As Jesse Ferguson, poet, singer/songwriter, who performs as The Bard Of Cornwall, knows, the traditional music crowd can get cranky.
“What does a British man have to do with Scottish music?” demanded one online commenter about the over 200 videos Ferguson has posted on YouTube.
Ferguson, of course, is of Scottish heritage and grew up in Cornwall, Ontario, and currently is a lecturer in English Lecturer at Cape Breton University. He is also a published poet (Harmonics, Freehand Press, 2009), and has two CDs released: New Old Songs and the more recent The Parting Glass, which he self produced and played all the instruments on.
Ferguson will be performing tunes from both CDs at the Crown and Moose, in the Delta Hotel, on Sydney’s Esplanade, on Friday, December 9, from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm. Then he heads back to Ontario for the holidays and some performing dates there.
Ferguson says he had an early love of traditional songs, and how they made him feel connected to the people in the historical past who also shared his love of the same tunes.
Pursuing his academic studies in New Brunswick, Ferguson landed his first paying gig at the province’s Highland Games. After that, he gigged regularly at local pubs, folk festivals, and charity events, and joined up with some fellow academics to form a band called Kid Winnipeg before coming to CBU a couple of years ago.
Since arriving on Cape Breton, along with the Crown and Moose, Ferguson has performed at Wentworth Perk, The Pit Lounge at CBU, and the Cape Breton Fudge Company. (He has also given some poetry readings along the way.)
The Parting Glass was recorded at his home over the summer of 2011, while his young son was napping, Ferguson jokes. He overdubbed the instrumentation using guitar, mandolin, fiddle, fife and bodhran.
Along with familiar favorites like “Farewell to Nova Scotia”, “The Lakes of Pontchartrain”, “Rocky Road to Dublin”, and “The Fields of Atheny”, the CD includes one original tune, “The Sun Set On My Love”.
Ferguson sees his videos on YouTube as a chance to let people hear the old songs, and, from watching him play them, learn to play the songs themselves. He hopes that his efforts, along with many traditional music enthusiasts, will encourage younger performers to take an interest in traditional culture.
The Parting Glass is available for sale online.