Review of North Star a new album by Kyle Carey

Review of North Star a new album by Kyle Carey

Why a casual Celtic music fan would love North Star by singer/songwriter Kyle Carey-It has a universal appeal. 

Every album is a musical journey. The experience is always complete when one listens to all the tracks in the album (in the order they were recorded) instead shuffling.I think Kyle Carey has worked hard in recording every track in North Star. This is a follow -up to her highly acclaimed Monongah. Every nuance is given emphasis.

North star is a journey across continents. It has taken her to Scotland, in order to record the twelve tracks, each with its own story to tell. In the title track (Northern Star), she sings of how each point of light draws a constellation. Like the album itself, it is about seeing the bigger picture from the complexity of notes and melodies. We are part of each other. We are connected by this endless chain of histories. The album is a testament to the modern and ancient Celts. North Star Cover

Apart from the melodic merits, North Star has superb packaging and meticulous recording process.The music doesn’t intrude. Yes it draws you in because of the beautiful songs (this includes the instruments, the chords and yes the amazing voice of Kyle Carey). This is highly recommended for lovers of chill out pop and indie folk. Her sound has evolved. She blends Gaelic and English songs in this album seamlessly. Everything feels supple, organic and also healing.

The word north conjures many thoughts. One of them is the cold and quiet that an artist needs in the gestation period of his or her creativity. North Star is Polaris which has been embodied in a lot of myths. The fact that this album is produced by Seamus Egan proves that she is backed by stalwart talents.

North Star is one of the great releases of this decade. Everything works. Her vocals are more stretched and exploited as there are tracks where she lets those pipes loose. I love Sios Dhan An Abhainn. I got goose bumps listening to that song. It is my personal favorite. Across the Great Divide is also poignant and memorable.

And lastly…I love the album artwork. I think the images and overall design give justice to the feel of the album. Her persistence and professionalism has paid off. This started off as a crowdfunding project. This album proves that those who are passionate about this kind of music are out there! Now looking forward to the next album.


I among those fascinated by the music of Breton singer/songwriter Cecile Corbel. It has something more to do with the melodies in her songs than her vocals or arrangements. Although it is worth noting that her arrangements are superb as well! She’s one of those artists celebrating the beauty of Breton music(the other one is Nolwenn Leroy). I think these two artists are the best  in terms of putting out Celtic music with pop appeal. She continues to dazzle our imagination with her Arthurian concept.

This is a captivating song called Entendez-vous from  La Fiancée. Would you agree it’s beautiful in all aspects?


Celtic Colours Int’l Cape Breton, Canada

Celtic Colours continues to be an influential festival in North America. Great shows, fantastic artists and a wide array of genres (or colours). Here’s a Soundcloud sampler of music you get to hear when you attend the festival.


I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Next, I will be writing about American group Soulsha: Afro-Celtic Funk, so watch out for this one.

See Maeve Gilchrist Trio, Rachel Davis etc in the Crossroads International Celtic Festival  in Western Maine

See Maeve Gilchrist Trio, Rachel Davis etc in the Crossroads International Celtic Festival in Western Maine

When the state of Maine comes up, it reminds me of Stephen King because that’s where he lives. Check out the movies on the list set in Maine( though not of them are by King): Salem’s Lot(2004 TV mini series), Home Alone, Andre, Dolores Clairborne, A Summer Place, Charlotte’s Web, The Cider House Rule, Parent Trap etc.

It’s such a pleasant surprise when the committee of the Crossroads International Celtic Festival informed me about this upcoming event which will be held in the month of September this year. What’s amazing is the mouth-watering lineup of amazing musicians that will ravish your thirsty soul that’s hungry for Celtic tunes. Oh yes I know you probably know them. Some of the artists already appeared in this site as part of my album review. Sounds like a growing “Woodstock” of Celtic music minus the riot hahaha.

I think you should see it. God know’s I’d see it if I live in the United States! These artists are from Canada and the United States so expect to hear Acadian, Cape Breton and Irish traditional music. Below is the complete press release. My big thanks to Charlene Williams for sending me the article:

Crossroads International Celtic Festival
Announces Artist Lineup

~ Festival to bring top acts to Western Maine ~

SOUTH CARTHAGE, Maine – The inaugural Crossroads International Celtic Festival (Crossroads) has lined up an impressive group of artists for the multi-venue concert series to be held Sept. 11 – 15 in several communities throughout Western Maine. Musicians from all over the Celtic world including Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Quebec, Scotland, Ireland, and the U.K., as well as from across the United States, will join the finest of Maine’s musicians, singers, dancers, and storytellers.

Celtic Musicians Shannon and Matt Heaton

“We have taken great care to create the perfect mix of both performer and venue so the experience will be authentic and exciting,” said Phill McIntyre, artistic director of Crossroads.

In all, 18 live performances will take place along the scenic routes through the towns and villages of Rangeley, Stratton, Carrabassett Valley, Kingfield, Phillips, Farmington, South Carthage, Rumford, Oxford, Lovell, South Paris, Fryeburg, and Bethel.

Acts include David Munnelly & Mick Conneely from Ireland; the Maeve Gilchrist Trio from Edinburgh, Scotland; Buddy MacDonald and Sprag Session from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia; and the Don Roy Ensemble of Portland, Maine. A complete list of artists can be found at

Celtic Musicians Mick Conneely and David Munnelly

Tickets went on sale July 1. Visit the festival website for the most up-to-date information.

