J. J. and Timothy Chaisson at Agawam

Event Description

Saturday, 2007 March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day)
Sunday, 2007 March 18
19h30-22h (Saturday)
14h-16h (Sunday)
Captain Charles Leonard House, 663 Main Street, Agawam, Massachusetts
A St. Patrick’s Day bash with J. J. and Tim Chaisson from Prince Edward Island.
$14.00 by advance reservation via e-mail to Meg Sullivan at
or by phone at +1 (413) 789-9267; $18.00 at the door
The St. Patrick’s Day concert is now sold out. Due to the enormous demand, a second concert has been scheduled at the Captain Leonard House on Sunday afternoon, 2007 March 18, at 14h.


J.J. Chaisson on fiddle and Timothy Chaisson on guitar

J.J. Chaisson on fiddle

Timothy Chaisson on guitar

Timothy Chaisson on fiddle and J.J. Chaisson on guitar

J.J. Chaisson on guitar

Timothy Chaisson on piano

J.J. Chaisson on guitar and Timothy Chaisson on piano

Timothy Chaisson on fiddle

J.J. Chaisson on piano

Timothy Chaisson singing and on guitar with J.J. Chaisson on backing fiddle

Timothy Chaisson singing while playing guitar

Timothy Chaisson step-dancing while playing fiddle

J.J. Chaisson step-dancing while playing piano

Kaitlin Irujo in her new Irish dancing dress dancing to music by
Timothy Chaisson on fiddle and J.J. Chaisson on guitar

Young step-dancer dancing to music by
J.J. Chaisson on fiddle and Timothy Chaisson on guitar

Enthusiastic step-dancer dancing to music by
Timothy Chaisson on fiddle and J.J. Chaisson on piano

Dan Sullivan at the sound board

Meg Sullivan opening the concert

Review for the Cape Breton Music List
(Posted 2007 March 20)

This past Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon, first cousins J. J. Chaisson and Timothy Chaisson from Prince Edward Island presented concerts at the Captain Charles Leonard House in Agawam, Massachusetts, that I was privileged to attend. This was the fifth time I had seen J. J. in concert, but the first time I had seen Timothy. Kevin Chaisson, J. J.’s uncle and the keyboard accompanist at the previous concerts I’ve attended, didn’t make this trip, so his son Timothy, currently a university student, took over that rôle, though primarily on guitar, and proved to be a very talented traditional multi-instrumentalist and non-traditional singer/songwriter in his own right, with three CD’s to his credit already.

Saturday’s concert opened with J. J. on fiddle and Timothy on guitar playing a set of traditional Scottish E-minor strathspeys and reels; the next number was Natalie MacMaster’s Volcanic Jig and the third was a gorgeous Niel Gow’s Lament for the Death of His Second Wife. In honour of St. Patrick’s Day (there were numerous members of the audience dressed in green hats or otherwise bearing the green of the day), Timothy then sang The Star of the County Down, accompanying himself on guitar with J. J. on backing fiddle, after which he sang his non-traditional composition, One More Try. After another set of great Scottish tunes, the first of which was new to me and the latter two of which I knew but can’t name, J. J. moved to the piano and Timothy took over on the fiddle. This was the first time I’d seen J. J. on piano; it turns out he started playing piano only a year ago, but he is now very much at home on the instrument and added a great driving accompaniment to Timothy’s vigorous fiddle playing. J. J. then took up the guitar and accompanied Timothy on fiddle for another very rousing traditional set played with verve and fire—the tempo was fast and the intonation very precise. The first half of this concert closed with a set of tunes chosen to accompany Kaitlin Irujo, who had been persuaded to show off some steps in the new Irish dancing dress she had just acquired.

The second half opened with Happy Birthday, in honour of the six people in the sold-out audience who had birthdays on or near St. Patrick’s Day, with J. J. on fiddle and Timothy on guitar again. Then followed a set that started off with If Ever You Were Mine and continued with several fine tunes. The third set was astounding; a great blast of very familiar tunes that lasted for over ten minutes and had everyone’s feet tapping (and some hands clapping) in time with the music; the room was just a-rockin’ with ecstatic listeners. With hardly a stop for breath, they launched into another great set; Timothy on guitar gave a very fine “picking” accompaniment to one of the tunes in which he doubled the melody while still providing a driving accompaniment, a fine feat of musicianship. For a change of pace, Timothy moved over to the piano and J. J. took up the guitar, picking out fiddle tunes on the guitar, starting slowly and moving up to a fast and furious pace that put me in mind of nothing so much as the Guitar Summit concert at Celtic Colours; J. J.’s a very impressive guitar player as well as a fine fiddler (this set is also on J. J.’s CD Class Act, but that was recorded five years ago and he’s an even better player now than he was then). Timothy then returned to the guitar and with J. J. on backing fiddle again gave us two songs he had written (I didn’t get the title of the first, but the second was What’s This Life For Anyway? from his most recent CD). After a set of jigs, including The Irish Washerwoman, with J. J. on fiddle and Timothy on guitar, J. J. moved back to the piano and accompanied Timothy on fiddle for two more great blasts of traditional fiddle tunes, during the last of which Timothy step-danced while playing the fiddle. That performance drew a standing ovation which resulted in an encore that concluded this wonderful evening of music.

Sunday afternoon’s concert was scheduled when Saturday’s concert sold out and there were many very disappointed people who still wanted to attend. Since I had already driven to Massachusetts, it was foolish for me not to attend the Sunday concert as well, and so I did. While it did not attract a full house, those there were no less enthusiastic than Saturday’s audience. It was not the same programme as the Saturday evening concert’s, though some of the sets were repeated; different sets replaced those of the previous evening and the order of the numbers was changed around substantially. One audience member requested the St. Ann’s Reel, which was added at the end of the first set played. The major innovation of this concert, not seen the previous evening, was J. J. step-dancing as he played the piano to complement Tim’s step-dancing while he played the fiddle! It was another feast of fine traditional music which I’m delighted to have been able to have taken in.

The versatility of these two musicians is astounding. They are both masters of the fiddle and the guitar, between which they move with complete ease. But they are also much more than comfortable on piano, both doing a fine job of piano accompaniment. And they step-dance as well. It’s simply amazing to see how readily they move from rôle to rôle and how superbly well they perform in all of them. Nor does their musicality stop with their playing: J. J. has composed a number of fine traditional Scottish tunes, while Timothy sings and writes his own (non-traditional) songs. Timothy has also appeared as a guitar accompanist on two tracks of Chrissy Crowley’s recently released eponymous CD of traditional Cape Breton music.

J. J.’s ease on stage led him to share with us the news that he learned on Valentine’s day that he is to become a father in October as well as his most recent adventure (see the Keltic Grasshopper’s posting for March 16 for details). In conversation with him, I learned that he has worked out the contents of his third CD and that recording for it is to begin April 2, so hopefully it will become available this summer; I’m certainly eagerly looking forward to it. Both Chaissons will be performing at the Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival[1] in Prince Edward Island this July and I’m very much looking forward to hearing both these fine musicians again.

I would like to thank both Chaissons for having made the trip to Agawam—it’s a very long drive and the trip down was in less than pleasant weather; the continuing effort the Chaissons have made over the past years to supply those of us in the Northeast with such fine traditional music is deeply appreciated. As always, my sincerest thanks also go to Meg and Dan Sullivan for putting together what has been a really very fine series of concerts at the Captain Charles Leonard House.

[1] This web site has not yet been updated for this year; check back later.