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Two of Celtic music’s more exciting performers, fiddler Ashley MacIsaac and guitarist/singer John Doyle, perform Saturday, Dec. 8, at the Chandler Music Hall in Randolph to benefit a fund for fiddler and cancer patient Jerry Holland.

Holland, based in Cape Breton, has made Vermont his second home recently, teaching and performing. Since the spring he has been undergoing treatment for cancer and the proceeds from this concert will help in that effort.

MacIsaac is the “bad boy” of Celtic fiddling, blending his Celtic heritage with contemporary elements such as punk, electronica, hip hop and grunge. He often wears a kilt during his performances. In Vermont he will perform with Eric Eid-Reiner providing piano accompaniment. MacIsaac has sold more than 500,000 albums, regularly headlines festivals and in 2006 graced the cover of Folk Roots magazine.

Growing up on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, MacIsaac never listened to pop music, with the exception of his brother’s AC/DC and Ozzy Osbourne records. Instead, he listened to the recordings of the local master fiddlers like Angus Chisholm, Winston “Scotty” Fitzgerald and Buddy McMaster, who would become MacIsaac’s dominant influence. Picking up the fiddle at age 8, he immersed himself in the instrument. By 14 he was performing at local festivals, pubs, and church and community-hall dances.

Soon MacIsaac was touring Celtic communities in Massachusetts and California, performing with local musicians, and at 16 he recorded 1992’s mostly acoustic-based, traditional “Close to the Floor” album, following it a year later with “A Cape Breton Christmas.” By 18 he had toured nationally with Toronto singer John McDermott and the Chieftains.

MacIsaac has also performed music by classical avant-garde composer Philip Glass, and for Paul Simon, who asked him to perform on an Edie Brickell session he was producing. Later he backed Simon and Brickell at a Carnegie Hall show for the Tibet House Benefit in 1994.

Also performing at the Chandler is Irish guitarist and singer John Doyle. Doyle is best known as the guitarist for the seminal American/Irish band Solas. He is an exceptionally gifted rhythm player whose style propelled that band in its initial years. More recently he has performed solo, and has shown himself to be an excellent traditional singer. He has also visited Vermont before performing in Barre and Bradford with Chicago based
fiddler Liz Carroll.

Irish fiddler Tony DeMarco is another respected performer on the roster for Dec. 8. DeMarco is a staple of the New York City Irish scene, in demand as a performer and session leader. He will be releasing his first solo CD in February. Appearing with him will be bodhran player Anna Colliton.

In honor of Holland’s musical contribution as a fiddle teacher in Vermont several students who have been influenced by him will also perform. They include: Sasha Ross-Becker, Collin Semprebon, Dan Brouard and Liza Mackay.

An added attraction to the day will be a guitar workshop by John Doyle in the afternoon. (For details on the workshop, call
(802) 728-6351.)

Permalink - Posted: December 5, 2007 at 5:40 pm