A consortium of partner organizations has created this dynamic, cross-county festival to celebrate Celtic music, promote economic development in western Maine and support local arts organizations. Crossroads International Celtic Festival is sponsored by United Insurance, Linda Clifford Scottish & Irish Merchant, and supported in part by grants from the Maine Office of Tourism, the Maine Community Foundation, the Maine Arts Commission, Milwaukee Irish Fest Foundation, and the Sugarloaf Region Charitable Trust.


About the Crossroads International Celtic Festival:
The Crossroads International Celtic Festival is a non-profit organization currently under the fiscal sponsorship of the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments. Our large-scale, multi-venue festival showcases Celtic musicians of the highest caliber, and offers audiences a rich cultural experience while generating new opportunities for regional economic growth through cultural tourism. For more information, tickets or reservations visit the festival website or

From  Dieppe, New Brunswick, Canada; Arseneault are going to be part of the festival.
GenreAcadian, Cajun, Celtic



How are you weekenders? It’s another busy week that’s almost done. I’ve been busy with projects but I still have time to blog because I know you will be reading this. Perhaps I should let out bits of my life since you’ve been with me since 2009. I am still trying to adjust to the situation. It’s almost three months since my beloved mom passed away and I tell you, something like that changes you inside. It is hard to explain but whatever goals you had, or aspirations; they all seemed to have been swept away by this ravaging tide. No one is ever the same once he or she experiences that. But that is life and one has to go on living even though living sometimes feels like a chore. The years simply stretch beyond into this dream that one day, you will see that person you love the most. That is, if you believe in the after life. I don’t know. I am still looking fir something to believe in. I will take whatever I can. Be it music, art or the company of good friends. I will take it to keep me alive.

Ok, enough of heavy stuff, I want to show my support to the new Cara song. I saw this posted by the great piper Ryan Murphy. It’s their charity single. All proceeds go to Musiker ohne Grenzen (Musicians sans frontiers, Musicians without borders), a charity organisation that uses music to help people. There five projects right now in Ecuador, Jamaica and India. Info about the organization here: or

I love this tune. It’s the singing and the instruments. Cara are one of the best bands in Celtic music. If you have not heard of them yet you better check them out and buy their albums. You wont regret it. It’s one of the bands you have to hear before you die.

By this track for  €1 EUR .

Postcards from Dundalk: A Wee Craic with Nuala Kennedy

Postcards from Dundalk: A Wee Craic with Nuala Kennedy

by Louis De Carlo

Dundalk, Scotland,Canada and anywhere in the world, Nuala Kennedy plays music for every ear.

Help me welcome this fantastic musician this week. She is Nuala Kennedy. She became the focus of my interview request after seeing a post by The Riverside Celtic Society announcing her Canadian tour. It’s to promote her third release  “Noble Stranger.” After seeing her youtube videos and listening to her tunes, I told myself that I have to get her story. She would make a wonderful featured artist. I was right.

You had a show in  Canada this 24th of February! You must been very excited to greet your Canadian listeners. After all we know how Canada and Ireland are linked closely.
It was great to visit Canada again. It’s a fantastic country with a wonderful connection musically with Celtic music in Ireland and Scotland, especially on its Eastern seaboard, in places like Cape Breton Island and Newfoundland. I love the diversity of Canada, from Vancouver and the stunningly beautiful west coast, to Toronto and Quebec. I’m looking forward to touring and exploring more there, but I do have a special fondness for Cape Breton, its culture and people resonate with me and I love playing there.

You have a jazzy approach to Irish and Scottish music. Where did all the vibes come from?
I wouldn’t say my approach is jazzy, but I guess there’s a few different influences in there side by side with the traditional music. Edinburgh in the late nineties was an incredibly inspiring place to be a traditional player, with a lot of sessions and different musicians crossing paths and playing together. That was a hugely influential time for me. I always had an interest in other types of music too, in songs, contemporary music and in American folk music from the sixties and seventies.

 Dundalk is the same place where The Corrs originated. It must be a wild place for Celtic music.Can you give us a Nuala Kennedy: Noble Strangerbackground of your musical development? Do you think that the environment plays a big role in an artist’s artistic direction?
Definitely. I learned to play the whistle at around age seven, with a local teacher Mary Grennell. She taught me tunes out of the back of a shoemakers shop at the end of town. After I had a few learnt, I joined a local ceilidh band, ‘Ceoltoiri Oga Oghrialla’ which had some great older players as members. People like Tiarnan O Duinnchinn and Suzanne, Lisa and Patrick Conway, Brendan Needham. Fantastic players all, and I think I learned a lot from playing alongside them in the band, without even realising it really.

I was also encouraged to be independent and think for myself from an early age, by my parents but also by teachers and particularly my art teacher in secondary school who was a big influence on me. I loved the practical aspect of creating, the fact that you have a tangible finished ‘something’ at the end of a period of work. In Edinburgh, where I first went to study at the College of Art, it was difficult not to be influenced by all the amazing music that was in the city at that time. I returned often to Dundalk, where I grew up, and played with Gerry O Connor, with whom I now perform in the band Oirialla. I still go home very regularly, and it’s very satisfying to play traditional music from my own native area.

What do you look forward to this year in terms of live shows and recordings?

