- 2011 February 12 (Saturday)
- Canadian-American Club, 202 Arlington Street, East Watertown, Massachusetts 02472-2005
- Cape Breton dance with Doug Lamey, LLoyd Carr, and Michael Kerr.
- $12 at the door
This past Saturday evening, those who came out to the Canadian-American Club were treated to a full measure of great Cape Breton music, lustily and beautifully played by Doug Lamey on fiddle, Lloyd Carr on keyboards, and Michael Kerr on guitar.
I first met Lloyd when we shared a table at the Red Shoe Pub several years ago during one of my early trips to Cape Breton. A resident of New Hampshire, he spends part of his summer in Cape Breton each year and I suspect that many of you who live there will recognize him from the photos, if not from his music. Lloyd often plays at New England contradances and is an accomplished traditional music pianist. Over the years, he has picked up the Cape Breton style of piano accompaniment from its masters and enjoys accompanying Cape Breton fiddlers whenever he is asked (he’s overly modest and should be asked far more often, given his talents). I had heard Lloyd accompany the Cape Breton fiddle previously, but only for the odd set or two, never for a full evening. It was a joy to hear him provide a solid, properly rhythmical, perfectly timed, and beautiful foundation for Doug’s fiddle (of which more shortly) adorned with subtle, but very fine embellishments well worth listening for. This music Lloyd knows extremely well and his knowledge allows him to keep his accompaniments moving forward with neither hesitations nor gaps. He didn’t get much of a break last night — he was off the stage during only one set of tunes — but his stamina allowed him to keep up with everything Doug played. I certainly look forward to hearing him play more frequently at the Canadian-American Club dances.
Michael Kerr was new to me: so far as I know, I had not previously heard him play. I have not found out much about him either, except that he is also a bagpiper and, at least among those I asked in the audience, perhaps better known as a piper than a guitarist. He has teen-age daughters that have apparently kept him too busy in recent years to play at the Canadian-American Club, at least when I’ve been there. So, about all I can say is that his guitar accompaniments were on the mark and complemented both Doug’s and Lloyd’s playing very well. He obviously also knows this music thoroughly; I particularly enjoyed some of the ornamental notes he often threw into the mix. I would definitely enjoy hearing him play again.
Doug was on fire last night; he just keeps getting better and better to my ears. After sound checks, he started playing very shortly after 20h and gave us one set of tunes after another all night long, ending near midnight, with only very short breaks between sets, plus a single roughly thirty-minute break, in nearly four hours of playing (and that was way more than either accompanist got!). At the end, he didn’t look tired and I suspect he could have played all night long without any problems. This was not a dancing crowd; only two square sets were danced all evening long, one Boston set and one Inverness set, and Doug had to call for dancers to take to the floor for both of those. Mary Lamey treated us to a fine step dance (she is amazingly light on her feet!), but no one else joined her when the call for step dancers emanated from Doug’s fiddle. Like me, the attendees were really there to listen to the musicians.
And what a lavish wealth of tunes they gave us to savour, jigs and reels and fine strathspeys, slow and faster, with occasional slow airs from time to time! Alas, while I recognize many tunes, I know very few of them by name, so I can not give many here. Cutting Ferns, In Memory of Herbie MacLeod, Hector the Hero, John O’ Badenyond (also spelt John of Bandenyon), and Over the Moor Among the Heather (also spelt O’er the Muir Amang the Heather) were among the selections (and I thank Marcia Palmater for the names of two of those), but there were easily a couple hundred more. A few tunes were new to me (at least I didn’t recognize them as I did the others); one turned out to be a Simon Fraser tune I must have heard previously as it appears on a CD I have.
All of the sets were excellent; several were simply stunning, so perfect was the playing of all three. Doug’s superb playing, enriched and strengthened by the fine accompaniment, was compelling and an absolute joy to hear. The audience was likewise appreciative, letting go at the ends of the dazzling sets with hoots and hollers and whistles, all in the best Cape Breton style, mingled with hearty applause.
I mentioned above that Doug took a roughly half-hour break around 22h40; while he was off stage, Gordon Aucoin took over the fiddle and Lloyd and Mike accompanied him. Last fall, Gordon did the entire Cape Breton dance at the Canadian-American Club with Lloyd and Teddie Aucoin, his father, who came down to Boston from St-Joseph-du-Moine; I was in Cape Breton for Celtic Colours at the time, so I missed out on what I heard from several who were there was a very fine evening of music. I had heard Gordy play on previous occasions as he did this evening — filling in for a fiddler taking a break. I quite like his playing, which features a fluent older style and several less commonly heard tunes. He certainly didn’t disappoint on Saturday, giving us some very fine sets.
Doug is currently attempting to put together the financing for producing a CD in Cape Breton this spring; see this web site for information about this project; if any of you can help in any of the ways indicated on the web page, you will greatly assist him in reaching his goal— he’s already more than halfway there!
Those of you in Cape Breton will also have a chance to hear Doug play at a West Mabou dance on 26 February, when he will be accompanied by Kaitlin MacDonald. I hope you will come out an give his music a hearing — I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
Click here to view the first photo for this event; use the navigation block in that page to view the subsequent photos.