August 1, 2012 MacGillivray's ‘Song for the Mira' part of Celtic Thunder's Voyage set From 'Music Publisher Canada'
'Song for the Mira,' written by Allister MacGillivray (Cape Breton), published by Cabot Trail Music and administered worldwide by Morning Music, was recently a part of Celtic Thunder's Voyage project which included a concert special broadcast across the U.S. and Canada on Public Television stations during the spring 2012 pledge period. The Voyage CD (Decca Records/Universal) and DVD of the concert was released in time for St. Patrick's Day. Celtic Thunder, who have surpassed one million units in combined sales and have been named Billboard's Top World Music Artists, had the Voyage CD and DVD concert special released just in time for St. Patrick's Day. The concert special was broadcast across the U.S. and Canada on Public Television stations during the March 2012 pledge period.
Morning Music President Mark Altman points out that this adds another notable version to the Cape Breton classic. 'It has not only been recorded by major artists such as Anne Murray, John McDermott, Phil Coulter, Daniel O'Donnell, The Canadian Tenors, Foster & Allen, Matt Minglewood and Terry Kelly, among many others, but it is becoming a staple for choral ensembles around the world. 'We're still compiling new and overlooked renditions.'
June 17, 2012 Civil War film also about ‘home’ Film based on period novel concentrates on community life, not cannons. By: The Halifax Herald
THERE ARE NO cannons in Copperhead. The Civil War-era movie directed by Ron Maxwell, whose previous films include Gettysburg and Gods and Generals, offers a different take on the North-South conflict. The movie is now shooting at Kings Landing near Fredericton.
'It’s a movie about home and hearth, about people and love,' says Nova Scotia’s John Houston, who is co-producing the film.
'In (Maxwell’s) previous movies there were cannonades with hundreds of cannons, soldiers dodging whizzing musket balls,' Houston says.
'People are in for a surprise. This is more Shakespearean or Greek, with an emissary returning home who recounts the horrors of war.
'It’s the story of a village with two families who are torn apart by a difference in their beliefs — pro- and anti-abolitionist.'
And Houston says there’s an element of forbidden love, like the Montagues and the Capulets. Copperhead is the story of Abner Beech, a stubborn and righteous farmer from upstate New York, who defies his neighbours and his government in the bloody and contentious autumn of 1862. Northerners who opposed the Civil War were known derogatively as Copperheads, but, says Houston, Beech, played by Billy Campbell, star of TV’s The Killing, is not an anti-abolitionist.
'He believes there is too much government, government which is fighting wars to solve problems when there may be another way.
'It might as well have been written this year. Today, it seem that we’re at war all the time and the film questions that.'
In fact, the screenplay, by first-time scriptwriter Bill Kauffman, the author of nine books and a frequent contributor to the Wall Street Journal, is based on a novel written by Harold Frederic in 1892.
'It was not very long after the Civil War and Frederic was there,' says Houston. 'The richness of the details that he captures, in terms of the war, in turn of speech, can’t be duplicated no matter how good a researcher is.'
The film began shooting May 16 in King’s Landing, the historical settlement that recreates 1800s New Brunswick, and is scheduled to wrap by the end of June. The cast of 50 expands to a couple of hundred by the time stunt performers, extras and crew are added in. Campbell, who shot Halifax-director Shandi Mitchell’s feature film debut The Disappeared in Lunenburg last fall, stepped in earlier this week taking over from Jason Patric and has been 'a beacon of positive energy,' says Houston. The iconic Peter Fonda (Easy Rider) is doing a cameo as blacksmith Avery. Angus Macfadyen, who starred as Robert the Bruce in Braveheart, plays Jee Hagadorn, the antagonist to Beech. American Casey Brown plays Abner’s son, Jeff. English actress Lucy Boynton, who played young Beatrix in Miss Potter, is Esther Hagadorn, Jee’s daughter. Augustus Prew, Prince Alfonso in The Borgias, is Esther’s brother, Ni.
There are a number of Nova Scotians with prominent roles including Genevieve Steele. The Dartmouth actor-director is playing Abner’s wife M’rye. She is known for her work at Neptune Theatre and Festival Antigonish, was part of the CBC Radio drama Backbencher and starred in the Pierce Brosnan TV movie Bag of Bones and the mini-series Sea Wolf. Merritt Award-winning actor Hugh Thompson, also known for his role on TV’s Black Harbour, is Hurley, an Irishman who is Abner’s helper, while Brian Downey (Lexx), an Atlantic Film Festival award winner for best actor, is Preacher Taggart.
'Ciaran MacGillivray sings a freshly composed piece before he goes off to war and there won’t be a dry eye,' predicts Houston. MacGillivray is a member of Cape Breton group The Cottars.
Dartmouth’s Josh Cruddas, who has starred onstage at Neptune Theatre and in TV’s Call Me Fitz, plays Jimmy, the adopted son of Abner Beech.
'He’s like a surrogate, the little brother of Jeff Beech. It’s a touching role with a lot of heart,' says Houston. Cruddas, who is also a film score composer and singer, has been doing a lot of work on behind-the-scenes webisodes for the movie’s website copperheadthemovie.com. Houston is the son of James and Alma Houston, pioneers in bringing Inuit art to the public who established Houston North Gallery in Lunenburg in 1981. He has known Maxwell for about 22 years. Maxwell 'was initially tapped to direct a property of my father’s Eagle Song and I was brought aboard as a producer,' Houston says.The movie didn’t come to fruition but the two clicked. They stayed in touch, with Houston doing some work for Maxwell on 2003’s Gods and Generals. Maxwell 'scouted here for Gods and Generals but it didn’t work out. When he was looking for a place to shoot Copperhead, he asked about the possibility of a Maritime shoot,' Houston said. 'He scouted Kings Landing and fell in love.'
Kings Landing, is the perfect place to shoot the $10-million movie from Swordspoint Productions, Houston says.
'There is 360-degree surround. No cables, all the wires are buried, the buildings aren’t facades, you can walk behind then, there’s a village streetscape.
'It works well for 1862 and for upstate New York.'
The movie could be presented as early as the end of 2012, says Houston.
May 17, 2011 The Cottars return to King’s Theatre Saturday, May 21 at 8:00 PM.
The Cottars have come a long way, starting as children performing to a hometown audience, through their teen years when they toured the world and shared stages with the biggest names in the business. Now they have evolved again into young adults, mature in their skills with new faces and outlooks.
Even with their relative youth still apparent, it seems that The Cottars have been a part of Canada’s East Coast music scene for years. They have the nominations and the hardware to prove it, including East Coast Music Awards and Nova Scotia Music Industry Awards. They have the road-record to prove it as well: tours throughout Canada, shows in Europe and thirty-eight U.S. states, two tours of Japan and appearances at major festivals around the world.
Joining the original Cottars members Ciarán and Fiona MacGillivray are two new band members Claire Pettit and Bruce Timmons. Claire is a fiddler and singer from Warwick Valley, NY. She adds a fresh bloom to the combination with her new style, different tune selection and lovely voice. While her roots aren’t in Cape Breton, Claire’s family has developed a strong love for the place during trips to the island where her parents have a small house near the shores of Lake Ainslie on the Island’s sunset coast.
On the other hand, Bruce is a veteran guitarist with a wealth of skill and experience — both on stage and in the studio. Highly respected among his peers, he can fall into any style, from straight Celtic to something far heavier, and feel right at home.
This quartet, Ciarán and Fiona, Claire and Bruce, has become the evolutionary culmination that is now The Cottars. Throughout their concerts The Cottars provide virtually all of the music, as all are multi-talented instrumentally. It’s a wonder to watch them move effortlessly from one instrument to another with such ease.
The main ingredient that distinguishes The Cottars from so many other groups is the depth of their vocal skills. Claire has just started to develop her voice in this group’s setting, while Fiona’s powerful and passion-filled voice has been heralded as spectacular for years.
Considering their background, it’s no wonder that Ciarán and Fiona take such pleasure from their voices. Their home, from the time they were born, was filled with music. Their parents were (and are) singers, their father a songwriter of such renown that one of his works has been recorded over 150 times, while another has been performed or recorded in six different languages. Music was always present — and not just traditional or folk, but a wide variety of styles and types, shared amongst the family and with the many friends who joined in.
May 5, 2011 The Cottars at Port Fairy March 11-14, 2011 By: Jamie McKew, Festival Director: Port Fairy Folk Festival
I am very happy to report that this great young band had a fabulous Port Fairy and impressed our audiences. I provide a first hand impression from my MC SM organiser, Jamie McKinnon, who is an excellent musician and singer himself. His opinions are very true.
My first meeting with the band gave me a great impression. A TV crew came in three hours earlier than scheduled but we roused The Cottars early anyway as they had agreed to meet the TV crew. No problem. They were keen to catch up on some 'zzzzzzz's' but turned up in no time, instruments in hand and really impressed the crew who spent quite some time with them. The Cottars featured on the regional TV news that evening. So they did indeed kick off PFFF 2011 in great style and they kept it up all weekend. Real 'pros' and really good!
'Having missed only one Port Fairy Folk Festival since 1988 I have been privileged to hear and see some of the best folk music from around the world and that there would be no surprises at the 2011 event. How wrong could I be? Acts such as Braebach, Mary Black and Roisin O, Luka Bloom, Tim O’Brien and Crooked Still were fantastic but above them all was the shining light that was the Cottars. Friends had told me how good they were having seen them over the weekend but I had not managed to get to one of their gigs until the Monday morning, often the time when performers are worn out or 'tired'!! Not so with the Cottars. This young band played Cape Breton style jigs and reels, strathspeys and hornpipes on guitar, cittern, fiddle, keys and bodhran with wonderful dexterity and energy but for me, and all of the audience I feel, the highlight was the singing of the Tom Waits song The Briar and the Rose. Delivered with incredible control, power, gentleness and passion by Fiona MacGillivray with keys accompaniment and harmonies by her brother Ciarán. This was as close to perfection as you could get – the hairs on the back of my neck were up and the standing ovation at the end was testament to this incredible performance. Haste ye back!' -- Jamie McKinnon. MC & SM Manager at PFFF
March 21, 2011 The Blue Mountains Music Festival, Australia Review by 'Timber & Steel'
The Guinness Stage: THE COTTARS of Cape Breton Island
Canada and Australia share a very similar history, so it's no surprise that both countries produce some really fine traditional music. The Cottars are a four-piece hailing from the Cape Breton region in Nova Scotia, an area steeped in the Celtic tradition. The Cottars had a lovely dynamic on stage, deftly moving from sets of tunes to Gaelic ballads to original compositions and back again with ease. Their relative youth (normally when you think of traditional music you think of elderly men in pubs pumping out the same old tunes on squeeze boxes and fiddles) did nothing to diminish their obvious affection for the music. Fiona MacGillivray on whistle, bodhrán, keys and vocals was a particular standout in what was a group of standouts – the way she lost herself in the music was amazing!
The standout tune from The Cottars' set would have been their version of 'The Rights of Man', a very common piece among lovers of 'trad' given a new lease of life in the hands of these young performers.
February 28, 2011 Cape Breton's The Cottars Touring Australia Cape Breton Island’s The Cottars, are embarking on a month long tour of Australia.
The group left Nova Scotia today to fly to Australia where the tour begins March 3. The group will return the first week of April with the last concert date being April 3.
The tour will take the group to the Port Fairy Folk Festival, Brunswick Music Festival, Nannup Folk Festival and the Blue Mountains Folk Festival as well as various venues in cities and towns between the larger major festival dates.
The Cottars will be featuring music from their latest studio work, Feast (Rounder Records), as well as selections from their previous recordings.
Upon their return from Australia, The Cottars are planning several theatre concert dates in Atlantic Canada during April, May and June with festivals dates over the summer of 2011.
The group is also working on material for a new recording later this year.
August 30, 2010 Ciaran to appear in Movie Sarah Polley's new film, Take This Waltz, is shooting in Toronto and Louisbourg, N.S (CBC)
The Nova Scotia town of Louisbourg is getting ready for its closeup, as a star-studded cast arrives to film Sarah Polley's new movie.
Polley is the writer and director of Take This Waltz, starring Seth Rogen, Michelle Williams, Sarah Silverman and Luke Kirby.
Filming has been underway in Toronto. But it's Louisbourg's turn this weekend.
'It's going to be very exciting,' said Ciaran MacGillivray, a singer/musician with the Cottars, a Celtic group from Cape Breton, who will be making his first appearance in a feature film.
'But I have to try to keep calm, remember the lines and deliver them as competently as possible.'
The budding actor will appear in a scene with Williams, known for her roles in hit movies such as Brokeback Mountain and Shutter Island.
MacGillivray said the Fortress of Louisbourg is another star in Polley's film.
'They keep mentioning and reminiscing on the lighthouse of Louisbourg, the Fortress of Louisbourg, Cape Breton, and they keep saying those words over and over, so it's a great thing for the fortress, a great thing for Cape Breton,' he said.
There are more than 75 cast and crew members, and they've booked every room in town. Hotel owner Linda Kennedy said she's eager for the business because the number of visitors tends to drop this time of year.
'It's when the families are going back home for the children to prepare for school and the seniors, the retirees have not started to travel yet. So this is usually a lull week in our season, so this is certainly filling the gap,' she said.
Stars in their eyes
Restaurants and shops are also looking forward to the visit by the movie stars — and the eager fans they attract.
'I think it's going to bring a lot of people from Cape Breton Island or at least industrial Cape Breton out to maybe hopefully sneak a peak at some of these celebrities,' said Kennedy.
But for budding actor MacGillivray, it marks a new challenge.
'It's something I'm going to enjoy, and I'm looking forward to sitting in the theatre and seeing my very embarrassed and nervous face on screen,' he said.
Take This Waltz is expected to hit theatres next year.
May 28, 2010 Review: Cape Breton Summertime Revue Reunion Savoy Theatre, May 27
by Wanda Earhart, What's Goin' On
The anticipation was evident Thursday night as fans filled the seats of The Savoy for the first of five Summertime Revue Reunion shows. With a twelve year span between the last performance and today, folks have been discussing for weeks whether the 2010 edition could possibly live up to the memory of one of the most successful touring east coast shows of all time. But judging by the crowd reaction on opening night, we can rest assured that no amount of time could erase or diminish the impeccable comedic timing or the precise musical collaboration of this cast. In fact, if anything, it was as if they never went away, as, though the majority of the musical selections were chosen from past performances, it only served to fuel the audiences appreciation as everyone jumped on board for a welcomed trip down memory lane.
If I had one disappointing thing to say it would be that the evening ended way too soon. From the moment the lights came up and those familiar faces stepped out front, you knew this was going to be great. With Maynard Morrison, Bette MacDonald, Richard Burke, Matt Minglewood, and Max MacDonald, plus Fiona and Ciaran MacGillivray, the opening number had it all, from Brothers in the Saddle, Go Off On Your Way, Plain Old Miner Boy, and New York New York, to a rousing conclusion featuring Fiona on the Rankin classic Rise Again. And as if these voices were not enough, the house band also included a whos-who of Cape Bretons most respected musicians, with Fred Lavery, Allie Bennett, Stephen Muise, Wendy MacIsaac, Brian Talbot, Dave MacKeough, and the latest members of the Cottars, Bruce Timmons and Claire Pettit.
The Reunion Show concentrates heavily on the music end of things and, with such a vast Summertime Revue catalogue to choose from, the audience delighted in hearing those familiar sounds, some going back close to twenty-five years. Minglewood belts out Me & The Boys and teams up with Fiona MacGillivray for the haunting Valley of Strathlorne. Theres the group collaboration on Everybodys Going To The Bungalow and who can forget Max MacDonalds Management Trainee Blues? There was also a lesser known yet appropriate song, Remember the Miner, delivered exquisitely by Richard Burke. Interspersed among the songs, of course, were some great old fashioned traditional tunes featuring MacIsaac and Pettit on fiddle.
Following intermission, special guests THE COTTARS owned the stage for a set of some of the best work from their award-winning career. Ready for the Storm never ceases to send chills through any crowd release Fare Thee Well Northumberland, which is getting plenty of airplay on local stations. The Cottars cannot leave a stage until Fiona treats one and all with The Briar & the Rose which, as usual, resulted in a standing-O. They finish up with a fantastic blast of tunes.
Although the musical end of The Summertime Revue Reunion is outstanding, as expected, the comedy segments can match them moment for moment. I wont spoil any punch lines but suffice it to say that, if you like to laugh, this is the show for you, with Bette and Minglewood teaming up for some cross border hi-jinx, and Max MacDonald as Ted Jordon delivering a hilarious spin on local news. But, as any Summertime Revue fan knows, you just cannot surpass the characters of Bette MacDonald and Maynard Morrison, especially as Mary Morrison and Cecil. Its side-splitting laughter each and every time they step onto the stage, speak, or even just stand in costume. Mention must be given as well to the MacGillivrays for their participation in some of the sketches, proving once again that they are a multi-dimensional addition to any stage.
The comedy bits alone are worth every dollar spent on tickets. So when you combine the entire package, The Summertime Revue Reunion stands as an institution in a class of its own. The evening ends with a show stopping Out on the Mira finale including all and featuring Matt Minglewood on lead vocals. Phenomenal!
If you havent seen the show, there may be a few seats open for Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday the summertime show not to be missed! In his welcoming remarks, Savoy Board member Geoff MacLellan said it best: Nothing defines Cape Breton culture better than The Summertime Revue!
May 6, 2010 THE COTTARS Make The Folk Music Charts THE COTTARS rank in the Top 10 in the categories 'Top Canadian Album', 'Top Canadian Song' and 'Top Canadian Artist' in the DJ folk survey.
May 6, 2010 -- Here are the April stats for Canadians' airplay on folk-dj playlists. This information has been sifted, with permission, from international lists compiled by Richard Gillmann. In April, Richard's lists were based on 12,280 airplays from 139 different DJ's. (The number in brackets indicates the number of plays that album, song or artist received in the month.)
April - Top Canadian Albums:
1. Ruth Moody "The Garden" (36)
2. Madison Violet "No Fool For Trying" (20)
3. John Wort Hannam "Queens Hotel" (17)
4. Lynn Miles "Black Flowers Volume 1-2" (14)
5. James Keelaghan "House of Cards" (11)
6. THE COTTARS: "Feast" (10)
April - Top Canadian Songs:
1. Ruth Moody "The Garden"
2. John Wort Hannam "Requiem For A Small Town" (8)
3. Ruth Moody "Travellin' Shoes" (6)
Ruth Moody "We Can Only Listen" (6)
4. THE COTTARS: "Fare Thee Well, Northumberland & The Purple Wave" (5)
April - Top Canadian Artists:
1. Ruth Moody (38)
2. Lynn Miles (25)
Le Vent Du Nord (25)
3. John Wort Hannam (19)
Madison Violet (19)
4. The Wailin' Jennys (16)
5. Gordon Lightfoot (15)
6. James Keelaghan (14)
7. Bruce Cockburn (12)
Kate & Anna McGarrigle (12)
Joni Mitchell (12)
8. THE COTTARS (11)
Stan Rogers (11)
9. Leonard Cohen (10)
Richard Gillmann compiles monthly surveys of international airplay.
March 26, 2010 SUILEAN DUBH by The Cottars from Glen Gray, manager of K-Lee Radio
Our station has The Cottars' CD containing 'Suilean Dubh' and I play it regularly. I don't know Gaelic, but I can appreciate the melody and the sentiment behind it. And, I'm sure you've heard this
many times before, but the pitch and the timbre of Fiona's voice adds a dimension to the tune that touches the soul of anybody remotely Celtic!
-- Glen Gray, Manager of K-LEE RADIO 1600 AM
March 26, 2010 A SPLENDID FOLK SOUND Maurice Hope (UK) Reviews The Cottars' 'FEAST' for Flyinshoes
Cape Breton quartet, The Cottars, have a splendid Celtic folk sound going for them, as Scottish and Irish flavours combine alongside their native Nova Scotia-Cape Breton roots on this fine package.
Their version of Mark Knopfler’s ‘Fare Thee Well Northumberland’ — that couldn’t be better — even has a smudging of bluegrass creep gracefully into the mix. Rich in the sibling vocal harmonies of founder members Ciaran MacGillivray & Fiona MacGillivray (and Claire Pettit), it perfectly captures the feel of England’s most northern and largest county.
All acts are accomplished musicians who between them play a huge array of instruments. Pettit and Bruce Timmins (replacements for Jimmy and Roseanne MacKenzie) are relatively new to the group and lend much to the group’s sound. Fiddle player Pettit, who comes from Warwick Valley, New York, is the youngest member of the group and presently balances the role of a working musician with her schooling. With a wonderful touch on fiddle and viola, herself and the elder Timmins (who has backed a host of East coast musicians — acoustic, electric guitar, Dobro) have established a firm niche in the band. Hence Feast, the group’s fourth album following on from their Rounder debut Forerunner (2006), has seen the group’s stature grow.
For standouts to go alongside the sublime ‘Northumberland’, their performance of ‘The 23rd Of June’ —first heard from their great friend, Tommy Makem who recorded it with The Clancy Brothers—is so good their interpretation evokes images of how it would sound if done by The Chieftains in their prime of yesteryear. And like Makem and The Clancys, The Cottars create a genuine rich Irish Celtic feel.
On digging back into Canada’s own folk archives, they reprise one of Gordon Lightfoot’s lesser-known creations, ‘Your Love’s Return (Song For Stephen Foster)’, which —like the two originals from Fiona ‘On A Pier’ and ‘Hymn For N’ —bring a special grace to the fore. The latter, with deft viola, guitar and piano to underpin her soulful vocals, sees a richness evident throughout. Plus her lyrics have a timeless quality so good that I feel the song is set to become a much revered and covered composition—not only by herself but her genre.
While Fiona and Ciaran (plus their father, producer, musical-director Allister MacGillivray) are responsible for the song selection and arrangements, Claire’s fine on singing a beautiful lead on Scottish folk standard ‘Young Munro’, seeing her admirably carve out a niche for herself.
The music is unforced and composed throughout, and settles nicely on the ears of the listener. For those quick to dismiss today’s Celtic based music as too progressive, The Cottars are the perfect compromise. I feel if they were to come over and do some festivals, they would soon become not only well-known in Canada but also here in the UK and Ireland.
March 18, 2010 'FEAST', EXCITING NEW ALBUM. TOP RATING! The Cottars' CD FEAST
A Review by John Gavin, Atlantic SeaBreeze
The Cottars from Cape Breton have regrouped recently, and released a new CD entitled 'FEAST'. The two original group members, Ciaran and Fiona (children of famous Allister Mac Gillivray) are joined by Claire Pettit and Bruce Timmins. Claire does vocals and plays violin and viola. Bruce Timmins does vocals, plays acoustic guitar, electric guitar, Classical 5-string and dobro. Ciaran MacGillivray does vocals as well as playing piano, guitar, bouzouki, bodhran and accordion. Fiona MacGillivray does vocals, and plays tin whistle, piano, keyboad pads and bodhran.
This exciting new album by the group is a bridge from the deep Scottish and Irish beginnings of Cape Breton Music, to a new emerging roots music that blends American folk music with Celtic overtones. Their music also blends age old instrumental and vocal material with fresh new compositions that offer an early view into a very promising evolution for this young emerging group.
Many guests singers appear on the album, produced by Allister MacGillivray.
The Cottars' manager is well-known Andre Bourgeois.
The Cottars dedicated the album to the memory of their great friend, Tommy Makem, who along with The Clancy Brothers inspired the countless musicians who followed.
The CD jacket contains a 6-page story about The Cottars and their music by Dan MacDonald from Creignish Hills Entertainment, and a music commentary for each song on this album by The Cottars.
Listening to this album is a joy. Atlantic Seabreeze gives this album TOP ratings on its rating list.
For more information relating to The Cottars' music -- and for bookings -- contact:
email@example.com OR http://www.thecottars.ca
March 9, 2010 Cottars on Rounder Records 40th Anniversary CD Includes “Hymn for N” (by Fiona) from the Cottars.
Bonus exclusive CD Description: This exclusive-to-PBS CD features 12 songs from the Rounder catalog. This special compilation includes both brand new songs and catalog highlights by such artists as Grammy winning singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith, R & B originator Ruth Brown, the hot new Canadian band The Cottars, and bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley.
CD Track List:
01. Nanci Griffith – The Loving Kind
02. Sierra Hull – Two Winding Rails
03. Marcia Ball, Irma Thomas, Tracy Nelson – Sing It
04. Kathleen Edwards – Asking for Flowers
05. Blue Highway – Through the Window of a Train
06. The Cottars – Hymn for N
07. The Grascals – Rollin’ in My Sweet Baby’s Arms
08. Ruth Brown – Cabbage Head
09. George Thorogood – John Hardy
10. Woody Guthrie – Hard Ain’t It Hard
11. Sarah Harmer – Marble In Your Eye
12. Carrie Newcomer – Before & After
March 7, 2010 Suspense building at ECMA's Celebrations took on international feel Saturday; winners will be named tonight
By STEPHEN COOKE, Halifax Herald
SATURDAY morning isn't on the radar of many East Coast Music Awards Festival and Conference attendees. Not after a night of showcases and late night stages that take listeners past 3 a.m., and parties and hospitality suites that die down around the time of the Sydney sunrise.
But a select crowd of musicians had to be at their best for the Two for the Show live performance pitch session in The Delta Sydney Mariner Ballroom, with a two song, hit-and-run opportunity to present themselves and their music to talent buyers from around the world.
AN OVERSEAS visitor making the most of his visit to Cape Breton this weekend is keynote speaker and esteemed British broadcaster and radio producer Bob Harris, who held an informal chat with moderator and music writer Larry LeBlanc and ECMA delegates at the Membertou Trade & Convention Centre later on Saturday morning. Better known by his nickname 'Whispering' Bob Harris, the veteran host shared his enthusiasm for new music and stories from a long career that stretches from the legendary 1970s music TV show 'The Old Grey Whistle Test' to his current slot on BBC 2 where he presents his own eclectic mix of roots and rock music.
When asked about the importance of events like the ECMAs for helping him expand his horizons for listeners on the airwaves and online, he answered succinctly, 'In a word: very!
'I'm always excited at the prospect of discovering something I can take back home to play. Last night I heard (Cape Breton folk group) THE COTTARS -- I'd never heard them before and they were really good! The singer, Fiona (MacGillivray) has a real passion; she really wants this to happen.' note: 'Whispering' Bob has 7 million listeners!
P.S: THE COTTARS will tour New Zealand & Australia next year!!
March 5, 2010 Video: The Cottars Interviewed The Chronicle Herald team of music writer Stephen Cooke and photographer Eric Wynne are at the East Coast Music Awards in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Here's their first day.
February 22, 2010 Soundcheck CD Picks of the Week By Brian Wise, WNYC Culture
From the windy island of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia comes the Cottars, a young quartet whose music bridges traditional Celtic with Americana. The Cottars put their stamp on both original and traditional material on Feast. “Fare Thee Well Northumberland,” is a cover of the Dire Straits song, and “The 23rd of June” is an old Irish tune about the weaver’s holiday.
February 11, 2010 A Feast for Cottars' fans Popular Cape Breton quartet serves up a smorgasbord of Celtic and modern folk, with a hint of bluegrass and pop
By Stephen Cooke, Halifax Herald
It's been four years since the last Cottars album, Forerunner, which is a long time to whet one's appetite. But listeners should be sated when the Cape Breton quartet returns this week with its long-awaited Feast CD. The second Cottars release for renowned Boston-based roots music label Rounder Records, Feast makes good on its title with a smorgasbord of Celtic and modern folk sound, with a hint of bluegrass and pop to keep audiences on their toes.
It's also the first album since founding members and siblings Ciaran and Fiona MacGillivray parted ways with brother and sister Jimmy and Roseanne MacKenzie, with veteran guitarist Bruce Timmins and New York fiddler Claire Pettit rounding out the lineup, but Ciaran says the group didn't take long to re-establish its chemistry on stage or in the studio.
'Of course, there was this great expectation for this album, not just from other people but also from ourselves,' he says on the phone from Sydney, where the Cottars will be performing next, during the East Coast Music Awards and Conference, at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion on March 5.
'I loved the way that we all gelled and moved through each stage of the project, both individually and as a group.
'I'm very happy with the final product, and the process of arranging songs together and tackling such a wide variety of material. Everybody added something, and we managed to get the one incredibly singular sound that we'd been looking for, and sometimes surprisingly more than we thought.'
Feast includes a couple of fiddle sets that can be described as hard-core Celtic — Pettit has soaked up plenty of traditional Cape Breton tunes while at her parents' summer home on Lake Ainslie — and the Cottars' new harmonic blend graces traditional Scottish and Irish tunes arranged by the MacGillivray's folklorist father, Allister MacGillivray.
But they're also hoping to reach fresh ears with a cover of Mark Knopfler's Fare Thee Well, Northumberland, which combines the feel of a Gaelic ballad with the early country feel of the Dire Straits guitarist's idols, Chet Atkins and Doc Watson.
'We thought that song felt more and more like something that would appeal to radio listeners,' explains Ciaran.
'The more we played it, and the more we arranged it, the more it came to the forefront as something that would be played and promoted.
'Another song along those lines is Gordon Lightfoot's Your Love's Return (Song for Stephen Foster), but I think Rounder also likes to see that we're writing our own songs as well, moving forward as a band and coming up with something original.'
The self-penned tunes on Feast come from Fiona's notebook. On a Pier and Hymn for N are startlingly vivid ballads full of imagery she says was inspired by reading classic poetry and listening to composers like Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits.
'They all have a face in the music that I write,' she says.
'They all combine into what I hear in my head and discussing what's going on behind the words with the rest of the band helps develop the mood.
'I actually find the writing process to be difficult and very draining, and despite the amount of time I've dedicated to it over the past few years, I don't have as large a repertoire of songs as you'd think. I'm always plugging away, writing and reading constantly, but I feel like the development of each song takes a really long time.'
But sometimes when the words come, they come in a rush, and Fiona has had a finished lyric flow out in as little as 15 minutes. There is a stream of consciousness feel to Hymn for N, a dream-like plea to a lost love, one where she prefers to leave the interpretation up to the listener. Unfortunately, that's the exception more than the rule.
'I was lamenting to Ron Hynes how difficult I was finding songwriting, where I'd put the pen to paper and nothing would happen. He told me you have to write about 100 bad songs before you come up with a good one.
'I was thinking, ‘I'm 18, I don't have that kind of patience! Nobody at 18 has that kind of patience!' ' she says with a laugh.
'But in all fairness, I know there will be bad songs but I hope they're not in my first 100. Maybe my last 100 as I'm approaching senility.'
February 9, 2010 Fans of The Cottars can Feast on group’s new CD By: Laura Jean Grant, The Cape Breton Post
SYDNEY — It’s been four years since The Cottars last album and much has changed for the group that rose to fame in Celtic music circles almost a decade ago. For one, there’s two new faces in the Cape Breton group. Bruce Timmons and Clair Pettit joined original members Ciarán MacGillivray and his sister Fiona MacGillivray more than three years ago after they parted ways with fellow founding members, siblings, Rosie and Jimmy MacKenzie in 2006.
'It’s been as smooth sailing as we could have ever hoped it could have been,” said Ciarán. 'We knew Clair for a couple years before the transition and she’s a wonderful person to be around and a very talented musician as well, and my parents actually had been friends with Bruce before I was born so it was quite convenient and it all fell together very, very smoothly.”
The quartet are now ready to showcase their sound in the form of an album, Feast, set to be released today in stores and online, on Rounder Records.
Ciarán said Feast is not a big departure from what fans heard from The Cottars on three previous, critically acclaimed albums — 2002’s Made in Cape Breton, 2004’s On Fire, and Forerunner in 2006 — with a mix of vocals, piano, guitar, fiddle, Gaelic song, tin whistle, Irish bouzouki, Irish flute, bodhrán and Celtic harp on the new CD. But they have also definitely introduced some new sounds and style.
'We feel like we’ve kind of broadened our horizons a little bit in that we’ve taken the folk music and we’ve occasionally twisted it a little bit and allowed certain other things to get in,” said Ciarán. 'For example, one of the tracks, that’s called Fare Thee Well, Northumberland, is very much a folk-bluegrass kind of thing with a little bit of freedom for Fiona to explore the vocal ranges of bluegrass,” he said.
Ciarán said the group sought out material that they thought would appeal to fans but also songs and tunes that they themselves felt very passionate about and loved to play.
'This album was quite a lot of fun to put together as a matter of fact and there was a great deal of fun involved in the studio and we, for the first time, have two original songs (On a Pier and Hymn for N) by my sister Fiona and we also tackled a Gordon Lightfoot song (Song for Stephen Foster), which most people aren’t familiar with, not one of his big hits but one that’s kind of been swept under the carpet a bit and we did our own arrangement of that,” he said.
Local fans of The Cottars will be able to catch the foursome on stage during the East Coast Music Awards, Festival and Conference, taking place in Sydney March 4-7. The Cottars are scheduled to perform March 5 at the Joan Harris Cruise Pavilion as part of the ECMA Concert Series.
January 21, 2010 CD Review: Feast (The Cottars) By Matthew Forss Inside World Music
Cape Breton's musical legacy is steeped in local fiddling traditions the world over. Now, you have to add The Cottars to that long list of musicians performing fiddle/Celtic/Scottish music. The folk rhythms are reminiscent of Natalie MacMaster, the Rankin Family, and April Verch - all talented musicians from Canada in their own right. There is a mix of traditional songs, such as "Goodnight To You" and "Song For Stephen Foster". Other songs are composed by Fiona and Ciaran MacGillivray and Claire Pettit. Strings are joined by piano, guitar, tin whistle, bodhran, bouzouki, and harp. Folksy vocals, jazzy jigs, and heartfelt strumming represent the cultural spirit of Eastern Canada's musical traditiojns. The vocals are sung in English and incorporate American roots music as well. Some of the songs are ideal for dancing, while others are great for sitting back and listening in. In essence, Feast is definitely not hard to swallow.
November 24, 2009 ROUNDER RECORDS TO RELEASE FEAST The new album from Cape Breton quartet The Cottars to be released February 9th.
Burlington, MA – Canadian Celtic sensation, The Cottars, will release Feast February 9 on Rounder Records. Featuring the traditional Gaelic song “Goodnight to You” (Oidhche Mhath Leibh), the contemporary folk tune “Song for Stephen Foster” by Gordon Lightfoot, and two new original compositions, “On a Pier” and “Hymn for N” by founding band member Fiona MacGillivray, Feast creates a bridge from the deep Scottish and Irish beginnings of Cape Breton Celtic music to a new emerging roots music; one that blends American folk music with Celtic overtones as well as age old instrumental and vocal material with fresh new compositions. With an undeniably solid musical base and the vibrancy that comes with The Cottars’ youthful artistry, Feast leads the way in an evolving genre.
Since Forerunner, their successful 2006 Rounder album, the band has undergone changes, and returns with a solid roster, including original members Ciarán & Fiona MacGillivray on vocals, piano, guitar, tin whistle, Irish bouzouki, Irish flute, bodhrán, and Celtic harp (not to mention step-dance), as well as new members 18-year old Claire Pettit on violin, viola, vocals, compositions and dance, and Bruce Timmons, one of the most respected accompanists in the Maritimes today on lead guitar.
Fare Thee Well, Northumberland
The Munster Suite
Song For Stephen Foster
The Contradiction Set
Leave Tomorrow Till It Comes
On A Pier
The 23rd of June
Hymn For N 12. Goodnight To You (Oidhche Mhath Leibh)
December 6, 2008 A MERRY CELTIC CHRISTMAS MacMaster, Cottars, World-Class Skaters Capture Season’s Grace And Beauty
By ANDREA NEMETZ, The Herald
Before rocking Halifax Metro Centre to the sounds of Foreigner’s highly appropriate hit 'Cold As Ice', Shawn Sawyer urged the crowd not to be cold as ice this Christmas. The Edmunston, NB, skater needn’t have worried. The 7,000 fans assembled Friday for Holiday Festival on Ice couldn’t have given the 10 world-class skaters - plus musical guests THE COTTARS and Natalie
MacMaster - a warmer reception, rising to their feet for standing ovations eight times during the two-hour show.
Opening with 'The Season of Holly and Ivy', ECMA-winning group THE COTTARS set the tone for the evening with a theme of A Celtic Christmas, as Marie-France Dubreuil, Jennifer Robinson, and Jamie Sale skated out in shimmering silver dresses, elegantly twisting glittery tartan scarves.
Four-time world champion Kurt Browning took to the ice for 'Christmas Jig' as MacMaster - seven months pregnant and backed by a five-member band — sizzled on fiddle. The popular skater dazzled with intricate Celtic-inspired footwork sequences, ending with a backwards leap onto the stage to give a grinning MacMaster a big hug.
Jeffrey Buttle’s program to MacMaster’s rendition of 'Pretty Mary' - complete with bagpipes - brought the crowd to its feet. Clearly a crowd favourite - wolf whistles and shouts of 'we love you' greeted the 2008 world champion’s every appearance on the beautifully lit ice - Buttle raised his arms above the head in a traditional Irish dancing pose, while urging the enthusiastic crowd to clap along to a program full of jumps, split leaps and cossack jumps as well as his trademark unique spins.
Sasha Cohen’s elegant program to 'Josephine’s Waltz' (accompanied by MacMaster) showcased the 2006 Olympic silver medallist’s mesmerizing spirals, astonishing flexibility and gorgeous spins.
And in 'The Peace Carol', as THE COTTARS’ music sent shivers down the spine, the flexible Sawyer, who is attempting to qualify for his second Olympic berth, elicited gasps with a back flip. He repeated the move in Cold As Ice, which also featured a gravity defying version of a spread eagle.
The two programs by Sale and David Pelletier drew the night’s loudest standing ovations as the 2002 Olympic gold medallist pairs skaters showcased jaw-dropping lifts - including several rotating lifts with Sale in a unique split position, twists, a death spiral, throw jumps and perfectly-timed pairs spins. The married couple’s effervescent charisma was evident in 'Boogie Woogie Christmas', as was their continuing romance in 'Grown-up Christmas List'.
And a cowboy-hat wearing Browning, long revered for his showmanship, brought tears to many eyes as he skated to John Denver’s 'Christmas for Cowboys'. The Caroline, Alberta, skater introduced the program saying how sad he was that he wouldn’t have the gift of his father’s company this Christmas, a man who sat tall in the saddle. As the music drew to a close after an emotional skate, he left the hat silhouetted on ice.
The evening was taped by CBC TV for broadcast on Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 9 p.m.
December 1, 2008 Gliding into the holidays World-class skaters join The Cottars, Natalie MacMaster for a Celtic-themed Holiday Festival on Ice spectacle
By Andrea Nemetz, Halifax Herald
Last year's star of Holiday Festival on Ice wasn’t even wearing skates. Jesse, the then-2.5 month-old son of 2002 pairs gold medallists Jamie Salé and David Pelletier, made his on-ice debut at the star-studded event that rotates between cities.
'It was very emotional,' recalls Salé, by phone with Jesse making himself heard frequently in the background. 'I always dreamt of having a baby and to be skating, doing what I love. Travelling with my son is very rewarding.'
He’ll likely join his famous parents — who are also three-time Canadian champions and 2001 World champions — again this year when the skating extravaganza lands in Halifax for the first time.
Also performing to the theme of A Celtic Christmas will be 2008 world champion Jeff Buttle, four-time world champion Kurt Browning, 2006 Olympic silver medallist Sasha Cohen, two-time world silver medallist ice dancers Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon, six-time Canadian champion Jennifer Robinson, eight-time British champion Steven Cousins and Edmunston, New Brunswick’s Shawn Sawyer, who made his Olympic debut in 2006 in Torino. He’s hoping to earn a trip to the Vancouver Olympics in a little over a year.
The skaters will be joined by special musical guests.
Grammy nominee Natalie MacMaster and ECMA winners The Cottars in an arena that will be decked to the rafters in holiday trimmings. The 90-minute production that features two full cast numbers as well as two individual performances by each skater will be televised by CBC for broadcast on Dec. 17 at 8 p.m.
Pelletier, 34, says that Halifax, a city he’s been to frequently with Jamie as a performer in Stars On Ice, has always meant a lot to the couple.
'They are the most knowledgeable crowds anywhere in Canada. And Holiday Festival on Ice is special because of the mood everyone is in while creating it. We’ve been doing it six or seven years and it’s always one of our favourite shows. It kicks off the holiday season.'
Salé, 31, adds 'we’ve been together competing and touring for so many years and it’s so much fun creating a Christmas show, it gets you in the mood hearing Christmas music before anyone else. We’re a tight family and it’s very special.'
In late October, when Holiday Festival on Ice was announced, the couple had not yet chosen their music for the two individual numbers they expected to skate in Halifax. But Buttle, who called from a rink in Detroit, said he will be doing the program he did in April at Stars On Ice in the Metro Centre and a number set to What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve, by Harry Connick Jr.
'Everyone does a holiday number and a non-holiday song, the mix is awesome. As well, anyone who comes to see the show is asked to bring a non-perishable food donation or a cash donation for Feed Nova Scotia.'
Buttle, who retired from competitive skating in September, last did the Holiday Festival on Ice show in 2006, as an amateur skater and noted that it was a great to be on the ice with skaters he’d always looked up to. His holiday season is busy with guest appearances on the U.S. Stars On Ice tour and the Japanese tour in January. He’ll also return for a fifth year with the Canadian Stars On Ice tour in the spring. One of the programs he’ll be doing there is a competitive program he had choreographed with David Wilson for the upcoming season.
'It’s a classical piece of music I ran across in the spring and I could see Brian Orser or John Curry (1976 Olympic Champion) skating to. It’s really beautiful. And doing it and an exhibition piece perfectly expresses where I am in my career.'
Asked what he’s hoping for in his Christmas stocking, the 26-year-old from Smooth Rock Falls, Ont., laughs and refers to a Buttle family tradition in which family members receive Clementines in their stockings. Pelletier says Jesse is happy with empty boxes, pieces of paper and anything that makes noise.
He and Salé, who are based in Edmonton, are thoroughly enjoying parenthood.
'We get to skate every day for an hour, an hour and a half and afterwards spend the day playing and being parents. It’s the best of both worlds,' says Salé. 'We toured with him last year and he did great, but now he needs to be home around his stuff more.'
She says she thinks this year’s cast for Holiday Festival on Ice has the most titles that have ever been assembled. The group will rehearse for two days before the show in Halifax and do a dress rehearsal on Friday with musical friends The Cottars and fiddler MacMaster.
After Christmas, Salé and Pelletier, who were named to Canada’s Skating Hall of Fame last year, have shows scheduled in Zurich, Lausanne and Davos, Switzerland, then they will provide commentary at World Figure Skating Championships in Los Angeles in March.
September 20, 2008 THE CHIEFTAINS/THE COTTARS-Atlantic Crossing Rick Gibbs of the magazine 'Penguin Eggs' interviews Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains regarding Canadian musicians The Pilatzkes and THE COTTARS.
The Chieftains, Ireland's greatest musical ambassadors, have a long, colourful history of working with Canadian musicians and dancers. Regarding some of Paddy Moloney's latest proteges: 'The music in Canada -- I find the talent right across the board in comparison to the US, for instance -- which is great in its own right too. But what you have up there is a hell of a smaller community. And what comes out of it (I don't know what it is; is it the snow or the cold?)--my God, it's unbelievable!'
Moloney's love affair with Canadian musicians is nothing new, of course. Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Ashley MacIsaac, Natalie MacMaster, The Rankins, Sarah McLachlan, Diana Krall and others have all worked with The Chieftains. And, in their current incarnation, these Celtic warhorses continue to draw on Canadian talent in the form of Jon & Nathan Pilatzke and THE COTTARS. Moloney first encountered the Pilatzke brothers, Canada's step-dancing dervishes, seven years ago in Toronto.
The other current Canadian connection is THE COTTARS, the rising young Celtic band from Cape Breton that in 2006 did a major US tour with The Chieftains, culminating in a performance at Carnegie Hall. 'Over the years we've been inviting newcomers, you know, who are looking for an opportunity to show off their talent and skills -- especially young people,' says Moloney. 'Two years ago we brought out THE COTTARS; they did extremely well.' He then launches into effusive praise for lead singer, Fiona MacGillivray. 'She's fantastic! She has the most melodious voice and she's only a teenager!'
Speaking from their home in Cape Breton, Fiona, her brother Ciaran, and New Yorker Calire Pettit (who along with guitarist Bruce Timmons) are THE COTTARS tell me that playing with The Chieftains has been a wonderful experience. As to why young performers are so attracted to a band that's been going for 46 years, Claire Pettit has no doubts. 'They are such a wealth of music, and the history behind them is so amazing. They have this quality that seems to transcend time and space and appeals to everybody.'
February 27, 2008 Scrap the Irish Descendants, bring on The Cottars By Larry Powell/Spectator, NovaNewsNow.com
Newfoundland band cancels tour; King’s Theatre finds world famous and impressive replacement.
While disappointed that the plug was pulled on The Irish Descendants, Keymer is breathing a sigh of relief that he was able to pull off what some music lovers would consider a coup in signing The Cottars.
The sold-out King’s Theatre performance by The Irish Descendants December 15 was cancelled last week after Revenue Canada pulled the plug on the Newfoundland band’s current tour. The band’s front man, Con O’Brien, owes more than $100,000 in back taxes and the taxman put a lien on the tour – which the band promptly cancelled.
'I was very disappointed,' said King’s Theatre general manager Geoff Keymer. 'We had a sold out show. We put tickets on sale the beginning of November and they sold out in two weeks.'
With 220 seats already sold, and no band to perform, Keymer spent Thursday and Friday on the phone and on the weekend struck a deal with the internationally renowned Cottars who have packed concert halls to rave reviews around the world. While disappointed that the plug was pulled on The Irish Descendants, Keymer is breathing a sigh of relief that he was able to pull off what some music lovers would consider a coup in signing The Cottars.
'Yes, I’m very excited about The Cottars,' Keymer said. 'They’ve shared the stage with The Chieftains.'
In fact, The Cottars did a 25-city tour with The Chieftains in 2006, finishing at Carnegie Hall where they were joined by Elvis Costello.On Monday, staff at King’s Theatre were in the process of contacting all 220 people who bought Irish Descendants tickets to see if they wanted refunds.
'But my hope is that everyone will join us for The Cottars,' said Keymer.
Ticket holders for The Irish Descendants concert can use those tickets for The Cottars. But King’s Theatre will offer refunds to those who want their money back, thus freeing up seats for others. He suggested that anyone interested in seeing The Cottars should call the theatre at 532-7704.
'We’re hoping for a full house come what may,' said Keymer.
The Cottars, two-time ECMA winners, is comprised of lead guitarist Bruce Timmons and Ciaran MacGillivray, Fiona MacGillivray, and Claire Pettit. The latter three are all talented singers, musicians, and stepdancers.
They have entertained national and regional political figures and, in various combinations, have shared the stage with stars such Danú, Bruce Cockburn, The Barra MacNeils, Natalie MacMaster, Altan, and many, many others. And they’ve performed privately for the likes of Wayne Gretzky and Senator Ted Kennedy. The group has toured New England and has made concert and festival appearances across the United States, including the Newport Folk Festival where they shared the bill with Bob Dylan. The Cottars have toured Japan several times and are popular in Denmark.
Keymer said he is pleased about bringing in The Cottars on such short notice.