December 20, 2005
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
"The Cottars have the same kind of drive and energy The Chieftains had when we were first starting out. With their combination of incredible musicianship, amazing voices, and wonderful dancing, what a future they have ahead of them." - Paddy Moloney, The Chieftains
Cambridge, MA – Rounder Records is pleased to announce it has signed The Cottars to a multi-album contract. Their first Rounder recording and U.S. debut, FORERUNNER, will be released on January 10, 2006, followed by an extensive U.S. tour with legendary Irish band The Chieftains (tour dates listed below). Founded in 2001 and composed of two brother-sister pairs between the ages of 15 and 18, The Cottars are already an accomplished act, blending the traditional sounds of their native Cape Breton with subtle, more contemporary overtones. Says Rounder Records co-founder Ken Irwin of the signing, “We’re excited – we have watched The Cottars grow as a band for nearly three years now. We signed Alison Krauss, Jerry Douglas and Mark O’Connor as teenagers and all have gone on to have very successful careers. We anticipate the same will be true for the Cottars.”
Hailed as “one of the hottest acts in the folk world today” by The Boston Globe, The Cottars consist of Jimmy MacKenzie (guitar, banjo, bodhran), Roseanne MacKenzie (fiddle, whistle, harmony vocals, step-dance), Ciaran MacGillivray (piano, guitar, vocals, step-dance) and Fiona MacGillvray (lead vocals, whistle, bodhran, step-dance). Produced by fellow Cape Breton native Gordie Sampson, FORERUNNER features traditional instrumentals delivered with intensity and precision sitting comfortably alongside sensitive interpretations of songs by such contemporary artists as Tom Waits, Sinead Lohan, and Karine Polwart. The result is a thrilling glimpse into the future of both Cape Breton folk music and an exciting new sound – a sound assembled by The Cottars from fragments of the tradition, artful songwriting, and the band’s instrumental and vocal virtuosity.
Upcoming Tour Dates w/The Chieftains, 2006:
Theatre, Shreveport, LA
for the Performing Arts, Notre Dame, IN
Founded in 1970, Rounder Records is America's premier independent label. Rounder and its Zoë, Heartbeat, Philo and Bullseye Blues imprints have a catalog of over 3000 albums, representing a wide variety of folk, roots, rock, blues, and reggae music.
For more information, please contact Lauren Calista at 617.218.4483 or email email@example.com. Press materials (including high-res photos) are available at www.rounder.com/publicity.
July 30, 2005
LAKE GEORGE -- For many area teens, the streets of Lake George are a magnet, the place to kindle summer romances which may not survive the first ring of the autumn school bell.
But Wednesday, while their peers were meeting and greeting on Canada Street, two sets of teen-aged siblings, better known as the Cottars, were engaged in what they do best, enchanting an audience many decades their seniors.
The group's show at Shepard Park was the latest offering in the Lake George Arts Project's always impressive summer concert series.
Impossibly young by any standard, the quartet from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, entertained a crowd of about 500 with two sizzling sets of Celtic-infused singing, playing and dancing, on original compositions and traditional pieces that reflected their province's rich musical heritage.
Each was given time to shine in a solo setting -Ciaran MacGillvray showcased his infectious Right Field, an ode to those less talented Little Leaguers who somehow manage to survive that often brutal rite of passage. His sister Fioana took a more traditional approach with the haunting Lament for Lost Books, performed on penny whistle.
Jimmy MacKenzie contributed his rich guitar rendition of the Celtic instrumental Shi Bhig, Shi Mhor. Previously performed by the Chieftains, his interpretation owed more to guitar virtuoso Pierre Ben Susan, with a leisurely paced, reflective arrangement that highlighted the complexity of the deceptively simple piece.
His sister Roseanne shined the brightest of all on Tallicoram, a tour-de-force performance on what's considered one of the most daunting of Irish fiddle tunes. Introducing the theme with brash, almost abrasive, strokes and closely set trills, she engaged in complex variations that quickened in intensity to a resounding finish, and a standing ovation from the crowd.
More fiddling -- this time to the vibrant beat of the Bodhran, the Irish hand-held drum, set the stage for some Canadian-style step-dancing, done without the rigid hand movements common to the Irish variant.
The Lake George crowd was the latest in a long lime of newfound fans that include the Chieftains, Irish Tenor John McDermott, and Sen. Edward Kennedy. The long lines waiting to buy their recording, both during intermission and at concert's end, was a testament to the talents of this remarkable young ensemble.
