith Links reels; Captain Campbell - Lucy Campbell, strathspeys - Colonel Stewart Garth’s reel; The Second Star - President Grant hornpipes; Lady Charlotte Bruce’s Favourite air - The New Brig of Methlick strathspey - The Clydesdale Lasses reel; Lady Dorothea Stewart Murray march - Set of Two Jigs

Most present day Cape Breton fiddlers, including the writer, have been influenced in great measure by the unique fiddling styles and techniques of Winston ‘Scotty’ Fitzgerald, Angus Chisholm and ‘Buddy’ MacMaster. While carefully reading the accounts of ‘Scotty’, Angus, ‘Buddy’ and all the fiddlers in Allister MacGillivray’s excellent production “The Cape Breton Fiddler”, it is indeed interesting to note striking similarities relative to our early ‘encounters’ with the fiddle. Family members and friends were key influences - mainly through sharing their fiddling skills with us and offering support and encouragement.

Musicians in my family who influenced me in my early years - and whom I am greatly indebted - include my grandfather John Angus MacIsaac, parents Ronald and Cassie MacIntyre, brothers John R and Francis, sisters Mary, Florence and Georgina, Uncles John Archie, Alex Angus, Dan Hughie, and Donald Angus MacIsaac and Peter MacDonnell. The aforementioned - all fiddlers - could have easily performed a full variety concert consisting of fiddle, piano, step-dancing, bagpipes, gaelic singing and story telling. I know there are hundreds of Cape Breton fiddlers with similar backgrounds.

To these and the countless hundreds of Cape Breton musicians who, for many reasons, did not receive due recognition for their contribution, I proudly dedicate this album as a sincere gesture of appreciation.

This, my second fiddle album, fulfills a long-held ambition for me in that it provides me and you, the listener, with a journey through Cape Breton - my land in music. Most of the tunes are tried, true and ever popular, while others are new to both you and myself. I hope you will enjoy them all.

On this album I have chosen to play & blend together both fiddle and piano. Bass and acoustic guitar accompaniment is very capably executed by highly respected and accomplished Cape Breton musician, David MacIsaac. David is held in very high esteem by his peers in the music field for his talent and versatility.

In his letters to the Corinthians, St Paul wrote that every gift entrusted to us by God is to be used and shared with others. I am sincerely appreciative and thankful that God saw fit to grant me special talents and allow me to share them with you through this album. Sons Brian and Stephen are similarly sharing their music talents through their association with “Goodwood”, a band they actively play in in Toronto.

In appreciation


Island Treasure vol. 1: SMCD9107 - 1988

Sandy MacIntyre, violin; Doug MacPhee, piano; John Allan Cameron, twelve string guitar; David MacIsaac, bass, flat top guitar

Produced by Sandy MacIntyre; Engineer: HaroldTsistinas; Recorded at Solar Audio Recording, Halifax, NS

Tracks: John Mac Fayden of Melfort march / Sandy MacIntyre's Strathspey / Sandy MacIntyre's Reel / Gravel Walk Reel; Alex MacIntyre's Jig* / 'Scotty' Fitzgerald's Jig* / Findlay Walker's Jig*; A.G. Wilken's Favourite Strathspey / Mr. Martin's Compliments to Dr. Keith MacDonald strathspey / JohnStephen of Chance Inn strathspey / Alexander Thom's Hornpipe / Gillan's Reel; Toronto Waltz; The Rose of Denmark clog / Miss Wharton Duff hornpipe / R. Cato's Hornpipe; Niel Gow's Style strathspey / Big Alex's Ace reel / Nicole MacIntyre's Reel* / Kay Girroir's Reel; The shearing of the Shepard jig / Orville on the Runway jig / Log Birler's Jig; Excelslor Hornpipe / Old Willie Hunter Reel / Colonel Reel; Mrs. Robert Petrie air / Robert Petrie's Reel / Jack Dobson's Reel; The sound of Mull reel / Major Molle's Reel / Miss C. Crawford's Reel; Captain Carswell march / Glen Grant's strathspey / Glen Rennie's strathspey / Sherrit's Reel / Old King's Reel

"Ceol Na Fidhle", the Music of the Fiddle, has been a passion of the Celts from a very early time. A sixth century account of the fair of Caman in Ireland names the "fidil" as one of the instruments played at the fair.

The reference was probably to the "Crwth" or "crowd" the "bowed harp" mentioned in early Celtic tales. This was a fiddle-like instrument with two or more horsehair strings played with an arched bow. It is now believed that the "croud" was indigenous to the Celts of Scotland, Ireland and wales and that it migrated northward to Scandinavia and from there eastward. In Whales it was in use until the middle of the 19th century. The fiddle like "rybybe" or "rebec" also came into use in Scotland, at a slightly later date. Stone carvings on the early Scottish abbeys and chapels which often show a figure playing bagpipes, show as well a female figure playing a fiddle-like instrument, in some cases together with a player of a small bodhran-like drum. About the 16th century, viols came into limited use, mostly as court instruments.

When the violin, as we know it, arrived in Scotland, it was adopted immediately by Scottish traditional fiddlers who quickly saw its potential. And just as quickly a tradition of Scottish violin making was begun, a craft that flourishes still.

In 1727, about 20 years before the Battle of Culloden, Niel Gow, the greatest of Scotland's fiddlers was born. He started playing the fiddle at nine years of age and won his first prize at age 13. His fame as a fiddler and da composer spread rapidly and he was in constant demand as a performer. He was particularly renowned for his playing of Strathspeys, possessing an uncommonly powerful updriven bow stroke that he combined with a distinctive 'snap' or jerk of the wrist adding electrifying accentuation to the rhythmic drive inherent in the Strathspey. Niel Gow's style was distinguished by the liberal employment of snaps, grace notes, trills and strong syncopation.

The Strathspey was so named for the region in which this form of Highland reel had best bee preserved. Its genesis though existed in Gaelic vocal inflections, a rhythmic 'snap' common to numerous Puirt-a-beul 'mouth music' dance tunes of the Western Isles. Both Puirt-a-beul and Strathspeys are peculiar to Scotland.

One of the tunes Sandy MacIntyre has chosen for this album is "Niel Gow's Style" from the Simon Fraser collection. Simon Fraser notes that Niel Gow was "a self taught genius" ... "The strain of his music inducing a style of dancing highly conducive to health, athletic agility and general elevation of the spirits".

In describing the author of another tune Simon Fraser comments that the composer was "A performer on the violin, pipe and harp, and... A poet, in like manner".

With the emigration following the Battle of Culloden and the subsequent Highland Clearances whole communities were transplanted intact to the New World carrying with them their rich and ancient heritage of Gaelic song, fiddle music and dance, a folk bagpipe tradition that included the small pipes, (a tradition often referred to in Gaelic song, that persisted in Cape Breton to the 2nd World War), and a vast stock of oral tradition that included storytelling, proverbs, prayers, second sight, witch lore, prophecies, cures, religious lore and weather lore.

This emigration to the New World from the Highlands and Islands occurred at the very height of the golden age for Gaelic fiddler-composers. On arrival in Cape Breton the music of the fiddle was enabled to flourish to a degree unmatched elsewhere in Scottish Gaeldom. Integral to this fiddle tradition  came a dance tradition that accurately reflected and continues to reflect today the great energy, vitality and creativity of the stylistic continuum held in direct descent from Niel Gow.

Protected by distance, Isolation and Inclination from the systematic suppression of both instrumental music and the old forms of dance by the fundamentalist clergy and other militant 'reformers', so damaging in Scotland, and freed from the cultural and economic depredations of 'Improvers' the Gael in Cape Breton was free again to develop in directions appropriate to his culture.

Sandy MacIntyre

Sandy MacIntyre was born in Inverness town, Inverness County, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and was raised in a typically musical Cape Breton family. His mother Cassie, well known for her violin playing, began playing at dances at age thirteen. His father Ronald, also a fiddler, was well known for his Gaelic singing, Gaelic being the first language of the MacIntyre home. Sandy lists his grandfather John Angus MacIsaac, his parents, his brothers John R and Francis, his uncles John Archie, Alex Angus, Dan Hughie, Donald Angus, Dougall Finley, Campbell MacIsaac and Peter MacDonnell, (all were fiddlers, and two were pipers as well) and his aunts. He comments. "They could have easily performed a full variety concert consisting of fiddle, piano, stepdancing, bagpipes, Gaelic singing and story telling. I know there are hundreds of Cape Breton fiddlers with similar backgrounds.

Sandy absorbed his family's cultural inheritance in good measure. He started playing pump organ at age 8 or 9 chording for family members and visiting fiddlers. About age 16 he took up the fiddle, learning by ear. He also learned the  guitar and in high school he was a drummer in the Iverness Pipe Band. In Toronto, at age 19, lonely for the music of down home he found a fiddle, pursued his fiddle playing and took up note reading, at first choosing pieces he already knew by ear. He linked up with other exiled Cape Bretoners to bring musicians to Toronto for Cape Breton style dances and to keep the music alive. Following his appearances on the CBC TV show "Ceilidh", Sandy has become one of the best known of Cape Breton's many fine fiddlers. He is also a prolific composer with over a hundred tunes to his credit, many in active circulation among Island players. A versatile musician, he is equal to the task of accompanist on piano, guitar or bass. His use of unique settings and his creative medley arrangements of tunes, allows him to extend his repertoire into a contemporary vein without compromising the traditional spirit of the music.

During the year Sandy runs fiddle classes in toronto and teaches Cape Breton stepdancing. He returns to Cape Breton during the summer to teach fiddle at St. Ann's Gaelic College and to play at concerts and ceilidhs. From Cape Breton he goes to Scotland to play at such events as the annual International Celtic Concert in Iverness. In 1991, stepdancing instructor Harvey Beaton joined Sandy for 10 days of workshops and concerts in the Iverness, Scotland area. A growing interest internationally in the music of the Cape Breton Gael is such that the flow of tradition is now very much in two directions. The demand for concert tours and workshops on all aspects of Cape Breton musical tradition is increasing steadily, both in North America and in the Ancient homelands of the Celts. At home, participation by the young in the fiddle and stepdance traditions and the interest in Celtic music and the Gaelic heritage is gaining strength at an unprecedented rate.

Sandy has great faith in his culture and in all the Island people who keep that culture alive and vital. And he always backs up his faith by giving generously of his time to organizing the fund-raising concerts, ceilidhs and dances that benefit his culture.

Sandy MacIntyre keeps his love of his Cape Breton heritage and his passion for the Music of the Fiddle on the front burner at all times.


