Past Performers

The Barra MacNeils    Lennie Gallant                    
John Campbelljohn   Makayla lynn 

Jason Price                 Aaron MacDonald             
All Fired Up                 Kim Dunn                          
Allie Bennett               Donnie Campbell             
Ian Sherwood              Alycia Putnam
Cyril MacPhee             Kyle MacDonald
Wally MacAulay          John Curtis Sampson
Duncan Wells              Ryan Roberts
Jordon Musycsyn       Gillian Head
Dwayne Cote               NC Elite Dancers
The Goin's On             CBU Pipe Band
Adrianne & Mike          Kelly Matheson
Crowdis Bridge            Amber Lynk
Angelo Spinazzola       Meaghan Blanchard
The Cape Breton School of the Arts
Chrissy Crowley,          Howie MacDonald
Christine Melanson      MacNeil Sisters
Jason MacDonald        Brenda Stubbert
Buddy MacDonald       David Meuse
Keith Mullins                Blanche Sopholeous     
Anita MacDonald         David Carroll 
Andrew Fedora            Naming The Twins    
Darren McMullen         Harold MacIntyre     
Dara MacDonald           Catherine MacLellan 
Ben Miller                       Laura Smith 
Pretty Archie                  Chris Ryan
Dave Gunning                Nicole LeBlanc
Joseph Gillis                  James MacLean
Lyrics and Laughterm    Doucette Sisters
Rob MacLean                   Leona Burkey
Decota McNamara           David Stone
Jason Roach                      Morgan Toney
Rachel Davis,                     Mario Colosimo
Colin Grant ,                      Mike Hall
Coig,                                    Beverly MacLean
Adam Young                       Terry Peters
MacArthur School of Dancing   Rob Murphy
Wills Addiction                       Hearts of Kin
Buffy MacNeil & Larry Boutilier  RG Schller
Robert Bouchard                    Steve MacIntyre
Roger Stone                            Nik MacDonald
Darrell Keigan                       Joey MacLeod
Kimberley Fraser                Norma MacDonald    

Asaph Deuse  Ferris and Shauna Asaph
Catahoula Brown                Jon Hines
Donna Marie DeWolf         Erin O'Brien

Membertou Drummers and Dancers

Melody  & Derrick Cameron  Brian Doyle



                                                                                                 Acoustic Roots Festival  happening Sept 1 - 3. 2023. Make your plans to   attend. List of performers

Barra MacNeils

Robert Bouchard

Pretty Archie

Hearts of Kin

John Donovan

Mike McKenna Jr.

Delores Boudreau

Jon Hines and Joe Murphy

Sons of Membertou

Dara MacDonald and Adam Young

Aaron MacDonald

Cameron Nickerson

Mary Beth Carty

Terry Peters

MacArthur Dancers

Cassidy Riley

Jesse Cox

Spirit of Cape Breton ( Kimberley Fraser, Mac Morin, Erin O'Brien, Jason MacDonald) 

Isabelle Samson

Brenda Stubbert







2023 Acoustic Roots Festival Artist Bio


Aaron MacDonald

Out of the woods of Mabou, a little town that beats in the musical heart of western Cape Breton Island, comes the soulful, ever-captivating, Americana singer Aaron MacDonald.

This indie songwriter is quietly making his mark despite the pandemic. Releasing new material for the first time since 2009, it has proven the East Coast has been longing for MacDonald to return. His first single this year, “Gonna Get There” debuted at #1 on the East Coast with his outlaw country follow-up, “My Soul & Me”, making an East Coast Top 5 splash, Aaron MacDonald has undoubtedly stepped back into the East Coast Music scene. He has been named as one of CBC Music Searchlight’s Top 100 Artists of 2021.

His new album, "It's Been Too Long" is available everywhere.

