Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Music road trip: Cape Breton

Sea, forest, heritage, and home -- those things are strongly present in the music of Cape Breton. So strongly present that musicians from this island in northern Nova Scotia have taken their unique brand of Celtic music around the world, taught old dances they remember to Scots who’d forgotten the ancestral steps, and delighted audiences from New England to the mid Atlantic, to Vancouver, to Calgary, to Tokyo, to Istanbul and beyond.

The fiddle is a mainstay of Cape Breton music. It's a fiddle style born in the percussive playing of the west of Scotland and carried across the sea, where it met with influences and partners from other parts of the world, and with the landscape and lives on the forested places of Nova Scotia. Natalie MacMaster brings both tradition and originality to her work. One place to hear that mix clearly is on her album Blueprint

The Barra MacNeils have been making music in the family for as long as they can remember, and making music the family business for more than two decades, with fine singing, playing, and composing that express the heart of Cape Breton’s music. They celebrate this on their album 20th Anniversary Collection

Cape Breton music is deep and varied -- and it is a presence in the music of New England and the mid Atlantic states . That is why this is part of The Great American Road Trip, in which I’m partnering up with A Traveler’s Library to add musical ideas to the book and film suggestions for journeys through the regions of the United States which you’ll find there.

This time, the Library is visits Delaware, to learn about a book that is both historical and visual. If you love gardens, this one may be for you, too.
For more about the road trip (and a look at some great road songs) see Great American Road Trip: Music begins

you may also wish to see

Music Road: thinking about Cape Breton: music and landscape

video on Gaelic culture on Cape Breton

Music Road: Cape Breton Radio Live take 02

Music Road: holiday gift list: music of Canada

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


Blogger Alexandra Grabbe said...

I would love to visit Cape Breton. Thanks for reporting on its music. Your blog truly makes me see places in a different way ....

11:52 AM  
Blogger Anjuli said...

This was really a great blog update!! I want to go and visit Nova Scotia- to check out my roots- (my great grandmother was from Nova Scotia)- but also I want to get this album!!!!

1:37 PM  
Anonymous jessiev said...

kerry - you've introduced me to such fantastic music - here's another one i didn't know, and now NEED to learn! thank you.

4:26 PM  
Blogger ember39 said...

Great post. I was lucky enough to see Natalie MacMaster in concert a few months ago. She's amazing. Thanks for sharing such great music.

9:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My parents visited Cape Breton a few years ago and really enjoyed it. I would like to visit also.

9:44 AM  

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