Doug MacPhee

Born in New Waterford, Cape Breton Doug was introduced to the piano at an early age by another great Cape Breton pianist, his mother Margaret. Doug's talent is best described by the title of his current album "Cape Breton's Master of the Keyboard". Doug has also performed around the world sharing his unique Cape Breton piano styles both as as soloist and as accompanist. Doug is a long time friend and relative, and it gives me great pleasure to have him on this album playing with the strong drive and sensitivity that is so important in accompanying the fiddle music of Cape Breton.

John Allan Cameron

Born in Iverness County, Cape Breton, John Allan began his career at the age of 12 playing guitar accompaniment for his brother John Donald's fiddle. He has gone on to play for enthusiastic audiences around the world sharing his love for Cape Breton's great musical heritage through his many personal performances and T.V. appearances. His originality, creativity and sheer mastery of the twelve string guitar are very much in evidence all through this album.

David MacIsaac

David is a multi-talented musician / composer who, I am convinced, could play any stringed instrument on earth. He plays not only fiddle and guitar, but also bass, banjo, mandolin and piano and the list goes on and on. David contributes his great expertise on both bass and six string acoustic guitar on this recording. He is also a long time friend and relative and another 'globe trotting' performer appearing throughout Canada, The U.S. and Europe. A sampling of David's solo virtuosity is available on his album "Celtic Guitar".

David wrote the piano, guitar and bass chord charts for all selections on this album with the exception of the Toronto Waltz which was provided by Graham Townsend, whose wife Eleanor is the composer. Additional recognition is also due to David for his assistance during the final mix at Solar Sound Audio.

I could write volumes on Doug, John Allan, and David but their contribution to this album speaks for itself.

How Fondly We Remember - They Touched So Many Lives
Winston 'Scotty' Fitzgerald

I am pleased to include three jigs of my own composition on this album and one of these it titled 'Scotty Fitzgerald's Jig". Scotty's usual magic and mastery shone through brilliantly as it always did the day he put bow to strings and played this tune for the first time. It was one of my most memorable and rewarding moments, when he commented "That's a great jig, Sandy."

To adequately describe Winston Scotty's great accomplishments and the impact of his remarkable talent on all who heard him play or how deeply he touched those of us who were privileged to know him personally, demands writing skills far beyond mine. Suffice to say that although Winston 'Scotty' Fitzgerald has left us, his outstanding contribution to a great tradition will always remain.

Findlay Walker

I'll always remember the evening that Lucy and I spent with Findlay, his wife Mary Jessie and their family and several friends at their home in Toronto. Findlay and I were playing dual fiddles. John Allan Cameron and Father Leo Campbell were accompanying us on guitar, and Harvey Beaton was at the piano. After we had played several selections together, I played "Findlay Walker's Jig" which I had just composed. Findlay was delighted and told me how proud he was and when I told him it would be on my next album he said he couldn't wait to hear it. Unfortunately, Findlay never got to hear his tune recorded so I would like to dedicate 'Findlay Walker's Jig' to his memory as a small momento to a very dear friend.

Alex MacDonald

Lester Alexander (via Newfoundland, now living in Whitby, Ontario) provided me with the music for his reel "Big Alex's Ace" and it is great pleasure for me to include this composition on my album. After playing at a concert in toronto on February 10, 1991, where Alex, his wife Cathy and several members of their family were in attendance, I mentioned to alex that I was including this reel on my next album. A smile came over his face and he said "you don't mean it. I am really honoured, Sandy". To the memory of Big Alex and to his wife Cathy and their family who have all touched so many lives.

Special Thanks to all Involved in the Album

First and foremost to my wife Lucy for her constant encouragement and support. Spouses and parents of musicians are too often overlooked, the unsung heroes in the background, who all the while are contributing quietly to our success as musicians. I dedicate this album in their honor and also in honor of our grandchildren Nicole, daughter of Brian and his wife Kathy, and to Alex, son of Steve, and for them I composed "Nicole MacIntyre's Reel" and "Alex MacIntyre's Jig".

Cape Breton Fiddle Music: Steeped In Tradition, SMCD9607 - 1996

Sandy MacIntyre, fiddle; Mary MacIntyre, piano; Mickey Andrews, steel guitar, dobro; Brian MacIntyre, acoustic & electric guitar; Damien Walsh, bass

Produced by Sandy MacIntyre & Mickey Andrews; Engineer: Brian Hewson; Recorded at Escarpment Sound Studio, Acton, ON

Tracks: Anthony Murray Medley; Lament for the Death of Rev. Archie Beaton; Golden Rod Jig Set; Wild Rose of the Mountain / The Gentle Lassie Waltzes; Miss Elspeth Campbell Medley; Bee's Wing / Princess hornpipes; The Bonnie Lass O'Bon Accord Medley; Tulloch Gorum medley; John Roy Lyall slow air; The 91st at Modder River medley; Grand Narrows Bridge Jig set; Sitting in the Stern of a Boat / The Foggy Dew slow airs; The Bonfire medley; Muldron Glen 6/8 march medley

During my ten years as a music journalist for Country Music News, a national music magazine, I have seen many artists and been involved in many projects but I have never been close to anything like this before. Being a traditionalist when it comes to music and culture, I was always interested in and promoted the art form which is an integral part of traditional music and its relation to Canadian culture.

Due to the vastness of this country we call Canada, we have regional culture which is unique or exclusive to a particular area or province where its people live, but none is as strong, unique or as exclusive as Cape Breton fiddle and dance. This Cape Breton style fiddle music dates back some 200 years or more and during that expanse of time, the music has grown, expanded, evolved and changed but yet it has remained the same. It has grown, expanded and evolved to a point where a whole new generation of young music lovers have been bitten by the contagious bug of Cape Breton traditional music.

This latest cassette/CD by famed Inverness, Cape Breton fiddler, Sandy MacIntyre, proves beyond any doubt that although this music has gained acceptance as being new and modern and is recognized and loved by young and old across Canada and around the world, its one constant factor has been a rigid adherence to a technique that has been nurtured and handed down by great players since its migration from the Scottish Highlands.

There are a few twists of fate and destiny that have allowed Cape Breton fiddle music to be so loved, nurtured and STEEPED IN TRADITION.

Also See Cape Breton Symphony

Joe MacIsaac

The Sound of Cape Breton, Arc 527

Tracks: McKeigan’s Reel - Liverpool Hornpipe; Stool of Repentence - Ireland Jig; Sister Elder’s Reel; Acrobat Clog - Fisher’s Hornpipe; Shammus McManus Waltz; Southern Melodies - Polo March: Angus Campbell; Medley of Jigs; Stumpi; Liberty Two Step; Waltz Quadrille; Blue Mountain Hornpipe; McNab’s Hornpipe - Farmer’s Daughters; Harvest Home Breakdown

Of all the varied styles of old time fiddling which exist in the different regions of North America, one of the most distinctive types of playing flourishes on Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island.

Here, generations of Scottish influence have produced a catchy and lilting way of handling the bow resulting in a highly pleasing effect not unlike the tones of the bagpipe itself.

In this album, you’ll meet Joe MacIsaac, one of the finest fiddlers on Cape Breton. Joe was born at East Bay, NS, March 22nd, 1928, and at the age of seven learned to handle the violin from his mother. By the time he was eleven, Joe had already appeared on Sydney’s CJCB, and later went on to form his own old-time dance band making appearances around the Island. In between playing, Joe studied under professor James MacDonald of North Sydney.

Early in 1960, Joe MacIsaac’s way with a tune caught the attention of the producers of CBC Television’s “Don Messer’s Jubilee” who arranged for the first of several appearances on this nationally televised program. This has been the first glimpse of Joe and his music for people in other parts of Canada and the US, but Maritimers of course are well acquainted with his artistry through regular appearances on CJCB-TV and radio shows on a CBC regional hookup originating at CBC Sydney.

Several of the tunes in this collection were written by this quiet down-easterner who has put together some 40 original melodies, all with a definite Scottish flavour.

No matter how many old time fiddle albums you may own, we think you’ll find this one completely different and completely captivating. It represents a truly authentic style of playing that has persisted intact through the years, and like Joe MacIsaac himself, it’s just plain ‘likable’.

John Porteous

The Fiddlers of Cape Breton, Celtic SCS 57 (Compatible Sterio)
See Compilations 
Fifty Fiddle Favourites, Rodeo Holburne CM 593 - 2 lps

See Compilations 
16 Great Barn Dance Tunes, Banff Rodeo RBS 1145

See Compilations

Walter MacIsaac

Musical Memories of the Codroy Valley, Newfoundland:Ind LP-13, circa 1980

Walter MacIsaac, violin; Marina Cashin, Piano

Produced by Walter MacIsaac, Cornerbrook, NFL

Tracks: Inverness Gathering / 79th Farwell; Neil Gow's Lament; MacIsaac's Reel*; Bonnie Lass O'Bon Accord; Heather on the Hill; Lovat Scouts; Graham's Brook / First of Spring; Hills of Home; The Scott Reel - MacLeod's Reel; Upper Ferry Jig; Left Handed Fiddler Strathspey / Stirling Castle Reel; MacLish's Reel; Haste To The Wedding; Valley Echoes March; MacEachern's Strathspey and Reel; Tom Dey March / Miss Drummond Strathspey / Perth Reel

From out of the Codroy Valley comes the old time fiddling of Walter J. MacIsaac accompanied by his daughter, Marina Cashin on piano.

This album was made in an attempt to preserve the music of the pioneers who settled in this picturesque and fertile valley in the early eighteen hundreds.

After sailing across the ocean many of these settlers spent some time in Nova Scotia before coming to Newfoundland. Hence our ties with the neighbouring province have always been strong.

In the early days music became the common language, breaking down the racial barriers of the five ethnic groups who claimed the valley as their new home. The various cultures were preserved, shared, and in time blended, adding a distinctive charm to the people.

From the age of ten Walter sustained a keen interest in folk music, having learned a number of old tunes from his Scottish ancestors. These he passed on to his children who took delight in accompanying him, and his fiddling friends, on piano.

In the past Codroy Valley produced splendid bagpipers, and fine fiddlers, whose names are remembered with pride. To them and to all who were moved by their varying tempos, Walter and Marina humbly dedicate this album of Musical Memories.

