Nova Scotia Artists To Perform At Irish Fest
By Elizabeth Altman
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Nova Scotia (MNS), a nonprofit organization based in Halifax, is sending
seven musical ensembles to perform at Milwaukee Irish Fest this year. The
group, which works to fund local talent as they perform and integrate into
the international market, began in 1989 and recently held elections for
its 2006/2007 board of directors. Brian Doherty, himself a veteran musician
and previous member of the board, is the new president.
Doherty has lived in Nova Scotia for the past 25 years. Originally a
Northern Ireland native from Co. Tyrone, he found his way around the world
with the 1980sí Irish band Barley Bree. Saying of Nova Scotia, "I havenít
found anywhere better to live," Doherty extends his enjoyment of his long-adopted
homeland to others as he works within the music industry. MNS enhances
Nova Scotiaís market for performers, he said, while continuing to bring
traditional and contemporary Irish music to the province.
who remains very active within that tradition, founded the band Evans and
Doherty with friend and songwriter Kevin Evans more than 21 years ago.
He continued on within the music world even as Barley Bree, which disbanded
in the early 1990s. Since the creation of Evans and Doherty, Doherty has
ironically realized that the two of them originally established their duo
so they could "keep our hand in music while still pursuing other things
too." Yet they have enjoyed a much larger success together than through
their separate careers.
Evans and Doherty, who continue to tour, are scheduled to perform with
the 2007 Irish Music Cruise as they sail with crew and passengers for Hawaii.
There might be hula music, but the trip will also be backdropped classic
Irish jigs. Doherty has also been mulling over a possible, but as of yet,
unscheduled performance at this yearís Irish Fest.
two, who play traditional songs as well as original material with a traditional
bent, have also extended their musical hands into the realm of pub ownership.
"Itís every Irish personís dream to have their own pub," said Doherty
as he described the Old Triangle Alehouse he co-founded in both Halifax
and New Brunswick, starting six years ago.
The pubs serve up a large menu of traditional and contemporary cuisine
ranging from "Paddy Fernandez Nachos" to "Shepherdís Pie." Of course, their
is a myriad assortment of beverage (okay, beer) choices. They additionally
provide a healthy, seven-nights-a-week dose of local music and in-house
"In Nova Scotia, musicís a huge living tradition, so itís no big problem
to find musicians," said Doherty.
The pubs also offer collectable memorabilia by which to remember an
evening out, in the form of t-shirts, sweatshirts, caps and even license
from setting up Hawaiian cruises and indulging in Ale House nachos, music
and beer, Doherty has been working with the board to continue developing
Music Nova Scotia policy. He says it constantly seeks "avenues of expansion"
and, as president, Doherty will choose the direction those avenues lead.
Heíll be granting membership to artists across the musical spectrum, from
hip-hop to traditional. Doherty also works to access the funding necessary
to grant artists their chance at the international stage, setting up opportunities
such as Milwaukee Irish Fest performances.
Doherty will oversee MNSí jaunt down to Milwaukee for the first time
this year. He is a good friend of fest founder Ed Ward and is excited at
his artistsí prospects.
"Irish Fest is the most prestigious festival of its kind. Itís very
well known in the music community as the best. Itís very well run and an
honor for traditional artists to be invited," he said.
Planning an opportunity for their performers to meet other festival
buyers scouting Irish Fest for talent, Doherty and MNS will hold a reception
at the festivalís Celtic Roots Tent on Friday, Aug. 18. The Nova Scotia
Minister of Tourism will attend for the evening and a traditional seafood
dinner will be served. Doherty explains, how in addition to furthering
the careers of their musicians, MNS also hopes to use this opportunity
to "encourage people to come seek out the living traditions of Nova Scotia,"
an effort largely supported by their government sponsors.
And who exactly are the musical groups drumming up all this planning
Beolach, a five-member band hailing from Cape Breton Island, performs
contemporary music that retains the tradition of Scottish, Irish, and Cape
Breton style songs while removing them from their original orchestration.
The band, whose name means "lively youth," instead perform their material
with piano, pipes, whistles, guitar, and fiddles.
Like Beolach, Jerry Holland is also well within the institution of Cape
Breton, Scottish, and Irish music. However, his musical strong suit comes
in the form of dance accompaniment. Celtic guitarist and violinist Dave
MacIsaac will accompany Holland as he plays the fiddle throughout his gig
at Irish Fest.
J.P. Cormier, child prodigy and self-taught guitarist since the age
of 5, comes to Irish Fest as a renowned singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist,
award winner and producer. Heís basically your "average" musician extraordinaire.
Dave Gunning, a songwriter and recent winner of the ECMA Folk Album
of The Year award for two-bit world, will perform as well. Heís
taking time off from his latest project, a Christmas record. Following
Irish Fest, Gunning will perform as a special guest with George Canyonís
Celtic artist Mary Jane Lamond provides additional versatility to the
The Cottars of Cape Breton will play their native folk music. The two
brother-sister pairs meld tradition, such as step dancing, with more contemporary
themes as they have developed new arrangements and harmonies to accompany
their original songs.
Lastly, MNS rounds out the entertainment contingent with Buddy MacDonald,
25, who comes to Milwaukee as a singer/songwriter steeped in the traditions
of his native Cape Breton.
These performance groups/solo artists make up the large-scale, over
700- member enterprise of Music Nova Scotia. In addition to musicians,
the organization also welcomes membership from across the music spectrum,
from booking agencies to graphic artists to instrument dealers and creators.
Membership information and other Music Nova Scotia events are available
online at its website http://www.musicnovascotia.ca/default2.asp.