may/june 2005
 

colin grant: making cape breton proud!
wanda earhart
celtic heritage magazine

Whoever may have said that you have to be born and bred on Cape Breton Island in order to stand out in the fiddling world, never met or heard the incomparable style of Colin Grant. Having recently taken part in no less than seven distinguished performances during ECMA weekend in Sydney, Nova Scotia, this determined young performer is well on his way to making his mark on the local and international stage.

Colin Grant was raised in Toronto, and together with his family, moved to Cape Breton just seven years ago. His interest in music had begun by age 4, at the Royal Conservatory, where he studied classical music for 6 years, and shortly after began to explore Cape Breton influenced playing with Sandy MacIntyre. Before long, he began the yearly tradition of attending summer classes at the Gaelic College in St. Ann’s.

“I began to immerse myself in fiddle at that point, and took lessons from people like Stan Chapman and Rodney MacDonald.”

He recalls that his home was always filled with the sounds of east coast recordings from the Rankins to Jerry Holland and Howie MacDonald. “I always had a keen interest in those styles of playing.”

Some of his favourites growing up included Ashley MacIsaac’s Hi, How Are You Today? and Natalie MacMaster’s early recordings. “I really enjoyed their original ideas, and of course there is Howie, who I feel is just an all round great player.” He says it was his familiarity with the culture that likely helped to ease any anxiety that might have been caused by the relocation to the island. “I don’t really recall it being a worrisome time, if anything I thought of it as a chance to be closer to the music.”

Immediately upon arrival in Cape Breton, Grant immersed himself into the cultural life of his new surroundings, taking lessons from Allie Bennett and eventually performing on stages from Mabou to Glace Bay. In 2002, he was invited to join the cast of Lyrics & Laughter at the Louisbourg Playhouse (a musical/comedy revue type show that showcased young up-and-coming performers) to rave reviews from the mix of both local and international audiences that frequent the venue. “The response from the crowds was so great, and we were able to grow as performers with each performance.”

By 2003, Grant had been accepted into the National Artists Program (Canada), which brought together young performers and fine artists to produce a gala show at the Jeux Canada Games in Bathurst, New Brunswick. He also toured Scotland and had the opportunity to bring Cape Breton music to Indonesia, hosting several concerts and conducting workshops at the Jakarta Performing Arts Institute.

Lyrics & Laughter also helped Grant’s reputation, not only as an accomplished fiddler but as a comedian. His comedic skills caught the eye of other local producers. In 2004, he was asked to join the final run of the award winning Accents On Christmas musical/comedy performances. Throughout the seasonal run, Grant was able to capture the respect and admiration of audiences, with his original musical arrangements, as well as his uninhibited approach to the comedic roles that came his way.

“The Accents shows were just so much fun, a great bunch of people to work with, for sure!”

After graduating from Sydney Academy, Grant has been attending Université Sainte-Anne in Church Point, Nova Scotia. “For French immersion, this is definitely the place to go,” explains Grant, “my plan is to earn a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Education, French with a History minor. This is such a culturally rich environment, and I am enjoying my time here very much.” He has also been continuing to teach private violin lessons while attending university.

“I have been very lucky with my music, and it’s certainly not at all like work, but rather a lot of fun.” He cites one of the more challenging experiences as performing in Mabou. “At first that was a bit intimidating, the play pretty close to the floor, and know their stuff, but in the end it was an incredible rush to play for a dance up there.”

As for his ECMA weekend, Colin Grant hardly had time to breathe, but says it was everything a performer could ask for in terms of exposure. “It did seem to go by in a blur, but to have the chance to play during so many events was awesome.” Among his itinerary were the Opening Reception at the Casino for Mayor John Morgan and the ECMA sponsors; the 72 Hour Jam; the Ice Jam Charity Hockey Game; Coastal Radio’s Acoustic Café with Jason MacDonald and Doug Johnson; Celtic Colours Festival Club; the official after party at the Sydney Ports Terminal with Allie Bennett; and of course his Showcase in the Roots Room, which had an amazing crowd on hand that garnered a standing ovation for their last set of tunes.

“We dished up a wide range of music for a twenty minute set, including a ‘close to the floor’ march/strathspey/reel set of traditional and original tunes, a jazzed up jig set, and upbeat original song called ‘Roll on the Cove’ written by Andrew Tyne that he sang, and a final blast of traditional and original reels, with a step-dancing duet thrown in!”

Grant says he owes a lot to the success of his showcase to the fact of having close friends joining him onstage, including Adam Young on piano, Jason Murdock on guitar, Andrew Tyne on bass and vocals, Meaghan Grant step-dancing, and Duncan MacMillan on drums. “I don’t think I could have asked for anything more out of that weekend!”

For now Colin Grant is looking forward to a very busy few months, with plans for some recording over the summer, and hopefully a CD release soon thereafter. He’ll not only return for another season of Lyrics & Laughter in Louisbourg, but will also join the cast of the Savoy Theatre’s second annual production of Island Mania, slated to begin June 9.

So it is safe to say that there should be plenty of opportunities to catch one of the the most sought after young Cape Breton entertainers.

 

august 2003
 

lyrics and laughter 2003 (excerpt)
wanda earhart
wandaearhart freelance promotions

Colin Grant is called the consummate performer, who plays easily and naturally, making it look as if anyone can do it, but of course they can't.

I think Colin is one of the most underrated fiddlers on the island. He can play the really old traditional tunes like a seasoned veteran, as well as the modern ones, and has even written a few great tunes too. You'd never know he is not originally from Cape Breton.
 
4 september 2002
 

lyrics and laughter at the louisbourg playhouse (excerpt)
wanda earhart
what's goin' on magazine

Colin Grant may be a transplanted Cape Bretoner, having moved from Toronto a few years ago, but listening to his prowess on the fiddle will not give that secret away, he knows his way around a ceilidh and how to share the stage with his fellow performers. Obviously having spent his time before and after the move east wisely watching and listening to those in the know, he packs a considerable traditional punch to any instrumental set. Joining [Jason] Murdock for 'MacDougall's Pride' is definitely worth the price of admission for anyone."
 
18 july 2002
 

lyrics and laughter a crowd-pleaser (excerpt)
aaron kuna
cape breton post

LOUISBOURG -- The groups fiddler and youngest member, Colin Grant, delighted the crowd on nearly every song with his skill on the bow, later showing he takes his instrument quite seriously by playing two songs of very old origin that arent played by most fiddlers, young or old, today.

Grant was also playful during his performances, even playing one tune dressed in a T-shirt, boxers and large, fluffy flippers that he had worn for a skit beforehand.

Colin Grant and [Jason] Murdock performed a stripped down version of Ashley MacIsaac and Gordie Sampsons MacDougalls Pride, with just violin and acoustic guitar.