For generations, Boston was the American home for expatriate Cape Breton Islanders. Far from the rich Scottish culture of their island home in Nova Scotia, Cape Breton and Maritime Canadian dancehalls grew up around the Watertown neighborhood and other parts of Boston. The Canadian-American Club, the French Victory Club, the Greenville Cafe; these old dancehalls rang with the sound of fiddle, piano, and stomping feet, racing through the instrumental dance tunes of Cape Breton with the powerful syncopation that’s made this fiddling one of Canada’s hottest roots music exports. This is where young Boston fiddler Katie McNally grew up, playing for dances, leading sessions, and learning from older fiddlers. Her new album as the Katie McNally Trio pays homage to this world, which still exists today. The title of the album, The Boston States, comes from the name Maritime Canadians gave the city of Boston as they moved between the two countries, and today McNally herself moves between many different worlds as a much in-demand teacher and performer of Scottish music. The Boston States features original and traditional tunes rubbing shoulders with wickedly complex arrangements that would test most fiddlers’ mettle. With the Katie McNally Trio, McNally has brought together an innovative ensemble as grounded in the tradition as it is ground-breaking.
Listen to them performing Scotty Fitzgerald’s/Hills of Glenorchy, our Tune of the Day:
Katie shared this with us about the tune:
I learned Scotty Fitzgerald’s from my fiddle student Vinny, who grew up in Boston but whose family is from Cape Breton. He picked it up on a visit there one summer and brought it into a lesson to work on the shifting in the B part! It was written by Sandy MacIntyre in 1962 and the title refers to Winston Scotty Fitzgerald, who made some of the most influential Cape Breton fiddle recordings of the 20th century. The second tune is a Cape Breton version of an old Scottish pipe jig that I picked up as a teen from Troy MacGillivray when he was teaching at the Boston Harbor Scottish Fiddle School.
The Boston States is released today.
Visit her website for more info: www.katiemcnally.com