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Cape Breton style fiddling
John A. Campbell at home. Photography by George Ruckert, Cape Breton style fiddling, ; Maynard, Massachusetts;
John A. Campbell at home. Photography by George Ruckert, Cape Breton style fiddling,

Maynard, Massachusetts
The Canadian American Club in Watertown; Apprenticeship - Cape Breton style fiddling; 2000: Watertown, Massachusetts
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John A. Campbell
Watertown, MA
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Gordon Aucoin
Waltham, MA
"When we came to Boston in 1963, there'd be all kinds of people at the Gaelic Club singing Gaelic songs. Gaelic was spoken. As for fiddling, there was myself, my father, Winston Fitzgerald and Donald Angus Beaton that would play for dances. I used to play for square dances at the Canadian­American Club in Watertown every Saturday night. And Friday night, I would play for them dancing square sets. Now, it's dropped off, even the Gaelic Club. There is hardly anybody there"- John A. Campbell

When Scottish immigrants arrived in Cape Breton in the 18th century, they brought with them their Gaelic language, Celtic culture and music. A cornerstone of this music culture was a unique fiddling style that had its roots in the highlands and western isles of Scotland. Today, Cape Breton style fiddling, with its traditional "Scotchy" flavor, still survives in Nova Scotia. However, with the intermingling of nationalities and various fiddling styles, the original flair of Cape Breton style is difficult to preserve in the United States. John Campbell, a Massachusetts resident and a master fiddler of Cape Breton descent, remembers a time when this music was thriving in the Boston Area, rather than threatened. Because many of the great Cape Breton fiddlers have passed away, Campbell now feels compelled to pass down the airs, marches, jigs, strathspeys and reels that have survived through several generations in his family, in order to preserve this rich musical tradition.

Gordon Au Coin has been drawn to Cape Breton style fiddling since the house parties, dances, and concerts of his youth. Because teachers and recordings of this style are so rare in the United States, he spent many summers in Nova Scotia learning to play with cousins until he met John Campbell. "Gordie" feels that dances are what keeps this tradition alive, and seeks to revive the rich musical community that Campbell remembers as a boy in Boston. In 2006, the pair was awarded a Mass Cultural Council Traditional Arts Apprenticeship.
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