Mary Gillis MacIsaac

Alex Francis MacKay
(Alastair Aonghais MacAoidh)

A Lifelong Home:Rounder CD 7020 - 1997

Alex Francis MacKay, fiddle; Gordon MacLean, piano

Produced by Paul Macdonald, 1989 - 92, Glendale, Cape Breton

Tracks: Introduction / Rosin the bow: Rosin The Bow jig / The Pet of the Pipers jig / Wha, Can Help It jig; Duke of Athole: Traditional strathspey / Captain Campbell strathspey / Duke of Athole strathspey / Marnoch's Strathspey / Glen Rinnes reel / The Smith's Burn reel / Feargan Reel / Sandy is my Darling reel; Early Grey Set: Memories of Jim Smith march / Earl Grey strathspey / Traditional Pipe Tune reel; Lady Mary Ramsay: Lady Isabella Weymess air / Lady Muir MacKenzie's Favorite air / Lady Mary Ramsay strathspey / Traditional reel / Miss Graham Reel / Thro' the Warld Wou'd I Gang We The Lad I Like reel / Menzie's Rant reel; Highland Society:  The Highland Society of Scotland air / Bovaglie's Plaid air / Bognie Brae strathspey / Hoch Hey Johnny Lad strathspey / Lady Elizabeth Lindsay's strathspey / Marnoch's Strathspey / Florence MacDonald reel / The Bishop's Mitre reel; McGlashan Jig: Mrs. A. McGlashan jig / Miss Sophia Campbell jig; Coilsfield House: Coilsfield House air / Reith's Clarinet strathspey / Mrs. James McInnes's Strathspey / Munlochy Bridge strathspey / Highland donald Kiss'd Kitty Strathspey / Cutty Sark Reel / The Lassie With The Yellow Coatie reel / Peggy Menzies Reel / The Night We Had The Goats reel; Christie's Quickstep: The Chorus jig / Christie's Quickstep jig / Catherine MacIsaac's Wedding Day jig; Cragaillichie Bridge: Mrs. Stewart of Inverugie's Strathspey / Craigaillichi Bridge strathspey / The Raven Reel / Lady Mary Stopford reel / The Pitnacree Ferryman Reel / Loch Glassie Reel; Welcome To Your Feet: Lady Carolyn Montague strathspey / Welcome To Your Feet Strathspey / The Tweeddale Club strathspey / Rothiemurcus's Rant strathspey / Braes of Auchentyre reel / Angus Chisholm's Favourite Reel; Mrs. Garden of Troup: Highlands of Banffshire strathspey / Mr. Graham Orchill strathspey / Mrs. Gordon of Knockspoch reel / Perth Assembly Reel / Mrs. Garden of Troup reel; Dan R. Strathspeys: The Road to Kingsville strathspey / Memories of Sadie strathspey / Carpenter MacDonald strathspey / Mrs. Col. Forbes strathspey / Lady Lucy Ramsay strathspey / Double Kisses Reel / Miss Campbell of Menzies reel / O'er Boggie reel; Dunkeld Hermitage: Mill of Mewe strathspey / Straun Robertson's Rant strathspey / Dunkeld Hermitage reel / Tradition reel / Tarbolten Lodge reel; Jenny Carouthers: Jenny Carouthers March / Traditional Pipe Tune strathspey / Maggie Cameron reel / Willie Davie Reel


Pictured on the front of this CD are the home and farm of Alex Francis MacKay, Glendale, Cape Breton Island. Born on this farm, Alex Francis, with the exception of three years spent in Windsor, Ontario, has lived his whole life there. The beautiful tall trees pictured on the over are Silver Oaks. They are about to spring to life for their 66th year. As a young boy, Alex Francis planted these trees with his father around the same time he started to play the fiddle. Throughout the seasons these trees have matured and have firmly rooted themselves, both in the earth, and as an impression on the minds of the many who have visited this home for music.

The same is true of the music of Alex Francis. Deeply rooted in old world tunes, this music was born from a local Gaelic culture, and enriched by countless musicians, both local and itinerant. Through his own enthusiasm to learn and play, his repertoire has grown and matured throughout the seasons to include old world fiddle and pipe tunes as well as tunes from a long line of Scottish and Cape Breton composers including Niel and Nathaniel Gow, Simon Fraser, William Marshall, Alexander Walker, James Scott Skinner, and Dan R. MacDonald.

His sound, rich in Gaelic accent, is truly unique in the world of fiddle music. This sound is an expression of an older world - a world of Gaelic language and mouth music; Clydsdale work horses and cows with Gaelic names; itinerant fiddlers and dance pipers; and long hard days of farm work followed by evenings of endless streams of strathspeys and reels.


Fiddler Alex Francis MacKay was born in Glendale, Cape Breton Island, 1922. Alex Francis was the youngest of a Gaelic speaking family of 10. By the time of his birth his father Angus, a blacksmith, had established the MacKay property as a busy farm with a forge, along a main road through Inverness County. As the seasons changed so too did the work that accompanied the everyday life around the MacKay farm. Although the long long winters prevented many outdoor chores besides cutting firewood, work around the forge and hauling water (for both the farm and forge) from the nearby river.

As busy as farm life was, though, there was always time for a few tunes, especially if a fiddler or piper was to stop by. In the above picture from 1935, Alex Francis, aged 13, took a break from his days work to learn the reel "Lady Georgina Campbell." This was the same year as the release of the classic Celtic Label 78 rpm recording of this tune by Glenora Falls fiddler Dan J. Campbell.

When Alex Francis was a young boy starting out on the fiddle, one of the most important goals and values in learning music, as with learning the Gaelic language, was to create an individual style and sound. By the time Alex Francis was in his late teens he had already established his own sound and style as well as a strong repertoire of local tunes. Initially Alex Francis learned to read music from his older brother Jimmy. Various musical influences strengthened his style and through the generosity of visiting musicians his repertoire quickly grew far beyond local proportions. Alex Francis soon gained a reputation as a good player and kept himself busy playing at various picnics, weddings and dances. (Although as he often said himself, Alex made very little money at it.)

The MacKay farm was a stopping point along the road for various people of different backgrounds. They came for the forge, and for the music and friendship. For many musicians the farm became a regular stopping point on a musical circuit that stretched from MargaretMacPhee's house in New Waterford all the way through to boston and Detroit. Visiting musicians included the piper Black Angus MacDonald, John Willie Morrison, Ronald MacLellan, his song Donald and daughter Theresa; Margaret and Dougie MacPhee, gordon MacQuarrie, Johnny Wilmot, Tommy Basker, and Dan R. MacDonald.

Of all the visiting musicians, those who stayed the longest and made the most lasting impressions on Alex Francis were the fiddler / composers Dan R. MacDonald (Alex's cousin) and Dan Hughie MacEachern; and the renowned Scottish piper Sandy Boyd who immigrated to Cape Breton in the 30's. From these musicians he inherited a huge repertoire both by ear and in the form of printed collections. He inherited from Dan R. an extensive collection of Scottish tune books that includes some very rare originals by the Gows. Dan Hughie MacEachern, who lived in nearby Queensville, made the MacKay farm a regular stopping point on his musical circuit. Sandy Boyd's career as an itinerant teacher / piper brought him to many households in Cape Breton, however the MacKay far was one of his favorites and he often stayed there for extended periods playing and teaching tunes. Another important teacher for Alex Francis was fiddler / composer Gordon MacQuarrie. Gordon was a collector as well and in 1940 published the Cape Breton Collection which, besides many of his own compositions, included newly composed tunes from other Inverness County composers. Included in this book were some of the early compositions of Dan R. MacDonald.

During the 1950s, like many other Cape Bretoners, Alex Francis moved to Windsor, Ontario, (his older brother Joe still lives there). He worked there at an automotive plant. With so many Cape Bretoners living in the Windsor / Detroit area Alex Francis found many opportunities to play for dances and weddings and, of course, house sessions! In fact, the introduction on this recording (track #1) I transferred from a rare wire recording made at a house dance in Detroit, 1956. You hear Alex Francis playing solo for the first figure of a square set. The occasion is a wedding. the voice you hear is of Cape Breton fiddler and Detroit policeman Johnny Archie MacDonald who often recorded fiddlers on his Webster Wire recorder.

Three years later, after a work shortage, Alex Francis moved back home to glendale where he has since lived and worked on the farm. Eventually he took a job at the pulp mill in Port Hawkesbury, but continued to manage the family farm with his older brother Jimmy. Throughout these years Alex Francis kept playing the fiddle and honing his repertoire. As well Alex Francis has continued the old time tradition of stringing tunes together at random. He will rarely play the same tunes in the same set. An example of this aspect of his playing style, included on this recording is Marnoch's strathspey, appearing in two totally different sets, from two different sessions. Other old-time traditional aspects of Alex's playing are the unique gracings, embellishments and bowing styles that gives his musical accent that Gaelic flavor.

One of the close musical friendships Alex Francis made in the 70s was with folklorist John Shaw. Although John now lives in Scotland, he lived for many years in Glendale, close by to Alex Francis. John cultivated a wonderful musical friendship with alex Francis and eventually included recordings of Alex Francis on his Topic LP compilations of Cape Breton fiddling and Gaelic singing. These wonderful recordings and countless appearances at festivals ranging from the Glendale Festival to Expo '86 in Vancouver, have broadened the reputation of Alex Francis, to make him one of today's most distinguished of Gaelic style fiddler players.

Today, many things have changed around the MacKay farm. Jimmy has passed away and things aren't as busy around the farm as they used to be. However, one strong tradition has remained to this day. The MacKay farm is still a stopping point on a musical circuit that since those early days has grown in great proportions! Since years now musicians from Cape Breton, PEI, Ireland, Scotland and the United States continue to stop for a visit and for a few strathspeys and reels. Alex Francis, now in his 74th year is still as eager to play and share his music as he was at age 13.

The recordings you hear on this disc, with the exception of tracks 1 and 8, were made over a four year period at sessions in Alex's front room. The sessions were always continuous, uninterrupted flows of tunes followed by tea and animated stories by Jimmy, about the old life and notorious itinerant musicians and characters such as piper / writer James D. Gillis. Those sessions are magical memories for me. I remember sitting back and closing my eyes and being overwhelmed by the feelings and images conjured up by his music.

Indeed, for me recording Alex Francis has been a special experience. Not only have I made a wonderful friendship, but now since working with Alex Francis and his tapes for several years, that music is inside me! Like my very first experience of music - my grand-aunt Lizzie diddling tunes in my ear... this is a gift I will carry around with me for the rest of my life.

Jimmy MacKay (1913 - 1992)

Alex Francis' older brother Jimmy was a fluent Gaelic speaker and writer; a bard and a renowned scholar in the Gaelic language. He lived his whole life in Glendale, with his brother Alex, where he helped manage the family farm and kept a small antique shop in the summer months.

He had Gaelic names for all the cows and often passed the time while working alone in the barn, gently conversing and singing to the cows in Gaelic. He had a special fondness for antique clocks, photographs, Gaelic poetry and stories; and all things old. He was very fond of his brother's music and it was Jimmy who first encouraged me to publish these recordings.

The following story is from a recording Jimmy made of himself - in his native language. He then transcribed the recording himself. His recollections contained here reflect the gentle nature of his personality and offer us an insight into the older world of his great-grandfather. Although this story reflects his deep love and his hopes for the Gaelic language and culture, it also reflects his willingness to accept the changes that are inevitable in our world.

