We all know the names; Spirit of the West, Ryan’s Fancy, Great Big Sea, The Rankins, Leahy and The Barra MacNeils. These are just some of the names that have become familiar over the years. Spirit of the West came out of Vancouver and were more Rock than Celtic; Ryan’s Fancy, a group of transplanted Irishmen living in Newfoundland; Great Big sea was a Pop/Rock/Celtic band from Newfoundland who dominated the Maritime music scene for more years than one could dare or care to count; Similarly, The Rankins with their signature vocals also had a grip on the scene for many years; Leahy and the Barra MacNeils have always had a significant niche in the Maritime Celtic scene. With the exception of Ryan’s Fancy all of these bands have performed in Cranbrook. Although they haven’t performed in Cranbrook (yet) I think we can safely add Coig to list. Their website (www.coig.ca ) describes them as “Còig ( “Ko-ig”. Scottish Gaelic for ‘five’) as an electrifying line-up of 5 solo acts. Originally formed as a promotional band for the Celtic Colours International Festival, these five award winning performers decided to continue to play as the Còig ensemble whenever possible!
Fiddler Chrissy Crowley, from Margaree, Cape Breton has an impressive list of awards, nominations, and international appearances. Chrissy embraces her Celtic roots and makes them her own, through original compositions coupled with contemporary arrangements of traditional tunes.
Darren McMullen, from Hardwood Lands, NS, is a highly sought after multi-instrumentalist. Easily switching between guitar, mandolin, whistle and banjo with Còig, this “Swiss-army knife” keeps the rhythm sound diverse, and is sure to impress with his lead playing of his various “on-stage weapons”.
Rachel Davis from Baddeck, Cape Breton spends her time switching from international festival stages to small local dances at home. In a genre that sees many performers pushing the envelope and testing new waters, her style of playing traditional tunes in a traditional way is a refreshing reminder of why the Cape Breton fiddle style drives so hard, and is so sought after.
Colin Grant from Sydney, Cape Breton has been touring steadily as a solo performer, as well as with Sprag Session. His respect for traditional style, combined with his drive to take the Celtic fiddle to new places results in an exciting sound that is as much Buddy MacMaster as it is Ashley MacIsaac
Jason Roach, from Chéticamp, Cape Breton is one of the most impressive piano players you will ever hear. With a style all his own, and an unparalleled intensity on the keys, you’ll have to remind yourself that there’s other players on the stage.
With a combined total of over 30 nominations and awards, each of Còig’s talented musicians have released their own successful solo albums, and have toured both at home and abroad before coming together as this exciting super group. Their much anticipated debut album “Five” was released in June, 2014 to rave reviews, and has earned the band the 2014 Canadian Folk Music Award for Traditional Album of the Year, and the Music Nova Scotia award for Traditional/Roots Recording of the Year”.
The band is a little different from Canadian Celtic bands of recent years. Coig is essentially an instrumental band of musicians steeped in the instrumental traditions of Cape Breton. Their does not seem to be any attempt or intent at crossing over into the Pop/Celtic mainstream. Here is a taste of Coig, and remember that in Cranbrook you heard it here first.
I would like to thank Angus MacDonald for bringing these sounds back to us from his recent visit to Prince Edward Island.