Mary Jane and Wendy showcasing new album at Celtic Colours

Both renowned solo artists — MacIsaac, a fiddler, piano player and stepdancer from Creignish, and Lamond, a Gaelic singer and resident of Glendale — the two have come together on a new album, their first collaborative recording effort.

For many years, MacIsaac was Lamond’s faithful accompanist when she was touring her music and eventually that led to more of a musical partnership.

“I think it was maybe four years ago that Mary Jane started asking me to do more in her show and then that was going well and then she decided we should just split the shows,” said MacIsaac.

A CD was the obvious next step for the two and “Seinn” is the result. Officially released last month, the two women behind the project have had a number of opportunities to showcase their new work at various festivals, including at home this week at the Celtic Colours International Festival.

They’ve made several Celtic Colours appearances this week and have one final performance tonight for the festival finale show at Centre 200 in Sydney, alongside The Chieftains, the Battlefield Band, Daniel Lapp, and the Diaga Irish Dancers.

“It’s been great to have been playing all these different festivals with great audiences and good-size audiences that have really given us a chance to tighten up the music and feel comfortable on stage,” said Lamond.

“Seinn” represents a balance of the two artists’ work, with Lamond describing it as a “combination of our two sensibilities.”

“We wanted it to be something that we could perform live quite easily. We wanted it to reflect the live show and be fun, but also have those kind of lyrical moments that you get from the slower songs,” she said.

MacIsaac said fiddle tunes on the album represent a mix of traditional repertoire and new material.

“With the tunes especially you try to not record things that are already recorded too much and I wrote some numbers for it which was great and then tunes that I really like. I never record anything that I don’t really like,” she said.

Similarly, Lamond said the Gaelic songs on “Seinn” are ones that caught her ear in recent years.

“I usually have a list of songs that over the years I hear and I think ‘oh, I’d like to record that sometime’ so it’s not a matter of when you’re starting a CD, you start looking around (for songs), you already have a list of things in the back of your mind,” she explained.

Contributors on the album include Margaree native Seph Peters, Cathy Porter, Brad Davidge, Scotland’s David Milligan and Corrina Hewat, Irish group T with the Maggies, and England’s Tim Edey.

MacIsaac said the partnership between she and Lamond works for a a couple of simple reasons.

“We share an appreciation for the tradition whether it be tunes or songs, that’s important to both of us, and taking things in stride, having a good sense of humour about things,” said MacIsaac.

“If we don’t agree with something we just talk about it. We’ve been touring together for so long, if we didn’t get along, we wouldn’t have been able to do that,” added Lamond. “We have a lot of fun together.”

The two will be doing a series of showcases and festival appearances over the coming months, and are currently finalizing tour plans in support of the new album.

by Laura Jean Grant, Cape Breton Post