Re-rockin’ the 902: I spend more time in church in Cape Breton than I do any other time of the year.Posted: October 23, 2013
For several years CBC Cape Breton has hosted performances and interviews for later broadcast during Celtic Colours. These take place weekday mornings at Knox Presbyterian Church in Baddeck and are hosted by Wendy Bergfeldt, host of the weekday afternoon program Mainstreet and the Saturday program Island Echoes. Wendy was kind enough to clue me in about those last year, and I attended four of the five mornings this year as well.
It’s a small church and seating is first come, first served. Often it’s standing room only. But the shows are phenomenal, easily the equal of the concerts I purchased tickets for. Wendy is a phenomenal interviewer with great knowledge about Cape Breton and Celtic culture. And unlike the official shows, I could take pics.
Artists on Monday were ones that I’d seen on Friday night, Harald Haugard, this year’s co-Artist in Residence from Denmark, and his wife Helena Blum played and sang Danish fiddle tunes. A trio from Norway, Sweden, and Shetland called the Nordic Fiddlers Bloc performed next. Then came a pair of performers I’d heard at several venues. Darren McMullen is an amazing multi-instrumentalist who I’d seen this year and last at the Festival Club. With him was his lovely wife, Rachel Davis, who I chatted with and wrote about last year. Here’s Darren and Rachel, not at the church.
Monday was excellent, but Tuesday was even better. Probably the best concert I’ve seen in years, and this one was free and in a church. All week long people had been telling me, “You have to see Tim Edey. He is the most amazing guitarist.” I’ve grown used to a little bit of hyperbole at Celtic Colours, and seriously there are so many amazing musicians it’s hard to anoint one as “the most amazing.” Well, through luck or good fortune Tuesday’s show featured Tim Edey and Troy MacGillivray. Between them they played fiddle, keyboard, guitar, and button accordion, and Tim was maniacally funny in a Robin Williams way. Here’s a clip from a previous Knox Presbyterian performance. Hard to top that, but these two did. Ashley MacIsaac is one of the most famous fiddlers to emerge from Cape Breton in many years. This is Ashley’s most famous song, “Sleepy Maggie.” but not from Knox Presbyterian.Ashley took the stage with John Doyle, who I’d seen earlier in the week as part of the trio The Teetotallers. John took a solo turn as well, an old English song called “I Know My Love.” A couple of years ago he was the Artist in Residence at Celtic Colours. This clip is from then.
Wednesday morning I went whale watching. I returned on Thursday and Friday for two more sensational shows, which I’ll cover in the next post.