Natalie MacMaster at Morristown

Event Description

Saturday, 2007 March 3
Community Theatre, 100 South Street, Morristown, New Jersey (Box Office 973-539-8008)
International fiddling sensation Natalie MacMaster returns to The Community Theatre for another memorable evening of traditional and contemporary Celtic melodies.
$32.00 to $42.00, depending on seating area ($4.00 fee added for on-line orders)


The policy of the Community Theatre does not allow flash photographs to be taken during performances; my camera doesn’t get anything useful under such circumstances, so I have no photos of this event to post.

Review for the Cape Breton Music List
(Posted 2007 March 4)

Last evening, I had a great time at Natalie MacMaster’s concert at the Community Theatre in Morristown, New Jersey. This was my second “Natalie concert” outside Cape Breton (I’ve also been at two in Cape Breton, both part of Celtic Colours) so I was pretty well prepared for the evening’s music.

Her band can rightly be described as virtuosic, as, in addition to Natalie, it consists of five superbly talented musicians who are equal masters of their respective instruments: Mac Morin on piano and synthesizer; Matt MacIsaac on Highland bagpipes, uillean pipes, tin whistles, and banjo; Miche Pouliot on percussion; Brad Davidge on electric guitar and vocals; and Shane Hendrickson on electric bass (new to me, as he replaces John Chiasson, who previously filled that rôle in the band). Natalie gave each of them the opportunity to shine in a number of his own and shine they certainly did! Brad is from Newfoundland, Shane is from British Columbia, Miche is from Ontario, and the other three are Cape Bretoners.

The hall had few empty seats that I could see as the evening began with Mac’s introduction on the grand piano, soon joined by the rest of the band, with Natalie playing a gorgeous slow air (I regret I don’t know the names for most of the tunes); the tempo then picked up and the hall was captured by the infectiousness of the music and the performers’ energy and virtuosity. Matt played multiple instruments in most numbers, with accompaniments that were very fine and often subtle (not always easy when one is playing the Highland bagpipes!). Mac’s grand piano was equally beautiful and added rhythms and countermelodies that, while they blended perfectly with the music, both enhanced and beautified it. Miche’s percussion was inventive with rock solid timing, to which Brad’s and Shane’s playing added body and solidity as Natalie’s fiddle soared gorgeously over all. Although it was almost always solidly based in traditional Celtic music, the performance ranged across and through many genres, from normal Cape Breton dance music to high-powered, driving, throbbing modern band music to gorgeous slow airs to wah-wah to popular music and often shifted genres within the same number.

As is proper for a Cape Breton event, feet were very much a presence. There was one stunning number I hadn’t seen before where Natalie and Miche do a duet, Natalie with her feet and Miche on drums, a cappella, so to speak (though I’m certain this was a performance never seen in any chapel!); it was an incredible performance in which the taps from Natalie’s shoes were faster than the beats of the drumsticks. Natalie also did another step-dance to a strathspey with accompaniment, that was quite different from the earlier number, though equally amazing. Mac also gave a wonderful, more classically Cape Breton, step dance that showcased his talents as a dancer.

My favourite pieces of the evening were, of course, the traditional Cape Breton piano/fiddle duet where Natalie and Mac played a wonderful set of tunes, starting with If Ever You Were Mine (her most requested tune, Natalie said), with Jean’s Reel in the middle, and ending with Little Donald in the Pigpen (there were several other tunes in this set, but those were the only names I got); Mac’s piano solo, starting with a Gaelic air I think Mac translated as Alas for Me and continuing with The Devil and the Dirk; Natalie’s unaccompanied fiddle solo of Tulloch Gorm; and Blue Bonnets over the Border in full band instrumentation. Brad Davidge’s non-traditional rendition of Danny Boy, showing off his beautiful tenor voice, was certainly memorable, if not exactly to my old fogey’s taste.

The concert ended with a very high energy blast of tunes and Natalie’s trade marked fiddle/step-dance combo, danced shoeless, ending with her well known reverse circular kick. It, of course, drew a standing ovation and an encore during which the audience mostly remained standing, having been invited by Natalie to dance in place along with the music. What an evening of music and joy!

Natalie is expecting her second child in June (not that it slowed her down a bit on stage!) and will be taking the summer off—her first in twenty years, she said, though it will be busy taking care of a new baby; the current US tour (mostly in the Northeast and Mid-West) ends 25 March, so you will have to catch her soon or wait until this fall. If you have the chance, by all means take it! It’s a night you will not soon forget!