Adam Young

Adam Young is a sought-after pianist from Marion Bridge. His style fits perfectly with the fiddle, adding depth, solidity, and a joyful forward motion to the music, with an individual touch that distinguishes it from everyone else’s. There is a certain joy that is evident in his playing; he has the world’s worst poker face.
Adam created and directed the Louisbourg Playhouse’s popular music and comedy revue, Cape Breton Lyrics & Laughter, which has been performed more than 300 times and was nominated for an East Coast Music Award. He regularly plays at concerts, ceilidhs, square dances and sessions throughout Cape Breton, and has showcased his talents in Scotland and Ireland, across Canada and in the United States, including a five-week engagement with Jennifer Roland’s band at Dolly Parton’s amusement park in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.
This spring and fall, Adam performed with Anita MacDonald and Ben Miller, as well as with his band The Goin’s On, on cruise ships sailing between Halifax and Sydney. In addition to Lyrics & Laughter’s album, Adam can also be heard on recordings by Colin Grant, Jason MacDonald, Eric Angus Whyte, Dara Smith-MacDonald and Marilyn MacKinnon.

Dara Smith- MacDonald

Dara Smith-MacDonald, born and raised in Antigonish, has been playing the fiddle for more than 20 years and now resides in Port Hawkesbury. With family roots in Inverness, she very quickly developed a style that is strong, lively, and traditional. Dara has played for concerts, ceilidhs, and dances throughout Cape Breton, mainland Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Ontario, and the U.S. She has performed at the Antigonish Highland Games, the Acoustic Roots Festival, Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival, KitchenFest!, and Celtic Colours. In the summer of 2019, she performed in the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland with Shetland-based fiddle group Hjaltibonhoga. She has taught fiddle at Colaisde na Gàidhlig / the Gaelic College and at her home and around the world via Skype. Dara is a musical director and a member of the Board of Directors with the Cape Breton Fiddlers’ Association with whom she has traveled to Boston and to Maxville, Ontario. She can often be found on stage with Adam Young, and they have released two CDs together, The Lake Sessions (2017) and Island (2019) which also featured Brent Chaisson, receiving nominations for 2018 and 2019 Music Nova Scotia awards and an ECMA for 2019 Gaelic Artist of the Year.

The Barra MacNeils

Kyle (vocals, guitar, violin, mandolin), Lucy (vocals, bodhran, Celtic harp, fiddle, stepdancing), Sheumas (keyboards, piano, bodhran, fiddle, bouzouki, vocals), Stewart (vocals, accordion, tin whistle, flute, bouzouki, guitar, stepdancing), Boyd (mandolin, fiddle, guitar, banjo, percussion, stepdancing) and Jamie Gatti (bass).

2014 marks over 27 years for the Sydney Mines, Cape Breton Island-based family group, the Barra MacNeils, in an outstanding recording and touring career.

2012 was accented with two new recording projects: a Live In Concert symphony project recorded in Halifax’s Rebecca Cohn Auditorium over two nights with Symphony Nova Scotia and a special Celtic Colours recording project featuring a wide variety of musical guests from the folk, Americana and Celtic music worlds.  In December, 2013, the group released a third Christmas recording: O Christmas Three supported by another run in their annual seasonal Christmas tours.

Their other recent releases have covered the span of their entire career, as well as live concerts reflecting the musical course of their career, from humble family beginnings to world wide acclaim. The concert touring in support of these projects has taken the group to theatre and festival stages coast to coast across Canada, had them jetting across America from festival stage to theatre stages and beyond, as well as sending them to Ireland and Scotland for prestigious events across the Atlantic.

As a group, the MacNeil siblings are widely regarded as one of the greatest live concert acts in the Celtic world. Hailing from Sydney Mines, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, the family group is deeply rooted in Celtic music, culture, dance, language and history. Their numerous critically acclaimed recordings have included their own original songs as well as tried and true standards, both instrumental and vocal.

The Barra MacNeils live concert experience brings so much more to the stage than most live acts ever can. Multiple lead vocalists, beautiful sibling harmonies, top drawer instrumental prowess on a wide variety of acoustic, stringed, percussion and wind instruments blended with dancing, storytelling, Gaelic songs and a journey through an ancient culture; it is family entertainment at its highest level.

