Cape Breton singer Mary Jane Lamond performed at Myron's in Charlottetown this Fall to introduce her new album `Lan Duil'
by Colleen Belanger
Wednesday, November 10th, the crowd at Myron's Rhythm and Blues Cafe was treated to a wonderfully intimate concert. Mary Jane Lamond, "Cape Breton's Gaelic Diva," was on the Island promoting her third release Lan Duil. Opening for Mary Jane was fellow Cape Bretoner and friend, Gordie Sampson. The two performers treated the audience to a superb evening of music. While the artists' styles differed, they were complimentary in their fusion of traditional songs and themes with contemporary music styles.
Gordie's set was a nice balance of his own material and traditional tunes and demonstrated his amazing guitar playing abilities. Whether he was playing a medley of traditional tunes or a bluesy version of "She thinks I still care" he had the crowd captured. He ended his set with a heavy rhythm and blues version of an East Coast standard, "Wild Mountain Thyme." With his unique taste on this old classic, Gordie was able to make it his own.
When watching Mary Jane perform, one thing stands out: how much she loves the songs that she sings and how much respect she has for the Gaelic language. Each song that she sang was haunting, due in part to its accompaniment of various percussion instruments-whether it be hard hitting drums, or soft sounding bongos.
Mary Jane had the audience's full attention from the moment she started singing. One of the first songs she performed was "Mo Mhairi Bheag Og" (My Little Young Molly), a sad lament about a man awaiting execution. Despite its sad topic, the tune was performed by Mary Jane at a fast pace while never losing its intensity.
Her band appeared to be having a blast performing, especially when Gordie Sampson got up to do an impromptu version of "The Blood is Strong,"a song from his CD Stones. Kathy Porter was on keyboard, also playing accordion and the rain stick; Jeff Arsenault was on drums; Joe Butcher was on bass; Wendy MacIsaac played fiddle; and PEI's Chris Corrigan was on guitar.
Mary Jane had a quiet presence throughout the whole evening, whether she was explaining the story behind one of the songs, or answering questions audience members were shouting out between songs. But when she was performing, it was almost as if she blocked out everything around her and became the song. As always, Mary Jane was a joy to watch. And if you ever get the chance to see her in concert, I would advise you take it.