This is my first post about musicians that I actually know and consider friends. Although I listen to, and write about, many different types of music, Celtic music has always been close to my heart. When I was three-and-a-half years old, I was dancing with members of the Barra MacNeils (Kyle and Seamus to be specific) at a Ceilidh in Nova Scotia. This is how much I love Celtic Music. Two of my good friends, Qristina & Quinn Bachand, are two great musicians and rising stars in the traditional Irish music scene. They have already released two albums, and have both been nominated for – and won – a variety of awards.
Qristina, 22, plays fiddle and also sings. Quinn, just 17, mainly plays guitar but has also been known to pick up a fiddle and a banjo on occasion. (And many more instruments to come in the future I’m sure). Both siblings are classically-trained violinists. Originally from Victoria, BC, they always draw a crowd no matter where they perform. I have been fortunate to see them play about half a dozen times or so and they’re always getting better and improving. All the shows I have attended seem to have a common thread among the audience members – they always marvel about Quinn’s musical prowess. While this is true, it is unfair to Qristina, who is a fabulous musician in her own right. Initially the duo was strictly instrumental; Qristina started singing about two years and vocals really enhance and add to their awesomeness. It also shows their evolution as artists.
As if playing one set in the rain wasn’t enough, 20 minutes after departing the stage at CelticFest 2013, they gave workshop for aspiring fiddlers and Celtic music aficionados. Titled “Guitar and Fiddle for Irish Sessions“, they explained what a session was (basically a music circle, or gathering of musicians) an the rules and regulations regarding them. Despite their youth, they have taken part in many a session. Which is another thing, these two are incredibly knowledgeable. Explaining the difference between reels and jigs and why one should never mix the two, how to go from slow to fast in a medley, chord progression, and a host of other Celtic music intricacies.
With rising stardom comes a growing network of other great musicians. Qristina and Quinn have played and are friends with such musicians as Oliver Swain and Adrian Dolan. But perhaps one of their most famous friends is also one who has been a staunch and long-time supporter: Ashley MacIsaac. Yes, they have played with the bad boy of Celtic music several times, including their last trip to CelticFest Vancouver in 2009.
Their talents extend beyond jigs and reels and laments. Quinn recently started a “gyspy jazz” group with friend Richard Moody called “Brishen” (which also features bassist Johnny Smith and Rhythm guitarist Ruben Weir), and Qristina is currently living in Amsterdam and studying for her master’s degree in Infectious Diseases. Wow. It seems they succeed no matter what they do. I have known them for many years and am proud to call them friends, and hopefully, in the future, collaborators. They have released two albums – “Relative Minors” in 2009 and “Family” in 2011. I own and enjoy both of those wonderful albums and cannot wait to get my hands on their next release.
Keep on fiddlin’