June 24, 2005
The Cottars - On Fire!
My, what a difference a couple of years makes? From their precocious debut album to this far more mature recording, The Cottars have come a long way in that brief time. They’re now far more settled in their role as the successors to the Rankin Family crown as all round family entertainers and between them Ciaran & Fiona MacGillvray and Jimmy & Roseanne MacKenzie prove fine musicians as well as vocalists. Their choice of material is pretty spot on including Dougie MacLean’s ‘Ready For The Storm’ and Ron Kavana’s gorgeous ‘Reconciliation’ and whilst the songs will perhaps remain the most memorable tracks, their digital dexterity is nothing to be sniffed at. The ‘The Mabou Jig/Hare Slough Jig/The Advil Jig’ performed by Jimmy show a young man (he’s only 17) who knows how to control individual note picking with a precise and clean intonation buoyed by the old school piano accompaniment from Ciaran. It will be interesting to see if, in a few years time he will be able to utilise triplets to give a splash more colour - but then again, that’s from a guitarist’s point of view. Articulate is another way of looking at the band’s overall presentation in as much that Ciaran comes across as a young John Denver in his approach to singing whilst Fiona (and I still can’t believe she was only 14 when she recorded this album) has the maturity of one born for great things. As a reference I’d say that the group very much remind me of the Irish band Deanta but in the meantime, as a work in progress, The Cottars are steadily building on a reputation that hopefully, after they’ve all passed their exams will see them touring the world stages that await them. With youth so much on their side I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more from them in the next few years.
May 19, 2005
All she had hoped for was to learn enough of this instrument to be able to play at kitchen parties and caleighs.
'I didn't think I'd ever be in a band and touring the world.'
Now, this 15-year-old says, she feels so lucky to do what she loves with the people she loves. This group was formed after the MacKenzie kids and the MacGillivray duo met up backstage during a concert in Iona, Cape Breton. Instantly there was a connection. While they weren't thinking of forming a band at the time, something magical seemed to happen when they blended their voices and instruments. They took on the name The Cottars in honour of their farming ancestors who emigrated from Scotland to Cape Breton to start a new life.
'The people that came over were the MacGillivrays and the MacKen zies and they brought along their mu sic,' she explains. They've toured throughout Canada, the U.S. and as far away as Japan where hundreds of people line up to see their shows. Despite their growing fame, these young musical celebrities, from Mira Cape Breton, are very modest.
It's where they live and the people around them, they say, which keeps them grounded.
Jimmy MacKenzie, 18, takes the phone next. He is the band's guitarist. What does it feel like to be part of a famous musical group and live the life of a celebrity? This grade 11 student says he wouldn't know.
'Being in Cape Breton is a very humbling experience. Guitar players are a dime a dozen.'
'It's hard to think of yourself as a celebrity when you don't even have a TV.'
Without the distraction of TV they spend hours practising. This along with a lot of luck has brought them to this point in their careers, he says. They've played with some of the best musicians in the world including the godfathers of Celtic music - The Chieftains.
This young group appeared on a nationally televised show with The Chieftains last fall. The Irish group has asked The Cottars to tour with them. The young band's schedule didn't permit it last year but they're looking forward to the experience when time permits.
'We're really fortunate to get the chance to play with those people. We're not at their calibre,' says Jimmy MacKenzie.
As long as Ciaran MacGillivray can remember, he's been surrounded by music. The family's home was often a gathering place for song and dance. Many famous Cape Breton musicians would come here to sing, play and talk about music.
'Music was always around so it was hard to get away from it even if you wanted to,' the 17-year-old says with a laugh. But he wouldn't give this up for anything.
'I was brought up with folk and Celtic music so, for me, to be able to play it professionally is a really big deal.'
He plays piano, guitar, harp, tin whistle and bodhran. He sings and stepdances too. He was just a little guy when people first noticed his voice, as well as his younger sister's. After watching the Disney movie Aladdin, the MacGillivray kids decided to entertain their mother in her antique shop with their rendition of A Whole New World. 'They started singing it in harmony. I had no idea they could sing like that. There were people in the shop and their jaws just dropped,' says their mom Beverly MacGillivray.
And the talents of these four teens have taken them to a whole new world, including two tours of Japan. The trip taught them just how small this earth can be.
'I figured they're so far away from Celtic music how could they possibly know anything about it, or us? Not only did they know about it but they enjoyed it,' says Ciaran MacGillivray. Much closer is Fredericton - an eight-hour drive from their island home. When they appear here, he says, people will hear a lot of music from their recordings but half of the show will include new material including lots of audience interaction and story telling.
One of the songs their fans can expect to hear is The Briar and the Rose. When lead vocalist Fiona MacGillivray sings this, her voice is hauntingly beautiful. But this 16-year-old says she tries not to listen to herself. What she hears when she sings and what is recorded and played back are two completely different things, she says.
What else will happen at their concert at The Playhouse?
'People will have to come to the show to find out. There will be lots of stepdancing and fiddling too along with some contemporary music. It will be a real kitchen party.'
What does she like about touring? In typical teen style she doesn't miss a beat when she says: 'I get to miss school.'
But don't think they are ignoring their education - far from it. These teens all work hard to maintain high marks and remain on the honour list. The kids are taking correspondence courses on top of regular school.
'Three of them are in French immersion. They are very focused kids, both in school and on the road,' says Beverly MacGillivray.
Being on the road can frazzle the nerves of even the most seasoned musician. So how do they keep their cool and remain friends while touring?
'We get along amazingly well. Of course we have sibling tiffs but nothing that amounts to anything at all. We all love this music. We're all having a wonderful time doing this. It's been an amazing four years,' says Fiona MacGillivray.
Adds her mom: 'It can be very hairy and it can also be a blast. My life (as the band's road manager) is very hectic. I'm always doing three or four things at once. But for the most part, we all do love being on the road.'
They've already seen and done more than most of us will do in an entire lifetime. But this has come at a bit of a price. Their dedication to the band and their music has meant giving up things many teens enjoy including sports, dances and other recreational activities.
So how do their friends treat them now?
'It's really hard to get a big head in Cape Breton. Our friends are extremely supportive. They don't treat us differently because we're in a band. We can go on the road and have an amazing time and then come home and switch over into another life,' says Fiona MacGillivray.
Much of this year and part of next is already booked for this band.
When they started their careers they needed a lot of guidance and direction. Many hours of hard work have gone into preparing them to perform well on stage.
'It all has to work together. People are expecting them to screw it up because they're kids. People tell us it's one of the more amazing things they do. They've grown up on stage. I always say they're little vaudevillians,'says Beverly MacGillivray.
Now they're older. They want and have more say in what happens in the music they're making.
'My son is doing
arrangements now with my husband. They all contribute to putting
music together and helping with the programming for the show.'br>
They're not exactly sure, they all say. But for now they are enjoying the excitement of life on the road and performing for their fans on stage.
April 25, 2005
THE GREEN MEADOW
WALDORF SCHOOL FAMILY MUSIC FESTIVAL
Featuring * Tom Chapin with Michael Mark and Jon Cobert * The Cottars * Catie Curtis * The Kennedys * McMule * David Gonzalez
Storytelling * Nature Walks * Great Food * Handcrafted Items
The Cottars are proud to announce that they are joining an impressive group of artists to help raise funds for the Green Meadow Waldorf School, an innovative educational institution in Chestnut Ridge, NY. The group invites you to spend the Saturday of your Memorial Day Weekend with them, as well as legendary folk artist Tom Chapin , the wonderful singer-songwriter Catie Curtis , and the hugely talented husband-wife duo The Kennedys. Chestnut Ridge is easily accessible from New York City, New Jersey, Long Island, and Connecticut, so we encourage all friends and fans in the metro New York area to make the trip. You won't regret it!
WHAT: The Music Festival is a day-long, fun-filled family event featuring lively music, folk dancing, children’s activities, nature walks, international and natural foods, and vendors with handcrafted wares from around the world. Stage performances (accompanied by sign language interpreters) run all day and include an incredible roster of talented performers who will entertain with folk, rock, children’s music, story telling, and more. The full list of performers will be announced shortly. The festival is a fundraiser for Green Meadow Waldorf School, an independent school for children in grades K through 12 in Chestnut Ridge, NY. Green Meadow serves close to 400 students from Bergen, Rockland, Orange, Westchester, and Putnam counties and is part of the largest independent school movement worldwide. Using a unique blend of progressive and traditional teaching methods, Waldorf education fosters capacities for creative and independent thinking, addressing the whole child – heart, mind, and body.
WHERE: Green Meadow Waldorf School sports field, located: Hungry Hollow Road, 1/4 mile from the intersection of Rte 45 and Hungry Hollow Road in Chestnut Ridge, New York.