I’m currently working on a duo record with Mike Bryan, the guitarist from my band. It’s called “A Wee Selection: Some Scottish Tunes on Flute and Guitar” We recorded a bunch of our favourite traditional Scottish tunes. I’m really looking forward to seeing the finished CD! In a couple of weeks, we are launching Oirialla’s new CD. (Oirialla is an Irish trad. band featuring Nuala, Gerry ‘fiddle’ O’Connor, Martin Quinn and Gilles LeBigot) We are having a home town gig at the Square in Dundalk, as part of the Homecoming Festival. And I’m particularly excited about making my first trip to Alaska in September to play with John Doyle and Eamon O’ Leary. In October I’m taking the Snowflake Trio to Celtic Colours International Festival on Cape Breton Island, in Nova Scotia. It’s one of my favourite places in the world. The Snowflake Trio is myself, with Frode Haltli and Vegar Vardal, two incredible Norwegian musicians.

Can you cite other artists whose works inspired you?

by Louis De Carlo

Oliver Schroer was a huge inspiration to me. I also love Will Oldham’s singing and writing. I met the Birds of Chicago at Folk Alliance in Toronto this year, and really enjoyed their music. I’m a fan of lots of strong female singers and traditional musicians such as the late Ishbel Macaskill, Fiona Hunter, Kathleen MacInnes, Cathy-Ann MacPhee, Christine Primrose, Margaret Stewart, Padraigin Ni Uallachain, Catriona Mackay, Lori Watson, Shona Mooney… Also accordionists Martin Quinn and Julian Sutton. Of course Cathal McConnell continues to inspire me, especially with his musical musings on well known traditional tunes. I love his sense of creativity and the detail in his music.

 Top 5 albums you are listening to right now?

Some of my favourite albums at the moment include Mary Custy and Eoin O’Neill, Oliver Schroer’s Hymns and Hers, Rickie Lee Jones’ Traffic in Paradise, Devon Sproule “I Love You’ Go Easy”, Oliver Swain’s CD ‘Big Machine’ and Nels Andrews’ Scrimshaw.

I am curious how you would describe this as a flutist: What’s amazing about the flute?

That it’s a physical extension of the human body, powered by breath? That every aspect of my particular flute was made from scratch by hand by one artist, including all the keys and silver work. (It’s a Chris Wilkes flute.)

What other instruments do you love to play?

Whistle, piano.

Where can listeners buy your album?

They can get my album through:

Your message to the readers.

Support live, local and independent music and art!

|| Nuala Kennedy » online store ||

Meet Maxim Cormier, Fresh From the Nova Scotia Celtic Music Scene (Interview)

Meet Maxim Cormier, Fresh From the Nova Scotia Celtic Music Scene (Interview)

Maxim Cormier

Instrumental music is the rage again as Celtic musicians release fantastic albums this year. One of them is this young man from Cape Breton. His name is Maxim Cormier. He just released a self-titled album which I really enjoyed and wrote about in my  review. His music is filled with youthful energy and the serenity of the Nova Scotia landscape. I am sure his music will appeal to everyone , even those who are not into Celtic music. This is because the charm of his music lies in the understanding of the various moods that inhabit the landscapes of the soul. And this is a  universal thing. So if you haven’t gotten yourself a copy of Maxim Cormier yet, now is the time. And I mean it. You will enjoy this album!

Halifax is steeped in diverse music.Can you cite the artists you listened to after you got your guitar in your 11th birthday?

I grew up in Cheticamp NS. a small francophone community on Cape Breton Island. I grew up listening to just about everything other than the popular music that has been released during my lifetime. haha. I listened to my parents’ favourites (such as Supertramp, the beatles, james taylor, etc). Being from Cape Breton, Celtic Music has also been a huge influence on my playing.
For the last 4 years, I have been listening to a lot of Classical Music (From J.S. Bach to Bela Bartok to Steve Reich to Leo Brouwer, etc), Jazz (Esbjorn Svensson Trio, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Lenny Breau, etc), and “contemporary acoustic guitarists” such as Michael Hedges, Pierre Bensusan and Don Ross.

The opening track Anticipation reminds me of the sound of a clock ticking. Was this intentional on your part?

In Anticipation was not intended to sound like a clock. I do understand why you got that feeling though. In Anticipation is hard for me to describe. It’s almost polyrythmic and it has an almost constant sense of pulse throughout most of it. Like I said, it’s hard to describe..

In Anticipation was one of those pieces that kind of just came to me out of nowhere. I knew wanted to find a way to keep the bass notes ringing constantly while bringing a sense of pulse to it. Which is where the idea of the pulsating bass notes came from. Then, in an effort to not let the pulse take over, I added a syncopated melody against it.

I think the parallel between “In Anticipation” and a clock is that the low sounding pulse isn’t a dominating sound in my piece. The click of a clock isn’t dominating sound in everyday life.. In fact, it’s hardly noticeable unless you have a migraine.

Track 7 (Mezquida) is a personal favorite. What’s the inspiration behind the melody?

I’m really glad you like Mezquida. It was written as an homage to Cuban classical guitar composer Leo Brouwer, who’s full name is Juan Leovigildo Brouwer Mezquida.

I stumbled upon the opening chord I used in Mezquida when I incorrectly played the opening chord to a Leo Brouwer Etude (Etude #6). The main melody was inspired by that opening chord that I discovered. The rest of the piece features ideas such as alternating measures of 7/8 with measures of 4/4 and moving chord shapes around while maintaining constant open string.

