Howie MacDonald,
The Ceilidh Trail
(Atlantica, 1993)

Howie MacDonald is a Cape Breton institution.

While other musicians have made bigger splashes on the international scene, anyone who's touched the heart of Cape Breton music will know how vital Howie is to the island's rich and thriving musical culture.

A good way to sample his abilities is with The Ceilidh Trail. The 75-minute CD is something of a "best of" compilation, with tracks highlighting Howie's career so far, but it's the last seven tracks that really make this album sparkle. Those live tracks, recorded primarily at a house party at Ann and Howard MacDonald's place, give listeners a real taste of Cape Breton's easygoing music tradition.

The live and studio tracks also feature some fine Cape Breton instrumentalists. Howie, a multi-instrumentalist, sticks primarily with the fiddle on this CD, adding some piano as well. Joining him for dueling fiddles on a few tracks is Dougie MacDonald. Other musicians include John Morris Rankin (piano, guitar, bass guitar), Tracey Dares (piano), Sandy MacDonald and Paul MacDonald (guitar), and Jimmy Rankin and Barry Keanne (percussion).

The Ceilidh Trail is a great taste of Cape Breton musicianship. If you haven't treated yourself to Howie MacDonald's fiddling yet, you don't know what you're missing!

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 6 July 2002