Ashley MacIsaac is, in a sense, the musical representative of the pre-millenial generation of Eastern Canada. An ardent traditionalist with a penchant, nevertheless, for experimentation, this 29-year-old Nova Scotian native has been taught to play the fiddle the working-class, pub-stomp Cape Breton way: fast, furious and with phenomenal precision.
Alternately considered a rebel, taking the old fiddling conventions in newfangled directions they were never meant to go, or a champion, reforging and recreating Celtic music with an updated, mass-appeal quality, MacIsaac has unarguably put his own spin on the sounds he was brought up with. This headstrong approach has led to MacIsaac working with an impressive array of talent: David Byrne, the Chieftans, Mary Jane Lamond, and others. Already considered something of a local legend and prodigy by the time of his impressive 1992 debut Close To The Floor, MacIsaac was not really introduced to Canadian audiences at large until he released the genre-bending Hi!, How Are You Today? in 1995. Along with nation-wide radio play for the first single, "Sleepy Maggie," featuring the dream-like Gaelic vocals of Mary Jane Lamond, and a regular slot on Canadian video channel MuchMusic, MacIsaac was soon recognized coast-to-coast as something of a minor national icon. _
His ability to cross the boundaries of folk, punk, garage rock, and metal, all bound together by his astonishing fiddle-playing, branded him as an eccentric, an upstart, and in many cases, a pioneer. Additionally, his refusal to conform to a quick and easy "studio image" earned him a solid fanbase. In 1998, MacIsaac released his follow-up to Hi!, How Are You Today?, a more traditional return to form entitled Fine!, Thank You Very Much. In 1999, he again pushed the boundaries of stylistic conformity with the electronic- and ambient-tinged Helter's Celtic. Following a departure from A&M later that year, the fiddler recorded the independently released Fiddle Music 101, an album of traditional instrumentals made with Halifax fiddler David MacIsaac, and he re-released his 1993 album, A Cape Breton Christmas. A move to Decca Records eventually produced 2003's accurately titled Ashley MacIsaac.
In April 2004 Ashley signed to Linus Entertainment, who have repackaged and released special edition versions of all the albums except Helters Celtic and the Decca album, and are releasing his brand new studio album, PRIDE, on September 27th, 2005. Produced by Ron Lopata and John JK Kanakis, the album is a bold step in a new direction - for the first time Ashley has abandoned his fiddle in the studio and has delivered a remarkable album, emerging as a singer-songwriter with a pop rock edge.
You can listen to short samples from some of the tracks from this artist using the player below.
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