The tourists may be gone, but that doesn't mean the mu­sic has to stop.

Wed­nes­day Ceilidhs @ the Gaelic Col­lege; Small Halls Con­cert Se­ries w/ Ryan Cook (Nov. 25)

The Victoria Standard - - Front Page - AN­DREW BROOKS

On an is­land dom­i­nated by tourism, one could be ex­cused for as­so­ci­at­ing live mu­sic with vis­i­tors and warmer months. Af­ter twenty years of Oc­to­ber re­frains, many have come to mark the close of tourist sea­son with the fi­nal day of Celtic Colours. How­ever, there are those work­ing to keep mu­sic alive year-round and en­sure that the home­town crowd gets out for a lis­ten.

Wed­nes­day Ceilidhs at Co­laisde na Gàidhlig / Gaelic Col­lege

Hav­ing of­fered a suc­cess­ful reg­u­lar sum­mer­time Ceilidh for sev­eral years, the col­lege is ex­per­i­ment­ing with ex­tend­ing the se­ries into the win­ter.

“It's ex­cit­ing to be part of some­thing that might snow­ball a lit­tle bit,” says Margie Beaton, mu­si­cian and mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor for Co­laisde na Gàidhlig / The Gaelic Col­lege in speak­ing of her de­sire to see off-sea­son Ceilidhs suc­ceed. The weather-re­lated pun seems in­ad­ver­tent.

Beaton ex­plains that the word Ceilidh means ‘visit’ in Gaelic. Orig­i­nally, Ceilidhs were ca­sual gath­er­ings that evolved or­gan­i­cally amongst com­mu­nity mem­bers, of­ten in a kitchen or liv­ing room set­ting. While she says the word has come to mean many dif­fer­ent things, it is now of­ten as­so­ci­ated with staged venues de­signed for tourists. The hope is for the off-sea­son Wed­nes­day Ceilidhs to re­turn to a more ca­sual set­ting that ap­peals to Cape Bre­ton­ers.

“If we're not do­ing it for our­selves and en­joy­ing it our­selves when there aren't vis­i­tors here, then we're only do­ing it for vis­i­tors. Mu­sic is ours. The cul­ture is ours. Some­times we're just so busy in the sum­mer that we can't pos­si­bly take in all the op­por­tu­ni­ties there are for mu­sic.”

Though the sum­mer tourist sea­son may be over, there is still the odd global wan­derer at the doorstep. Beaton says the Ceilidhs in Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber have drawn folks from all over Canada, parts of the United States and as far away as South Africa and Aus­tralia.

Vic­to­ria County Coun­cil­lors re­cently com­mit­ted to fund­ing eight evenings out of their district bud­gets. Beaton says that means Wed­nes­day nights will con­tinue through Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary, weather-per­mit­ting.

The Wed­nes­day night Ceilidhs run 7:30-9:00pm un­til Dec. 13 and then will re­sume in the new year. Ad­mis­sion is $10 for adults, $5 for chil­dren. For more info, call 902-295-3411.

Small Halls Con­cert Se­ries w/ Ryan Cook at the Bell Mu­seum

On Satur­day, Nov. 25, 7pm, Big Spruce Brew­ing is spon­sor­ing the sec­ond con­cert in their Small Halls, In­ti­mate Ses­sions se­ries. Last year, the brew­ery hosted lo­cal favourite Rosie Macken­zie at the Mid­dle River Hall. This year’s con­cert features Ryan Cook and spe­cial guest Norma Mac­don­ald at the Bell Mu­seum.

As a teenager play­ing punk and heavy metal in Yar­mouth, N.S., the last thing Ryan Cook wanted to be was a Coun­try Mu­sic star. How­ever, a fate­ful gig work­ing with se­niors dur­ing col­lege ex­posed him to the genre that he now calls home.

“You know, I hate coun­try mu­sic per­son­ally, and I have a lot of peo­ple that have come to my con­certs that say they hate coun­try mu­sic too,” Cook said via tele­phone on Nov. 20.

Per­haps “hate” is a strong word. In the same breath, he names Hank Wil­liams and other coun­try le­gends as ma­jor in­flu­ences. Still, his lack of up­bring­ing around coun­try mu­sic leaves Cook with a unique ap­proach to the mu­sic that blends fid­dles and steel gui­tar with folk sen­si­bil­i­ties and nu­ances of con­tem­po­rary pop.

“A lot of the lyrics are more satir­i­cal and more sto­ry­telling, in less of a ho­moge­nous coun­try way, and more in an off­beat, beat­nik sort of way.”

“Re­minds me of Blue Rodeo a lit­tle,” I of­fer.

“Yeah. Per­fect ex­am­ple. When I was 15, Five Days in May came out. I was trans­fixed with that al­bum even though I was lis­ten­ing to mostly metal mu­sic at that time.”

The stop in Bad­deck is part of Cook’s CD re­lease tour for his al­bum Hav­ing a Great Time (re­leased Nov. 3). Come De­cem­ber, he plans on sev­eral months off the road to at­tend to the ad­min­is­tra­tive side of his busi­ness. He’ll also jump back into the snow­bird lifestyle he has de­vel­oped over the past five years.

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