Paul M. MacDonald
July 1996

James son of Angus, son of John, son of William, son of Murdoch.

My ancestors came from Kintail in Scotland. It was called MacKay's Kintail to distinguish it from another Kintail. They left the old country in 1790. I understand they left of their own free will. I didn't hear about any oppression. Willion son of Murdoch was a ship's carpenter and also worked on furnature. I didn't hear why they chose Cape Breton as a place to settle. Perhaps they understood this was a very pleasant place. Anyway, this was the nearest land to them. I believe they were getting sick on the ocean.

They took up a farm in the rear of St. Peters in Richmond County. This place was called MacKay's Cove. My grandfather married a Glendale woman and he bought a farm here. That's the reason I live here now. I was born and raised here. I have never lived anywhere else but here.

Since I was very young there have been great changes in the people's circumstances and their livelihood. In my grandfather's era it was a different situation everywhere. At that time the majority of people were taking their livelihood from the earth. This involved a good deal of work. They didn't have the implements that folk do today. The land had to be cultivated as Bard MacLean said, " the might of their arms." From the time the forest was felled with the axe to where a crop was brought to maturity, there was an immense labour. For sure, the neighbors were close to each other. They frequently held ploughing and reaping frolics; they used the sickle and the sycthe. There was a bard around here called Allan the son of Hugh (MacEachern). He was at a reaping frolic once and he made a verse of a song to taunt the others. It goes like this:

I was once reaping with a
crew of nimble lads.
I threw off my coat and
out stripped them.
The women used to have spinning frolics and apparently there was a good deal of fun in this. There woud be a wee dram among them and a goodly share taking snuff. Between that and strong tea, it's likely suitable songs were to be heard in their midst.

Everyone had their own living to earn at special times of the year, but despite however busy they were, there would always be time to visit relations and friends at a long distance. The ceilidh was very fashionable. This was a custom that was good for perking folk up. There was always a new or humourous tale.

Since doctors were somewhat scarce the first while, they needed a while to make home remedies. They used to boil a spruce herb found in pastures, and juniper tips, and drink it. There was an herb called 'cuach Phadrag' (plantago major). It's called plaintain in English. This was useful to apply to any cuts or wounds. there was another herb they called 'fliodh' (stellaria media). They used to boil it for soup. Its English name is chickweed.

Long ago all children were born at home since there weren't any doctors or hospitals near to hand. Midwives and wet nurses were often available in the neighborhoods. These charitable women didn't expect any reward but often their names were given to a child if it were a girl.

It seems there was some among the first settlers who could play the fiddle. No doubt some of them had fiddles coming to this country; certainly some of these (fiddles) were excellent. Many people wished to learn to play the fiddle although they didn't have the opportunity. There were many who could play a little that were never heard in public. Some of the churches discouraged fiddle music on the Sabbath. My grandfather was a fiddler and he didn't see any harm at all in playing on Sundays. One Sabbath day he was playing and he noticed a neighbor in the doorway. Grandfather was very sure he had heard him and he didn't have time to put the fiddle away. He made an excuse he was playing a psalm.

When a couple would marry there used to be a betrothal party. This was in the young woman's house. The wedding celebration was held in the groom's house. No doubt this was a spirited occasion with Sweet Drink that we wouldn't refuse and succulent food dressed and prepared at the home.

It was fashionable one time for the young bride to tie a ribbon on the head of the fiddler's violin while he played the "Married Couples Reel." That would be a four handed reel. The eight hand reel was very fashionable too. I heard a story about a fellow who was a little anxious to get in the eight hand reels, although he didn't dance well to the music. Anytime he would go into the reel the fiddler would play a tune called "Donald Chasing the Goats." This man's name was Donald.

There was a variety of tradesmen among the old people. Some of them came across the sea with their tools in tow. The young ones learned from them. Some of the trades people, like taylors, cobblers and such were perpatetic. These people earned their living among the houses. They would very often be well received. They always used to have stories on account of travelling throughout the countryside. They used to abide awhile in each house and folk would take their work to them. There was a young woman who was going to get married and she needed a pair of shoes. She went to a cobbler for a pair of shoes to be made. She explained how she wanted them: Strong, strong at the back and the rest soft; and see that you come to the wedding.

Coopers were to be found here and there. This was a very useful trade as butter tubs had to be made, churns and milk pails. Every one of these would be put to use, especially in milking time.

Before saw mills were built there was a thing called a sawing pole. They had long saw blades and a handle at each end. The stick that was to be sawn was set with an end up and and end down and they sawed it through. I understand this was labourious work. But in time water mills were built and the pole saws set aside.

When oats or wheat were to be harvested it was left in sheaves standing outside, drying in the sun. They were cut with sickles. If some of it was to be threshed for planting seed it would have to be very dry. They used to thresh it when it was frozen so it would scatter better.

Of all the tradesmen, in my opinion, the blacksmith was most necessary, especially in the winter time. Horses had to be shoed and they required sharp pointed shoes. Axes had to be hammered out, especially before saws came to fashion. Folk who used to work with oxen ... some of them needed to be shoed and the oxen chains had to be repaired. The proverb says, The herdsman will bear the blacksmith's fatigue. My father was a blacksmith and he said he was never tired in the evening.

For pastime there used to be someone who could play a Jew's harp or the fiddle or maybe someone that could sing a song. Within my own memory there was a fellow in the neighbourhood that was good at tales. He was often here and us listening to him. This was Stephen O'Handley.

There was a man who was near my grandfather's place that used to play the Jew's harp. He had a little bothy at the edge of the woods and he was married. This night the man of the house was playing and his wife turned to him and said, "Oh little hero won't you play "The Bird's Nest in the Forest"?"

There were only two ways to travel. At first there wasn't a road. There was only a path through the forest. That would do for a man walking or on horseback between villages. In time an oxen or horses hitched to a cart came in. The first roads were made by horses and plows. In the springtime, especially it would be a mud wallow. Fortunately people didn't travel much. Anyway, horse and saddle were customary.

I heard them saying there used to be sailing vessels coming into the Strait of Canso. Some of them used to sail to the United States and anyone that had a reason to go to Pictou or boston would hire to go on board in Port Hawkesbury. You didn't need English or a mariner's license. They wouldn't make much money over and above their passage.

When I went to school at first I didn't have a word of English and that was a stumbling block for me. From what I heard of composed speech, anecdotes and songs all my life, I think I would be somewhat incomplete without the language. I learned the little English I have in school. I was awkward at learning it and that resulted in my not speaking it fluently.

Despite how Gaelic went out in my generation, it still lives in the heart of the old people. It greatly saddens me to see that most of the young people have no interest in Gaelic. It's as though they're afraid they wouldn't be in style, but if they only knew how precious that language is and sweet to speak. It is delightful for telling stories or singing songs. It would be a calamity if it went out of fashion totally. But we hope it won't die completely on account of groups of people here and there working on its behalf. Those that are going to the effort to keep it alive and maintain it should be praised. But as the proverb said: The tide and wind are against them. But anyway, I hope they have success.

In conclusion, I would like to say that, although the Gaelic is going by degrees there is hope that in time it will be restored. If our politicians would make up their minds to support us and see Gaelic in the schools or a Gaelic school kept here and there, in time maybe more people would take an attachment to the language. So far there's been nothing but a wisp of straw for the sake of effect. Although there is a difference in the Gaelic they speak in corners of this island, that's no hurdle at all. Once there was a clergyman here who was exceptionally good in Gaelic although, as he said himself, "...a grandson son of a Frenchman, grandson of an Irishman..."  And at the same time he was considered the best English scholar east of Montreal. so it is that learned people are fond of acquiring Gaelic and maintaining its usage. As John Y. MacLellan said to me when I met him - he asked me did I have Gaelic - he said, Trifling its burden on the tip of the tongue.

Despite the domination of English speakers thus far, perhaps Gaelic will advance. As John Roy Stewart said, the wheel will come round a turn from South to North and our enemies will receive the reward of their injustice.

So we can only listen to hear how things are going and I hope things change in favor of the Gaelic.

Self-recorded in Glendale, Inverness Co., NS 1987

Carl MacKenzie

Celtic Ceilidh, CLM 1006

Carl MacKenzie, fiddle; Hilda Chaisson, piano; Dave MacIsaac, guitar and bass

Produced by C.L. MacKenzie; Engineer: Harold Tsistinas; Recorded at Solar Audio and Recording Ltd., Halifax, NS

Tracks: John Joe MacInnis, march* / Calder's Welcome, strathspey / Victoria Line, reel / Miss Betty Ann gordon, reel / The Widow's Allowance, reel*; Blanche's Jig* / There Came A Young Man, jig / Welcome To Cork, jig; Earl of Dalhousie's Return, slow march / Strathspey / Norman MacKeichan's Reel / MacKenzie Frazer, reel; Tower O'Scolty, hornpipe / Glen's Hornpipe / Kohler's Hornpipe; Miss Mariane Oliphant, air / Sir Archibald Grant of Mony Musk, strathspey / The Red Coat, reel / James H. MacNeil, reel; Cronin's Francy, reel / The Birds, reel / Irish Reel; The Ewe With The Crooked Horn, strathspey / Percy Peter's Strathspey / Percy Peter's Reel / The Girl Who Broke My Heart, reel / Dowd's Favourite, reel / Hilda Chaisson's Reel*; North Port Strathepey / Reichwall Forest, reel / The Miser, reel / Reel; Prof. Hans Kung's Visit To Cape Breton, air*; Glenfiddich, strathspey / Neil gow's Fiddle, strathspey / Celtic Ceilidh, reel / John Cempbell's Reel / Miss Mary Stewart of Derculich, reel; Dannie MacEachern's Jig / Morrison's Jig; Dusky Meady, strathspey / King George IV, strathspey / Old King's Strathspey / Chuckie MacLellan's Reel / George MacInnis' Reel*; The Cockroach Reel*

This is my sixth album. The selections include airs, marches, strathspeys, reels, hornpipes and jigs. Some of the tunes are traditional Scottish and Irish, while others are recent Cape Breton compositions. The tartan on the cover is the MacKenzie Tartan (Seaforth).

During the past couple of years, I occasionally put my mind to composing music. I have composed about twenty five pieces, ten of which are on this album. generally the tunes are composed for special friends and acquaintances.

John Joe MacInnis march - John Joe, as we call him, lives in Sydney, Cape Breton, plays the violin and is everybody's friend. He is a special friend of mine.

The Widow's Allowance Reel - This tune was named by Finlay Walker. You will have to ask him to explain the title.

Blanche's Jig - Blanche (Morais) Sophocles lives in Big Pond, Cape Breton, and is one of our favourite singers. blanche and I play together occasionally at dances and concert.

