Buddy MacDonald,
We Remember You Well
(Budmac, 2000)

It was the fiddle that first drew me to Cape Breton, and it's the fiddle that keeps bringing me back. But there's one voice that always makes me feel like I'm there: Buddy MacDonald's.

It's probably because I've spent most of my time there at the Celtic Colours festival, and Buddy emcees the nightly Festival Club. It's a safe bet I've heard him perform more than anyone else on the island, and I've come to associate his warm, friendly vocals with being there.

At first, I connected him only with some of the standards he did: "Mary Ellen Carter," "Song for the Mira" and others that can always get a Maritimes crowd singing along. Now I also know Buddy for his own music, and I've come to associate his songs with Cape Breton as well. Buddy isn't just a good singer and guitarist; he's a fabulous songwriter as well.

There are a lot of songs on We Remember You Well that stand out, starting right off with the title track. It's a heartfelt homage to the people in his life -- a very memorable thank you. "Tarsands Lament" tells of the migration of Capers looking for work to the west. "Song Not a Rifle" is a tragic look at Northern Ireland and a wish for its future.

"Play It Again" casts a light on Buddy's love for music and performing it with his friends, while "Getting Dark Again" is a party song for anyone who's ever spent the entire night jamming with friends. "Tha mo Ghaol air 'Aird a' Chuain (Jamie on the Stormy Sea)" employs modern technology to create a duet between Buddy and his late father, who died in 1980.

Buddy brings in some fine local talent to round out the sound: Fred Lavery (guitars), Al Bennett (bass), Gordie Sampson (guitar, accordion, piano and background vocals), Matt Foulds (percussion), Kimberley Fraser (fiddle), Frankie Lane (dobro) and Laurel Martel (background vocals).

Do you have a soft spot for the Maritimes? We Remember You Well is like a musical postcard. Let Buddy take you home.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 27 October 2001

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