Get Up And Dance To The Fiddle With The East Pointers

16 December 2015 | 3:42 pm | Annelise Ball

"It makes it so much better when people get up and dance."

"I put my name down for a pottery class last year, but it ended up clashing with our gig, so I missed out," says Chaisson, still mock disappointed. "I'm gonna try to get to something this year, maybe weaving!" Whether or not he makes it, Chaisson is stoked to be back playing at the festival nonetheless. "We're so excited. The crowd reaction last year at Woodford was incredible, right from the first few notes." Chaisson credits the crowd's heartwarming response to something intriguingly ancient and mysterious. "Playing in places like Australia and Canada, with such strong histories of migration from the British Isles, it seems as if the music is in people's DNA. They aren't afraid to get up and dance. We're basically playing dance music that's been around for centuries."

"I put my name down for a pottery class last year, but it ended up clashing with our gig, so I missed out."

Chaisson and bandmates, cousin and fiddler Tim Chaisson and guitarist Jake Charron, obviously know what they're talking about. "Tim and I come from a long line of musicians, seven generations in fact, who play this music," he says. "We're trying to keep this tradition alive, especially at home on Prince Edward Island." After Chaisson's grandfather, Joe Pete, started the local Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival nearly 40 years ago, with all proceeds going towards free fiddle lessons for anyone who wished to learn, the local community has been getting their fiddle on slowly but surely ever since. "In the last ten years, playing the fiddle has actually become cool on Prince Edward Island," says Chaisson. "It certainly wasn't when I was in high school. The fiddle festival is now being taken over by kids."  

Sharing folk music influenced by Scottish, Irish and even Acadian (early French-Canadian settlers) traditions has become The East Pointers' mission. "Despite the interest from younger people, most people who listen to Scottish fiddle music are older. We grew up playing Scottish fiddle music, as well as Acadian. Tim and I have Acadian roots, so we throw that in as well, it's certainly in our blood. We explored Irish music when we wanted to move outside our comfort zone a little, so that's been a natural progression. We try to put our own spin on it all."

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Despite being far from the Celtic motherland, Australia still inspires The East Pointers to write great music. "We wrote most of our last album Secret Victory during our last tour here," says Chaisson. "You couldn't find a better place for songwriting inspiration than Australia, even for three pasty white Canadians." Woodford Folk Festival itself inspired album track Woodfordia, the group performing at the festival in 2014.

The East Pointers are, pretty much, seventh generational CDM (Celtic Dance Music) producers. "Don't be afraid to dance at our gigs!" says Chaisson, in closing. "It makes it so much better when people get up and dance. It makes us feel like what we're doing is hitting the mark."