Entertainment

Throughout the week of the Antigonish Highland Games, there is no lack of musical talent! Check out our event schedule to see the various concerts and ceilidhs happening! 

Here, we will feature our enterainment for the on-field events such as the Concert Under the Stars, Saturday Afternoon Ceilidh Tent, Saturday Night Ceilidh Tent and Sunday Closing Ceilidh Tent!

Stay tuned as we announced the performers who will grace the stage at the Antigonish Highland Games! 

July 7th, 2023 – Concert Under the Stars

Stan Chapman

Stan Chapman is a renowned teacher and an accomplished fiddle player well known in musical circles. At an early age he progressed through the Toronto Conservatory violin and music theory programs, with his interest in the fiddle tradition coming from his father and uncle who were both fiddlers. Stan, now a retired elementary school music teacher, currently resides in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. He has taught the Cape Breton style of fiddling for close to 40 years, both in private and group lessons to students like Natalie MacMaster and Ashley MacIsaac. He has also directed the Cape Breton Fiddler’s Association and many youth groups in public performances. Stan has conducted fiddle workshops in Canada and the United States as well as having taught at the Gaelic College for many years. Presently a part time lecturer in Culture and Heritage at Cape Breton University in Sydney, he teaches a performance course in CB fiddling.

Heather MacIsaac

Heather MacIsaac of Antigonish began piano lessons at the age of 5. At 12, after following in the Highland dancing footsteps of her sisters, she turned her attention to bagpipes.  It was then that music became a major influence in her life.  She has been privileged to be able to study with some of the world’s top pipers. By 16 she had won many of the amateur prizes, began teaching and joined the Grade 1 pipe band in Halifax. While completing degrees at both St.FXU and Dalhousie, she continued to play with the 78th Highlanders Halifax-based band including competing in the final at the World Pipe Band Championships and winning the North American Championships.  She is currently taking a break from competitive piping to explore different styles of traditional music and composition.  In addition to being a piper, she also plays whistles, accordion, small-pipes, piano and sings. MacIsaac works as a pharmacist at the local hospital and plays at local concerts, sessions, and events

 

Bill & John Pellerin

Bill and John Pellerin are brothers who were born and raised in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Bill started dancing at six years of age and John at four. They were instructed by Margaret Dunn, the late Rev. Angus MacDonnell, Ellen MacPherson and Gary (MacPherson) Fiddler. John began playing fiddle at the age of ten under the direction of Stan Chapman. Bill and John acquired a great wealth of music through family. Their father Kenneth is a fiddle player who has played for dances for years in the Antigonish area. Their roots go deep in Cape Breton tradition as well. Their grandmother on their mother’s side is a Beaton from the Mabou Coal Mines. Dancing and fiddling has brought both Bill and John throughout Canada, USA and Ireland. Both have had the opportunity to demonstrate fiddle and dance alongside Buddy MacMaster, Winnie Chafe, the late John Morris Rankin, Natalie MacMaster, and Ashley MacIsaac, among others.

Dara Smith MacDonald

Dara Smith-MacDonald, born and raised in Antigonish, has been playing the fiddle for more than 20 years and now resides in Port Hawkesbury. With family roots in Inverness, she very quickly began to develop a style that is strong, lively and traditional. Dara has played for concerts, ceilidhs, and dances throughout Cape Breton, mainland Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Ontario and the USA. She has performed at the Antigonish Highland Games, the Acoustic Roots Festival, Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival, KitchenFest!, and Celtic Colours. In the summer of 2019, she traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland to perform in the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo with the fiddle group Hjaltibonhoga based out of Shetland. For the past 16 years, she has been teaching fiddle at Colaisde na Gàidhlig / the Gaelic College and to students in her home and around the world via Skype. Dara is a musical director and a member of the Board of Directors with the Cape Breton Fiddlers’ Association with whom she has traveled to Boston and to Maxville, Ontario. Dara can often be found on stage with Adam Young, a sought-after piano player from Marion Bridge. Dara and Adam released their first CD together, The Lake Sessions, in June of 2017 and released their second album, Island, along with Brent Chaisson, in the summer of 2019. Together they were nominated for the 2018 Music Nova Scotia, Traditional Roots Recording of the Year award for The Lake Sessions and in 2019 for Island.

Junior Fraser

Junior Fraser is a guitarist who grew up in Ohio, Antigonish County and now lives in Pomquet, Antigonish County. He started playing guitar at the age of 14, learning by ear, and hasn’t stopped since. He’s a regular on the concert and ceilidh scene in both Antigonish and Cape Breton performing alongside many musicians over the years.

Mary Beth Carty

Accordionist, guitarist, and player of pocket-sized instruments, Mary Beth Carty of Lanark, Antigonish County, possesses a magical voice and a stage-presence known to rouse audiences to sing and dance along. Her new album Crossing the Causeway reached No. 1 on the Folk DJ-L radioplay chart. It fuses traditional song, instrumental tunes, & songwriting to create a multilingual tour-de-force that reflects the diverse yet unified roots of Eastern Nova Scotia. Her debut solo album, Les biens-nommés, earned an ECMA nomination and for her duo album Voici… Bette & Wallet she was nominated Traditional Singer of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards. With a unique live show that is itself a journey of emotions, times, & places, she has had the opportunity to tour in North America, Europe, and Africa. “She got the crowd singing along. It was something else!” – Bill Roach, CBC Radio.

Mac Morin

Mac Morin is a dancer and piano player from Troy, Cape Breton. Starting out as a talented dancer, Mac became interested in piano as a teenager. He has gone on to tour around the world with Natalie MacMaster and Beòlach while continuing to travel widely to teach Cape Breton step dancing, showcasing those talents as Celtic Colours Artist in Residence at the Festival in 2014. Mac has appeared on numerous artists’ recordings including Beòlach, Natalie MacMaster, Yo Yo Ma, The Rankins, Howie MacDonald, Ian MacDougall, and Buddy MacMaster. He has a solo album, and Beòlach’s third recording was released in 2019.

Maureen Fraser

Antigonish County native, Maureen Fraser, has been step-dancing most of her life. She began taking lessons from Margie Dunn, in early childhood and continues to attend seminars and workshops to this day. She has danced at various concerts and festivals throughout the Maritimes including the Broad Cove Concert and the Celtic Colours Festival. She’s appeared on ASN-TV’s Breakfast Television, has adjudicated step dancing festivals in PEI and was the director of the Antigonish Highland Games “Concert Under the Stars” for over six years.  Maureen has been teaching dance for over 30 years and has performed in, and choreographed for, local theatre productions, including “Music of the Night” and “Women of Antigonish”. Maureen currently resides in Antigonish where she runs her dance school, “The Maureen Fraser School of Dance” as well as her dance supply store.

Julia Shield & Emery Van de Wiel

Julia is an Antigonish local who has been heavily involved with theatre community for the past decade. She has had major roles in Godspell, Twelfth Night, and Hairspray.  She has been a soloist is Everyone’s Way of the Cross, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Oliver. She has also been a part of the Ships of 1801 theatre company since 2014 and will be performing in this year’s production Bochan’s and a Birthday.

 Emery van de wiel is a local Flautist, Pianist and Singer. He takes great pride in being able to add to the musical community of Antigonish. He is the music director for the well known Keppoch shows in Antigonish and is currently the president of the Antigonish Choral Society. His largest musical role,  Director of Music at St. Ninian’s Cathedral, has provided him with a Venue to host the St. Ninian Concert Series which has been able to donate money to other groups helping our community. 

Jennifer & Ed benoit

Father and Daughter duo, Ed Benoit and Jennifer MacDonald, have been singing together for many years, and are part of the cast of The Keppoch Show.  Their love for traditional folk music is evident in their repertoire.  They enjoy performing together and sharing their culture with the audience.

Keppoch Tenors

The individual members of the Keppoch Tenors featuring Peter Rawding, Lewis MacDonald, Bill Murphy and Grayson Hudson all have vast experience with either solo performances or singing with others at various community events. However it was not until five years ago during a production of The Keppoch Wake that they got together and it was exactly the harmonized sound the production team was looking for.

Since becoming the Keppoch Tenors they have performed in four more Keppoch shows and will return again this year in the Bochans and a Birthday production. Accompanying the Tenors will be Gerald Benoit on guitar who also has many performances to his credit both as a solo artist and a band member.

Antigonish Highland Games: Highland Dance

Antigonish Highland Dance Association

The Antigonish Highland Dancing Association (AHDA) is a volunteer operated non-profit organization founded to promote, preserve and foster highland dancing in Antigonish. The AHDA is proud to sponsor annual highland dancing competitions in July during the Antigonish Highland Games and in November. There are 70+ AHDA dancers between the ages of 4 and 21. Dancers belong to one of the four dance schools: Grant School of Highland Dance (Shelley Grant-Rovers), MacLeod School of Highland Dance (Jillian MacLeod), MacQuarrie School of Highland Dance (Janice MacQuarrie), and Smith School of Highland Dance (Janet Smith).

July 7th, 2023 – Friday Evening Ceilidh

the ceilidhmen

The Ceilidhmen, hailing from Antigonish County (specifically North Grant and Maryvale – Highway 245) live up to their namesake. They had met through neighbourhood parties (ceilidhs) over the last decade and had bonded over their love of traditional and modern music. Current members include: Derek LeBlanc: Vocals, Guitar, Colin Rankin: Violin, and Jim Cameron: Keyboard with special guests popping in from time to time. They can be heard playing at local pubs, halls and for private functions with a blend of traditional Celtic, Maritime and contemporary music that appeals to a wide variety of audiences. Joining Derek and Colin for this performance on the keys will be Stephen MacDonald of Westville.

