The Heart of Cape Breton: Fiddle Music Recorded Live Along the Ceilidh Trail

Various Artists

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The Heart of Cape Breton: Fiddle Music Recorded Live Along the Ceilidh Trail Review

by Richie Unterberger

This 72-minute CD is the result of eight days of recording, in Cape Breton and at live events, in July 2000. The fiddle music of Cape Breton, in Nova Scotia, is strongly influenced by Scottish folk, as much of the community was established by Scottish immigrants in the 19th century. The most popular Cape Breton fiddlers, Ashley MacIsaac and Natalie MacMaster, actually aren't on this compilation, which includes the work of almost ten different combinations of musicians, with individual musicians frequently found in more than one combination. To the casual listener, it will sound like much Celtic music, particularly in the danceable fiddles and the frequent reels, or reel-like structures. It differs from much of the music from which it's derived, though, in the frequent use of piano to complement the fiddles, giving it a depth and drive of a different nature than traditional Scottish music. Too, the beat is more pronounced than it often is in Celtic music. You can sometimes hear the musicians' feet stomping out the time, particularly in the 4/4 strathspeys, which are often dance tunes in Cape Breton, though they're often slow reels in Scotland. There's not enough variation in the tunes to win over the non-specialist. But there is variation, particularly when the foot-beating gives it a solid bottom, gathering full-steam energy in extended medleys like the closing strathspeys and reels by Brenda Stubbert, Brian Doyle, and Richard Wood. The sound quality is good, though these were recorded in performance in halls, arenas, schools, and dances.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Brian Doyle / Brenda Stubbert 03:39 Amazon
Wendy MacIsaac 02:46 Amazon
3 Betty Lou Beaton / Kinnon Beaton 05:36 Amazon
4 Allan Dewar / Jerry Holland 07:12 Amazon
5 Joey Beaton / Buddy MacMaster 05:16 Amazon
6 Wendy MacIsaac 06:28 Amazon
7 Betty Lou Beaton / Kinnon Beaton 07:12 Amazon
8 Joey Beaton / Buddy MacMaster 09:47 Amazon
9 Betty Lou Beaton / Kinnon Beaton 02:37 Amazon
Wendy MacIsaac 05:17 Amazon
11 Betty Lou Beaton / Kinnon Beaton 09:02 Amazon
12 Brian Doyle / Brenda Stubbert 06:05 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick