Skip to content
Join our Newsletter
Join our Newsletter

MacIsaac no longer fiddling around

Character behind Canadian renegade fiddler Ashley MacIsaac garners more attention than his music

By Nicole Fitzgerald

Who: Ashley MacIsaac

When: Thursday, March 15

Where: Garibaldi Lift Company (GLC)

Tickets: $15/$20

I have to admit after listening to three tracks from Ashley MacIsaac’s most recent album Pride at, my interest wasn’t overly sparked — edgy pop rock songs lamenting relationship crash after relationship crash.

But the cousin of Natalie MacMaster is like one of those strange bugs you find in your backyard that you want to pull apart to look at under a microscope.

For this reason alone, the Cape Breton fiddling renegade’s live concert March 15 at the Garibaldi Lift Company promises to be a great show, on or off stage.

Most recent looks under the scope at the now singer/songwriter who has abandoned his fiddle will land listeners in his recent marriage to boyfriend Andrew Stokes at the East Coast Music Awards in February.

Although MacIsaac originally proclaimed he would host the largest gay Alberta party Canada’s ever seen with premier Ralph Klein toasting the groom and groom, MacIsaac tied the knot on stage during the ECMA show.

Gay marriages in Canada these days aren’t particularly controversial, but as his biography understates MacIsaac has always refused “… to conform to a quick and easy studio image.”

His album Hi How Are You Today?, featuring the single Sleepy Maggie with Gaelic vocals by Mary Jane Lamond, may have put him on the mainstream music success charts, but getting dropped from Maclean’s Best of the Year Section was what really put this Canadian rebel on the people-to-watch map.

So disgusted by MacIsaac’s decision to share his preference for golden showers with a gay magazine called The Advocate , Maclean’s dumped MacIsaac from its Best of section. Instead, he received a scathing article criticizing his headstrong behavior.

Other exploits that have drawn attention include a ballsy show of flashing his genitals during some high kicking in a kilt on Late Night with Conan O’Brien in 1997. He was also alleged to have used obscene language, gestures and racist statements on stage. In one incident, MacIsaac sued the Ottawa Citizen for falsely labeling him a racist after he reportedly made “comments about Asian women spreading SARS” at an Ottawa show. MacIsaac’s lawyer said the comment was meant sarcastically to emphasize the ridiculousness of racism.

MacIsaac moved his political ideals into action when he set out to run for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada in 2006, following in the footsteps of fellow fiddler Rodney MacDonald , premier of Nova Scotia.

MacIsaac, a political figure both on and off stage, definitely gets under people’s skin, resulting in plenty of print.

While tabloidish rants spill most of the ink, MacIssac is also penned as a music pioneer. When anything Celtic was hot in the 1990s, MacIsaac stepped outside of the stereotypical traditional fiddler scene with music as outlandish as his lifestyle and looks.

The Creignish legend bound folk, punk, garage rock and metal onto one crazy fiddle. He debuted with Close To the Floor in 1992 followed by the nation-wide hit Sleepy Maggie in 1995. He shifted through numerous record labels due to his wild-child stunts, including Universal, A&M, indies and Decca Records. A few albums later, MacIsaac signed with Linus Entertainment in 2004 to release special edition albums as well as his most recent album, Pride , where MacIsaac steps away from his fiddle and into the role of singer-songwriter.

Tickets for the Teeks Tekniques presented concert is $15 for the first hundred and $20 thereafter. Doors at 9 p.m.