Route 19

More Cape Breton Fiddlers & CDs

Karen Beaton's - Route 19 Updated December 10, 2009

Below is a list of additional fiddlers that did not fit on my introductory page to Cape Breton fiddlers, listed this time alphabetically. I have also added reviews of some CDs that did not make the other page, although the fiddler might have. Note that these is also a second webpage of "More CDs" that covers albums that are from groups, festivals, or musicians who are not primarily fidders - More CB CDs.


Individual Fiddlers:


(Route 19) Karen Beaton - Route 19 (self-published, 2000) . Route 19 is a rural road that runs from Port Hastings in SW Cape Breton north up the west coast past Troy (Natalie), Creignish (Ashley), Judique (Buddy), Mabou (The Rankins) on up to Margaree Forks. Along this stretch live dozens and dozens of other great fiddlers. Featured on this CD are tunes from 7 composers who lived along Route 19. Karen is the midst of this culture and it shows. Accompanied by husband Joey on piano, Karen delivers up a nice batch of straightforward Cape Breton jigs, reels and strathspeys.
(Timeless) John Campbell - Timeless "Scottish violin music from the heart of Inverness County, Cape Breton" (self-published, 1999) also featuring Doug MacPhee on piano and Edmond Boudreau on guitar and the dancers "Four on the Floor". Campbell is another fiddler from Route 19 (Mabou) who now lives near Boston. Campbell is a well-respected composer of many tunes.
(Fiddlin' Around Down North) Joe A. Doucette - Fiddlin' Around Down North (self-published, 1999) with Brenda Stubbert on piano, Paul MacDonald on guitar, and Jerry Holland. Doucette is from Ingonish Beach, Cape Breton. Afflicted with arthritis, Doucette plays through the pain, and quite well.
(Done to a T album cover) Jackie Dunn -- Dunn to a T (1995). Yet another exceptional fiddler/pianist/step-dancer. The folks of Inverness County had the etremely good sense to name Jackie as the elementary music school teacher in the area where every child gets three hours of musical instruction a week. This is a lovely, sophisticated, and very pleasing album. Jackie appeared at the 1998 San Francisco Irish Music and Arts Festival and hopefully will come back soon.
(More LIke Me) Ray Ellis - More Like Me! (self-published 1999) . Ellis is another good fiddler assistend by J.P. Cormier and Hilda Chiasson-Cormier on this CD. 11 tracks consistine of 42 traditional and traditional-sounding tunes. A very straightforward album.
(Step Outside) Glen Graham - Step Outside (Bowbeat Music 2000). I really like this album, so much so that after wearing out the tape, I bought the CD. It is exciting, got some very nice singing from Glen and his sister Amy (who reminds me of S.F. local Shana Morrison), lots of variety, and some truly wicked fiddling. Amy and Glen are joined by some of the best of young Cape Breton musicians - Mac Morin on piano, Patrick Gillis on guitar, Gordie Sampson on guitar, with appearances by Howie Macdonald and Joel Chiasson. These folks know how to generate energy! Some nice tune and song-writing from Glen too. One song has a lot of programming - a warning to the purists- but this is the exception. However, the eclecticism of this album, rather than being a weakness, is a real strength. Most folks like various music styles; the Grahams are no different, but Glen's command of traditional music is so deep and natural, it all works. This is real music from real folks, and it rocks. (Highly recommended)

(Master Cape Breton Fiddler)

(Crystal Clear) 

