Jerry Holland and Mairi Rankin at Braintree

Event Description

2008 February 29 (Friday)
Braintree Town Hall, Route 12A, West Braintree, Vermont
Jerry Holland and Mairi Rankin in Concert
$18 in advance; $23 at the door; for reservations, send a check made out to Jerry Holland and mail to 1060 Bent Hill Road, Braintree, VT 05060

Review for the Cape Breton Music List
(Posted 2008 March 3)

Beth Telford enticed Jerry Holland and Mairi Rankin to come to central Vermont to offer a concert of Cape Breton music and fiddle workshops. On this past Friday evening, in the Braintree Town Hall, we were treated to great Cape Breton music by two of today’s outstanding players.

Following Beth’s brief but warm presentation, the evening’s music began with Mairi on fiddle and Jerry on guitar. Mairi played many fine tunes, two of which (one a beautiful slow air) I don’t recall having heard before, with Jerry matching her superb fiddle playing with a very fine guitar accompaniment. As I rarely get to hear Mairi playing lead fiddle and had never before heard Jerry on guitar (I didn’t even know he played guitar, let alone so well), this first half of the concert was an especial treat for me.

As it was with the audience. The town hall was packed with players, but not only fiddlers—when asked how many people played an instrument, at least two thirds of the audience raised their hands! Over the years, Jerry has taught many of them and this attentive audience, with a goodly number of younger folk present, was very much into the music, with everyone’s feet keeping time with Mairi’s infectious jigs, strathspeys, and reels.

It seemed like only a few minutes, but after nearly an hour of the very best music, it was time for intermission. The heavily laden table in the kitchen attached to the town hall offered a fine array of tasty goodies contributed by people from the community. After having had a chance to sample these delights while chatting with Jerry and Mairi and each other, the attendees, who had begun to return to their seats, were called back into the kitchen for a surprise: a birthday cake in honour of Jerry’s and Beth’s birthdays, which both fall close to this concert’s date (Jerry’s is 23 February; I don’t know Beth’s). Happy Birthday was sung, the candles were blown out, and the cake was cut and shared.

To start off the second half, Beth welcomed Jerry back to the stage. Given the great number of fiddlers present, he played unaccompanied and everyone paid him rapt attention as he gave us tune after beautiful tune, pausing only very briefly between sets to remark on his choices. His Crystal Clear CD is the best approximation I can think of to this part of the concert, though hearing Jerry live in the intimate setting of this town hall was incomparably more satisfying. Three quarters of an hour later, Jerry suggested we must have had enough and, as one, the audience said NO! So he gave us another set, this time with Mairi Rankin accompanying him on keyboards. A final set with Jim Green on guitar accompanying Mairi and Jerry on dual fiddles closed out this awesome concert.

It was a marvellous evening of music, which I thank Beth for organizing, although she had lots of help from the community, which was clearly honoured by the presence of these two musicians, teachers, and friends. And I offer an especial thank you to Jim Green, who was responsible for setting up the sound for the concert and who, when I arrived at the hall around 16h, invited me inside so I wouldn’t have to wait outside in the car in the cold.

For those of you within driving distance of the Skye Theatre Performing Arts Center in East Dixfield (Maine), a benefit concert for Jerry Holland will be occurring there on Wednesday evening, 5 March, at 19h and Jerry and Mairi will attend. Mairi will also be conducting a fiddle workshop there on Sunday afternoon, 9 March, at 15h and will be giving a concert in the evening afterwards at 19h (with a jam starting at 18h30). For more information on these events, see the Skye Theatre web site. Admission to the concerts is $10 by advance reservation only by phoning (207) 562-4445 or e-mailing


The Braintree Town Hall, site of the concert

Mairi Rankin on fiddle accompanied by Jerry Holland on guitar

Jerry and Beth’s birthday cake

Jerry and Beth enjoying their birthday cake

Beth presenting Jerry at the start of the second half of the concert

Jerry on solo fiddle

Jerry Holland on fiddle accompanied by Mairi Rankin on keyboards

Mairi Rankin and Jerry Holland on fiddle
accompanied by Jim Green on guitar