Celtic Colours...awesome...period.

By Sierra Noble

Posted on

Ah :) Celtic Colours International Festival. In my top 5 favourite festivals of all time, in the world. Another one is over.

For those of you who don't know Celtic Colours, it's a wonderful vibrant celtic music festival set in the vibrant October colour pallet of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. It is certainly a sight to be seen at least once in your life. Reds, Yellows, Oranges Purples, Greens in the trees on the rolling hills and highlighting the mountains, only stopping at where the world ends and becomes open ocean.
I could go on for pages in attempted poetry about this place...but I'll stop...for now :)

One of the many great things about Celtic Colours is that the festival takes place all over the island, so just simply driving to your shows you get to take in so much of its beauty, and get to know so many wonderful people, many of whom are your drivers...or at the festival known as "drive 'ers." Some of them have been volunteering every year at Celtic Colours since it started in 1997. They do it because they love Cape Breton, they love music, and they love having the chance to get to know artists from around the world.

Our first show was in Wagmatcook. A small native community about 15 minutes outside of Baddeck, where we were staying. In the afternoon I did a workshop on Metis Fiddle, and was so surprised at how many people showed up to hear what I had to share about the Metis people, culture, and music. I learned a lot throughout the weekend about Cape Bretons own struggles to retain their culture, both native and gaelic, and I think that it was that connection that brought a lot of those people to my workshop. We had fun, we laughed, played music, danced, shared stories...it was a great afternoon.
After the workshop was soundcheck. My good and seriously talented friend Bryan Doyle came to play guitar with me again this year (he played with me when I went to Celtic Colours the first time two years ago) and I also brought the fantabulous Scott Senior to play percussion. The sound in the Wagmatcook Culture and Heritage Centre is absolutely unbelievable...it's a beautiful sounding room. It's not what you expect from looking at it, but as soon as we started playing at soundcheck we knew we had absolutely nothing to worry about! We can't give ALL the credit to the room though, we had a great sound tech there that night, Rob who was wonderful and fun to work with. It was the first time that I didn't have to say a single thing about the EQ for my fiddle...I was very impressed.
After we were done soundcheck they sat us down for thanksgiving dinner, and it was sooooo good! Another one of the great things about Celtic Colours...the venues ALWAYS feed you fantastic food...it's kind of like they compete for having the best thanksgiving dinner (or just best dinner in general).
This show was called "Coast to Coast" and it featured Quinn and Qristina Bachand, a brother/sister, guitar/fiddle duo from Victoria, BC...me from Manitoba, Ashley MacIsaac (who most know) from Cape Breton, and then we skipped over the Atlantic to Donigal Ireland with a band of 3 fiddles called Fidil.
It was such a cool show, very diverse but all strung together really nicely.
There was a really awesome finale at the end of it where we played a few tunes that were favourites in that area...one of course being a Lee Creemo tune "Constitution Breakdown" which everyone in the audience loved hearing :)
It was great to get to work with Ashley again too, he jumped in our van from the Halifax airport out to cape breton the day before so we had a bunch of time to catch up, talk our heads off and have a lot of laughs. His past aside, he has a good heart and has always been a great guy to me.

We also had a show in Membertou, that was the Celtic Thanksgiving show. It was really nice because we were asked to do that show 2 years ago as well, and it was so much fun. It was just as fun this year too. Me, Fidil, and The Men of The Deeps performed. I went in the room down the hall from our dressing room to go meet the Men of The Deeps...they are a truly amazing group of men. They are a mens choir of ex coal minors in nova scotia. They sang beautiful songs of the pride, sorrows, joys, and history of generations of coal minors. There were definitely a few times when my eyes welled up. I really hope that we will have the chance to do a show together in the future, even though I think that they would have to hand out little packets of kleenex at the door hehe.
Oh! One more thing about Membertou.....ALWAYS AWESOME THANKSGIVING TURKEY DINNER!

I was also a part of a great little songwriters workshop in Inverness County at the Inverness Centre for the Performing Arts. It was called "The Womens Song Circle" and was me, Carmel Mikol, and Lisa Cameron. The three of us had SO much fun together backstage and on stage. The small cozy venue was packed full, and we had a wonderful intimate sharing of our songs, and little bits of our lives.

Our last show was in Louisbourg. That was an incredibly special show. The Louisbourg Playhouse is a really unique and beautiful venue. For those of you who have never been there, it's a round building , and the seats are in the round as well. So you have people wrapping around the stage on the floor level as well as on the second balcony level. I wasn't sure what kind of feeling that would create for the show, but it ended up being one of the most wonderful, intimate, and warm feeling shows I've done in my life. I can't wait to play there again.
The coolest part of that show for me was that Glen Meisner from CBC came and recorded our part of the show for Canada Live (one of my favourite CBC shows!) and also for the online Concerts On Demand. Can't wait to hear the show...I really hope it turned out well :) I'll be sure to let you all now looooud and clear when it will be airing and when it will be up on the CBC website!

One of the greatest things of Celtic Colours is "Festival Club" at the Gaelic College in St. Ann. What happens is after all the shows are done at all the festival venues around the island, at 11PM Festival Club opens up to the public. All of the artists of Celtic Colours have the opportunity to play a short set and also to be able to collaborate with other artists and let the public enjoy it. It's also a chance for the volunteers and drivers to relax and enjoy the festival a little bit :) That runs from 11PM-3AM, then it closes off to the public and all of the artists go into the back greenroom and jam until the wee hours of the morning...and it is simply...amazing...period.

*sigh. I miss Cape Breton! Its such a beautiful place. Awesome people.

Even beyond the music, I seem to always meet some of the most interesting people at the festival. I had conversations with people about language preservation, about the "slow-food" movement (google it!)...things that you wouldn't expect at a music festival. But the great thing about this festival in particular is that it attracts people from all over the world, from all walks of life, all all different kinds of interests...and so it makes it VERY memorable for people like me...people who love talking to everyone :)

Phew! Long post! But this was fun :) hope it wasn't boring to read...

Love to you all always


Read more member news