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Cape Breton Tour


      Fiddleheads traveled to Cape Breton last week, accompanied by Mark Sustic returning Saturday, July 15. They played a lot of fiddle, learned more about the Cape Breton style and dances, spent time with instructor Jerry Holland, and had a lot of fun.
      "I asked everyone at some point why they wanted to do this trip," Mark Sustic wrote, "and got answers related to motivation to play the fiddle, learning more about the Cape Breton style, to have some fun, to learn some Cape Breton dances, spend some time with Jerry Holland (one of the teachers at the camp), get to know some of the other travelers. "I think we’ve already made some good progress on the fun part!"
      Mr. Sustic wrote a daily log. Here are some of the high points of the trip.

# # # #

Monday July 10, 2006

 Some fiddling action in the van somewhere west of Cape Breton     The traveling days were long, long days of riding in the rental van with a few fits and starts of bathroom and other pit stops. They had some trouble finding a place for lunch, including a tent revival with Country and Western music false alarm. They crossed the Canadian border, lost an hour with the time change, and ended up getting to the motel in Saint John about 8:30 p.m. Atlantic Canada time. Dinner was sandwiches, talking, and sort of watching Italy beat France on penalty kicks in the World Cup.
 Mark plus Sasha, Ann, Maria, Celina, Sara, Latimer, Torrey, Amy and Claire      It’s a great group, every single traveler with things to contribute and a role to play.

I am having a really great time! The car ride was really long yesterday, and I have played way too many card games, but everyone gets along really well and seems to be enjoying themselves. I am really excited about the fiddling workshops and can not wait to get to Iverness! ~Amy

Good morning everybody!! I woke up around six fifteen this morning to go running. I ran all around the small town of St-Johns. The only sidewalk in town parallels a big stinky road where there is a lot of traffic. The houses in St-Johns are nothing special to look at. The most pleasant part of my run was when people that I passed on the sidewalks greeted me cheerfully. Some even encouraged me and told me “good job!”. I finished my run by concluding that St-Johns could greatly benefit from a small trail that goes down to the ocean. It would be so agreeable to run near the ocean without having to jump into your car for a ten minute ride. All in all, I am excited for tomorrows run in Inverness.

Tuesday July 11, 2006

 Waiting for Sasha, Ann and Mark outside the Red Shoe in Mabou     I'm sitting in the advance fiddle class at the moment, where Jerry Holland is teaching a minor tune to about 20 fiddlers ranging in age from about 10 to probably 40s. Meanwhile there are classes of approximately equal size for beginner and intermediate fiddlers. The other rooms have the doors closed, so I'm not sure how its going there, but none of the Vermonters have run out the door yet, so I assume things are going tolerably well.
      Classes started at 10am, and will continue until 4pm. There is an option of fiddling all day, or splitting the day into fiddling in the morning and square/step dancing lessons in the afternoon. There are three fiddle teachers: Jerry Holland, Howie MacDonald and Troy MacGillivray, each spending an hour with each of the groups: beginners, intermediates and advanced.
      Other Vermonters we've seen include Beth Telford, Melanie Altman, and Eliza Done and her family, who are camping near our cottages.
      It's a beautiful morning in Cape Breton; the sun is shining, a gentle breeze is blowing in off the ocean through the screened windows, at least 3 different fiddle tunes competing for air time. can't think of many summer moments that could compete. I'm learning about teaching fiddle tunes just watching and listening to Jerry this morning. clear and clean, direct, bold, confident. good lessons for players and teachers alike. After 4pm we'll likely get back to cottages and putter around until its time for some kind dinner.
      After the fiddle sessions were over and Ann got back from a long bike ride in the late afternoon, we went back to the cottages, cruised the beach, worked on new tunes, and rested, then drove down to Mabou for a great dinner at the Red Shoe, owned by the Rankin family. Maire Rankin was the dinner time entertainment. really great music. After dinner we walked across the street to the Mabou Town Hall for the 2nd half of the Tuesday night Ceilidh, listening to Karen and Joey Beaton and Robbie Foster. more great fiddling. John Campbell was also there, though not playing Lots a great music and people, which/who I'm really happy to expose these young Vermont fiddlers to.

