Paul MacNeil & Tracey Dares

Paul MacNeil is a piper originally from Iona, a scenic spot in the heart of Cape Breton. His first teacher was Sandy Boyd, a very influential figure in the development of 20th century Cape Breton repertoire.

Tracey Dares is a well known piano accompaniest and soloist. She backed Natalie MacMaster on tour for a few years. In addition to a solo CD, Crooked Lake, she also has a produced a piano accompaniment video.

Back-up Musicians: Dave MacIsaac, Kyle MacNeil, Stewart MacNeil, Dave Burton, Matt Foulds, Gordie Sampson and Eddie Woodsworth.

This is Paul and Tracey's new CD There are lots of rare tradtional tunes and interesting arrangements, as well as new tunes by Paul, Brenda Stubbert and others. In addition to rock-solid piping, Tracey does some stunning solos on both piano and keyboards. The unique sound of all the instruments is the result of a recording which combines natural acoustics with studio mixing.


Tune listing.

Sample tunes (music notation & mp3s)

  1. * Hundred Years Medley *
  2. * Memories of Theresa MacRae *
  3. * Lorient Macalish *
Track Listing (notes written by Paul and Tracey)


Rural Attitudes

  • I Would Have Preferred You First, But Not Now Sir...Traditional
  • The Widow's Rant…Traditional
  • Rural Attitudes...Paul K. MacNeil (SOCAN)

This group of dusty jigs was put together for the "Celtic Colors Festival" in 1998. The first two jigs can be found in the 'Glen Collection'. The Widow's Rant, also known as The Highlander's March or I Would Go Quickly is a jig we grew to enjoy and appreciate after hearing it sung in Gaelic on the recording "Celtic Mouth Music". Although originally we were going to name this recording 'Rural Attitudes', alas, all of the techno-geeks out there mounted an army no one could defeat and now everyone has a computer. Oh well, if you can't beat them... Although we changed our minds on the name of this recording, this medley as well as those that follow is a representation of our rural attitude.

Acoustic Guitar...Gordie Sampson

Forty Mile Stone

  • Sabastopol March...Traditional
  • Ethel Fraser...Brenda Stubbert (SOCAN)
  • Barbara Magone's Visit...Brenda Stubbert (SOCAN)
  • Forty Mile Stone...Traditional
  • The Dundee Burns Club...J. Scott Skinner
  • Janet and Wilfred Burke...Brenda Stubbert (SOCAN)

Dave & Tracey have been working together now for many years. Dave is held in our highest regard for his knowledge, appreciation and interpretation of music but most importantly for his friendship. Sabastopol March was uncovered by Dave in the 'Logan Collection'. Ethel Fraser, Barbara Magone's Visit as well as Janet and Wilfred Burke are tunes composed by Brenda Stubbert and are available in her tune book 'Brenda Stubbert's Collection of Fiddle Tunes'. Forty Mile Stone was the inspiration for this medley. We first heard it played by Maireid Ni Mhaonaigh and the late Frankie Kennedy on their duo CD entitled "Ceol Aduaidh". Finally, J. Scott Skinner is always good for a "frilly" tune. The Dundee Burns Club can be found in the 'Harp & Claymore Collection'.

Acoustic Guitar...Dave MacIsaac
Upright Bass...Eddie Woodsworth
Snare...Matt Foulds

The Barra Glen Road

  • The Barra Glen Road
  • Miss Annie of Ballintyre...D. MacPhedran
  • The Barra Glen Road...Paul K. MacNeil (SOCAN)

This group commemorates the people who walked or traveled the Barra Glen road over the years and the stories fashioned from their experiences. The flow of this medley is reminiscent of the twists and turns, as well as, the people you may encounter as you travel this dirt road near Iona, Cape Breton. Matt Foulds' eclectic experiences lead him to play the udu on this medley providing a very subtle, earthy accompaniment.