Fiddler's Choice


Jerry Holland  - Master Cape Breton Fiddler (2001, Fiddlesticks Music). 19 years ago, three young players - Jerry, guitarist Dave MacIsaac, and pianist Hilda Chiasson came together and raised the bar substantially for recorded Cape Breton music, sending huge and happy ripples through the local music scene. This 1982 LP, long out of print, has been digitally remastered and re-released. Listening to it reminds me of the enormous contribution Jerry has made to this music, both through his many tunes that have become cherished parts of every Cape Breton fiddler's repetoire and his magnificent playing. The sound quality of the remastered CD is excellent and the extensive liner notes very well done. A classic Cape Breton CD that no one should be without. (Very highly recommended)
- Crystal Clear (Cranford Publications 2001). The word that always come to my mind regarding Jerry's playing is exquisite. This large Bostoner who adopted Cape Breton as his home has become a revered master there both for his exquisite playing and his prolific and superb tune-writing. One of my very favorite fiddlers. This is a solo album - no piano, no guitar, just Jerry. I see this as a high-risk proposition, but the results are glorious. No distractions, just magical playing. A wonderful album. (Very highly recommended)
- Jerry Holland's Fiddlestick Collection (1995 Green Linnet-out of print) This is a spectacular collection of Cape Breton fiddle music from one of the masters.
-: JCB with Jerry Holland - A Trip to Cape Breton, (Lochshore Recordings, 1997, CDLDL 1269) with the Jura Ceilidh Band from Scotland which is a lovely mix of tunes and songs and  Fiddler's Choice (Fiddlesticks 1999) which is more strictly Cape Breton music and features Jerry's fiddling more prominently.
(Tunes Until Dawn CD cover) David Greenberg & Doug MacPhee-- Tunes Until Dawn: Traditional Fiddle and Piano Music of Cape Breton (1999, Marquis Classics). Joining David on the CD are pianist Doug MacPhee, guitarists Dave MacIsaac and Curly Boy Stubbs and guest fiddlers Kate Dunlay and Donald MacLellan. This a straight dose of traditional tunes recorded in a studio. Greenberg is one of the few classically trained violinists (and founder of Puirt a Baroque) who can play convincingly in a traditional fiddle style. MacPhee is a traditionl Cape Breton style pianist. A noted musicologist, Greenberg also has great skill as a fiddler, his playing being very precise and accurate, and among fiddlers, this album has received great praise. However, to my ear, David sounds like he is concentrating too hard and the effect is a bit academic. Missing for me is the wild sound of Dave MacIsaac's 'Archives', the 'locomotive racing downhill' momentum of Natalie or Buddy in full swing, or the easy joy of many of the locals. Next time, I hope David gets some live dancers and plays for fun. That could be mighty.

iIan MacDougall - From Foot Cape (self-published 2003). There is so much to like about this debut CD from this 22 year old fiddler, yet another from Route 19!  First and foremost the CD was recorded live at a friend's home with real people talking in the background, babies howling, and friends hooting and hollering when appropriate. This settng gives the music a bounce and energy so often lacking in studio CDs. Energy and drive are qualities that Ian's playing has in great quantities, a well as a lovely, sensitive lyricism in a couple of airs. For years Ian has been very highly regarded as a  fiddler for dances in Cape Breton, and I've seen him at the Mecca of CB dance - Glencoe Mills being very well received, and deservedly so -- you just try to keep seated when Ian gets to "driving 'em"!  This is the real stuff, played brilliantly. You want to know what makes Cape Breton fiddling so exciting, get this CD. (Very highly recommended)

(Kenloch Ceilidh) Morgan MacQuarrie - Kenloch Ceilidh (1997, self published, cassette only?). MacQuarrie dedicates this album to the memory of Joe MacLean. And Joe must be very happy. This is a masterful album by this fiddler from Kenloch, Cape Breton. If you like Joe Maclean's playing, you want this recording. Morgan reportedly has a new CD coming out, but when?


Ashley MacIsaac - Ashley MacIsaac (Decca 2003) - Ashley, always a musician to surprise, shock and catch your attention for better or worse, has done it again -- by creating an album largely of songs - 6 sung by himself. Ashley is a better singer than one might have imagined. The other lead singers include his sister Lisa, Dallas Smith, Lara Gray, and Terry Radigan. The general tone of this album is aimed for radio play on rock stations, with lots of drums, synthesizers and over-dubbing. However, there is one straight-up track of traditional solo playing and lest anyone wonder whether Ashley has lost his touch with traditional fiddle music, this should lay that concern to rest. Interestingly, the fiddle tunes that back up many of the songs are traditional tunes arranged for the 21st century. There is also one lovely Gaelic song done by Mary Jane Lamond. The tune tracks tend to be over-produced for my tastes, but overall, this is an interesting, thoughtful album by a remarkable artist, that is growing on me with repeated listening, and may be an album that draws the younger radio crowd toward traditional music, and for that we all may owe Ashley a thank you. (Recommended)

(Wings) Jennifer Roland Wings (self-published 2001) (unofficial website). Jennifer's second CD, following on her superb debut Dedication, reflects her growing maturity as a musician. It starts with her step-dancing, then quickly kicks in with her stellar fiddling on three reels she composed, one of many of her tunes on the CD. The album generally has a more sophisticated, "produced" sound than Dedication, and on several tracks seems to be aiming for a bigger, more electronic, rock sound like Natalie's In My Hands (which has gotten much airplay and a Juno). However, it is on the simpler arrangements, such as sister Karmie's lovely slow air "A Mother's Love", and the drumless tunes such as the superb "March, Strathspey & Reel Medley" with just Jennifer and Howie Macdonald on piano, that Jennifer's playing really shines. There is one song, "Back to Your Shores" written and sung by Jennifer's friend Stephanie Hardy, which is lovely. For my taste, there is way too much drums on a few tunes and they should lose the organ (we all know I am completely out of touch with what gets airplay!), but the fiddling is fine indeed. (Recommended)

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