Cape Breton, on Canada's Eastern coast, was home to a lot of Scots immigrants, who brought over the tradition of house dances, as well as their music. Both remain largely intact, as this live album recorded at different small venues along the Cape attests. The family names — Beaton, MacIsaac, MacMaster — have been here for generations, and the ceilidh music they make with fiddle and piano is a glorious invitation to dance. Buddy MacMaster (uncle and teacher to Natalie) is a standout on "The Way to Judique," but everything is jubilant and played with glee. The tunes all have their roots quite firmly in the old country, but there's a definite New World brashness to the playing, assertive and muscular (as it would need to be to entertain a dancing crowd). This is a place where the traditions have remained long after the wave of immigrants has died, where Scotland and Canada meet and where history is very much a tale of the present.
By Douglas Wolk on 01.29.14 in Spotlights
Pete Seeger's contributions to American music were so titanic that it's easy to overlook them, or to assume they've always been there. To many, the folk singer, who died January 28 at the age of 94, was simply the old ma...
By John Morthland on 12.04.13 in Spotlights
How important a figure was Dave Van Ronk on the Greenwich Village folk scene in its heyday? Consider the description of Bob Dylan, who was befriended by Van Ronk upon his arrival in New York in 1961, in his own memoir, C...
By Wondering Sound Staff on 05.23.13 in Reviews
The Smithsonian Folkways collection is a musical treasure, a chance to wander down the byways of music not only from America, but all parts of the globe. From Woody Guthrie to Leadbelly to Elizabeth Cotten, the label is...
By Peter Blackstock on 07.10.12 in Reviews
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