The name “Ashley MacIsaac” brings certain ideas to mind. And if you’re holding tickets for his show at the First United Church in Truro on May 27, that’s exactly what you’re not going to get.
“This is a perfect time in the culture of media to say ‘fake news’!,” the fiddler said of his self-described ‘lunatic bad guy’ image. “The reality is I’ve spent 25 years honing an image that makes me a tonne of money. I started out playing church halls and square dances and I’ve continued to play square dances in church halls over those 25 years. If you come see me play at one of those events you’re not coming to see me at a rave, you know?”
What you are getting, he said, is the closest thing you can get to the “real” Ashley MacIsaac.
The fiddler said he only gets to perform in churches so often, but when he does it’s something he really cherishes.
“The opportunity to play inside a church is always a great event, there’s a particular reverence,” he said. “You give reverence to the fact that often you’re playing on the altar. The particulars of playing in a church are ones that always have enjoyed … and this thing where you actually put a concert on inside a sanctuary per se, you have a special, as I say, reverence. You perform a certain way, you’re speaking from the place that is important to the people that are often there the rest of the weeks a year and not often do people get to see me perform that type of show unless they’re in a church.”
MacIsaac said his act and set will be tailored to better suit the venue – as he would for any other show. He is, in a way, a chameleon to his surroundings.
“Whether I’m playing in an arena opening for a rock band, or I’m in a small rock club, I know when I go there I’m not in a church playing with a shirt, tie and playing slow airs,” he said. “… You always have to know your audience. For that I’ve managed to continuously tour for 25 years now, and play all kinds of venues.”
The May 27 show will also feature fiddler John Pellerin, Jackie Dunn MacIsaac on piano, harpist Cheryl Reid O’Hagan, and The MacKinnon Sisters. It will be held in support of the Alumni of the Normal College, Nova Scotia Teachers College, and the First United Church Restoration Fund.