July 8th, 2023 – Saturday Afternoon Ceilidh Tent 

John pellerin

Originally from Antigonish, Nova Scotia, John started dancing at age 4 and began fiddle lessons at the age of ten under the direction of Stan Chapman. John’s father Kenneth is a fiddle player who has played for dances for years in the Antigonish area as well his grandmother on his mother’s side is a Beaton from the Mabou Coal Mines. Dancing and fiddling has brought John throughout Canada, USA and Ireland. John has played the fiddle and dance alongside Buddy MacMaster, Winnie Chafe, the late John Morris, Natalie MacMaster, Ashley MacIsaac, among others.

kenny stewart

Kenny has been playing music on his guitar from an early age with his heart always in the traditional vain. He has played at dances and concerts all over Cape Breton and Eastern Nova Scotia with the likes of Buddy Mac Master, Natalie Mac Master, John Pellerin, Rodney MacDonald, the late Jerry Holland and Arthur Muise to name a few. Currently Kenny is playing as a member of an Irish session group in a local pub in Antigonish where they mainly play Irish music on Sunday evenings.

allan dewar

Allan’s background in the Cape Breton Musical Tradition is the backbone of his ability to accompany any fiddler, past and present. Allan’s first 13 years growing up in Halifax consisted of regular visits from Dave MacIsaac and most anyone who came for a Cape Breton Dance. His musical beginnings were on acoustic guitar, playing for his sister on fiddle and mother on piano. Allan has toured all over the world with Jerry Holland and many others and was a full time member of Natalie MacMaster’s band from 2001-2006. Allan is the Music Director at the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre and spends his “free time” accompanying local fiddlers at dances, pubs and theatres from Nova Scotia to Scotland and beyond.

JULY 8TH, 2023 – SATURDAY NIGHT COLDSTREAM CEILIDH TENT

Pretty Archie

Pinning down the sound of Cape-Breton-based quintet Pretty Archie has always been about as easy as catching a greased pig, but with the release of their new, self-titled album the band is confident that their unique mix of folk, Americana, bluegrass, Alt-Country, and East Coast music will appeal to a wider audience than ever before. Celebrating their tenth anniversary with what is arguably their finest work to date, the album was released on February 11, 2022 via Curve Music/Warner Music. The self-titled album is nominated for East Coast Music Award’s ‘Group Recording of the Year’ and ‘Country Recording of the Year’. ‘Familiar Feeling’ the first single from the album, was nominated for Canadian Folk Music Awards ‘Single of the Year’

Click here to purchase tickets to see Pretty Archie during the Saturday Night Ceilidh on July 8th, 2023 beginning at 10PM to 12PM!

 

Waking Finnegan

Waking Finnegan’s fresh take on Celtic rock combines the edge and drive of electric guitar with the soul and depth of the upright bass, topped with haunting accordion, fiery fiddle, and powerful vocals. All tied together with rockin’ drums designed to get you out of your seat.

Expect to hear a few old favorites done in a new way, from fast and furious fiddle and whistle tunes – to theatrical vocal tunes – Waking Finnegan is guaranteed to entertain young and old alike!

Click here to purchase tickets to see Waking Finnegan during the Saturday Night Ceilidh on July 8th, 2023 from 12PM to 2AM!

July 9th, 2023 – Sunday Closing Ceilidh 

wendy macisaac

Wendy MacIsaac is a renowned fiddler from Cape Breton who has been playing music for more than 30 years. She is recognized as one of the “old school” style of players who has kept the traditional sound going and has a deep respect for it. Wendy is also a sought after piano accompanist and step dancer. Besides performing as a solo artist, Wendy records and tours in a critically acclaimed and award-winning band with Mary Jane Lamond and Cathy Porter. She is a founding member of Beólach, and has also performed with The Cape Breton Summertime Revue, Capercaillie, The Chieftains, Ashley MacIsaac, and toured with Heather Rankin and The Rankin Sisters. Wendy has recorded on more than 20 albums (including four of her own, three with Beólach, and Mary Jane), and is in high demand for her skills at teaching the Cape Breton style of fiddling.

mairi rankin

Born in Mabou, Mairi Rankin is a fiddler and step dancer who has been influenced by some of the best Cape Breton traditional musicians and instructors on the island. She has developed her own unique style by being immersed in this rich musical culture, pulling from her native Cape Breton and her strong Scottish roots from North Uist. Mairi has toured nationally and internationally as a performer and educator in both fiddle and step dance. She has performed as a member of both the Cape Breton super group Beòlach and the highly acclaimed Scottish / Irish / Canadian band The Outside Track. Mairi has recorded one solo album, three with Beòlach, seven with The Outside Track. Her latest recording, The Cabin Sessions with cellist Eric Wright was up for a Canadian Folk Music Award.

Mac Morin

Mac Morin is a dancer and piano player from Troy, Cape Breton. Starting out as a talented dancer, Mac became interested in piano as a teenager. He has gone on to tour around the world with Natalie MacMaster and Beòlach while continuing to travel widely to teach Cape Breton step dancing, showcasing those talents as Celtic Colours Artist in Residence at the Festival in 2014. Mac has appeared on numerous artists’ recordings including Beòlach, Natalie MacMaster, Yo Yo Ma, The Rankins, Howie MacDonald, Ian MacDougall, and Buddy MacMaster. He has a solo album, and Beòlach’s third recording was released in 2019.