PORT HAWKESBURY: A local group that blends high energy Celtic dance tunes with a contemporary twist is coming home to Cape Breton next month.
The award-winning group Còig will perform at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre’s Shannon Studio on February 17. The performance will feature new music from the group’s most recent recording Rove.
“We’ll be doing all the tune sets and songs from that record,” said Margaree native Chrissy Crowley who plays fiddle with the group. “There will be lots of strathspeys and reels as is expected in Cape Breton, with a couple of contemporary sets thrown in.”
Còig is comprised of Crowley, along with fiddler and vocalist Rachel Davis, pianist Jason Roach, and multi-instrumentalist Darren McMullin. The Nova Scotian musicians first came together in 2010 to promote the Celtic Colours International Festival in the United States and overseas at the Shetland Folk Festival.
“At that time, we just did solo numbers onstage and then we played a big group blast at the end. The shows went really good so we decided that it was something that we should do together more,” said Crowley.
Còig performs many of the traditional fiddle tunes that are popular in Cape Breton, but also incorporates wide variety of other influences into their music.
“It’s usually a mixture of what we say are the greatest hits from the 18th and 19th century, and then more contemporary Celtic tunes like something that myself, Jason or Darren write. We’ll also mix it with contemporary tunes from Cape Breton, like tunes by Andrea Beaton or Kinnon Beaton,” said Crowley.
The group’s performances also feature vocals ranging from traditional Gaelic and folk songs to more contemporary music.
“Lately we’ve been doing ‘Solsbury Hill’ by Peter Gabriel, so that’s much more on the contemporary side of things,” said Crowley.
She says the group has also taken inspiration from other current Cape Breton musicians, including Wendy MacIsaac and Mairi Rankin from the group Beòlach.
It has been a busy year for the group. In addition to releasing their third album, Còig has toured throughout Canada and overseas. They have recently returned home after a Christmas tour in Belgium. Crowley says that although the group enjoys performing for audiences around the world, playing at home helps keep the young musicians on their toes.
“When you get to go home it feels like there’s more pressure because they know the music so well. You’re really on your A-game making sure that you play everything as correct as you can, and as traditional as you can,” said Crowley.
Còig is not planning on slowing down any time soon. The group already has performances lined up for 2018 in the United States, as well as Denmark, and they hope to begin working on another album.
“In the coming year it will be a lot of touring and we’re going to go back into the studio to record again,” said Crowley. “We’re going to basically spend the spring when we’re not on the road writing and arranging. Then hopefully, fingers crossed we’ll be putting together a new record in the fall.”
For tickets to the February 17 performance visit: phcivic.com.