Once upon a time, I fiddled away the entire night of a summer solstice under the stars with a Québécois band named Les Chèvres Dansantes. That means in English ‘The Dancing Goats’, the French Canadian name for the Northern Lights, which they say dance in the sky. Like the Northern Lights, the band danced as much as they played that night. (Québec has the world’s finest junk food that I’ve ever been lucky ‘nough to eat! It’s is called poutine, and you can get it almost anywhere, to take out in paper boxes, or to eat there. It consists of a mixture of a sort of cheddar cheese that comes in popcorn-shaped clumps, frites (French fries), and a delicious gravy-like sauce that goes over the cheese and frites.)
But the reason we were there was to provide, as Kevin Burke once said, ‘dance music, and it’s got to have a fair old bit of jizz in it’. Surely you’ve felt like dancing when the night grows cold and the there’s ‘nought but the stars overhead and a roaring bonfire for light? We did. For we who are musicians, it’s always about playing music together, playing for dancing and for listening, and the magic that it creates in all of us. There’s plenty of gossip among the musicians about who was playing with which bands, who has learned a new tune worth sharing, but mostly, it’s about those jigs and reels and slow airs and waltzes, and how of all of us — be we musician, dancer, or listener — are part of the music.
We played damn near everything that long, magical night — Québécois, Celtic, Nordic, Russian, Welsh, and even a few from over the Border that the Seelie Court introduced to an Irish fiddler named Mad Pat two decades ago, and which I first heard being played by the Neverending Session in the Green Man Pub. We had more than enough musicians present so that all of us could grab a bite, drink a bit, dance as we saw fit, and, for those so inclined, chase a willing lover.
We finished off the next morning as the sun rose over the mountains with ‘ Midsummer’s Night’, a sprightly reel also known among fiddlers as ‘Miss McKnight’s Reel’. The dancers treated us to what they called a proper morning-after breakfast — Blue Mountain coffee with cream, fresh squeezed tangerine juice, and a lavish buffet good enough to please even the most jaded of palates! For me, the freshly baked blueberry muffins the size of small melons was me favourite food that morning. Though I must admit the scrambled eggs with smoked Scottish salmon, Vidalia onions, and Chevrochon Tomme du Haut Richelieu was awfully good too!