Steeped in Cape Breton tradition with strong Celtic roots and musical artistry, this diverse and talented family group continues to wow audiences around the world with their captivating vocals, harmonies and extraordinary musicianship.

Multi-award winners, the Barra MacNeils have released no less than 17 recordings  including: O Christmas Three (2013), The Celtic Colours Sessions (2012), Live in Concert with Symphony Nova Scotia (2012), In Concert (2009), In Session (2009), 20th Anniversary Collection (2007), Christmas Album II (2006), All At Once (2005), Racket In the Attic (2002), Christmas Album (1999), Until Now (1997), The Question(1995), The Traditional Album (1994), Closer to Paradise (1993 – Certified Gold in Canada), Timeframe (1990), Rock in the Stream (1989), The Barra MacNeils (1986). In 2001, they released a DVD titled Cape Breton Christmas incorporating music from their live Christmas Concert Special (as seen on television), plus a visit to Cape Breton, interviews with the Barra MacNeils home at Christmas and music videos.

Canada’s Celtic ambassadors, the Barra MacNeils continue to perform to sold out audiences throughout Canada, the United States, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom and Europe. From headlining major festivals, concerts, special guest appearances (Rita MacNeils CTV Christmas Special, performing with The Chieftains) television specials, film and television placement (Men with Brooms Soundtrack; Racket In The Attic) and their annual Christmas tour, they have set the course with a solid foundation for success. The Barra MacNeils one-hour Christmas Television Special (2000) continues to be broadcast on Country Music Television (CMT) and on the Public Broadcasting Services (PBS) network in the United States. December 2007 saw the broadcast of a new Christmas Special which will no doubt also become part of the holiday season for years to come.

The Barra MacNeils will continue to do what they love to do best, and that is playing their music for the fans. This incredibly talented family group will tour Canada, the US and Europe to spread their distinctive brand of Celtic flavour around the world. All confirmed 2014/2015 live concert dates are listed on the Tour page of their website with more dates being added all the time.

Brenda Stubbert

Brenda Stubbert is an extraordinary fiddler, pianist, and composer whose name has become synonymous with Cape Breton fiddle music. Deeply rooted in the distinctive music of Industrial Cape Breton’s Northside, she grew up surrounded by wonderful musicians, including her father, a highly-respected fiddler and composer who was strongly influenced by the Irish tradition, and folks like Winston Scotty Fitzgerald, Johnny Wilmot and Joe Confiant. Known as one of Cape Breton’s leading composers, two books of Brenda’s compositions are in print, and her tunes are in repertoires everywhere Celtic fiddle music can be heard. Brenda is in constant demand throughout Cape Breton. Her dances are lively and well-attended. Since 1986, Brenda has released seven albums, including Endless Memories (2008) which won the East Coast Music Award for Traditional Recording of the Year.





Erin O'Brien  and Ronnie Hogan

Erin O’Brien and Ronnie Hogan have been performing together professionally for over 20 years. They provide an acoustic musical experience which includes many classic songs from the 1960’s onward. Erin O’Brien and Ronnie Hogan are not just performers. They enjoy composing and have been working on some great new material that they are excited to share with you. Ronnie Hogan has toured with many notable acts over the last 30 years. Erin O’Brien provides 25 years professional experience and is a trained vocal major and graduate of the NSCC Marconi Music Arts program. In 2021, Erin released a single called “We’ll Be Together Again”, which hit the Canadian and U.S. airwaves and was received with great reviews. Together as a duo, their performance consists of ear pleasing, smooth flowing harmonies mixed with skillful musicianship. On the Cape Breton music scene, they are fan favorites and are an act not to miss.

