Re-Jigged: A celebration of all things Celtic from October 24 to 26

Cape Breton's Còig is set to rock the Re-Jigged Gala Concert.
Downtown Dartmouth's church halls are perfectly suited to traditional acoustic music and percussive dance.
Downtown Dartmouth’s church halls are perfectly suited to traditional acoustic music and percussive dance.

Love Celtic music and culture? Well, the Re-Jigged Festival offers something for everyone, whether you want to play or dance or simply sit back and enjoy it all.

Programming at Re-Jigged is a combination of hands-on workshops and great entertainment. This year’s Gala Concert features Còig, an electrifying ensemble from Cape Breton. Following the concert, the Late-Night Ceilidh gives everyone a chance to get up on the floor and dance. There are also activities for children including music, dance, crafts and cooking, all taught in Gaelic.

Re-Jigged’s volunteer organizer and founding member Elizabeth MacDonald tells Hello Dartmouth readers all about this fabulous five-year-old festival in the heart of Downtown Dartmouth.


Tell us a little about Re-Jigged’s beginnings.

EM: Re-Jigged launched in 2010. We’re Nova Scotia’s first independent festival celebrating new directions in music and dance, based in the rich history of the Celtic musical tradition.

Atlantic Canada – and Nova Scotia, in particular – is famous for its traditional Scots and Irish heritage. Today, vibrant contemporary Celtic music and dance scenes are thriving, building on these deep roots to create tomorrow’s traditions. But there was no one place or event in the Halifax where these dynamic communities could come together learn, share, create and enjoy.

We felt the time was right to create that event, and so we did. Thus was born “Re-Jigged: A Celebration of New Celtic Music & Dance.” Five years on, we’ve established a reputation for nurturing and showcasing the best emerging and established local talent alongside renowned national and international musicians, dancers, singers and other “new trad” artists.


Why is Downtown Dartmouth a good fit for Re-Jigged?

EM: Re-Jigged calls Downtown Dartmouth home — by choice. The graceful ambience of Ochterloney Street, combined with the small church halls so perfectly suited to traditional acoustic music and percussive dance, make this community a perfect venue for our all-ages event.

From the outset, we’ve called Christ Church Hall home. To accommodate our growing workshop program, we now run the majority of our workshops out of First Baptist Church Hall. And, of course, we’re proud to partner with a number of downtown Dartmouth businesses and organizations, including King’s Wharf, Hiltz Shoe Repair, Two if by Sea, Craig Gallery at Alderney Landing and the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission.


What makes “new traditional” music?

EM: “New trad” is all about taking our deep, rich musical and cultural traditions in new directions — exploring new possibilities, new approaches, new sounds, new steps, new fusions. In the process, we’re helping create what may become tomorrow’s traditions. At Re-Jigged, old styles converge and connect with the new. Through our workshops, sessions and concerts, we celebrate the contemporary alongside the traditional. And the result is amazing!


Celtic music crosses many cultural boundaries. Why is that important and how is that reflected in the festival?

EM: Here in Canada, Scots and Irish immigrant communities melded seamlessly with Acadian, First Nations and others vibrant cultures. You find that same phenomenon in the US. That’s why you see the threads of Celtic influence in any number of North American musical styles. We explore these links every year at Re-Jigged, both in our workshops and in our featured performers. Last year, for example, we looked at the Celtic-Acadian links; this year, our focus is bit more on Cape Breton.


You’ve added a painting workshop this year. Tell us a little about that and how it fits with the other programming.

EM: We’re absolutely delighted to welcome Vincent Crotty to Re-Jigged this year. He’s an Irish-born artist, now living in Boston, who specializes in “plein air” painting. His two-day workshop, “Painting Believable Light,” takes place at the King’s Wharf sales office, but you’ll likely see Vincent and his students painting on street corners throughout downtown Dartmouth. You can also catch Vincent in action at our Friday evening “Tune Makers” concert, where he’ll be capturing the excitement of the evening, live on canvas. (We’ll auction off this piece at our Saturday evening Gala Concert.)

Vincent’s a perfect fit for Re-Jigged, as art is seamless — music, dance, art, song and language each inform and enrich the other. Vincent brings a unique aesthetic to his work: his paintings reveal a remarkable understanding of light — transforming everyday subject matter into images that are memorable and moving.


Are there any events at the 2014 festival that stand out as particularly exciting to you?

EM: You’ll definitely want to catch Isaac Alderson at our Friday evening “Tune Makers” concert, along with Còig at our Saturday Gala Concert. If you like to paint – no matter what level of ability — sign up for Vincent Crotty’s workshop; besides being a talented artist, he’s a generous and inspiring instructor.

All our featured performers along with top players from across the region teach in our workshop program, so here’s your chance to learn from the best. And we’ve 26 different workshops to choose from this year. On the dance side, for example, Kieran Jordan from Boston and Sophie Stephenson from Scotland are teaching several forms of Celtic percussive dance. For musicians, we offer various levels of instruction in virtually all traditional instruments, from fiddle and flute to harp and guitar…and more. If you like to sing and are interested in learning a bit of Gaelic at the same time, Lewis MacKinnon is leading a workshop in Irish and Scots Gaelic song.

For more advanced musicians looking for a challenge, you can spend the entire day working with renowned arranger/composer Scott Macmillan as part of the “Re-Jigged Musical Ensemble.” You’ll even get to open the Gala Concert that evening.

And, of course, our children’s program is an ideal way to introduce kids to the joy of music, dance, language and tradition.

Cape Breton's  Còig is set to rock the Re-Jigged Gala Concert.
Cape Breton’s Còig is set to rock the Re-Jigged Gala Concert.

Programs fill up quickly and the Gala Concert always sells out, so register online at You can also find Re-Jigged on Facebook  and follow them on Twitter @ReJiggedFest.