A Foot Stomping, Knee Slapping, Good Time

A Foot Stomping, Knee Slapping, Good Time

I had to think about what to wear before leaving my house to attend the Natalie MacMaster concert last Saturday in Québec City. My wardrobe is woefully lacking in fiddle concert apparel and checking my Men’s Health Advisor 1994 on what to wear on such an occasion was of little help. (And by little, I mean no help at all.)

I needn’t have worried. When dressing for a night of Cape Breton fiddle music, anything goes. Some wore suits, and some wore tees, while others wore kilts that barely covered their knees. The woman sitting in front of me was draped from head to toe in Nova Scotia tartan. I wore my black low rise pants. Whose brainchild was this style? Is it too much to ask to have pants that fit somewhere between Shakira low and Fred Astaire high? In my haste to leave on time I had forgotten my belt and spent the night hitching up my pants like a skateboarding teenager. I was a little self conscious.

As the band pointed out, only the stage was lit so if anyone felt like dancing there was no reason to be shy. (Or if the waistband from their Buster Briefs showed every time they raised their hands to clap, right?) The concert was casual, with the musicians joking and talking with each other on stage. It was intimate, with Natalie sharing short stories with the audience. The concert was a Canada Day celebration and an evening at a Cape Breton tavern rolled into one. Either way, the reeling rhythms and joyous jigs were coaxing me to leave my comfort zone behind.

Not that there was much dancing going on at the Palais Montcalm. There were a few of us who shunned our seats, no longer content to swing in our sitting positions. MacMaster praised the audience for their traditions and their love of culture, but finally couldn’t stand the lack of participation and coaxed everyone up for a quick Two Step Shuffle lesson.  None of us came close to being as good as her five year old daughter. Natalie had brought her onstage and I wasn’t expecting much, but you should have seen her little legs fly! If you’ve ever seen MacMaster dance, then you’ll know where she gets it from. She never missed a beat.

Actually the entire band was bang on the whole night. There was JD Blair on drums, Shane Hendrickson on bass, Mac Morin on piano, Nathaniel Smith on the cello and of course Allie Mombourquette was there to play a duet with Natalie before she headed out to play at Saint Alexandre Pub. Natalie thanked the powers that be for giving her the opportunity to play with such talented musicians. Each one had the chance to highlight their particular musical abilities much to the appreciation of the audience. People may have been too reserved to dance but most didn’t have to be told twice to clap along. Following their final song, MacMaster and her honoured artists (as they were referred to in the programme), left the stage, but not for long. Everyone rose up and gave them the standing ovation they deserved. They returned to play one last toe tapping tune. It was the kind of song to stamp your feet and slap your knees. This time nobody sat back down.


Categories: Arts & Culture

About Author

Jason Enlow

Jason Enlow is a Special Education Technician at an English elementary school. He was born in Montreal, Quebec and grew up in Burlington, Ontario. Jason studied Radio and Television at Ryerson University in Toronto. His previous employers include CityTV, CBC, The Weather Network, and Global Television. He’s worked as a DJ, camera operator, musician, teacher, translator and video game content designer. Jason moved to Quebec City in 1997 where he still lives today with his wife and three sons.