WHEN: Saturday, May 28, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., rain or shine. In case of rain, the music will be held under a big top.
COST: In advance: Adults $17, children 5 to 18 years old $9; Family Pack (2 adults and 3 children) $45. At the Gate: Adults $20, Children $10, Family Pack $55. Children under 5 are free. Advance tickets are available daily from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm at Green Meadow Waldorf School's Development Office, located at the intersection of Hungry Hollow Road and Route 45 (Chestnut Ridge Road) in Chestnut Ridge.
For more information call 845-356-2514 x 304, or visit www.gmws.org.
GREEN MEADOW WALDORF SCHOOL 307 HUNGRY HOLLOW ROAD, CHESTNUT RIDGE, NY 10977
March 16, 2005
Boston, MA - Jimmy, Roseanne, Ciaran, and Fiona arrived in Boston on March 12th to begin a 10-day U.S. tour during 'Celtic Season,' that monthlong period around St. Patrick's Day when it seems that every great Celtic band is playing somewhere in the States.
Shortly after landing at Logan Airport, they made their way to Somerville Theatre outside of Boston to take in the amazing Irish band Lunasa who gave a typically powerhouse performance.
On March 13th, The Cottars performed in Blackstone, MA before an audience of 500, some of whom had traveled in from as far away as New Jersey. Hosts Mike Minnehan and the Ancient Order of Hibernians were among the first to bring The Cottars to the U.S. in 2002, and they look forward to returning to play for this faithful and growing audience again in the near future.
On March 14th, they were honored to share the stage with the legendary Irish American band Cherish The Ladies at Firehouse Center for the Arts in Newburyport, MA. The Cottars opened the show before an enthusiastic audience in the Firehouse's intimate theatre. The gracious and inimitable Joanie Madden was then joined onstage by longtime Cherish member guitarist Mary Coogan as well as fiddler Roisin Dillon, vocalist Heidi Talbot and accordionist Mirella Murray. As if that all-star line-up were not impressive enough, Cherish were joined by Triona NiDhomnaill on piano and vocals. A founder of Ireland's legendary Bothy Band, Triona is recognized as one of the most influential figures in the history of Irish music. Not surprisingly, Triona and the Bothy Band are also cited as significant influences by The Cottars.
On March 15th, The Cottars moved on to Boston's storied live music venue, Johnny D's in Somerville. Johnny D's has hosted a generation of great folk, blues, rock, World, and Celtic musicians, and The Cottars were honored to add their name to that list. The intimate club setting afforded The Cottars the opportunity to engage with a smart and receptive audience, and to try out some great new material.
After Boston, The Cottars departed for Louisiana for a series of dates in Oberlin, Lake Charles, Eunice and Lafayette. The band established a firm foundation in Louisiana with their memorable performances at Lafayette's world-renowned Festival International in April 2003, and they have been eager to return ever since. Obviously there is a long-established connection between Louisiana's Acadian music traditions and the music of Atlantic Canada, and The Cottars are looking forward to strengthening that bond with some great shows this week…..Stay tuned for more news on the Louisiana tour!
February 21, 2005
Sydney, NS - On Sunday night February 20th, The Cottars celebrated their win of the East Coast Music Award (ECMA) for 'Roots-Traditional Group Recording of the Year,' a fitting follow-up to their 2003 ECMA for 'Best New Artist.' The Cottars were thrilled and humbled by the honor, as Roots-Traditional is always one of the ECMA's strongest categories. This year was no exception, as their fellow nominees included the remarkable bands Beolach, Vishten, Banshee, and Blou.
Each year Canada's East Coast Music Association holds a gala awards show to celebrate the rich musical heritage and thriving contemporary scene of the Atlantic provinces. ECMA winners past and present include renowned international acts such as Natalie MacMaster, Ashley Macisaac, Sarah McLachlan, and Great Big Sea.
This year the awards show was held in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, the cradle of Celtic music in North America, and home to The Cottars. Country music star George Canyon, a Nova Scotia native and winner of TV's 'Nashville Star' competition presided over the festivities and presented The Cottars with the ECMA in front of an audience of 5,000+ at Sydney, Nova Scotia's Centre 200. Millions of Canadians also caught the event on CBC's live national telecast.
The Cottars not only captured the award they also captured the audience with a stunning performance of 'Ready For The Storm,' a large production number featuring guest musicians, back-up singers, twelve onstage LED screens, and a haunting fog that settled over the stage during their performance. 'Ready For The Storm' is the lead track off The Cottars' 2004 release 'On Fire!'
