The ultimate Cover Story: Kate Rusby's hand-me-downs
Instruments of pleasure: (6) Music for a Found Harmonium by Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Patrick Street or Sharon Shannon

Instruments of pleasure: (5) Natalie MacMaster and the magic of Cape Breton

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I knew what I was looking for and I knew it would be a devil of a job to find it. Why? Because I couldn't remember quite enough to aid the search.
 
Natalie MacMaster is a superb fiddler from Cape Breton, part of the Nova Scotia province of Canada. It would be an exaggeration to say no one from Cape Breton is not a superb fiddler, but it's a part of the world blessed with a great and living musical tradition. There is no shortage of accomplished practitioners, as I found when there for the Celtic Colours festival in 1998.  Her husband Donnell Leahy, the father of their seven children, is a also a renowned fiddler and plenty of promise can be seen among the MacMaster-Leahy kids. 
 
But where was this track I needed to accompany the latest instalment of my series on folk and folk-related instrumentals? Was it one of her own albums or a Cape Breton compilation?
 
It is there, somewhere in my huge collection of CDs, split between the garage in France and the loft in London. it is a barnstorming, session-like set in which Natalie's accompanying dance steps are also heard and it appears at the end (or maybe - memory again - the beginning) of the album, It's been in my car and I KNOW I have it.
 
What I have decided to post, if only for now, is something - the Glencoe Dance Set - that feels very close to what I was looking for. It may even be what I was looking for but I am not sure.
 
I have asked out aloud and turned to Natalie's Twitter account but it does not seem to the very active. Let us assume for now that the missing piece is indeed the joyful melange of sounds we find on the Glencoe Dance Set.
 
Of course the album and the track will doubtless re-appear once this little piece is published.
 
If my chosen clip is not the item for which I was searching, the quality of Natalie's work, from which that clip will lead, is breathtaking. And the one I highlight shows her virtuosity.
 
I may also now find the cutting from my years as The Daily Telegraph's politically incorrect folk bloke.
 
It was a quickfire Q&A interview in which I asked Natalie - who comes from a county of Cape Breton called Inverness about her feelings of Scottishness.
 
She told me she felt very Scottish indeed when in Cape Breton but not Scottish at all on arriving in Glasgow or Edinburgh and talking to Scots.  
 
 
* Natalie would approve of this. While scouring my electronic and paper records for. this track, and the interview, I was alerted by my journalistic confrere Damien McElroy to an hour of lovely music from his own neck of the woods, Northern Ireland. Check out Méabh Kennedy (fiddle), Moya Sweeney (accordion/harp),and Jack Warnock (guitar/voice) for a live stream from the Ardhowen Theatre in Enniskillen.

Comments

Pete Sixsmith

The album in the photo is great. I'll play it while I am doing the ironing.

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