A sum­mer tra­di­tion

Play­ers and fans of tra­di­tional mu­sic look for­ward to the 39th an­nual Rollo Bay Fid­dle Fes­ti­val

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ENTERTAINMENT - BY CAROLYN DRAKE

When Tim Chais­son and An­drea Beaton are plan­ning their busy per­form­ing sched­ules, they al­ways try to keep one sum­mer date open - the third week­end of July.

That’s be­cause for those days there is no other place these much-sought-af­ter pro­fes­sional mu­si­cians would rather be than at the an­nual Rollo Bay Fid­dle Fes­ti­val - play­ing tunes, meet­ing friends and en­ter­tain­ing au­di­ences who share their love of tra­di­tional mu­sic. And both are thrilled this year to be re­turn­ing to this pic­turesque eastern Kings County com­mu­nity for the 39th an­nual event, July 17-19.

“What can I say? I am just so ex­cited,” said Beaton from Cape Bre­ton ear­lier this week.

“I feel like as soon as I got off the ferry (at Wood Is­lands), there is a change in the air. I just get re­ally happy and ex­ited, see­ing all the peo­ple who were so good to me when I lived there and so good to me now. I al­ways feel like I am be­ing wel­comed with open arms.”

The award-win­ning Cape Bre­ton fid­dler, now based in Mon­treal, grew up hear­ing her par­ents and other Cape Bre­ton mu­si­cians talk­ing about play­ing at the fes­ti­val.

“I re­mem­ber be­ing re­ally ex­cited to be see­ing (the fes­ti­val) live for the first time and I just felt like it was piece of home for me,” says Beaton who couldn’t at­tend last year be­cause she was per­form­ing in Den­mark, but has missed very few fes­ti­vals over the past 14 years.

Tim Chais­son, who grew up just a few kilo­me­tres away in Bear River, has missed only one fes­ti­val in his 28 years.

Now with a mu­sic ca­reer that takes him off P.E.I. for weeks at a time, there’s still a pull to make it home for the Rollo Bay week­end.

“It’s one of those things that is a part of my sum­mer and year. It would be like sum­mer didn’t hap­pen if I wasn’t there,” says the mul­ti­ple ECMA and Mu­sic P.E.I. award-win­ner.

High­lights have al­ways in­cluded see­ing fam­ily mem­bers and play­ing the tra­di­tional mu­sic that has such as rich history in his fam­ily. Now, there’s the ex­cite­ment of tak­ing his fi­ancé to the fes­ti­val.

“I think the at­mos­phere is such a good energy. Ev­ery­one is con­tent to be there. It’s pretty laid back - prob­a­bly the most laid back fes­ti­val I’ve ever been to. No one is stress­ing about things . . . and that set­ting just cre­ates a good vibe.”

Beaton agrees the at­mos­phere is spe­cial - a feel­ing of sta­bil­ity and hap­pi­ness. It’s some­thing she urges peo­ple who’ve never gone be­fore to dis­cover.

“I would tell them that it is an ex­pe­ri­ence not to be missed, you would feel at home when you ar­rive and you would never want to leave,” she said adding she ap­pre­ci­ates the work ev­ery­one puts into the fes­ti­val that means so much to her.

As one of those or­ga­niz­ers, the fes­ti­val has al­ways hit close to home for Peter Chais­son, who lives a few kilo­me­tres away on the Bear River Road. He and other fam­ily mem­bers are con­tin­u­ing the tra­di­tion that was started by his fa­ther, along with then Fa­ther Faber Mac­Don­ald.

A fid­dler him­self, he knows what it means to many peo­ple.

“The fes­ti­val has been run­ning for 38 years and we’ve got peo­ple from away who books their va­ca­tions around it. It’s a gath­er­ing that peo­ple look for­ward to and we see peo­ple com­ing back year af­ter year.”

They come from all over, he says, in­clud­ing mu­si­cians this year from the Ot­tawa Val­ley area.

“If they are fid­dle lovers, what bet­ter place than Rollo Bay?”

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