Link to Living Tradition Homepage





Sleeve not available Sleeve not available
VARIOUS ARTISTS "Traditional Fiddle Music of Cape Breton Volume 1
Mabou Coal Mines" Rounder 82161-70372
VARIOUS ARTISTS "Traditional Fiddle Music of Cape Breton Volume 2
The Rovers Return" Rounder 82161-70382

The fiddle music tradition of Cape Breton Island must be one of the strongest musical traditions anywhere. Derived from the music that was taken to Cape Breton by Scottish immigrants in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. At its most authentic, it is still considered to be one of the purest forms of early Scottish fiddle music extant, and so is subject to much research and analysis. However things change, even if slowly, including musical traditions. As everywhere, the communities of Cape Breton Island are no longer as isolated as they were and this in the context of the tradition means exposure to outside influences.

The music on these two CDs is important. A few years from now it may not be possible to find such authentic traditional music, with its regional variations and its heritage clearly discernable. Of course there will always be recognisable Cape Breton music but exposure to other styles and interruptions etc will inevitably bring change and possibly dreaded standardisation. The early signs of this change can be detected on a few of the tracks on these CDs.

The music on the two CDs under review is very enjoyable indeed. All the featured musicians are in their own way excellent, probably the best known is Alex Francis Mackay who has a full CD on Rounder (Rounder CD 7020). The repertoire, settings and arrangements on all selections are first class. The notes are full and informative and the all round production very good. Rounder are to be congratulated for issuing these CD's for although they give enormous listening pleasure and are of academic and historical importance, a must for every traditional fiddle music enthusiast, I'd say. I wonder if they will be a commercial success? Highly recommended.

Danny Saunders