Natalie MacMaster was tired and frustrated after a difficult week of flight delays, lost luggage and immigration problems. My scheduled interview was delayed an hour as she worked her way through the Toronto Airport, where an anxious husband awaited her. I talked to her as she was driven home to her farm in Ontario, where she has lived with her fiddler-husband since they were married 10 years ago.
MacMaster will be performing Tuesday, March 20 at Cranston’s Park Theatre, with Rhode Island’s Kelly School of Irish Dance opening for her.
We chatted about her early days on the road, where Rhode Island audiences immediately fell in love with her. I first saw her in the early ’90s when she performed on a rinky-dink stage at Chuck Wentworth’s Cajun & Bluegrass Festival in Escoheag, R.I.
It was dinnertime, and most of the audience had headed for the food booths when the sweet sounds of Natalie’s fiddle drifted among the smells of crayfish and jambalaya. A steady stream of curious music lovers moved swiftly to the stage to see who was making this incredible music. Rhode Islanders soon fell in love with this blue-eyed blonde musician from Cape Breton.
Natalie returned to Rhode Island more than once to play Wentworth’s Rhythm and Roots Festival at Ninigret Park in Charlestown, where she continued to wow the crowd.
She’s an “old married woman” now, playing some gigs with her fiddler-husband, the most recent a couple of years ago before a sold-out crowd at Rhode Island College.
“Rhode Island is one of my strongest areas,” she said. “The people, for whatever reason, love the music. “I don’t always remember where I played, but I remember the audiences and the other musicians, especially at the festivals.”
MacMaster is doing about 90 shows this year, including the Park, and judging from the fans she has in the New England area it should be a sellout.
“You mean I won’t be playing out in the woods?” she asked when I told her about the beautiful renovated theatre in the center of Cranston.
If you want to see one of the best fiddle players in the world, don’t miss Natalie MacMaster at the Park Theatre on March 20. Call 467-7275 for reservations.