 If a much younger guitar enthusiast approaches you for an advice about releasing a guitar album, what are the dos and don’t s you’d like to share?

I don’t have enough studio experience to feel comfortable giving extensive advice. What I can say is 1) Go to a professional recording studio with state of the art gear, a great sounding room and a good engineer. bedroom studios are getting popular, but I really believe they should mostly be used to make demos. 2) Know what you want and stick with it. I knew before walking in the studio what pieces i was going to record and who was going to play on the tracks that needed accompaniment. 3) Despite having just said “stick with it”, keep an open mind. If you have a good engineer, he/she’s probably worked on more projects than you have 😉

I am curious about the album photos. They really convey the easy and expansive feeling of the music in this album. Where did the shoot happen?

The shoot was in my hometown (Cheticamp, NS). Photos by Jaron Felix in may 2012.

 What will happen now that the debut album is out and what are the big musical things you are anticipating?

I just finished the 3rd year of a Bachelor’s of Music with a concentration in guitar performance at Dalhousie University (Halifax, NS). I’m currently part of a classical guitar quartet and I’m also building a jazz repertoire. This summer, I will do some touring. In september, I will return to Dalhousie to complete my degree. Once I graduate, I want to tour Europe for a 3-4 months then I’d start working on a second album.

That sounds like a great plan. You seemed to have figured everything out in your musical career! I know that you have performed with great musicians spanning world class venues including the Celtic Colours. For those who are yet to take part in these Celtic music events, what can they expect?

Celtic Colours is so much fun. SO MUCH FUN. It’s a 9 day festival held in Cape Breton during the month october. It features world class musicians from all over the world as well as the top local Celtic musicians. It also features Gaelic Song, Dance, etc. Celtic Colours events are held in venues all over Cape Breton. At night, when all the shows are over, everyone meets up at the Gaelic College in St Annes where “Festival Club” happens. Festival Club is magical. Fans and keen listeners come to have a drink and listen to more music as the musicians take this opportunity to play with old friends or with new musicians they’ve just met.

 What are the top 7 albums you are listening to currently?

1- Chick Corea Akoustic Band
2- Los Angeles Guitar Quartet “Guitar Heroes”
3- Bela Fleck and Edgar Meyer: Music for Two
4- Michael Hedges: Aerial Boundaries
5- Scott MacMillan’s “Mackinnon’s Brook Suite”
6- Esbjorn Svensson Trio: Strange Place for Snow
7- Any recording of Andrés Segovia

Where can people buy your new album?

People can buy my album at:

and people in Nova Scotia can buy it at:
-Select Sounds (bedford)
-Obsolete Records (Halifax)
-CD Heaven (Dartmouth)
-Antigonish 5c to a dollar store
-Celtic Music Interpretive Center (Judique)
-Charlie’s Country Music Store (Cheticamp)
-Cape Breton Curiosity Shop (Sydney)
-The Coast store (Glace Bay)
-Gaelic College Gift Shop (St Annes)

These are just misc questions:

Favorite Color: I honestly don’t have one.

Zodiac Sign: Scorpio.

Pet Peeve: Forgetting something at home. It seems to happen far too often lately.

What’s great about being in Music: Being able to explore what I love while getting a degree for it.

Best Childhood memory: Playing for over 5000 people at “Les Jeux de la Francophonie Canadiennes 2005”. I was 14.

Things you can’t travel without: New music to listen to.



What’s hot this month:

Artist: Kevin O’Donnell

Album: Deep is the Well

Players: Jim DeWan, Finbar Furey, Larry Gray, Kathleen Keane, Bill Lanphier, Maurice Lennon, Haley O’Donnell, John Rice, John William, and Jessica Willis

Style: Irish Country, Americana


  • A Letter Home
  • When I Was Young
  • Factory Girl
  • Downtowner Motel
  • Girl from Durango
  • Illinois & Michigan Canal
  • Camp-Farm Road
  • Rusted Dreams
  • She
  • The Ballad of Jackie Ryan Fagan
  • Saint Malachy’s Waltz

Album: “Babel Pow Wow

Artist: Dom Duff

Location: Brittany

Original Release Date: April 18, 2013


1. Buan yann buan

2. Bitter Lands of Llydaw

3. Noa

4. Chikoloden groove

5. Floc’h ar jabadao

6. A-du gant an avel

7. Babel pow wow

8. Houarn & lêr

9. Buzhug’o’matik

10. Koroll gouez

11. Treizh

12. En tu all d’an treizh

13. Foeter breizh

Artist: Enda Seery

Album: Síocháin na Tuaithe

Location: Streamstown, Co. Westmeath

Players:ENDA SEERY-Whistles, flute, keyboard, vocals. JOHN BYRNE-Guitar.



