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Cape Breton Fiddle Legend Buddy McMaster dies at 89

Thomas McGregor

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Published: August 21, 2014 at 2:03 PM [UTC]

Hugh Alan "Buddy" MacMaster, passed in his home yesterday in Nova Scotia at age 89. McMaster was one of the most renowned artists in the tradition of Cape Breton fiddle music, receiving many awards including an honorary doctorate from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish in 1995. Buddy played his first professional gig when he was 14 years old at a square dance. His full-time professional career as a fiddler didn't kick into high gear until 1988, receiving international recognition.

CBC Canada reported yesterday that earlier this year, Folk Alliance International chose MacMaster to receive its Lifetime Achievement Award, joining the likes of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Woodie Guthrie and Canadian Stan Rogers.

"I never considered being a permanent violinist, you know, making a living at it. But ah, I was popular as a fiddler it seems," said in an interview this past year.

McMaster influenced every facet of fiddle music. His unique style and mastery served as inspiration for musicians, music enthusiasts, and fans. The gap that remains from his passing is vast as we are forever indebted.

The world is definitely a different place from when Buddy played his first square dance. Dances are few and hard to find. The professional musician landscape is different. And, the styles of fiddle playing has adapted to entertain new audiences. But regardless of the changes that have occurred, one thing remains the same; the legacy left by Buddy McMaster is unchanged. His legacy remains to teach us to keep striving, innovating and, over anything, keep fiddling.

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Buddy MacMaster in Judique:


From Don Sullivan
Posted on August 24, 2014 at 2:45 AM
My condolences to his family. He taught Natalie well. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning Cape Breton fiddle music through them. God bless them. May they know peace.
From 73.41.94.236
Posted on August 26, 2014 at 11:44 PM
This news makes us low, but Natalie will be here . . .

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