Wednesday July 12, 2006

      Couldn't get access to any kind of phone line yesterday but the Arts Center does have Wi Fi.
      We got up to some less than ideal weather this morning, the first time it hasn't been just about perfect. Has the look of a full day of drizzle, but the wind is pretty strong, so maybe it will change over quickly. It has stopped raining in the past hour, and there are a few patches of blue sky over toward PEI. good signs.
 One of Kimberly Fraser's classes     There are step and square dancing sessions this afternoon (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only. and we'll be gone by Friday).
      After the camp, we drove the hour or so up to Cheticamp for dinner, then over near Margaree Forks for a local ceiligh and family dance. Nice to see most everyone having a grand time out on the dance floor with Howie MacDonald and a couple of other great fiddlers and a piano player not letting up on the intensity for even a moment. It was the first dance I'd been to in Cape Breton with a caller, but it wasn't like contra or square dance calling in that there were no walk-throughs (doing the dance without the music first), and everyone step-danced while doing the figures (or tried!). We all got home a little after midnight, well past anyone needing to say or hear 'lights out.'

Hi! And seeya.

Hi everyone, the camp is great, but I only learned one of three songs. The jellyfish are a turn off for swimming in the ocean, as is the taste. But the cabins are cool, so that's okay, like, you know, fitting so much in to them that there is room for one person to stand up at a time. But yeah, it's pretty cool, and we went to a Ceilidh, and the music was awesome.

Hey there, I love it here. We have a direct view of the ocean and its beautiful. Though it's a bit rainy today we've had wonderful weather all he rest of the time. The beach is a two minute walk from the cabins we are in. The camp is good though by the time we were done yesterday my brain was on overload because of all the new songs we were learning. The food down here is really good. I've stuffed my self several nights in a row now. The ride was long but worth it. Anyhow, bye.

Hey!! Cape Breton is an amazing place. It is neat to see how music fits so well into their culture here. When we went to the celidh yesterday, there were people of all ages reunited to listen music. I look forward to coming home, but I am enjoying myself greatly here. Note my family: save me some raspberries! Bye,

Thursday July 13, 2006

      Everyone's a bit lower key this morning, settling in to the intensity and sheer volume of fiddle tunes to learn and remember, less sleeping time than might otherwise be possible. Everyone's bearing down a bit more, finding or getting close to that groove where interest, opportunity and stamina get linked. This is our last day at the fiddle camp, our last night in Cape Breton.
      After our only in-house meal of the trip (not counting breakfast), we had our own ‘cottage number 10 ceiligh’ tonight. Everyone sat in the ‘hot seat’ and played a tune they learned this week or something they were more comfortable with, including some guests who were camping nearby, some who were also attending the music camp. After we all played for awhile, Sasha and Claire convinced me that driving to the Glencoe dance was a good idea. I linked up with their excitement at a critical point, and headed back down Route 19 at about 9:30pm. with several others who decided to go along. After driving down most every dirt road (mud mostly) between Judique and Mabou, and discovering every little crossroads with Glencoe in the title, at least once, some several times over (Glencoe village, Glencoe junction, Glencoe forks, Glencoe mills, Glencoe station. and I’m sure a few more), plus towns like Whycocomaugh, we gave up and went ‘home’, never making it to the dance. Some wanted to stop at the Red Shoe in Mabou on the way back, but my better judgement intervened (it was after midnight by then) and I made one of what I hope was only a handful of executive decisions that trumped the majority vote.

Hello our fellow Vermonters,
How is everybody? We are all fine over here and having a wonderful music filled time. The views are amazing even if a little hazy. The fiddle classes are very fun and interesting and I am having a wonderful time here in Inverness. I have been down on the beach every day, the water is warm and beautiful. Hope you all are well.


Friday July 14, 2006

 At the end of the long drive from Inverness to Saint John     Showering, packing, cleaning, gathering, organizing, loading, jogging or walking, last trips to the beach. our last morning in Cape Breton arrived clear, sunny and crisp, the kind of day you might dream about if you could cook up the ideal morning facing the ocean as I am now on the porch of cottage #10. a lobster boat out for its morning run, wild rose bushes in full bloom blanketing what’s not beach, the muffled sounds of campers packing up like us, the smell of fresh coffee and bacon cooking over a campfire.


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