I spend much of ECMA Week running from venue to venue because one act I want to see is playing in this venue while the next act on my must-see list is playing several blocks away.
Nine times out of 10 I get to where I’m supposed to be, when I’m supposed to be there.
But every year, without fail, I get stopped in my tracks by somebody new I just happen to hear along the way or somebody I’ve heard before who’s made such an impression on me that I have to stop.
When I come across those acts I make notes for myself and on the first available opportunity I head to the buyers room too see if those artists have left CDs, drop cards or promo materials behind.
Invariably I come home with a stack of things which I’ll write about over the next couple of months.
This year I came home with about a dozen CDs and contact information to obtain as many more.
I’ve only cracked open one CD so far, Last Night’s Fun by Cape Breton fiddler Chrissy Crowley.
I’ve had trouble putting it away,
I’ve heard Crowley before a number of times so I knew she was good but she really kicks things up a notch on this set.
Recorded at Lakewind Sound Studios in Cape Breton by Mike “Sheppy” Shepherd, this recording features 12 tracks, most of which are medleys.
Backed by a first-class group of players that includes, among others, Jason Roach on piano and Darren McMullen on guitar, mandolin, banjo and upright bass and featuring guest fiddler Colin Grant, Crowley pours heart and soul into a mix that embraces traditional Cape Breton fiddle music but also takes some adventurous twists and turns.
The material is drawn from several sources, including from legendary Scottish composers like J. Scott Skinner and Cape Breton standard bearers like Donald Angus Beaton and Tracy Dares-MacNeil to more contemporary tunesmiths like P.E.I.’s Elmer Deagle.
Crowley strikes a lovely balance here between the past and the present and between get-up-off-your-ass-and-dance material and sit-back-and-soak-up-the beauty material.
She is an absolute joy to listen to, whether she’s full-throttle on a fast reel or a jig like those in Stepdance Set, rolling along to a march or going for the heart with a beautiful slow aire like Archibald’s Aire.
If you’ve got a soft spot for Cape Breton fiddle music you really should pick this one up because Crowley is a treasure.
If I had to attach a rating to Last Night’s Fun it would be 3 ½ stars out of 5.
The set I saw Crowley play at the ECMAs was short but still one of the highlights of my weekend.
Other artists to be featured down the road in this space from ECMA weekend include Thom Swift, Ben Caplan, Matthew Hornell, Steven MacDougall, Breagh MacKinnon, Long Distance Runners and Kim Wempe, among others.
Doug Gallant, a reporter with The Guardian, writes his music review column for The Guardian
every week. He welcomes comments from readers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 629-6000, ext. 6057.