“Dave, the Bumblebees want to go to Gordie Sampson’s party in Big Pond after their show in Ingonish. Can you pick them up at the Holiday Inn around midnight?”
I had volunteered to do some driving for the Celtic Colours Festival because I couldn’t figure out how else to choose what shows to go to. And I couldn’t afford to go to as many as I wanted to go to. And I knew I couldn’t write about everything and besides, I wanted to help out, right? So there I was hooked up with Dr. Liz Doherty and her merry band of Bumblebees.
The first mission took us to Big Pond for a party after the Winston’s Classic Cuts show. The house was jammed to the rafters as the music and dancing took over the clock. I didn’t know how Laoise Kelly’s harp was going to perform in the kitchen of a party, but she parked it right next to the table and dug right into the tunes with Gordie, Stuart Cameron, Dr. Liz, Colette O’Leary and Matt Foulds. For the next couple of hours you could only move through the kitchen with great difficulty. Fortunately the music resounded through the old farmhouse. Suddenly I was upstairs and it sounded like someone was pounding away on an old piano. It sounded like Sheumas MacNeil. But wait now, there’s no piano in this house. I stopped and listened more closely and discovered it was the harp, chording along to the tunes like a Cape Breton piano. Long after everyone else had turned in for the night (with the blinds drawn against the early morning sun) Laoise and Colette called for one more “choon” but the few us of left were hopeless in that department. Finally they went to bed and I went sleep on the floor. The festival is under way. There was some controversy, of course. Gaelic language versus pop culture and the big ole tourist draw. It destroys it. If the Gaelic language is to survive it should be integrated into the cirriculum along with Mi’kmaq. Don’t forget, they said the Cape Breton fiddler was doomed years ago…
Anyway, it was a great week, seeing people I haven’t seen in so long and meeting new friends and hearing great music. I experienced a house party at MacKay’s Point (thanks for the breakfast!), caught a wonderful set by The Barra MacNeils during the closing show and the last performances of Ashley MacIsaac and the Kitchen Devils. I didn’t get to see the Chieftains but I had a pleasant ride to the airport with Capercaillie the morning after noon on the last day of the festival. The Festival Club was brilliant, good craic all around. I didn’t get to see many performers but I saw as much as I could handle on a day on day off schedule. I didn’t get to see Sharon Shannon play but I am happy to be able to read about her in this issue of the magazine. And speaking of the magazine, we’ve moved. Thanks to Nigel for putting us up and putting up with us for so long…enjoy your new space, man. What’s Goin On Publishing is located at 276 Charlotte Street on the second floor above Alteen’s.