by Daniel Hathaway
“Never work with children or animals,” said W.C. Fields. Good advice — unless of course you have such a reliable brood as Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy, who closed the first half of their sold-out concert at the Cleveland Museum of Art on Friday evening with an adorable parade of child fiddlers, beginning with 4-year-old Clare, then 6-year-old Michael, then 7-year-old Mary Frances, and eventually a cameo by 2-year-old Julia, who didn’t fiddle but gamely joined in a step dance. (1-year-old Alec stayed behind, while a sixth MacMaster-Leahy protègé was definitely involved in the show but hasn’t been born yet).
That gesture reflects the wholesome, family-values nature of MacMaster’s and Leahy’s show in Gartner Auditorium on November 15, an engaging, 2-1/2 hour festival of Cape Breton-infused music that took traditional fiddling to new heights of sophistication while preserving its down-home charm. At the beginning, MacMaster quipped that this was their last stop on a 12-city tour, “so you got us fresh,” and later narrated a long but charming account of how she and her future husband met. [Read more…]