Friday night in Mabou holds a treat for fans of live Celtic music. The instrumental group Beòlach will be playing June 4 at the Red Shoe Pub. Cover is $12, and the show runs from 10pm to 1am.
The Scottish Gaelic word “Beòlach” translates into “lively youth”, a term that succinctly captures the vigor and dynamism of the Cape Breton band’s performances. But make no mistake, the five musicians of the Beòlach have honed their craft over many years of performances, tours, and collaborations.
Coming from a long tradition of musical excellence in Inverness County, Beòlach formed following an impromptu session at Celtic Colours in 1998. Since then the band has performed in festivals and tours across North America and Europe. Along with their original compositions, Beòlach presents distinctive, creative arrangements of traditional Cape Breton, Scottish, and Irish tunes.
In addition to their two albums, the group’s members boast a variety of individual accomplishments. Wendy MacIsaac of Creignish and Mairi Rankin of Mabou have many years of top-notch fiddling experience behind them. They have served Beòlach as fiddlers and step dancers, with MacIsaac acting as manager for the band. Both have a number of solo recordings and performances to their names, as well as an extensive roster of collaborations with such big name acts as the Rankin Family, the Barra MacNeils, the Chieftains, Mary Jane Lamond, and Ashley MacIsaac, to name a few.
Ryan J. MacNeil, originally of Big Pond, brings his prowess with highland bagpipes, border pipes, and tin whistles to Beòlach’s numbers. Increasingly renowned for his talent for composition, MacNeil’s tunes have been recorded and performed by musicians locally and abroad. MacNeil’s technical proficiency has lead him to developing his own line of whistles.
Mac Morin of Troy, Inverness contributes piano, accordion, and stepdance to Beòlach. He has also put in many years of accompaniment for fellow Troy native Natalie Macmaster, with the first months of 2010 being practically booked solid while touring with MacMaster’s band. Coming from a long line of stepdancers, Morin continues to travel to teach stepdance workshops.
Guitar player Patrick Gillis, like the rest of his band mates, has also collected many experiences in touring and collaborating. Gillis toured the United States with Cullin, played in Howie Mac Donald’s Celtic Brew, accompanied Ashley MacIssac, Natalie Mac Master, and Glenn Graham, and has played in different festivals internationally.