  1. The Scholar/Sam’s Delight (ES)/The Night Owl Time (ES) Reels 4.02
  2. The Castle/The Nightingale Jigs 3.25
  3. Peggy in the Settle/Day Trip to Galway (ES) Single Reels 2.47
  4. It’s A Working Man I Am Song 5.12
  5. The Dairy (ES)/The Belfast Hornpipes 4.06
  6. Santa Cruz (ES)/Friends from the States (ES) Jigs 2.38
  7. Amhrán na Leabhar Slow Air 3.03
  8. An Bhfuil an Fear Mór Istigh? Set Dance, Slip Jig 2.39
  9. The Golden Keyboard/John Blessing’s/The Highlandman Who Kissed HisGranny Reels 3.23
  10. My Aunt Jane/The Gullane/The Rambling Sailor Polkas 3.42
  11. Jearóid/You Rogue You Daren’t Meddle Me Slow Reel, Reel 3.02
  12. The Killeigh/Langton’s of Kilkenny (ES) Hornpipes 3.20
  13. Loving Hannah Song 4.28
  14. Tatter Jack Walsh/An Luradán/The Hag With The Money Jigs 3.31
  15. Síocháin na Tuaithe (ES)/Ralph’s Paw (ES) Slow Waltz, Jig 3.23
  16. Larry’s Favourite/The Floating Crowbar/The Chicago Reels 4.51

Band: The Indulgers

Album: Whiskey Tonight

Location: Boulder/Golden Colorado

Members: Damien McCarron – Vocals, Guitar
Mike Nile – Vocals, Guitars, Mandolin, Harmonica and Electronic Bagpipe
Renee Fine – Fiddle/Violin
Aaron Haywood – Bass
Francesco(Cheech) Mannone – Drums
Guesting on occasion:
Neale Heywood – Guitar
Ryan Bunnell – Guitar


1. Whiskey Tonight/2. Ceili Mor /3. It’s You /4. Hold On to You /5. Story Rory /6. Lady Jane /7. New Lease On Life /8. Man of All Seasons /9. Doin’ Fine/10. Roll This Stone/11. The Cure/12. Dreaming of You/13. Big Storm Rising/14. Dublin Day

Yay!It’s Gillian Boucher(interview)

Yay!It’s Gillian Boucher(interview)


Gillian Boucher talks about her music and the unpredictable but wonderful things in life in the midst of motherhood. And oh a bit about people expecting musicians to give lessons for free.Ha!

Hi Baxter! Well… here it is!!! I’m severely jet-lagged after the journey from NZ to Turkey, but I was determined to get this to you today 🙂 I hope it’s OK!!

I discovered the music of Gillian Boucher around two years ago while I was doing my research on the Cape Breton fiddling style. She has this certain ‘walk under the sunny park on an afternoon’ kind of vibe when she plays her instrument.  I also admire her fashion sense. For a while I kept track of news about her and poof! She disappeared from the Celtic music radar. I wondered what really happened to her for a long time. While Cape Breton and the whole of Canada gave us tons and tons of beautiful music, Gillian was nowhere to be found. Until recently.

She started updating and leaving digital footprints online once again. The illusive artist has now become more and more accommodating to the public as she enthusiastically shares her travels and photographs to her friends. Her group The Celtic Umbrella Ensemble is gearing towards bigger musical shows and you will find out about it in this interview. So my dear readers, sit back and relax over a cuppa tea as we listen to Gillian’s unique voice as she shares her time with us.

How’s it going with Celtic Umbrella these days?

Well, the Celtic Umbrella Ensemble will be entering it’s third year of existence and after a few line-up changes we feel that we’ve finally found something that fits really well! Last summer in Canada we finished our touring season off with a main-stage performance at Festival Memoires et Racines in Joliette Quebece with a new line-up and the response was simply mind-blowing! We don’t do much touring during the winter season as I’m usually back in Turkey working on administration for my various projects or down touring New Zealand which I do annually. This spring, though, we’ll be heading in the studio in Canada to work on our first album which is really exciting. We’ve got a lot of great material that spans from Old Scots to Acadian folk songs and groovy instrumental rhythms. It’s going to be a fabulous project!

  You seemed to have disappeared from the radar for a while and now you are in Turkey. How’s life treating you?

After the release of Elemental and receiving some great reviews in the form of music nominations and an award, I hit some turbulence in my personal life and decided to lay low for a while. The album was also released after nearly a decade of being on the road with singer/songwriter and former partner Andrew White and so by the time I was due to push the new album, I was already exhausted and needed a break from music. After a trip to Ankara, Turkey, to perform for the Canadian Ambassador’s Canada Day celebrations in 2010, I saw an exciting opportunity to completely relocate to an interesting part of the world but still work on my various projects. It’s been a whirlwind of an adventure but I’ve  found a sweet balance that makes it all work, giving me a chance to rekindle my passion for what I do, go out on the road to perform and come home to a peaceful and quiet existence in this far-off and beautiful land. If someone would have told me 5 years ago that I would be living in Turkey some day, I wouldn’t have believed them! Yet, here I am, and I’m very settled and happy.

  You have a certain style in playing the fiddle. Where did you get all that energy, concentration and style?

Well, thanks very much for the compliment! Growing up on Cape Breton Island I was immersed in the Cape Breton style of music and dancing from a very early age. We grew up near my mother’s family, who were all of Scottish decent, and so the culture was very present in our lives. I was classically trained on piano, but not on fiddle and had a very strong Cape Breton fiddle style until my mid-teens. Perhaps my classical training on piano came through as I was very fond of complicated pieces by Neil Gow and Scott Skinner, which weren’t being played much by the younger players around.

At around the age of 15 I first heard Irish music and it was a major milestone in my life for sure. I immediately fell in love with the style of music and it also corresponded with many opportunities to work in the USA and collaborate with a lot of Irish-American players, so my style and approach started to morph at that time for sure. When I was 19 I moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, and again was greatly influenced by the tunes and players there, creating another element in my stylistic approach to traditional music. I am not and never have been a traditionalist and feel very free to build upon my experiences in life to create my own individual style.

