Andrea Beaton and Janine Randall at the Canadian-American Club (East Watertown)

Event Summary

2008 May 10
Canadian-American Club of Massachusetts, 202 Arlington Street, East Watertown, Massachusetts 02472-2004
Cape Breton dance with Andrea Beaton and Janine Randall.

Review for the Cape Breton Music List
(Posted 2008 May 13)

This past Saturday, the Canadian-American Club of Massachusetts hosted a Cape Breton square dance featuring Andrea Beaton on fiddle with Janine Randall on piano graciously filling in at short notice for Kimberley Fraser, who had been on the bill but was too ill to play.

Andrea started the evening off with a toe-tapping set of jigs. She opened the next set with the march Memories of Paddy LeBlanc, composed by her grandfather, Donald Angus Beaton, and continued with several other tunes, including Sandy Cameron.[1] A second set of jigs followed. The next set began with John MacLellan’s The Road to the Isles and continued with several great and popular tunes.

By this time, the hall had pretty well filled up (it was close to capacity later in the evening as more young folks arrived) and the dancers in the audience took the floor for the first Mabou set of the evening (two figures danced to jigs and one figure danced to reels); there were enough dancers to fill out two groups. The first jig of the initial jig set was in a major key, but subsequent jigs went into the minor. The second jig set began with another Donald Angus tune, Trip to Toronto, and included Down the Tannoch Road by Adie Harper. The reel set included Anna Mae’s Reel by Anna Mae MacEachern, Lord MacDonald, and Mabou Reel.

Giving the dancers a chance to catch their breath, Andrea then gave us a beautiful rendition of Jerry Holland’s Memories of Herbie MacLeod, dedicating it to Jim MacLeod, Herbie’s son, who was tending bar for the evening.

The dancers then took to the floor for a second Mabou set and this time there were three groups on the floor. The second jig set included Angus Chisholm’s Tom MacCormack’s. The reel set included Howie MacDonald’s Compliments to Doug MacPhee, a hornpipe. While the dancers relaxed after the square set, Andrea gave us another fine set of jigs.

The call then went out for the dancers to form for a Boston square set (one figure danced to jigs and two figures danced to reels); given the intricacy of the figures involved, each group requires precisely four couples. This evening, the prompter was Bill Luoma, a past president of the Canadian-American Club and a mainstay of the Friday night sessions there, where he sings and plays guitar. The jig set included Alex MacDonnell’s Favorite and Gordon Graham’s Favorite, both by Dan R. MacDonald. The first reel set ended with The Fermoy Lasses. The second reel set included Hamish the Carpenter and Howie MacDonald’s The Cavity Investigator’s.

Then Andrea played a step-dancing set, including Miss Lyall and Liz Carroll’s Wissahickon Drive. First Emerald Rae and then Christine Morrison and Pamela Campbell together took the floor to give us some steps. A jig set ending with Maggie Brown’s Favorite followed.

While Andrea and Janine took a break, Doug Lamey on fiddle with Dedo Norris on piano took the stage and gave us a fine set of strathspeys and reels. Emerald Rae joined them for a reel set and they then concluded the break with a set of jigs and reels.

When Andrea and Janine returned to the stage, a call again went up for a second Boston set. This time, the front two groups danced the Boston set, while the third group (perhaps because they did not divide into proper four-couple groups) danced a shortened Mabou set (the jig figure and the first reel figure, sitting out the second reel figure). The second reel set began with Put Me in the Big Chest and Hamish the Carpenter, two old-time wedding reels.

To finish off the evening, Andrea and Janine gave us another round of strathspeys and reels for step-dancing; Pamela Campbell and Christine Morrison, Katie McGann, Mary MacGillivray, and Mary Lamey all danced in this final set of the evening, as did Andrea herself whilst still fiddling at the end of the set.

The Canadian-American Club is a fine dance venue and a very friendly and welcoming place to hear Cape Breton music. In addition, as the dance progressed, we were all invited to partake of an amazing spread for “tea” in the kitchen—many thanks to those who contributed these delicious goodies. There is talk that next season, Cape Breton dances may be held roughly every six weeks; that would certainly be very attractive to me!

Andrea is always a marvellous player and this evening was no exception; we were treated to wonderful music the whole night long, played with great energy and brio. Janine likewise did a fine job on the piano. What a wonderful warm-up for the start of the summer dance season in Cape Breton!

[1] I am greatly indebted to Marcia Palmater for the tune names, only one of which I could have come up with on my own; she wrote down each of the sets as it was played and identified each of the tunes she knew by name, providing a wonderful record, nearly the entirety of which I have incorporated in this review.


Peggy Morrison invites the dancers to take the floor

Andrea Beaton on fiddle accompanied by Janine Randall on piano

Andrea Beaton speaking to the attendees

Dancing the third figure of a Mabou set

Dancing the third figure of a Mabou set

Dancing the third figure of a Mabou set

Dancing the third figure of a Mabou set

Andrea Beaton on fiddle accompanied by Janine Randall on piano

Dancing the third figure of a Boston set

Dancing the third figure of a Boston set

Dancing the third figure of a Boston set

Bill Luoma prompting a Boston set

Emerald Rae step-dancing

Pamela Campbell and Christine Morrison step-dancing

Doug Lamey on fiddle accompanied by Dedo Morris on piano

Dedo Norris on piano

Doug Lamey on fiddle

Emerald Rae and Doug Lamey on dual fiddles

Andrea Beaton on fiddle

Janine Randall on piano

Katie McGann step-dancing

Pamela Campbell and Christine Morrison step-dancing

Mary MacGillivray step-dancing

Mary Lamey step-dancing

Andrea Beaton step-dancing whilst playing the fiddle