AS PUBLISHED IN THE KW RECORD Thursday, February 18, 1999
By Nick Krewen
For The Record
He's the kilted Cape Breton wunderkind of the violin.
But don't ask ASHLEY MacISAAC about his future. He's not too sure of it himself.
"During my downtime, which has basically been the last year-and-a-half, I've thought a lot more about different elements of my life that I want to pursue," MacIsaac said last week from a Halifax hotel.
"A lot of it's been dictated by the lifestyle of a three or four year period, and I'm deciding how I want to go forth with it. Is it going to be as a musician or a bricklayer? I don't know."
When pressed, his answers become even more cryptic.
"Not getting in jail is one thing I'd like to pursue," he responds. "A free life in the public world would be nice, and whatever that entails. I don't know . I've watched a lot of NASCAR racing in the last two years, so who knows? I don't know exactly what I'll be doing in the next ten years. I've lived to this point very, very freely. In my own mind I've become the MIKE TYSON of fiddle players."
You can bet the farm that at least his more immediate future will be as a fiddler. Aside from performing recently at one of the tent closing parties to close Maple Leaf Gardens and his appearance Friday at the River Run Centre, MacIsaac also discloses he's about to enter a recording studio for the first time since 1995's innovative twin efforts, hi how are you today? and Fine®Thank You Very Much.
"The only mind plan I have right now is to record, finish an album," says MacIsaac, who turns 24 on February 24 and recently returned from an Amsterdam vacation.
"If music comes out of that is relevant to touring, then I'll continue on with that. For now, I'm just bunking around in Halifax, waiting to come to Guelph, and realizing I have no smokes. There's not a lot of interesting things happening at the moment, but because I don't have a smoke, I'm going to roll a joint. There's my life."
MacIsaac, whose innovative stance with hihow are you today? brought the violin and Celtic fiddle into a new creative stratosphere with its hybrid of contemporary and traditional styles, reveals he has been experimenting with hip-hop and contemplating the involvement of a DJ on his next project.
"Likely, sort of," he says. "I talked to a guy who was a Latin house DJ, and that's going to maybe take the backbeat end of it. It's going to be coming from angle."
He's hoping to have it out in six months, but scoffs at the suggestion of being a perfectionist.
"I'm a perfectionist? Great. How did you know that?" he challenges, before being reminded that he completed hihow are you today? thrice until he was satisfied with the results.
"What's perfect? I don't contend that way. A lot of the exposure, a lot of that stuff I didn't worry about perfect as much as doing my best, and you just feel free in those situations."
Friday's River Run performance won't be a preview of the new as much as a celebration of the old. Strathspeys, jigs, reels and hornpipes will comprise the set list, as folks ranging from spoon player GERRY DEVEAU, Rankin fiddler HOWIE MacDONALD and MacIsaac's sister LISA -- who already performed at the River Run earlier this month with BRUCE GUTHRO -- share the stage.
"I can't really help but play that," states MacIsaac. "That's my culture. That's what I play. If you gave me a violin, I might know a STEPHANE GRAPPELLI tune because I've heard it and I've learned it. But typically, my nature is one of a traditional schooled musician in Cape Breton."
MacIsaac has also shown up recently on the small screen, filming an episode of the CTV hockey drama Power Play and the Cape Breton sitcom Pit Pony. But he also admits he has too much time on his hands.
"Way too much," MacIsaac agrees. "I have idle hands and an idle mind, and those things can create for the madness that is me. That's what time gives me. I find the clock very relevant."
1995 -- hi, how are you today? -- A&M
1996 -- fine, thank you very much®
1999 -- Helter's Celtic -- Loggerhead
1996 -- Various Artists, Pine Ridge - Songs For Leonard Peltier
1997 -- Various Artists, The Hanging Garden
1998 -- Various Artists, Fire In The Kitchen
1996 -- Juno, Best New Solo Artist
1996 -- Juno, Best Roots And Traditional Album, Solo, hi, how are you today?
1997 -- Juno, Instrumental Artist Of The Year
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