Dawn & Margie Beaton,
Taste of Gaelic
(independent, 2008)

These two Mabou sisters are well-matched, musically.

After seeing them pretty much everywhere at the 2012 Celtic Colours International Festival -- performing on stage, either separately or together, as well as behind the scenes selling merchandise or helping the festival run smoothly -- I decided to relax on some of those long Cape Breton drives with Dawn and Margie (pronounced Mar-GEE, with a hard "g") Beaton's 2008 recording.

It's a peach of an album that puts you right in the heart of Cape Breton's musical traditions. It quite deservedly earned them a 2010 East Coast Music Award for roots/traditional group recording.

Fans of Cape Breton fiddle tunes won't be too surprised by the contents of this 12-track CD -- think mostly marches and reels, strathspeys and jigs. The young sisters -- Dawn recently turned 30, and Margie is trailing behind at 27 -- include some of their own compositions along with some rich selections from their Nova Scotian and Scottish heritage.

Besides supplying the fiddles -- an instrument on which both girls demonstrate ample chops -- Dawn plays mandolin, banjo and snare and Margie adds piano. There are several guest musicians rounding out the sound, and the final track, "Saved by the Milkman," begins sweetly with an old Gaelic recording -- it sounds like a milling frolic to me -- with the girls' granduncle Finley Cameron along with their grandmother, Maggie Ann, and her sister, Sarah. The song leads naturally into the fiddle, which carries things on from there.

I can't help but expect -- and I certainly hope -- to hear much more from the Beaton sisters. Meanwhile, they're both staying grounded, keeping themselves busy with degrees earned at Nova Scotia's St. Francis Xavier University -- currently, Dawn works as assistant artistic director for Celtic Colours, while Margie does marketing and graphic design for the Gaelic College of Arts & Crafts in St. Ann's -- while continuing to take their music on the road as well as perform in local venues.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
Tom Knapp

17 November 2012

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