Natalie MacMaster

Live in Cape Breton

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If you've been wondering what the big fuss is about Cape Breton fiddler Natalie McMaster, it may be because you haven't had the chance to see her perform live. This two-disc set doesn't provide quite the same experience as one of her concerts, but it does offer plenty of high-energy foot-stomping fun, as well as demonstrating the intriguing contrast between her concert-hall shows -- during which she dresses like Shania Twain and is accompanied by drums, electric guitar, keyboards, and percussion -- and her dancehall gigs, during which she is generally accompanied only by acoustic guitar and piano. The energy level is the same in both contexts, but the vibe, obviously, is quite different. On disc one, she skirls out her medleys of Irish, Scottish, and Canadian tunes over a bed of rock and funk grooves that mesh surprisingly well with her snappy hornpipes and jigs; on disc two, which was recorded in a small dancehall in the tiny town of Glencoe Mills, her playing is every bit as exuberant -- maybe even a bit more so, as the dancing intensifies and the temperature in the room rises. The fiddle tunes from this part of the world have a very particular flavor, and rural dancehalls like this one are their natural habitat. Highly recommended.

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