Savoy Theatre, Glace Bay
Monday, October 12
The idea behind Celtic Connections was to get some of the musicians who play in the Celtic Connections Festival in Scotland to come over and give exposure to their festival.
FRED MORRISON, a piper from Scotland, got things underway with a selection of pipe tunes to get everyone in the mood for what was to come – a wonderful evening of Celtic music and song. During his set, Fred played a group consisting of a march, strathspeys and reels which are commonly heard around the island.
Though unscheduled, TONY MCMANUS was next on stage. After arriving Sunday, you can imagine that he was pretty tired but didn’t let that get in the way of his performance. To get going he played a beautiful slow piece which he followed with a light bouncy concerto. McManus was on stage for about ten minutes and for his last number he played a piece that had the whole audience listening intently, “What A Wonderful World”. Never have I heard this tune played so wonderfully. Tony played the whole piece on guitar and followed it up with some lively reels . . . but the highlight of this particular number was how he added the chorus of “What A Wonderful World” at the end of the reels. With that the crowd burst into a marvel of applause.
MARGARET BENNETT from Scotland sang the first song of the night. She sang about a sister who had two brothers on board a boat in which she knew there would be lots of cards and merriment aboard. The tune of the song conveyed just how fun that boat must have been throughout their trip. Corrina Hewat and David Milligan came on to join Margaret in singing a love song that was written by a man who was denied by the parents of his love to get married. The man eventually leaves and settles in a little town in Quebec just near Stornaway.
CORINNA HEWAT AND DAVID MILLIGAN followed. The first tune she played was a piece called “Fiddle Idle”, written for a fiddler who hadn’t played for a while. Corrina is a marvel at playing the harp and has a beautiful voice. The audience this night at the Savoy clearly enjoyed her performance as they gave her warm friendly applause after her set was finished. Before leaving the stage David said to the audience, “We are coming back again whether we are invited or not” to which the crowd once again responded with applause.
ISHBEL MACASKILL joined Corrina. She informed the audience that if there were small children out there now was the chance to get them to sleep during this Gaelic lullaby. The second song she sang was familiar to all, “Come by the Hills”. Ishbel started the song out by singing in English for most of the song before switching into Gaelic. The last chorus she sang in English once again. I had Margaret Bennett and Joella Foulds sitting by me during this number and the two of them sang beautiful harmony with Ishbel from their seats.
CATRIONA MACDONALD, DAVID MILLIGAN AND CONRAD IVITSKY wowed the town of Glace Bay with their high energy show. For those who may not have heard of Ivitsky before this, he is from a well known band in Scotland called Shooglenifty, a very lively group. If you would like to find out more about them check out their web-site www.shoogle.com, believe me just the opening graphic is quite interesting. Besides being three very talented musicians, they had the right chemistry on stage to make all feel comfortable watching from their seats.
During the intermission an impromptu Gaelic song session took place downstairs, everyone took part in singing at least the cho-rus to the songs. What I did not know at the time was that they were rehearsing for something that was to come up a little later on in the evening.
The second half opened with Archie Fisher singing “The Broom of the Cowden-knowes”. This was a great way to get every-one singing again and relaxed to enjoy the rest of the show. His last selection kept the audience listening very intently and once again singing along on the chorus.
MARY JANE LAMOND and her band came out for the final act. Mary Jane had just arrived the day before from singing in Boise, Idaho. She started things off very lively and upbeat before going into Seinn o, a popular milling song to which she has given new life. Mary Jane sang many of the songs from her last CD and of course, what performance could be complete without her hit “Sleepy Maggie”? Then, the last song she sang was the “Stepping Song”. Earlier in the evening she asked if I would go out and dance during this number. So, as any other person would have done, I accepted. The song was almost finished and then, to everyone’s surprise I was dancing right in front of them.
And it didn’t end there. Mary Jane invited all the performers from Scotland to come back out and end with a couple of Gaelic songs. Returning to the stage, Margaret and Ishbel helped Mary Jane by taking the verses. The crowd just loved the finale, responding with a standing ovation before the performers had even finished. And when the performance was finished the crowd gave roaring applause with hoots and hollers coming from every direction. They were applauding so long that an encore was in order and that is just what Margaret, Ishbel and Corrina gave them, one last Gaelic song to set them on their travels home.