The video montage introducing The Cottars' performance included a taped tribute by Chieftains founder Paddy Moloney, with whom they performed as part of the 2004 TV concert special 'The Chieftains In Canada.'
The 2005 EAST COAST MUSIC AWARDS were produced by Geoff D'Eon and Michael Lewis for CBC Television, Jac Gautreau for ECMA, in association with The East Coast Music Association. Gemini-award winning director Shelagh O'Brien helmed the show for the sixth consecutive year.
January 27, 2005
SYDNEY - Get ready to rumble!
That was the rallying cry from CBC executive producer Geoff D'Eon after announcing the lineup of talent to be featured at this year's East Coast Music Awards show Feb. 20, at Sydney's Centre 200.
Pictou County's rising country star George Canyon will host the two-hour nationally televised event that will feature performances by The Trews, MIR, The Joel Plaskett Emergency, Gordie Sampson, Susan Crowe, Barry Canning, The Cottars, Beolach, Vishten, Dave Gunning and Nathan Wiley. It will begin at 8 p.m.
During the CBC show, a special tribute will be paid to Cape Breton's beloved Rita MacNeil, featuring the sounds of Matt Minglewood - the 2005 Maple Blues Awards entertainer of the year - along with Shaye, and Jimmy Rankin.
'It's the first time on (the nationally televised show),' Minglewood said after playing a sample of his music at the ECMA news conference in Sydney on Wednesday. 'I'm part of the tribute and that's good enough for me.'
He plans to sing his version of Working Man, one of MacNeil's best known hits about toiling in the coal mines that features the haunting voices of the Men of the Deeps, a local chorus of former Devco miners.
D'Eon said the show promises splendid music, and 'guarantees a good time for all. I like my kitchen parties with Las Vegas production values,' he said with a chuckle.
Event organizer Pat Moore said the $1.65 million week-long conference that begins Feb. 17 will pack local hotels, restaurants and put Cape Breton's talent in the forefront during the finale.
Organizers expect at least 1,500 delegates and their families to register.
'The event is a winner, it's proven to be a winner every year,' he said, noting the success of the past 17 previous ECMA events. Sydney hosted the ECMAs in 2000. 'People will come during this coldest week of the year, but we'll fill all these events,' he said.
MacNeil, an international star making it big in Australia and Europe, was selected to be singled out in the televised show, because 'we're very proud of her,' Moore said.
Canyon, who won the Rising Star Award at the Canadian Country Music Awards following his debut of his CD, One Good Friend on Sept. 28, will be host of the televised event, a first for him.
Although never a host on television, he became well known in North America during last year's Nashville Star television series - a country version of the popular American or Canadian Idol.
The Trews, from Antigonish, the first indie rock bands to go No. 1 on Canadian rock charts, will take to the stage, competing in five ECMA award categories.
Big Pond native Sampson, who released his second solo album Sunburn, will also take the stage along with P.E.I. singer-songwriter Wiley, who released High Low, a followup to his debut album Bottom Dollar.
Beolach, from Cape Breton, is expected to deliver a big impact on the show with its Celtic blend featuring pipes, whistles, guitar and fiddles while Vishten, a quartet from New Brunswick, will offer a hearty mix of Acadian, Irish and Scottish styles.
Not to be outdone, The Cottars, a young group of Cape Bretoners, will show the nation how Celtic music has put them on the map internationally. The Boston Globe recently called them 'one of the hottest acts in the folk world today.'
Pictou County singer-songwriter Gunning is nominated for folk recording of the year and is up for male artist, while Barry Canning, a hot act from St. John's is nominated for pop recording.
Other artists who will assist or join the show include Shanklin Road, Paul Lamb, Cory Tetford of Crush and Damhnait Doyle.
All performances will be live. Other performances will precede the start of the televised show.
Beginning at 6 p.m., those at Centre 200 will get to see Newfoundland funnyman Andrew Younghusband host such acts as two-time nominee Allie Bennett of Cape Breton and Samantha Robichaud of New Brunswick, ECMA nominee and winner of last year's aboriginal recording of the year Forever, double-nominee Madviolet, as well as Matt Anderson and Duane Andrews.
Public voting will soon begin for entertainer of the year, the winner to be announced during the televised event. Up for the award are Crush, George Canyon, Jimmy Rankin, Natalie MacMaster and the Trews.
By Tera Camus, Halifax Herald