Percy Peter's Strathspey and Reel - This tune was composed for Percy Peters on the occasion of his Sixtieth Wedding anniversary. Percy is a good friend and a fine violin player. Percy lives in Sydney, Cape Breton.

Hilda Chaisson Reel - Hilda provides piano accompaniment on this album. The tune is characteristic of her lively playing.

Hans Kung's visit To Cape Breton - This piece was composed as a special tribute to the German Theologian, Professor Hans Kung, who visited and gave a public lecture at the University College of Cape Breton.

John Campbell's Reel - John formerly of Mabou, Cape Breton, now lives in Boston. John is one of our top violinists and has a number of albums to his credit.

George MacInnis Reel - George lives in Big Pond, Cape Breton. He is a close friend and an accomplished piano soloist and accompanist.

The Cockroach Reel - This tune was composed for certain individuals who behaved like 'Cockroaches' from time to time.

I extend a special thanks to Dan Hugh MacEachern and Cameron Chisholm for their compositions which appear on this album. Dan Hugh is one of our most prolific composers, as well as being one of my favourite violin players. He lives in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Cameron Chisholm is one of Cape Breton's finest and most popular violinists. he lives in Margaree Forks, Cape Breton. It would be difficult to make an album of Cape Breton music without including a tune or two by the late Dan R. MacDonald. We 'Capers' owe him a lot.

The balance of the tunes on this album were taken from various collections, namely Kohler, Cole, Gow, Skinner, MacIntosh, Athole, O'Neil, Skye, Thistle and Kerr.

As mentioned above, Hilda Chaisson provides the piano accompaniment on this album. She comes from the suburbs of Cheticamp Cape Breton, and presently lives in Sydney, CB.

Dave MacIsaac plays the acoustic guitar and bass on this album and the usual superlatives are in order. Dave lives in Halifax, NS, and has recently released an album of Cape Breton style music on acoustic guitar. It is a must for your collection.

I live in Sydney Forks, Cape Breton with my wife, Kaye, and family Sheldon, Shannon, Coralie, Lyndon and Patricia. I am a member of the Engineering Technology Faculty at the University College of Cape Breton. During the past year I have performed in Vancouver, Boston, Port Townsend, Washington, Newfoundland and on national television. Coming up, I have engagements in Toronto, Los Angeles and Nashville. It is great to see Cape Breton music appreciated all over North America.

Cape Breton Music is a special sound. It can be a delicate air, a stirring march or a lively jig or reel, yet there is a common denominator in that the musical expression and feeling are an integral part of the sound. If you like Cape Breton violin music, I know you will like this album. If you are not familiar with Cape Breton Music, then I urge you to experience it.

I hope you enjoy this album.

Carl MacKenzie

Welcome To Your Feet Again, Rounder Records 7005, 1977

Carl MacKenzie, fiddle; Doug MacPhee, piano

Produced by Mark Wilson; Recorded in New Waterford, NS, by Mark Wilson

Tracks: Kennedy Street March / Doug MacPhee's Strathspey / Traditional Strathspey / Joe's Reel / Miss Wedderburn's reel; Tom Dey Strathspey / Roderick MacDonald's Strathspey / The Earl of Crawford's Reel / Devil's Delight reel; "A" and "D" Jig / Jerry's Beaver Hat Jig / Dan R. MacDonald's Jig; Bee's Wing Hornpipe / Spellan's Inspiration Hornpipe / Mary Clare Hornpipe; Scottish Air / Miss Jessie Smith Strathspey / Dan R.'s Favourite Strathspey / Lady Mary Stopford Reel / Uist Lasses Darling Reel; Portland Fancy Jig / Rosewood Jig / The River Bend Jig; Miss Maxwell's Strathspey / traditional Strathspey / Back of the Change House Reel / Dolmar Reel; Robert Cormack, Aberdeen / Happy Go Lucky Hornpipe / Vendome Hornpipe / Traditional reel; Owny's Best Jig / Wilfred's Fiddle Jig / Penny Hill Jig; Traditional Strathspey / Welcome To Your Feet Again / Colin MacKay's Reel / Colin MacIntosh Reel

In Scotland, the ancient home of the MacKenzies was in Kintail, and their chief ancestral castle was "Eilean Donan", but from Kintail they pushed out across Scotland to the richer lands of the Eastern Seaboard. True supporters of all Scottish causes, the MacKenzies were present at Bonnie Prince Charlie's defeat at Culloden.

This support for the Stuarts in addition to the later Highland clearances was sufficient reason for the MacKenzies to take up the search for a new home far across the Atlantic Ocean. It is indeed fitting that the shores of the beautiful Bras D'Or lakes of Cape Breton provide a home for many of the present-day MacKenzies who have contributed so much toward the preservation of the old Scottish culture. Naturally, they brought with them the traditions that had been dear to them. Not the least of these was the music that for hundreds of years had made the hearts of Highland Scots swell to its strains. Now, many generations later, this music is being sung and played in Cape Breton more than ever before. Inevitably it has gone through an evolution of sorts and has a quality that is only found on the island. It is what many people call the "Cape Breton Sound".

Carl MacKenzie comes from the shores of the winding river that flows through a Scottish community called Washabuck (an Indian name meaning 'placid waters'). Carl's parents are John Stephen MacKenzie and Mary Anne Deveaux, and it is a family blessed with an abundance of musical ability. Three brothers play violin and guitar, another brother and two sisters play piano and virtually every one can step dance. Since Carl was one of the youngest of the twelve children, he could scarcely have avoided becoming musical himself. He began playing at the age of nine and recalls discarding the violin in frustration after the first few attempts. Fortunately, he persevered and before long had mastered the "42nd Highlanders March" and the "Cock of the North" jig. After that, everything seemed to fall into place and he quickly learned other tunes. In these early years, Carl had a great admiration of Winston "Scotty" Fitzgerald, a noted Cape Breton violinist, an appreciation that he still maintains. Carl was also influenced by another well-known violinist and composer, Dan Hugh MacEachern. Dan Hughie was a frequent visitor at the MacKenzies' and the vast number of tunes and compositions that he commanded really amazed young Carl. Dan Hughie's versatility certainly served as an inspiration for Carl to take his music very seriously.

At fifteen, Carl began playing for square dances at the Iona Legion Hall with his sister Jean as accompanist on the piano. These early dances set the stage for the popularity of Carl's dances in later years. After high school Carl enrolled at St. Francis Xavier University in the engineering program. He graduated from Nova Scotia Tech in 1961 with a degree in civil engineering. During college years, he was not able to play the violin to a great extent, but he would often get together with his fellow Xavierians Fr. Angus Morris, Fr. Francis Cameron, Dan Cormier and others.

After graduation from Tech, Carl was employed in Halifax and resumed playing on a more active basis. He played in such places as the Cape Breton Club, the Labour Temple and the Horseshoe Club. Some of the weekends were especially active when Winston Fitzgerald or Buddy MacMaster arrived in Halifax to play for a dance. Usually, after the dance, there would be a musical session lasting into the daylight hours. The home of Mr. and Mrs. Sonny Murray was often the scene for these late evening socials as Sonny was an ardent supporter of Cape Breton violin music.

On leaving Halifax, Carl worked at Port Hawkesbury, N.S. and remembers playing for square dances regularly four or five nights a seek all over Cape Breton, plus numerous indoor and outdoor Scottish Concerts. Carl made several guest appearances on the late Don Messer's television show and in 1975 - 76 was a regular on the CBC Ceilidh Show (TV). In 1976 he was part of the Nova Scotia folk art contingent that performed during the Olympic Games in Montreal.

He is now living in Sydney Forks, Cape Breton, NS and is employed as an instructor in Civil Technology at the College of Cape Breton. His wife is the former Kaye MacDonald of Port Hood, NS and they have a family of four: Sheldon, Shannon, Coralie, and Lyndon. Shannon is ten years old and plays a number of Scottish tunes on the violin.

When he has a chance, Carl spends his time going through his collections of Scottish music, to learn new numbers and to bring to mind again forgotten tunes. Like all true Cape Breton fiddlers, Carl's active repertory encompasses many hundred different tunes, not to mention the scores of others he can play if his mind should turn to them. On this record, Carl shows to best advantage the astonishing variety in mood and rhythm that comprises the very best in Scottish Music.

Carl is accompanied on this record by one of the finest Scottish piano players anywhere. He is Doug MacPhee of New Waterford, Cape Breton. Doug has recorded an album of his own with Rounder Records (Rounder 7009).

Joe MacLean

Old Time Scottish Fiddle, Banff Rodeo RBS 1246

Joe MacLean, fiddle; Lila Hashem, piano

Tracks: Burnt Leg - Peggy’s On The Burn - Sweet Peggy’s reels; Angus & Ladies Delight jigs; Bachelor - Tommie’s jigs; Miss Anderson - The Braes O’Elchies jigs; Bill Robertson’s - Mrs MacPherson of Inveron reels; Alex McEacheren’s strathspey - Lady Glenorchy - Miss Scott reels; Donald MacLean’s Farewell to Oban march; Mike Maloney - Bessie Brown jigs; Mrs Grand of glenquaich strathspey - Miss MacInnis - Margaret Gillis reels; Mrs Ross’s Welcome to Kilarit Cottage march; Grace MacKenzie’s Strathspey - Kings - Perth Hunt reels; Miss Ann Robinson strathspey - Lady of Dingwall - Gordon Gayton’s reels

Joe MacLean, one of Cape Breton’s outstanding Scottish Fiddlers, was born in Lower Washabucts, on fair Cape Breton Island.

Joe commenced his career at the age of 15 and from the many thousands who have bought his records and heard him play, it was a grand day for the Scots when he decided to become a fiddler.

Joe’s music is heard wherever a Scots heart beats and many believe he is one of the few authentic Scottish Fiddlers left from the old regime. Joe is married and has six boys ranging from 6 to 16 years.

Rodeo Records Salute to Sydney Cape Breton Island on its 175th Anniversary, Banff Rodeo RBS 1051
See Compilations

The Fiddlers of Cape Breton, Celtic SCS 57 (Compatible Sterio)

See Compilations

Theresa and Marie MacLellan

A Trip To Mabou Ridge: Scottish Music From Cape Breton Island, Rounder Records 7006 - 1976

Theresa MacLellan, fiddle; Marie MacLellan, piano; Blanche Sophocleous, guitar

Produced by Mark Wilson; Recorded at Coillege of Cape Breton, Sydney, Nova Scotia, June 1976.

