Monday, May 23, 2011

13 - Tunes

 I am in my concert season for the next few weeks, so my research will have to wait for a bit. I thought I would share a few clips that I enjoy of Lee Cremo, the famous Mi'kmaq fiddler from Nova Scotia. Like the wonderful Denny singers, he also comes from Eskasoni. He seems to have been quite a character and very quick witted by the clips I have seen. The following quote was taken from his obituary in the chronicle herald:

    Credited for his natural humour and charm, Cremo was often a fixture at public events like Treaty Day celebrations or Maritime Oldtime Fiddling Contests, where he was rarely at a loss for words. "When it comes to talking, I never stop," he once said. "If I run out of words in English, I continue in Mi'kmaq. If they can't understand, that's their problem."

Lee Cremo was born at what is today Chapel Island in 1938 and moved to Eskasoni at age 4. He started playing fiddle and guitar at the age of 7, often accompanying his father, Simon Cremo. His style shows influence of not only his Mi'kmaq heritage but also the influence of  well known Scottish fiddlers from Nova Scotia.

           Besides his father, Cremo also learned from Wilfred Prosper  and Neil Francis MacLellan, and soaked up the music of Cape Breton fiddling legends like Winston "Scotty" Fitzgerald and Dan Hughie MacEachern at local dances. "If I had the money, I'd go in," Cremo once told composer/historian Allister MacGillivrey. "If not, I'd sit outside by the window and listen and learn."  
     He learned, and he passed his knowledge along. Today's Cape Breton musical stars like Creignish fiddlers Ashley and Lisa MacIsaac and Troy's Natalie MacMaster all picked up tips from him. But nobody played quite like him.                                                                                         (Halifax Herald)

He has played everywhere from the Expo '67 for Queen Elizabeth, to the Hollywood Bowl. In a competition in Nashville, he was awarded "Best Bow Arm in the World," and was the subject of a documentary called "Arm of Gold" in 1986.  I thought this was a good name, because the word Bras d'Or,  actually means Arm of Gold. He also won the Dartmouth old Time Fiddling Competition six times. Sadly, he died in 1999 at the age of 60.

I hope you enjoy these clips from You Tube. The first one shows a bit of his wit. The others are from the movie "Arm of Gold" and give a nice glimpse into his world. I love the stories and tradition that they show from Mi'kmaq culture. When I see these things, they make me sad, because these are the parts of my own history that I have missed. I will have to be content to learn what I can from others. Enjoy!

Arm of Gold:
Part 1

Part 2

There are two more parts of this documentary, which can be found on You Tube.   I hope you enjoyed these ones. The film "Arm of Gold" was made by Robert Doan and Robert Petch.

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