Catriona McKay and Chris Stout, Ashley MacIsaac and Quinn Bachand

A memorable concert last night at the City Hall, part of the Ten Days on the Island festival.

The ‘Scottish harp’ and ‘Shetland fiddle’ seem like quaint descriptions when you consider the music that Catriona McKay and Chris Stout create. McKay frequently sounds as if she’s playing not just the harp but a whole rhythm section of string and fretted instruments and Stout undoubtedly has the Shetland fiddling tradition in his soul.

McKay/Stout did the first half before the interval. Ashley MacIsaac with Quinn Bachand did the second half. Then all four lit up the whole hall for the closing and encore.

An ardent traditionalist with a penchant for experimentation, fiddling sensation Ashley MacIsaac learned to play the fiddle the Cape Breton working-class, pub-stomping way: fast and furious, with phenomenal precision. Crossing boundaries of folk, punk, garage rock and metal, he has a knack for taking old conventions in unexpected directions.

MacIsaac has unarguably put his own spin on the sounds he was brought up with. He recently starred in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony (…) Touring with him is [15-year-old!] guitar prodigy Quinn Bachand (…) Quinn and his sister Qristina are the recipients of the 2010 Irish Music Award for Top Traditional Group in Festival, Pub & Concert.

We first heard MacIsaac and Bachand at the opening day concert on the Parliament Lawns. Great fun!

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