I don’t strive to sound like anyone else which is what a lot of tradition bearers feel as responsibility. I know this because I felt this responsibility when I was younger, trying to preserve our Cape Breton culture and style of playing by mimicking older players, so I guess you could call me a bit of a rebel in that respect! Don’t get me wrong, I respect and admire the amazing players that keep our heritage alive and well. I just don’t feel like it was ever my path, which might also have something to do with my mixed-heritage background of Acadian and Metis as well as Scottish.

Aside from being a recording artist, you also teach. Which do you think gives you the most fulfillment?

I’ve been teaching for nearly as long as I’ve been performing, first starting to teach dance when I was about 12 years old. I started teaching fiddle later in my teens, but I’ve always had great enjoyment teaching both and still do. The feeling of fulfillment seeing a student progress, giving validation to ones teaching method, I don’t think can be compared to the thrill of walking off a stage with an audience in rapturous applause. I can’t compare the two at all, but deeply love both! The later being the most exciting buzz in the world! I’ve also found that in order to maintain a lifestyle as a working musician, one must have a few fingers in a few pies! Teaching is just another aspect of my work that keeps me moving forward, allowing me to continue to do what I love. My most recent teaching project is a comprehensive online teaching method entitled ‘Learn Celtic Fiddle’ which is comprised of HD video lessons and supporting documents. We (my business partner and I) currently have 4 Units up and running: Absolute Beginner, Advanced Beginner, Early Intermediate and Advanced Intermediate. Each Unit has 5 lessons. It’s a wonderful project and we have students from all over the world logged in, learning Celtic fiddle!

I read your post the other week where you ranted about people expecting musicians to give lessons for free. And this even go as far as expecting musicians to perform music for free. What can you say about this outrageous mentality?

I was recently in New Zealand and heard that local festival had decided that they were not going to pay musicians to perform, and would only offer a ticket pass and free camping. As a result, they will not have professional musicians at the festival because professional musicians don’t play gigs for free, which only disappoints the attendees who are mostly going to the festival for music. It’s shocking, really. But we can be guaranteed that the porta-loo companies will be paid, as well as any other tradesman involved in the production of the festival! Over the last ten years, as not only a professional musician but also a booking agent and show promoter in places like New Zealand, I see ticket prices staying the same, sometimes even going down, and tour expenses and cost of living rising. It’s a very challenging business to be in for sure. The light at the end of the day though is the fact that we get to do what we love and the people we do it with are some of the most magical people on earth. I think that’s what keeps us all going!

(More by visiting her website


Check out the Celtic Colours International Festival online via:

Gillian Boucher and Celtic Umbrella in concert, June 2011, Chester Nova Scotia


* 2010 ECMA Nominee: Roots/Traditional Solo Recording of the Year


* 2009 NSMW Award Winner: Roots/Traditional Recording of the Year

Celtic Colours International Welcomes Back Natalie MacMaster

My Island Too

Friday October 5th

Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre, Port Hawkesbury – 7:30 PM, Tickets: $60/50/40, Reserved Seating

October 5 is the opening night for the music festival that has become an establishment . Her new albums is called ” Cape Breton Girl”. Are you going?

Here’s the festival headline:

No one found it surprising when Natalie MacMaster called her latest album “Cape Breton Girl”. Tonight everyone’s favourite Cape Breton girl is home to open the festival and share her beloved island with friends from other islands and provinces…from Shetland the amazing fiddle band Fiddlers’ Bid, from Jamaica Pepito Pinto, Metis dancers the Asham Stompers from Manitoba and close buddies Rachel and Sabin from Quebec. Rachel is actually from Cheticamp, so she, along with Goiridh and Cyril will complete the Cape Breton musical welcoming committee. Be prepared for surprises!

Papilio: Neo-Celtic, Contemporary-Traditional Trio Based in Nova Scotia

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From: Halifax, NS


Jennifer Publicover (flutes/bodhran)
Anthony Rissesco (fiddle/vocals)
Phil Schappert (guitars/bouzar/vocals)

Layne is working at a music venue (DeCoste Centre)in Pictou Nova Scotia as his summer job. This Celtic group is performing there for the next two nights. He calls them “Absolutely AMAZING!!!!”. I have to take his word for that because they really are.  Their recordings have that silky texture.The musical vibes are always reflective of Nova Scotia’s maritime side. Their track F Strathspeys & Reels (trad) will send traditional music lovers smiling. The cover of Caledonia originally by Dougie MacLean gains a new shine.

Listen here:


Papilio is a neo-celtic, contemporary-traditional trio based in Nova Scotia. Come on a musical tour with us through the cultures of Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, Spain, Cape Breton, Scandinavia and uncharted lands beyond…

Papilio is a neo-celtic, contemporary & traditional world music trio from Nova Scotia. Come on a musical tour with us through the cultures of Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, Spain, Cape Breton, Scandinavia and uncharted lands beyond…to capture the spirit and energy of celtic and other musical traditions in a fresh, progressive way, with a sprinkling of our own compositions as well.

Visit our MySpace page to hear some tracks:

And here is our brand new website!

We are available for concerts, festivals, conferences, pubs, ceilis, workshops and private functions in and around Atlantic Canada and the Northeastern United States.