Tracks: Sandy MacIntyre’s Trip To Boston - ann MacQuarrie’s - O’er The Isles to America; Ladies - The Rocket hornpipes; Sleepy Maggie Medley; The Battle At Glencoe; Margaret Chisholm’s - Princess Florence’s; Tam Bain’s Slum Hornpipe; Donald Cameron’s Polka Medley; The Bell Piano - King’s Reel Medley; Ann Marie MacInnis jig medley; Factory Smoke clog - Anna Mae’s Reel; Favourite Hornpipe - St Anne’s Reel Medley; The Athole Highlanders’ Farewell to Loch Katrine - A Trip To Mabou Ridge; Mrs MacArty, Have You a Daughter? - The River Bend; Johnny Wilmot’s Fiddles - Down The Broom

The MacLellands are an old family in Cape Breton musical circles. Their father, Big Ronald MacLelland, was universally regarded as one of the most talented violinists of his generation. Nearly six foot four, towering over the rest of his contemporaries, Big Ronald’s huge blacksmith’s hands were able to wrangle the sweetest gaelic music from the violin. A friend once said of him: “Big Ronald could play just fair; he could play middling and he could play good but when he was good, the Devil couldn’t beat him.” When Theresa was four or five years old, her father noticed her dancing off in a corner to one of his tunes. “I declare that you’ll make a violin player,” he said and, certainly enough, several years later her brother Donald bribed Theresa into learning a tune on the fiddle with the promise of a wristwatch. Unfortunately neither Big Ronald nor her older brother Baby Joe - an extremely promising violinist in his own right - lived to hear her development for both died suddenly within the year. Theresa can now scarcely remember her father’s playing but Marie, who is a little older, remembers it vividly. Young Theresa’s musical education was then undertaken by brother Donald, a neighbour Steve MacGillivray and the famous Cape Breton composer, Dan R. MacDonald. Today Theresa’s playing is characterized by long vigorous bowstrokes and the delicate use of trilling reminiscent of pipe music. No musician in Cape Breton would require hearing more than a measure or two of her playing to recognize her unique style. Theresa is especially noted for her marches and hornpipes, but the other selections on this record amply demonstrate her facility in all ranges of Scottish music.

Marie MacLellan first learned to accompany Scottish music on the parlor organ, learning from her mother Mary. When Marie was young, pianos were scarce in the countryside and it was not until she moved to Sydney after the war that she really learned how to play the instrument. To this day, Marie regrets the passing of the old pump organ which she thinks was ideally suited to Scottish music. As a youngster, Marie also played guitar and soon the two sisters were playing at dances around home, often walking six or more miles to get there. In Sydney, Marie quickly became one of the most popular pianists at a time when the city was teaming with great fiddlers. Angus Chisholm, Dan R MacDonald, Bill Lamey and Joe MacLean, John, Mike and Theresa MacLean, Winston Fitzgerald, Mary MacDonald, Paddy LeBlanc and many, many more were actively playing around town. Marie studied with Bernie MacIntosh and worked with Winston for several years on his local television show. In the early fifties, Donald MacLellan returned home from Toronto on vacation and rounded up the sisters for a hurried recording session as “The MacLelland Trio.” Donald had already recorded some excellent 78’s on his own, but he wanted to put a family band together. Despite the hurried rehearsal, the records (for the Celtic label of Antigonish, NS) turned out very well and the group subsequently made two popular lps for Rodeo. (Marie also recorded as accompanist for several other prominent fiddlers in this same period).

For most of these years, distance prevented Theresa and Marie from playing together on a regular basis. For the past seven years, they have arranged to meet every Saturday night at the firehall in Big Pond. When the sisters began playing there, the crew had to back out the firetruck to make room for the dancers, but these socials have proved so popular that a new wing has been built for the dancing.

Aside from the popularity at their Big Pond dances, both sisters have remained active in Scottish music circles. Theresa was a regular on CBC Ceileidh show and has played before the Queen and at the Montreal Olympics (1976. ed), whereas Marie is a regular at all musical events around Sydney.

Many of the selections on this album are the handiwork of contemporary Nova Scotians, demonstrating that the days of quality Scottish music composition have not yet passed in Cape Breton. In particular, The MacLellands salute Dan Hughey MacEachern, Donald Angus Beaton, Anna Mae MacEachern, Elmer Briand, John Campbell and the late Dan R MacDonald for their compositions used on this record.

The MacLellan Trio
The Fiddlers of Cape Breton, Celtic SCS 57 (Compatible Sterio)
See Compilations

Also see Theresa and Marie MacLellan

Jimmy MacLellan and the Cosy Cottars

Barn Dance Music, Banff Rodeo Records RBS 1032, circa 1958

Tracks: Honours of Boston Hornpipe / Democratic Rage Hornpipe; Ohio River Jig* / Kay's Fancy Jig; The Mazurka Waltz (accordion solo); Medley of Old Favourites (piano solo): Daisy / Comrades / Melody of Love; American Hornpipe / Canadian Hornpipe; Aline's Favourite Breakdown*; Swing Away Reel* / Foxie Mary's Reel; Dusty Bob's Jig / Old Red Barn Jig; Blue Ridge Polka (accordion Solo); Among My Souvenirs (piano solo); Money Bunny Two Step*; Triplets Schottische (accordion solo)

Saturday Night Hoedown, Banff Rodeo Records RBS 1063, 1960

Tracks: The Lighthouse Reel */ Foggy Harbour Breakdown*; Johnny Bouchard's Jig; Harlequin Hornpipe; The Mug of Brown Ale Reel; Rainbow Reel*; Road To Inverness Strathspey*; Scotchman in America Schottische; Dalhousie Polka*; Braes of Portsoy Waltz*; Cincinnatti Two Step*

Country Hoedown: Coast To Coast In Canada, Rodeo Records RLP. 65
See Compilations 

The Fiddlers of Cape Breton, Celtic SCS 57 (Compatible Sterio)
See Compilations 
Fifty Fiddle Favourites, Rodeo Holburne CM 593 - 2 lps

See Compilations 
16 Great Barn Dance Tunes, Banff Rodeo RBS 1145

See Compilations 
16 Great Jigs And Reels, Banff Rodeo RBS 1194

See Compilations

Cynthia MacLeod

Head Over Heels: Guernsey Cove Parlour-GCP-053 - 2002

Cynthia MacLeod, fiddle; Jeff Matheson, piano; Bruce MacEwen, guitar; Ellen MacPhee, small pipes; Remi Arsenault, guitar, bass, djembe, snare; Gordon Belsher, bodhran, guitar

Produced by Gordon Belsher and Cynthia MacLeod; Engnieer: Gordon Belsher; Recorded at Guernsey Cove Parlour Productions, PEI

Tracks: Ann MacQuarrie's Reel / Arthur Muise's Reel / Cape Breton Visit to Shetland; Darla's Jig / Morrison's Jig / Down The Broom / Hull's Reel; Dan Collin's Fathe's Jig / Pebble & Goose's Jig / The Idle Jig; Margaret's Waltz; Lord MacDonald's Reel / Sheehan's Reel / Mason's Apron / Miller's Reel / Big John MacNeil; Lime Hill / Dusky Meadow / Brenda Stubbert's Reel / Miss Wedderburn's / Sleepy Maggie / Kay Girroir; Mucking of Geordie's Byre / Tripping Up The Stairs / Irish Washerwoman; Bis Live Set: Molly Rankin's Reel / Rannie MacLellan's Reel / Jackie Coleman's Reel / St. Anne's Reel; Niel Gow's Lament For the Death of His Second Wife; Miss Shaw / Jessie Smith / Cameron's Got His Wife Again / Dot McKinnon's Reel / John Morris Rankin / Where's Ma Mace?

A special thanks to all of you who had the faith to see me through this recording from the start: This message comes straight from my heart.

Mom, Dad, Trish, for supporting me in everything I have ever done and believing in my goals and dreams. You have always been there for me and have helped me in every way possible. Thank you so much.

Gordon & Charlene for being so caring and hard working. You have made these past few months a wonderful and exciting experience. Thanks for your hospitality and for treating me like part of the family.

Jeff, for being my mentor and having boundless faith in me. You are not only an incredible musician, but an incredible person. I can always count on you to patch things up!

Bruce, Remi and Ellen, for giving it your all. You are excellent musicians and valued friends, and I am very fortunate to have been able to work with you.

Blair at Technormedia for your wonderful skill and imagination.

A sincere thank you to Kathryn Dau Schmidt, Marlene MacDonald, and to all of my great friends at the BIS & Monticello Ceilidh. Thanks to everyone who has generously supported and guided me in any way my music endeavors.


Sherryl MacLeod

Autumn Waltz: Ind. SMCD-0025 - 2000

Sherry MacLeod, fiddle; Robert MacLeod, drums and piano; Ken Kanwisher, upright bass

Produced by Rob and Sherryl MacLeod; Engineered by Ken Kanwisher; recorded at Tele Tune Studios, Ottawa, ON

Tracks: Crossing the Ferry; Autumn Waltz; Pat & Bill's Jig / Patti's Jig*; Trudeau Reel; Pretty Little Cindy; Marie's Waltz; White Water Jig; Alex and Maureen's Two Step; Fisher's Hornpipe; Sharon Ann Waltz; Little Village Waltz / Scan Waltz; Kerry Mills Barndance; Little Robbie's Jig; Lake of the Woods Waltz; Hill Lilly; Holiday Waltz; Cameron's Reel

Special Thanks

First off, I would like to thank my husband, Rob, who always believed in me when I didn't always believe in myself. Thanks for all the countless hours of rehearsing, for your patience and support during this project. I love you.

Thanks to Cameron, for if it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be doing what I truly was meant to do. I love you and I love my music. The best of both worlds.

Thanks also to my mom and late father for the love of traditional old tyme music. Many thanks for all the support and encouragement over the years.

Thanks to Patti (Kusturok) Lamoureux who continues to be a source of inspiration. Thanks for the encouragement and friendship.

Thanks to Ken Kanwisher for your recording expertise both as engineer and bass player. We appreciated your patience and encouragement during the sessions.

Thanks to Ted (Mr. Impressive) MacLeod for working your magic with the album cover and designs. Your input and hard work is very appreciated.

This debut recording is dedicated to the memory of my late father, Arthur Fitzpatrick who loved the sounds of the fiddle.


Buddy MacMaster

Judique On The Floor, Sea-Cape Music ACR 12940 - 1989

Buddy MacMaster, fiddle; John Morris Rankin, piano

Produced by Allister MacGillivray; Engineer: Chad Irschick; Recorded at Inception Sound, Downsview ON, April, 1989

Tracks: Golden Rod - The New Stove - Irene’s jigs; Da Slockit Light, slow air - Glen Caladh Castle march - The Lasses of Stewarton reel; Memories of Paddy LeBlanc march - Lord Alexander Gordon, strathspey - The Marquis of Huntly & Haud Er Guan reels; Kenloch - The Strathlorne - Spin N’ Glow jigs; King George the Fourth & Old King George strathspeys - Old King’s - King’s - Old Tradition reels; Oban and Lorn Society march - The Devil in the Kitchen & Miss Drummond of Perth strathspeys - Two Traditional reels; Don’t Be Teasing - Richard Brennan’s - Bonny Lea Rig jigs; P.M. Jim Christie of Wick march - Miss Catrina Gillis strathspey - Coire An Lochan & Andy Renwick’s Ferret reels; Jackson’s Trip To Augrim - Tripping Up Stairs - Tar Road To Sligo - Swinging On Home jigs; R.P. Cummings march - Christie Campbell & Traditional strathspeys - Two traditional reels - The MacKentosh of macKentosh reel

Buddy MacMaster of Judique, Nova Scotia, surely must rank alongside of Neil Gow as one of the greatest Scottish fiddlers ever to have lived.”