Heart of Kin

Hearts of Kin are an acoustic duo consisting of sisters Danielle MacDonald and Shellie Tobin. Based out of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, these sisters have been singing and playing together for over 20 years. Originally from New Waterford, NS, they officially began performing under the "Hearts of Kin" brand in 2018.

These sisters aim to lend a fresh spin on some timeless folk and country. Heavily influenced and motivated by the wealth of musical talent in Cape Breton, Hearts of Kin bring a sisterly harmony to their own original arrangements. 



Jason MacDonald

Singer/songwriter Jason MacDonald’s passion for music plays out in a driving acoustic fashion, wonderful storytelling and a warm personality that connects immediately with his audience. Since 2002 Jason has released three full length CDs and one EP of original material.  Tracks from his CDs have received significant radio airplay. His music has earned him award nominations from Music Nova Scotia, East Coast Music Awards, Independent Singer-Songwriter Assoc. and Top Honours in the Indie International Songwriters Contest. He has showcased at NS Music Week, East Coast Music Awards and Canadian Country Music Awards. A track from his last recording was chosen for the Atlantic Film Festival Music and Images Compilation. Recently he has licensed a track form one of his CDs to Sailing – Classics of Germany for use in promoting their cruise ship business. He has toured in the US several times doing shows booked through New England Celtic Arts. He has performed at several festivals that include the Milwaukee Irish Festival, Celtic Colours International festival, Kempt Shore Acoustic Festival and Acoustic Roots Festival to name a few. In 2017 Jason toured in Western Canada that included performances at Calgary Folk Club and Northern Lights Folk Club in Edmonton

Jon Hines

Jon Hines is a national touring blues, jazz and folk singer-songwriter based in Cape Breton Nova Scotia. Digital recoding, release Down To Funk, (DTF) was nominated for blues recording of the year ECMAs 2022. Jon is endorsed by Godin Guitars & Black Mountain Thumb Picks. A perfect combination of Canadian products for this Canadian traveling blues man. Jon has toured nationally, opening for international acts Steven Page, Jesse Roper & Daniel Champagne. Jons debut album, “Wild Things Roam” had a song featured in ISC (International Songwriting Competition) where it advanced into the semi finals two years in a row, out of 19,000 song entries world wide. 

2017 ISC semi finalist
2018 ISC semi finalist
2020 ECMA showcase artist
2020 selected as a Black Mountain Picks Artist 
2021 Godin Guitars artist

2021 Live At Heart Newfoundland artist
2021 Cape Breton Jazz Festival showcase artist
2021 Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival showcase artist
2022 ECMA nomination, Blues recording of the year


John Donovan

John was born and raised in Glace Bay, Cape Breton Island and was influenced by Cape Breton/East Coast and Canadian music from his father’s record collection at the early age of 10 years.  He began to perform professionally at the age of 15 with his rendition of Cape Breton Celtic and Folk songs.  John established himself touring with local cover bands around the Maritime bars/pubs, music festivals and conferences in Ontario & the USA. 

Initial LP released in 2010, and a Christmas Songs EP released in 2019, John has completed his sophomore LP, (Southern Sun).  Infused Americana sounds and a blend of East Coast Folk and Bluegrass; this record is warm and inviting.


MacArthur Dancers
The MacArthur Dancers are known for their award winning creative stage Choreography, as well as their Traditional Celtic Dance performances. In 2017, they won the Canadian Choreography Challenge Title. The dancers are trained in Scottish Highland Dance, Cape Breton Step Dance, Hip Hop, Lyrical, Jazz, Contemporary and Modern styles. This helps to enhance their stage and performance skills, and bring Choreography to life on stage. Whether it be a local charity, international festival, or a professional stage show, these dancers perform at over 100 events a year. Cape Breton Island is known for its living Gaelic/Scottish culture, and this group has been continuing this passion through a shared love of dance, expressed through instruction and performance. They will continue to pass this along through many generations to come.(</span>