Anthony Rissesco (fiddle, vocals)

The newest member of Papilio, Anthony is a versatile violin player and teacher, experienced in all styles of playing from classical violin to traditional fiddle. He tours regularly with singer Lennie Gallant and is also a member of the Halifax band The Gig Dogs. As a music student at Dalhousie University, Anthony studied classical violin under Phillippe Djokic. He has won fiddle competitions throughout Canada, including the Maritime Fiddle Championship. In 1990, he came third in the prestigious Canadian Open in Shelburne Ontario, and he was chosen to represent Nova Scotia at the Grand Masters Competition in Ottawa for six consecutive years. Anthony has played with Symphony Nova Scotia, Bruce Guthro, Cyril MacPhee, Anne Murray, and Peggy Seeger.

Jennifer Publicover (flutes, bodhrán, vocals)

Jennifer leads a double life as an active freelancer on both the modern orchestral flute and wooden Irish flute, and is proud to be a founding member of Papilio. She earned her Master’s degree in flute performance at the University of Toronto and her B.Mus. at Mount Allison. Driven by the desire to develop her own unique voice beyond her classical training, Jennifer has been drawn to the Celtic music of her native Nova Scotia, Ireland, Scotland, Brittany and beyond. A familiar face at Halifax sessions, she has been a long-time participant in and supporter of the Boxwood Festival, an annual traditional flute workshop in Lunenburg directed by recording artist Chris Norman. In her alter ego as a classical flutist, she performs as an alternate player for such institutions as the Charlottetown Festival Orchestra, Symphony Nova Scotia, and the Stadacona Band, frequently appearing in many orchestras, pit orcheatras, pro concert bands and chamber groups in and around Halifax. She is also in demand as teacher, and is a busy mom of two.

Phil Schappert (guitar, cittern, vocals)

Phil has been playing for more years than he can remember. Dr. Phil, as he’s known to his students, has an alter ego as a PhD entomologist/botanist who has written books about plant/insect interactions (FYI, Papilio is a genus of swallowtail butterflies, represented in Nova Scotia by Papilio canadensis, the Canadian Tiger Swallowtail). Introduced to Irish and Scottish traditional music by Don Ross–and Joel Shore, his fiddle-playing PhD supervisor–early in the last decade of the last century, Phil has developed a particular fondness for the music of Brittany, celtic Spain and Scandinavia. He plays fingerstyle guitar, and plays guitars made by Russel Crosby of Nova Scotia. Phil has played in neo-celtic/jazz/folk/trad bands in Toronto and Austin. He and his wife, Pat, returned to Canada from Texas in late 2007. Halifax is their playground of choice…

Review: Papilio ~ EP Emergence

Papilio is a very musical trio consisting of Jennifer Publicover on flutes and bodhran, Anthony Rissesco on violin and vocals and Phil Schappert on guitar and bouzar (guitar shaped bouzouki). Emergence is a 6 cut EP which one hopes will lead to a full-length recording. Their music has roots in the Celtic world of Scotland, Ireland, Brittany and Cape Breton. They also show Nordic and Eastern European influences.
The recording opens with a Nordic polska followed by Jennifer’s “Chorolations” written in the style of an Eastern European “Oro” or “Choro”, hence the name. Anthony then gives a fine rendition of Dougie MacLean’s classic song Caledonia before he launches into a set of Cape Breton style strathspeys and reels on cut 4. A beautiful Scottish air gives way to an Irish slip jig while the closing set has a Breton march and three rousing jigs from England, Scotland and Ireland respectively.

The music of Papilio, which is Latin for butterfly and a result of Phil’s other career as a biologist, is arranged, played and presented with style and grace as well as a high degree of musical proficiency. They have a “big” sound for a trio and I would certainly look forward to a full CD in the future.

John Ferguson for CelticLife magazine:

Tim Chaisson & Morning Fold – Come Clean

I am working on an article about the recording process. It will be focusing on the mixing and mastering side. While I am at it, I want to distract you all with this video by Tim Chaisson. He used to be the youngest member  of the Celtic/contemporary band Kindle with his two brothers and three cousins as their bassist. Now his band is simply known as Tim Chaisson & Morning Fold. Thanks to my friend Jimmy for bringing him up during one of our conversations about musicians based in the east coast of Canada.

Photo by Rémi Thériault

The Bombadils East Coast Tour

The amazing  musicians  of the Canadian Celtic band The Bombadils are now on tour. Sarah Frank reminds me of a smart friend I met in college. She has this nice aura. We finally get to see the house of Luke Fraser! Wait, he still owes me that interview!

We’re going on our first tour to the East Coast! We’ll be uploading vlogs whenever internet is available so please subscribe to our channel to keep updated on our tour!

We went to Luke’s today!

*NEW* Order our new CD online:

Sarah Frank: fiddle, vocals
Luke Fraser: mandolin, vocals
Anh Phung: flute, vocals
Kit Soden: guitar, vocals
Evan Stewart: bass
Noam Bierstone: percussion

Visit our website:

Become a fan on Facebook:!/pages/The-Bombadil

Book us at:

Trevor John Howlett:Journeys and Lyrics( Interview)

Trevor Howlett is a Canadian singer/songwriter and also a folk musician from cape Breton island Nova Scotia. He has the gift of gab as shown in his lyrical power . His eloquence is not only evident through his songwriting but also through his job as a news reporter. From Cape Breton to Ireland. This is the story of a journey of  thousands of miles and ended up into songs. To quote:”A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness”.-Robert Frost


What made you decide to record  Lost Cause? 