K.E. Dunlay,
music historian and author

Even before Hugh “Buddy” MacMaster got his first violin (a tin model at the age of three), he was jigging tunes to himself, having inherited a love of “Scotch” music from his mother. Buddy made his public debut at the age of twelve and has rarely been out of the limelight since. His thrilling music has taken him around the world, thousands of miles from his home in Judique, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

The Golden Rod Jig was composed by Wilfred Gillis, and it was Dan R MacDonald who wrote the tune down as Wilfred composed it. The New Stove and Spin N’ Glow were composed by Frank Ferrel. He’s from the State of Washington, but he got interested in Cape Breton music. He spent some time around Boston with Angus Chisholm and Bill Lamey and those fellows. Irene’s Jig is by Bob McQuillen. He’s from the New England States. I meet him occasionally when I go through the States, especially to Elkins, West Virginia. He put out six collections, and I got this Jig in one of those.

Da Slockit Light was composed by Tom Anderson of The Shetland Islands, and there’s a story back of this tune. The ‘slockit light’ means a light that has gone out. When they started drilling for oil off The Shetlands and off Scotland, a lot of people left home while the oil boom was on, and there were a lot of vacant homes. So, Tom Anderson was walking home one night, and it made him lonesome to see so many houses closed, and he composed this slow air. (He also wrote R.P. Cummings March).

Haud Er Guan and The Oban & Lorne Society March are by Bert Murray, a Scottish player that I never heard much about until I went to California. I got one of his books and I picked out several tunes from it.

My second group of jigs begins with a tune called The Kenloch Jig. I gave it that name because I heard it at a dance in Kenloch, Cape Breton, in 1942 as played by Sandy MacLean and Angus Allan Gillis. The Strathlorne Jig was composed by Neil Archie Beaton who passed away this winter. Hearing of his death reminded me of his jig. Neil Archie was a brother to the late Malcolm Beaton who was pretty well known as a violinist and who died in 1951.

The last group on the first side of this recording begins with King George the Fourth Strathspey. It’s in several books and it’s been played for over one hundred years around Cape Breton. The Old King’s Reel is traditional; I’ve never seen that one written in a book. I find that you get a tune out of one book, but then you see it in another book and it’s slightly different. Well, I try to stick with the tune as it’s written in the book that I take it from. But sometimes you can change a tune and musically you might improve it - and some people are talented in doing it that way. If some tune in a book might have lacked a little flavour, a lot of the old players could alter that tune a bit to dress it up. Then, you kind of express the tune; you put your own feeling and expression in it - like speaking, I suppose.

The Bonny Lea Jig was composed by R. E. Joudry from Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. I met this man, and he’s still living in the Bridgewater area. He composed a lot of nice tunes - waltzes, jigs and reels - and he has a book out.

I got the music of Andy Renwick’s Ferret from a piper that I meet every summer in Elkins, West Virginia. He comes over from Scotland, and I think he does the circuit around the USA at festivals and giving workshops.

The jig Swinging On Home is one composed by Joan MacDonald Boes. Joan’s parents are from Foot Cape and the Cape Mabou area.

On this recording I’ve included a Christie Campbell medley (high bass tuning). I’ve been hearing different players playing these tunes, and everybody seems to have his or her own version. The way I play Christie Campbell is more in the way the Hugh MacDonald played it. They called him Hughie “Johnnie” Angus, and he was from West Mabou. I used to hear him play in Detroit, and I guess I heard him play that tune more than any of the other players.

Buddy MacMaster

As a player of traditional dance music, Buddy MacMaster enjoys the reputation of a living legend in Cape Breton today. In this, his first full-length recording, his music is captured in a straightforward manner, without special effects or studio wizardry. The enclosed performance contains the brilliant and ancient bowing techniques and the intricate fingering of a master. We thus attempt to transport the listener to the famed dancehall in Glencoe, Cape Breton, where regularly Buddy MacMaster brings Highland fiddling to its pinnacle.

Buddy is accompanied on this recording by John Morris Rankin of Mabou, an acclaimed pianist with great talent and strong traditional roots.

Beverly MacGillivray

Atlantic Fiddling, CBC LM470 - 1979

See Compilations

Also See Cape Breton Symphony

Natalie MacMaster

4 On The Floor, Astro Custom Records, ACC-4979 - 1989

Natalie MacMaster, fiddle; Betty Lou Beaton, piano; John Morris Rankin, piano; Dave MacIsaac, guitar

Produced by Natalie MacMaster, Betty Lou Beaton, John Morris Rankin and Dave macIsaac; Engineer: Harold Tsistinas, April 1, 1989

Tracks: Spey In Spate / the Fourth Bridge / The Fox Hunter Reels; Traditional / Cronin's Favorite / Buttermilk Mary Jigs; The Headlands March / Captain Campbell / Callam Breugach / King George V Strathspeys / O'er the Isles to America / Sandy Cameron / Kings & Cape Breton's Welcome to the Shetlands reels; Paddy O'Rafferty / The Knights of St. Patrick / One for the Record* & Shandon Bells jigs; Happy Go Lucky Clog / Fred Wilson's Clog / Fisher's Hornpipe / Carnie's Canter Reel & Saratoga Hornpipe; Dougie MacPhee's / Capers & Shortgrass jigs; Amelia's Waltz / The Fir Tree & Arthole Brose Strathspeys / The Pondville Reel; Blackberry Blossom clog / The Red Haired Lass / Paddy O'Brien / The Dawn reels

4 On The Floor is Natalie MacMaster's first recording and what a fine production it is! The daughter of Alex and Minnie (Beaton) MacMaster, Natalie, 16, plays the violin with the ease and energy one would expect from a veteran. But this gifted musician has been playing a relatively short while. Her interest in the violin was triggered when Natalie was 9½ years of age. At that time her grand-uncle, Charlie MacMaster, sent a three-quarter size fiddle from Boston. With her father teaching her a few bars of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Natalie mastered her first tune, and soon began playing on her own. At age 10 she performed her first solo at Glendale, and later turned to music teacher, Stan Chapman, who instructed her for two years in the Cape Breton tradition.

From an early age, Natalie was exposed to many remarkable musicians who frequented the MacMaster home in Troy, Inverness County. Her uncle, the renowned Buddy MacMaster, was a regular visitor who proved to be quite an inspiration to young Natalie.

Natalie's music is appreciated in Cape Breton and beyond. Although she has appeared at various functions in Canada and the United States, she describes her performance at Expo '86 in Vancouver as being "a definite highlight".

Joining Natalie on this recording is a host of noteworthy musicians. Featured is her aunt, Betty Lou Beaton, along with Dave MacIsaac and John Morris Rankin. Their tasteful accompaniment compliments Natalie's dynamic style to achieve a harmony that is sure to please all enthusiasts of traditional fiddle music.

Harvey Beaton

Special Thanks to: Mom and Dad, Stan Chapman, Kinnon Beaton, Buddy MacMaster, Mary Janet MacDonald, and Harvey Beaton. Also to Betty Lou Beaton, John Morris Rankin and Dave MacIsaac for their patience and lively accompaniment that made it all easier.

Fit As A Fiddle: CBC Maritimes NMAS-CD 1972 - 1993

Natalie MacMaster, Fiddle, piano, stepdancing; David MacIsaac, acoustic & electric guitars, bass; Howie MacDonald, piano; Tracy Dares, piano, synth; Tom Roach, drums & percussion; Jamia MacInnis, Highland pipes; Sandy Moore, celtic harp

Produced by Glenn Meisner & David MacIsaac; recording engineers: Pat Martin & Karl Falkenham; Mixed by Karl Falkenham; Recorded at CBC Studio H, Halifax, NS May, 1993

Tracks: John Campbell's & Miss Ann Moirs Birthday Strathspeys / Lady Georgina Campbell / Angus On The Turnpike & Sheehan's Reels; My Dungannon Sweetheart / Scaffies Cairet / Juniper Jigs; Carnival March / Miller of Drone & MacKinnon's Brook Strathspeys / Lady Campbell / Annie Is My Darling / Gordon Cote / Bird's Nest & Maid Behind The Bar Reels; Nancy's Waltz; Compliments to Sean McGuire Hornpipe / President Garfield / Miss Watt & Casa Loma Castle reels; O'r The Moor Among The Heather air / Traditional Strathspey / Lady Mary Ramsay Strathspey / Jenny Dang The Weaver / Lassies of Stewarton & Garfield Vale reels; Jean's Reel; I'll Always Remember You; The Girls at Martinfield / Bennett's Favourite & The Green Fields of Glentown reels; Councelors / The Rakes of Kildare & The Lark in the Morning jigs; The Lass of Carrie Mills & Lennox's Love to Blantyre strathspeys / Archie Menzies & Reichwall Forest reels; If Ever You Were Mine air; The MacNeils of Ugadale jig / MacLaine of Loch Buie / Colville's Rant & Pibroch O'Donal Dhu reels

About the tunes:

One: John Campbell recorded the first strathspey and 'Miss Ann Moirs Birthday' is from the 'Charles Duff collection'. 'Lady Georgina' Campbell is found in The Skye Collection. Angus On The Turnpike is from the playing of Angus Chisholm and Sheehan's Reel is a traditional reel also recorded by Jerry Holland.

Two: My Dungannon Sweetheart (by Graham Townsend) was learned from the playing of the button accordion player Sharon Shannon from Galway. The following two jigs were learned from the playing of Buddy MacMaster and they were composed by the late Charles F. Sherrit of Aberdeen, Scotland. These jigs are also played by The Cape Breton Symphony.

Three: The Carnival March is from the Shetland Isles and was learned from the playing of Buddy MacMaster. Miller of Drone can be found in The Harp and Claymore by Jerry Holland's Collection of Fiddle Tunes.. MacKinnons Brook is a traditional tune found in the repertoire of the Beatons of Mabou and the reel Gordon Cote is from Jerry Holland's Collection of Fiddle Tunes. The other traditional reels are from both Irish and Scottish traditions.