Mary Beth Carty

Accordionist, guitarist, and player of pocket-sized instruments, Mary Beth Carty of Nova Scotia possesses a magical voice that earned her a nomination for Traditional Singer of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards. Carty’s new album, Crossing the Causeway, fuses traditional song, instrumental tunes, & originals to create a multilingual opus that reflects the diverse yet unified roots of her region. The project features some of Cape Breton Island’s best musicians and singers including  Colin Grant (Rum Ragged), Bradley Murphy (Mhira Blood), and Donnie Calabrese (Sprag Session), and guest vocalists including Cassie and Maggie. Mary Beth has toured throughout Canada, performed in Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Rwanda, and DRCongo, and performed on Holland-America and NCL cruise lines. She is known for her entertaining live shows, ripe with sing-alongs, dance jigs, and all around good vibes!


Pretty Archie

Pinning down the sound of Cape-Breton-based quintet Pretty Archie has always been about as easy as catching a greased pig, but with the release of their new, self-titled album the band is confident that their unique mix of folk, Americana, bluegrass, Alt-Country, and East Coast music will appeal to a wider audience than ever before. Celebrating their tenth anniversary with what is arguably their finest work to date, the album was released on February 11, 2022 via Curve Music/Warner Music.

Pretty Archie, their sixth album, is one of which they are justifiably proud, for it represents a quantum leap forward in the evolution of the group’s sound. ”I feel each of our other records was a step ahead of the previous one, but this one is six steps ahead,” declares bassist/vocalist/songwriter Colin Gillis. “We are proud of everything we’ve put out, but this is at a different level.”

Helping the group realize the formidable creative achievement that is Pretty Archie was internationally-acclaimed record producer and engineer Mark Howard, whose star-studded resume includes work with the likes of Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, U2, Tom Waits, The Tragically Hip, Peter Gabriel, and more. Howard’s fortuitous recent relocation to Cape Breton allowed Pretty Archie to take advantage of his skills, and the band couldn’t be happier with the results.

To record Pretty Archie, Howard and the band set up shop in the rustic setting of an A-frame lakeside cottage in Cape Breton. Lead vocalist/songwriter/guitarist Brian Cathcart explains that “Mark is very much about the vibe of the room, and this worked out perfectly. We were in the house for two weeks, basically doing a song a day, and we did evening sessions that had a cooler relaxed feel.”

“It was all basically recorded live off the floor, with minimal overdubs,” adds Colin. “That’s something we had always wanted, and Mark was able to do that. There’s a certain ambiance and energy in recording that way.”

Describing the new album, Brian states “it is more focused, even though you still can’t quite put a finger on it. For us, it definitely has way more of a country vibe. This record leans more towards alternative country or Americana, rather than the super commercial country out there.”

The catchy “Reasons” is one of the tunes that changed considerably in the studio, as Brian explains. “Originally that was rather a ‘cry in your beer’ song, but Mark wanted it faster. He had the 808 drum machine rhythm and we just sped the tune up to that, so now it is short, sweet and punchy.” There’s a similar upbeat tone to “Familiar Feelings,” another song that showcases the band’s instrumental prowess.

Brian digs deep vocally on the haunting ballad “Feel It In My Bones,” while, at Howard’s suggestion, “Someone New” became a duet, featuring Austin-based Maritime honkytonker Whitney Rose, with the contrasting vocals adding real resonance. Brian is especially proud of “Maritime,” a song written right in the studio that features these poignant lyrics - ”If your heart breaks down, we’ll use mine. It is weathered and weary, but it is Maritime.”

Cathcart explains that “as a band, we wear our East Coast hearts on our sleeves. We are very proud of where we are from, but our focus now is exposing people internationally to our part of the world.” Gillis adds that “if you are genuine and true to yourselves, then people will attach themselves to that, no matter where you are from.”

Pretty Archie have long been regional favourites, with a stack of Music Nova Scotia and East Coast Music Award nominations to their credit. They are now looking globally, and with Pretty Archie they have an album ready for international prime time play. Do yourself a big favour and check it out