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Thursday, 18 October 2012 15:23

Ashley MacIsaac next up in Blenders special concert series

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Growing up in Cape Breton, professional fiddler Ashley MacIsaac started thinking about his career path at a very young age. When he got his first cheque at the age of eleven for playing violin, music was the only thing he wanted to pursue.

 "I was raised in a family with music playing all of the time, and I started off step-dancing, then playing piano and fiddle,” explained MacIsaac, who will be performing at the Lyric Theatre on Oct 25. “I remember the first time I got paid for playing, and I just wanted to keep making more.”

By the time MacIsaac was 14, he was already trying to figure out the proper way to get his music out to a mainstream audience, and was eager to start touring. Between the ages of 19 and 25, MacIsaac was playing about 300 shows every year.

“I had a hit record out, and I made quite a bit of money,” he noted. “But I spent even more, and at 25 I filed bankruptcy and had to get over a narcotics addiction. In 2000, I decided to pull it back a bit, and for the last 12 years I’ve done between 10 and 30 shows each year.”

MacIsaac has always focused on the business side of the industry, and recognized that it was just too expensive to take a band out to tour year-round. Now, he does about 75% of his shows for the year in one tour, and performs sparingly throughout the remainder of the year.

“I’ve learned that the only industry more fickle than politics is entertainment,” MacIsaac admitted. “It’s been a good lesson for me. Tough skin is definitely required in the entertainment industry, and I’m hoping this could maybe be a stepping stone to a career in politics later in life.”

For now, MacIsaac is focused on his music. Since his double-Platinum record in 1995, he has released 11 albums, and this March was able to make an album independently.

“It’s meant to be a representation of the Cape Breton Celtic music culture,” he explained. “I try to present a lot of my own personal spin on my culture and on myself. I’m a bit of an emcee as well, in that I like to tell jokes and work the crowd. I hope people feel that they can experience something based in tradition, but still relevant in the moment.”

He enjoys having that opportunity to connect with the audience during a live performance, and brings the same passion to the stage that he has since he was a child. While he offers a variety of shows varying from traditional shows with a symphony to performing with a rock band, MacIsaac keeps the fiddle as the backbone of the show.

“Lately, we’ve been doing a bit of everything, playing with a guitar player from Cape Breton and a DJ / percussionist, and that’s been going over really well,” noted MacIsaac. “The reactions have been great, and we’re really excited for the rest of the tour.”

MacIsaac will be performing in Swift Current as part of the Blenders special concert series on Oct 25 at the Lyric Theatre.

Read 1595 times Last modified on Thursday, 18 October 2012 15:46
Jessi Gowan