Photo Credit: Ben & Anita’s EPK
Cape Breton’s Ben & Anita (Ben Miller & Anita MacDonald) are set to release their album, South Haven on May 11, 2018, but all of the Canadian Beats readers are lucky enough to catch our advanced stream of the release. Joining them on this project is Zakk Cormier, a talented multi-instrumentalist with deep roots in the Acadian community of Prince Edward Island.
As a trio, these three East Coast artists create a powerful sound, transcending the boundaries between Cape Breton, Scottish, and Acadian traditions.
Care to introduce yourself to our readers?
We are a pipe and fiddle-driven Celtic duo, currently living in Halifax, NS. Ben is originally from Upstate New York and I am from Cape Breton. Ben and I met at the 2013 Celtic Colours International Festival and have been playing music together ever since! As well as performing as a duo, we also tour as a trio with Acadian multi-instrumentalist, Zakk Cormier. Zakk is a dynamic musician with deep roots in the musical community of Prince Edward Island. In the trio, Zakk adds brilliant elements of guitar accompaniment, along with the driving rhythm of Acadian foot-percussion. We have been steadily touring as a trio for the past year with Zakk and are set to release our new album, “South Haven,” under the name Miller | MacDonald | Cormier.
Tell us a bit about your music and writing style.
When the three of us work together, we each bring a different part of the culture here in the Maritimes to the table. I grew up in Cape Breton and I was heavily influenced by the fiddle tradition there, Ben spent many years living in Scotland and spent a lot of time studying the music from the Western Isles. Zakk grew up with in Prince Edward Island and brings a whole wealth of Acadian traditions to the table. As Miller | MacDonald | Cormier, we are looking to bridge the gap between these three traditions – Acadian, Scottish, and Cape Breton – creating a new sound that is bigger than the sum of its parts.
Do you have any upcoming shows? For someone who has yet to see you live, how would you explain your live performance?
In support of the new album, we are very excited to be doing shows across the Maritimes, Ontario, and New York.
ALBUM RELEASE DATES:
May 18 – House Concert – Ottawa, ON – CD Release
May 25 – The Park Theater – Glens Falls, NY – CD Release
June 3 – The Highland Village Museum – Iona, NS – CD Release
June 14 – Festival of Small Halls – Vernon River, PE – CD Release
For more information on our upcoming shows, visit www.benandanita.com.
As the trio, we focus on the instrumental tradition. Most of it is dance music, but we also play slower airs from our various traditions as well. In addition to the instrumentals, we incorporate Gaelic Song and step-dancing in our live shows. We feel like we have really created a unique sound and a blend of New World and Old World influences. Scotland’s Piping Today Magazine has described us as: “Fiery…Fresh…yet totally traditional.”
If you were asked to suggest only one of your songs for someone to hear, which would it be?
We think the last track on the album, “Fowler on the Moor,” perfectly sums up the album. It showcases the synergy between the pipes and fiddle, while really highlighting Zakk’s dynamic style of guitar accompaniment, and finishes with the driving groove of Acadian foot percussion! For those that are more into vocals, Alasdair nan Stòp is great for demonstrating the connection between the instrumental and vocal sides of the Gaelic tradition here in Nova Scotia.
Canadian Beats is all about Canadian music, so who are your current favourite Canadian bands/ artists?
We are constantly influenced by so many great Canadian artists. At the moment, we are really inspired by the way so many of our friends and colleagues are creating new sounds in traditional and roots music, while still showing a deep respect for the traditions they come from – Vishten, André Brunet, Andrea Beaton, Ten Strings and a Goatskin, and Cassie and Maggie MacDonald, just to name a few.
I’m Jenna, and I am the founder and editor of Canadian Beats. I have had a strong love for Canadian music, which started many years ago. I have a passion for promoting these talented Canadian bands and artists, and that’s how Canadian Beats came to be. I am so proud of what it has become over the last few years, with many talented music lovers and writers coming together to spread the word of Canada’s music.