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Fàrsan performing in Antigonish and Judique next week

Members of Fàrsan; Neil Pearlman (left), Katie McNally, Màiri Britton and Elias Alexander. Steve Rankin photo
Members of Fàrsan; Neil Pearlman (left), Katie McNally, Màiri Britton and Elias Alexander. Steve Rankin photo - Contributed

‘Unites song, dance and instrumental music from Gaelic traditions’

Antigonish and Judique, N.S. - On the heels of their successful self-titled debut CD released last fall, the musical quartet Fàrsan will be in concert next Tuesday (March 26) at the Bauer Theatre, on the campus of St. F.X.

Showtime is 7 p.m., with tickets at the door.

The group will also be performing on the other side of the causeway two nights later (March 28), at the Celtic Music Interpretive Centre in Judique. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. and tickets can also be purchased at the door or online at celticmusiccentre.ca.

“Then we’re going to P.E.I. on the weekend, so six nights; so, yes, I guess it’s a ‘mini-tour,’” band member Màiri Britton said, agreeing with the term ‘mini-tour’ offered in the interview.

The cover for Fàrsan debut CD released last fall. Steve Rankin photo
The cover for Fàrsan debut CD released last fall. Steve Rankin photo

Britton teaches Gaelic part-time in St. F.X.’s Celtic Studies Department, as well as working on a Gaelic song project at Cape Breton University called Language and Lyrics. The other three members of Fàrsan are American musicians Neil Pearlman, Elias Alexander and Katie McNally.

“Powered by four of the brightest voices in a new generation of traditional folk music, Fàrsan unites song, dance and instrumental music from the Gaelic traditions of Scotland and Cape Breton,” a passage on the band’s website (farsanband.com) reads. “Their unique blend of fiddle, pipes, whistles, piano and accordion with percussive step-dance and puirt-à-beul brings a sparkling energy to every performance.”

“The reason we came together was to explore the Gaelic material, bring the language back,” Britton said, noting they met, generally, through the “international world of traditional music.”

“To bring the voice in as another instrument rather than putting the vocalist out front and having a backing band; the language is really informing the music and informing the way we play.”

Britton noted they haven’t had much of a chance to do gigs together, but are hoping, especially since the CD has found success, to be able to perform together more often.

“It’s hard to find time with all of our schedules, we grab time where we can,” Britton said.

“We’re definitely hoping to start coming together more frequently, now that we have the album and are receiving really good feedback from it; definitely hoping to do more [concerts] this year. So in addition to this little Maritime CD release tour, we’re going to Spain in May and doing two weeks there.”

Britton noted she met Alexander first and then the other connections were made, and that the four musicians figured out quickly they enjoyed spending time and playing music together.

“I met Elias at a Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow in 2016, he was over gigging there,” she said.

“I was in the States and met Neil through Elias and Katie through Neil; we just really enjoyed hanging out together. We formed the band, initially, as an excuse really to come together and play music; the others are really interested in working more on the Gaelic material.

“That’s sort of how it started; we just really enjoy playing music together and after we made the album, it felt like we really wanted to just keep going as a band.”

Reception for the album has been strong.

“It has been great so far,” Britton said.

“We had a nice review in FolkWorld which is an online folk magazine based in Germany, [written by] a reviewer from the U.K. And we’ve been receiving a lot of positive feedback and radio play in the U.S., over in the U.K. and here in Canada too … so we’re really happy.”

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