I decided to record a full length CD the previous year, having lots of material that remained unreleased. I applied for some money from the government my application was rejected, so I lowered the budget and made a self-released, self-recorded EP. I just needed to finally release a CD, whether it be EP or LP, to tell me get gigs and help new bandmates in transition. Plus I wanted to have an official snapshot of my life, which is shown through the songs.I designed Lost Causes EP to have a narrative from when I first decided to go to Ireland, to me going there, falling in love, and coming back, somewhat heartbroken.

 This trip to Ireland  created a spark which inspired your songs. Tell us more about this.

I traveled to Ireland in 2009 to work for the summer, although I didn’t find a job, I did find a girlfriend though. When I moved to Ireland it was my first time living anywhere outside of Nova Scotia, my home province (I now live in Alberta). I only left Canada about two times to visit the US, so it was a bit crazy to just pick up and move somewhere not knowing anyone, and having to find a place to live, work etc. In Cape Breton, where I am from, we have a lot of Celtic music but it’s mostly instrumental stuff, where I wanted to learn some ballads. Which are far more popular in Ireland. Plus a few of my ancestors are from the Emerald Isle, so it seemed like a good fit. I stayed in Dublin for two weeks and moved to Galway where I fell in love with a girl from County Meath who was also unemployed. We lived together and had a blast before I had to move back to Canada to finish my journalism degree, and since she was unwilling to come over, it caused us to break up. I was heartbroken at the time like never before, and it led to a period of depression in my life. In the end I realized that life doesn’t always happen the way you expect it to, and that’s fine. A big theme in the CD is the feeling of having no place to call home, which was the result of the trip. When I first left Cape Breton, it didn’t seem like the place for me to live anymore. In Ireland, although I loved the people and music etc, I couldn’t see myself living there forever, especially with the economic situation (and I was mistaken for an American, which was disheartening). When I came back to Halifax, NS for school it also didn’t seem like home to me. My story is probably similar to thousands from years ago who left their families and loved ones behind, So I tried to draw a connection between them and my own experience.

Who are your musical heroes?

I have a vast amount of musical heroes, really. I started playing guitar because I loved Nirvana, and I started on electric guitar in high school. I never wanted to be a songwriter, it just sort of happened naturally. I then gained a fascination for The Beatles. In high school I gained an appreciation for fellow Nova Scotian musician Joel Plaskett, and at a solo gig he perfomed in Port Hawkesbury in 2005, my life was changed forever. I slowly changed into a folk musician, because I realized how captivating acoustic music can be, and how it’s a great form to tell a story. Joel incorporates a little bit of Celtic into his music at times, and I wanted to do something similar. Stan Rogers has become an increasing presence in my influences and is probably my strongest at the moment. He took the traditional ballad to new heights in Canada and his style can never been replicated. If I consider myself traditional at all, it’s in the tradition of Stan Rogers. I listen to an eclectic mix of music at home, some rock stuff like the White Stripes, lots of Irish stuff like Luke Kelly and I especially love Paul Brady. I really like fiddler Ashley MacIsaac who is from my neck of the woods. He did some modern celtic stuff that is really breakthrough in my opinion and I’d be lucky to accomplish anything close to him in the genre. His mother actually heard my CD and informed my mother that she liked it so that’s the highlight of my career so far! As far as songwriting goes, my all time favorite is Neil Young and that will never change.

Yours songs are rich in story-telling and the human condition. They are also personal. Do you wish to connect to people through your songs or is it the other way around?

I don’t necessarily look to connect with people through my songs,it’s probably simply a by-product of the human condition.We all have similar experiences of love, hate, heartbreak etc through our lives, and our feelings bring us together.

 How many songs have you written so far? 

I like CD’s to be a bigger work, not just a collection of songs. Anyway, in total between several short lived bands and my own career, I’ve written about 50 songs. Probably more but I wouldn’t perform all of them. I would say only half of them – for various reasons – will ever even be considered for an album or release, but you never know. I’m just thinking back now, and I’d say I wrote my first song in 2004, so I suppose that’s not a particularly high output, but I’ve written most of the songs in the past few years. I’m more productive when I have a goal in mind or when I’m playing with an eager backing band.

Apart from being a musician, you are also a news reported. How do you juggle between the two? 

So far, I haven’t been great at juggling between being a reporter and a musician. I did it well as a journalism student and a musician, but since it’s been my career it’s been a bit tougher. I got a job in April at a weekly newspaper in Nova Scotia and that was a lot easier to manage, gig-wise. I haven’t played any shows since I’ve moved to Alberta, which is for a number of reasons. Just getting settled in to a new lifestyle takes some time, and I felt I deserved a bit of a break after devoting a lot of time to music since the release in November. At the moment I’m doing mostly behind the scenes stuff: looking for new musicians to play with, trying out a few things in new songs, planning my next record etc. I hope to start playing in Alberta, intermittently in late September or early October. I hope i’ll have some time off for Christmas to play in Nova Scotia again with my old lads, and then I’ll be ready to conquer all in the new year.

Your story is very interesting. My next question might be off the wall but it’s worth trying. How does one achieve inner peace?

Inner Peace is all about knowing oneself. But it’s more than just knowing, it’s also following the information. Obtain a job that you’ve always wanted to do. Treat other people how you would like to be treated. Inner Peace is about removing stress as well, so keeping a balanced lifestyle is key.

More info and listen to the tracks  here: