March Cape Breton Dance
at the Canadian-American Club (East Watertown)

Event Summary

2012 March 10 (Saturday)
Canadian-American Club, 202 Arlington Street, East Watertown, Massachusetts 02472-2005
Cape Breton dance with Richard Wood and Gordon Belsher.
$15 at the door

Review for the Cape Breton Music List
(Posted 2012 March 13)

Last Saturday evening, the Boston area’s Canadian-American Club held its monthly square dance, featuring the Prince Edward Island musicians Richard Wood on fiddle and Gordon Belsher on guitar and vocals. Most of the evening was given over to fiddle and dance music, though Gordon sang a few songs, mostly Irish, inaugurating the upcoming St Patrick’s Day festivities. An excellent turnout nearly filled the hall and a number of younger folks were also present to enliven the evening.

With Richard on backing fiddle, Gordon led off with his rendition of On the Banks of the Roses. Richard and Gordon, with Peggy Morrison accompanying on keyboards, then gave us two great blasts of Scottish traditional tunes, played as only Richard can play them. In honour of his father’s 91st birthday, Gordon then gave us David Myles’ When It Comes My Turn. Next, the dancers took the floor for a Mabou set, enthusiastically played and danced. A fine waltz followed, ending with an unusually elaborate and very elegant flourish on the fiddle, after which Gordon gave us David Mallett’s¹ lyrics for The Ballad of St Anne’s Reel. Next, Bill Luoma called a Boston set, the third figure of which Robin MacQuarrie accompanied on spoons. The musicians then took a break, giving them a chance to mingle and talk with their many admirers in the audience.

Returning to the stage, with Richard on keyboards, Gordon gave us Lord of the Dance. With Kimberley Fraser taking over the keyboards, Richard on fiddle, and Gordon on guitar, the dancers took the floor again for a Mabou set; it featured some very fine tunes, superbly well played, and the dancers responded with energy and enthusiasm. A waltz followed and then another great blast of tunes. Kimberley then stepped down from the piano and Gordon, with Richard on backing fiddle, next gave us Mark Haines’ Red Haired Girl, a song in honour of Anne of Green Gables. This was followed by a long step-dancing set that saw six fine dancers take the floor to show us their steps.

After a break and the 50/50 draw, Richard, with Peggy back on keyboards and Gordon on guitar, played for another Mabou set. Gordon, with Richard on backing fiddle, then gave us Sweet Molly Malone. In response to an audience request, Gordon switched to bodhrán and Richard and Peggy gave us another fine blast of tunes. Returning to guitar, the three gave us yet one more great set of tunes, during the latter part of which Robin MacQuarrie again joined in on spoons. They closed the evening playing a slow air requested by another attendee, ending about five minutes past midnight.

During one of the breaks, I had a chance to talk briefly with Gordon, who indicated that the night’s entertainments were somewhat of a change from their usual tour routine, as they don’t normally play for dances, but instead give concerts in which fiddle sets and vocal numbers alternate. Gordon’s accompaniments, like Peggy’s, were spot on with Richard’s fiddle, whose playing was fiery and superb without being overpowering; the fiddle music was an absolute joy to listen to. Though I like some kinds of singing (e.g., Gregorian chant and Gaelic songs), I’m not greatly attracted to songs in English and even less so to popular Irish songs, but Gordon has a fine voice and he and Richard (and sometimes Peggy) rendered them well, so my (hopefully) annual dose went down quite easily. It was a very nice evening all told and one that the audience obviously enjoyed as much as I did.

¹ I am indebted to Marcia Palmater for correcting my initial misattribution of the authorship of the lyrics for this song.


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