Four: This waltz was learned from the playing of Rodney Miller who recorded it on his album entitled Airplang. Chris Romaine is a fiddler and composer now living in Washington D.C. and this waltz was composed for his friend, Nancy Morris.

Five: Compliments To Sean McGuire is from Jerry Holland's Collection of Fiddle Tunes, followed by President Garfield which appears in 1000 Fiddle Tunes. Miss Watt is from The Athole Collection and Casa Loma Castle is a Dan R Tune that was played by Angus Chisholm.

Six: O'r The Moor Among The Heather was recorded in 1948 on an old wire recording by Malcolm Beaton. It appears in 1000 Fiddle Tunes. The following traditional strathspey was recorded on a 78 by Dan J. Campbell and Angus Allan Gillis. The traditional reels are from various collections and Garfield Vale is from Jerry Holland's Collection of Fiddle Tunes.

Seven: Also learned from the playing of Sharon Shannon, Jean's Reel comes from the Isle of Mull composer, Bobby MacLeod. He also composed the well known air Dark Island.

Eight: (No notes)

Nine: The first two reels were learned from the playing of Sharon Shannon. The last reel was learned from Eileen Ivers. The first reel was recorded by Phil Cunningham on his Airs and Graces album. Bennett's Favorite appears in 1000 Fiddle Tunes and is commonly known as The Silver Spire. The Green Fields of Glentown is by the Donegal fiddler Tommy Peoples who now lives in Toonagh, Co. Clare, Ireland.

Ten: The first jig comes from the playing of Buddy MacMaster. The jig was recorded on an LP as a three part jig by Dan Joe MacInnis who learned it from the playing of Joe Confiant and Old Henry Fortune, both Irish style fiddle players from the north side. The Rakes of Kildare was played in G Minor by Dan J. Campbell. The Lark In the Morning was recorded by Irish fiddler James Morrison and on an early Cape Breton LP by Johnny Wilmot and Tommy Basker. The setting was learned from the playing of Howie MacDonald and John Morris Rankin.

Eleven: The Lass of Carrie Mills is from by The Athole and Kerr's Collection. Lennox's Love To Blantyre appears in the Skye Collection. Archie Menzies was recorded by Winston Fitgerald on Canada's Outstanding Scottish Fiddler and it can be found in both The Joseph Lowe Collection and Jerry Holland's Collection of Fiddle Tunes. Reichwall Forest is from the extensive collection of Dan R MacDonald and was recorded by Jerry Holland on Master Cape Breton Fiddler.

Twelve: Learned from the playing of Eileen Eivers and Joanie Madden, this slow air was recorded by Stocktons Wing, Cherish The Ladies, and piper Jerry O'Sullivan. Fiddle player and composer Maurice Lennon of Stoctons Wing lives in Dublin.

Thirteen: The MacNeils of Ugadale was recorded by John Allen Cameron on his first album. It is from the collection of Pipe Major John M. MacKenzie. MacLaine of Loch Buie was recorded by Dan Joe MacInnis and other settings can be found in Traditional Celtic Music of Cape Breton by Kate Dunlay and in Ross's Pipe Collection. Colville's Rant is also known as The North Country Merchent. Pibroch O'Donal Dhu is both an old air and pipe jig turned into a reel.

Thanks to everyone who helped me with this project especially Jeanette Gillis, Kay Beaton, John Donald Cameron, Buddy MacMaster, Archie Neil Chisholm, Wally Hayes, Dereck Day, Bob and Jennifer Quinn, and a sincere thanks to David and Nancy for the use of your home and all your hospitality.

Thanks to Mom and Dad for all your help and support, not only in this project but in everything I do.

To Paul MacDonald, thank you so much for your research and for all your help on this project.

Thank you to all the composers for permission to use your beautiful compositions.

Special thanks to Tracy Dares, Dave MacIsaac, Howie MacDonald, Tom Roach, Jamie MacInnis and Sandy Moore.

Not only are these musicians masters of their instruments, but they are super people to work with too.

A big thank you Pat and Karlfor your patience and your expertise. To Glenn Meisner... it as a privilege to work with you and I sincerely appreciate everything you did for me.

Yours in music
Natalie MacMaster
May, 1993

Editor's Note: Ronald McCoy from Melbourne Australia emailed this conviction about the air, Dark Island:

Dark Island was composed by Iain MacLaughlin of Creagorry Benbecula. It was based on the pipe tune “Dr MacKay’s Farewell to Creagorry”. It was not composed by Bobby MacLeod.


Blueprint: VIK / BMG - 82876-56971-2  - 2003

Natalie MacMaster, fiddle, tenor banjo, vocals; Tracey Dares, piano; Brad Davidge, guitar; Jerry Douglas, dobo; Bela Fleck, banjo; Matt MacIsaac, bagpipes, electric pipes,  small pipes, whistles; Victor Wooten, bass; Edgar Meyer, arco & Pizz bass; Gordie Sampson, guitar; Sam Bacco, percussion; Darol Anger, octave violin; Philip Aaberg, piano; John R Burr, synth schmear; Byron House, bass; Alison Brown, banjo; Bryan Sutton, guitar; Todd Phillips, bass; Mike Marshall, mandolin; Sam Bush, mandolin; Bryan Sutton, guitar; Matt Filmner, mandolin; Victor Krauss, bass; Bob Quinn, piano; Kate Quinn, bocals; John Chaisson, bass; George Hebert, guitar

Produced by Darol Anger and Natalie MacMaster w/ Donnell Leahy; Engineered by Dave Sinko; Recorded at The Sound Emporium, Studio 4, Nashville, Tenn.

Tracks: A Blast: Bishop Faber MacDonald's Strathspey* / Frank & Julie Leahy's Strathspey* / Maggie Cameron's Strathspey / Bill Burnett's Reel*; The Appropriate Dipstick; Jig Party: The Butlers of Glen Avenue / Tee Tie Tuym Tittle Tee* / Annette's Chatter; Touch of the Master's Hand; Eternal Friendship; The Gravel Shore / Reel for Carl  / The Street Player; The Devil and The Dirk: The Carignan Clog / The Devil And The Dirk / Lord Gordon's Reel / Golden Lochs; The Ewe with the Crooked Horn / The Ashplant; Joselin's Waltz; Bela's Tune; The Silver Spear / The Glen Road to Carrick / Lad O'Beirne's Reel; Minnie & Alex's Reel*; My Love Cape Breton and Me / Prayer for Peace Waltz*

Darrol Anger thanks Natalie, all the musicians, Dave Sinko, Tracey Silverman, Scott Nowell, Willa Rabinovich, Mark O'Connor and the folks at the fiddle camp.

Natalie MacMaster thanks: Paul MacDonald, Paul Cranford, Bob Quinn, Robert MacMillan, Cheryl Smith; Jerry Holland, Liz Carrol, Don Meade, Cliff McGann, Elliot Sairan, Pamela Neal, Alert Music, Stephen Corbett, Antoinette Messam, Honock Drori, Antoine Moonen, Declan O'Doherty, Jessica Moore, Wayne Troutman, Agnes Leahy, Mark O'Connor Fiddle Camp, Brent Kitagawa, Metal Monkey Productions Inc., Remenyi House of Music, Josh Muncy, Chad Carlson, Lori Morgan, Johhn Chaisson.

Special Thanks to: Dave Sinko, Randy LeRoy, Margaret Malandruccolo, Mark Enright, W. Tom Berry, Scott Lake, Bob Farmer.

Thank you to all the composers of the beautiful tunes.

To all the incredibly talented musicians on this project, thank you. You have left a lasting impression on me with your eagerness and ability to create great music.

Darol, you are so musical and a joy to be around. Thank you for your focus, your talent and your positive energy.

Thank you always to my family and Donnell for their quiet strength in all that I do.

Thank you God for everything.

Web Site:

Karl MacNaughton

Fiddlin’ For Steppers, no Label, WRC1-1151

 (shared album with Gerry Smith)

Karl MacNaughton, fiddle; Gerry Smith, piano; Wayne Smith, bass; Ken Ducharme, guitar

Engineer: Harry Busby; Recorded at King Studio, Wingham, Ontario

Tracks: Roman Line Jig*; Will Donnelly’s Reel*; The New Life Waltz*; The Black February Jig*; MacNaughton’s Reel*; Hensall Waltz*; Wood and Wire Jig*; Clog, Jig and Reel for Beginners: Club Foot Clog* - Black February Jig* - Ernie Adair’s Reel

I took the fiddle away from my brother Paul in 1948 and he never got it back. Many thanks to several people along the way who took the time to share their talents with me to afford me the chance to help make this album. Lorne Allen, Fred Harburn, Willis Desjardine, Grandpa Walt McNicol, and Mom who spent many hours teaching me how to play this devil’s box. Special thanks to Gerry Smith for his many talents and encouragement.

The violin used by me is a G.T. Derazey made in Mirecourt, France, 1929. Here is to good stepping and good listening.


Allan MacPhail

Loch Garry Breezes - Celtic Fiddle Favourites AR15116

Allan MacPhail, fiddle; Alana (MacPhail) Morris, piano and arrangements; Innis MacPhail, second fiddle; Marty MacPhail, bass

Engineer: Phil Bova; Recorded at Ambience Recorders, Ottawa ON

Tracks: Jessie Smith - Lady Mary Ramsey - Judy’s Reel; The Headlands - The Shetland Fiddlers Society - Bennett’s Favourite; Callum Brougach - George IV - Reel in A Minor; Wee Deochan Bainne* - Jeannie’s Fancy* - Christopher’s jig* - Tara’s jig*; Countess of Dalhousie - Louis Gonnella of Muirhead; Miss MacPherson Grant - Mr Morison of Bognie - Little Pickle; Loch Garry Breezes* - Wild Rose of The Mountain; Little John’s Hame - Jamie Hardy; Nameless Lassie; Cairngorm Mountain - Wilfred’s Fiddle - Trip To Sligo; Jock Tamson’s - Olive Branch - Culburnie Cottage hornpipes; Stirling Castle - Rachel Rae - Sheehan’s Reel - Loch Earn - Donald Cameron; Neil Gow’s Lamentation for James Moray of Ahercairney; O’Carolan’s Concerts - The Bride’s Reel; The Bonnie Lass O’Bon Accord; Captain Carswell - Captain Campbell - Miss Shepherd; The Cradle Song

The Family gatherings at the MacPhail household inevitably turn to the Ceilidh filled with Celtic music and singing. since the family is now scattered to different parts of the province these Ceilidhs have become fewer. This recording is a collection of the tunes they have enjoyed through the years. they hope that you enjoy them as much as they have.

Allan MacPhail is a native of St Andrews West, Ontario. Three of his four children join him in this recording. the scene on the front of this jacket is taken from the front door of the MacPhail home on the banks of Loch Garry in Glengarry County, Ontario.

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