Acoustic & Electric Guitar...Gordie Sampson
Udu & Shaker...Matt Foulds
Upright Bass...Eddie Woodsworth

Nighean Donn...Domhnall MacPharlain

Nighean Donn was written by the late Domhnall MacPharlain from Margaree and was often sung by the late Joe Lawrence MacDonald of Boisdale, Cape Breton. Paul's father, Roddie C. MacNeil sings the lead vocal track here. Words cannot be written to express the love and respect we have for this man. The night this track was recorded was a binding family experience that we will always enjoy remembering. The chorus singers include Paul's mother Helen, his uncle Jamie, his brother Timmy, his sister Rosemary and two of her three sons Michael and Nicholas; his brother Lorne and his three children, Joseph, Daniel and Sarah as well as a life-long friend Alanna Campbell and her three daughters Alex, Brenna and Erinn.


Hundred Years of Fiddling

  • Captain Archibald Leslie...D. Campbell
  • Hundred Years of Fiddling...Traditional
  • Dave MacIsaac...Brenda Stubbert (SOCAN)
  • Alex Dan's...Traditional
  • Dave MacIsaac...Brenda Stubbert (SOCAN)
  • Malcolm MacPhail…Brenda Stubbert (SOCAN)

This medley is a combination of tunes either composed by Brenda or brought to our attention by Dave. The march is a tune Dave found in the 'Glen Collection'. The first strathspey can be found in Brenda's book although we first heard this tune played by Buddy MacMaster on the recording "Cape Breton Connection" released by Stephen MacDonald Productions. Dave learned the first reel from his father Alex Dan and passed it on to Paul. The second reel is actually the second strathspey; put to reel tempo by Paul. All of Brenda's compositions are available in her book so be sure to check it out.

Acoustic Guitar...Dave MacIsaac


  • Miss Angie Logan...Paul K. MacNeil & Tracey Dares (SOCAN)

This tune is the result of a joint effort between Paul and Tracey. Originally the first turn was written primarily for pipes in the key of D Major (Eb Major on the pipes). When the second turn was composed, the melody line was taken outside of the piping scale and the final version was finished in the key of F Major. Kyle's haunting performance adds to the longing sensation of this tune. It was composed in June of 1999 when our niece, Angie Logan, was graduating from High School in Beaverlodge, Alberta. Angie's energetic grace and style reflect a way of life worthy of admiration. Hopefully this tune reflects some of that splendor.

Acoustic Guitar...Gordie Sampson
Bowed Bass...Eddie Woodsworth\
Viola...Kyle MacNeil

Fat Free Reels

  • Ruidhlidh Na Coilich Dhubha…Traditional
  • Loch An Duin...Traditional
  • Harris Dance...Traditional
  • North Shore Reel...Traditional

This group of four reels had a very "light" feeling about them from the beginning, hence the reference "fat free"...a feast for the conservatorically, calorically conscious. This set, a group of old Gaelic song type tunes, was arranged for a performance at Highland Village Day in Iona, Cape Breton in August 1999. The first tune was recorded by Mary Jane Lamond on her CD entitled "Suas e". The second tune is one Paul learned from the former Scottish band Ossian. Harris Dance is available in the 'Patrick MacDonald Collection', circa 1764. As the story goes, the last reel in this medley was sung in the North Shore area of Cape Breton Island.

Acoustic Guitar...Dave MacIsaac
Fiddle & Viola...Kyle MacNeil
Upright Bass...Eddie Woodsworth

Keltic Drive

  • Reflection…Paul K. MacNeil (SOCAN)
  • Mrs. Campbell of Shiness...Roddie Campbell
  • Keltic Drive...Paul K. MacNeil (SOCAN)

The combination of Gordie's nostalgic chords and Stewart's soaring flute has caused this medley to take flight, hope you will too. The first two tunes have a turn that is written in the key of E minor. This is a rarity on the pipes. The tune, Reflection, came from the skeleton of an old jig. We have the book it came from but the melody has changed so much we can't find the tune. The last tune was composed during a labor dispute in the summer of '96.

Acoustic Guitar...Gordie Sampson
Eb Wooden Flute...Stewart MacNeil

She Didn't Want To Leave

Paul composed this air for his mother's sister Theresa MacRae. After hearing a tune composed by Paul's sister Rosemary, Theresa requested that someone write a tune for her. Theresa was very supportive of Paul & Jamie's previous recording "Fosgail an Dorus" so Paul named this tune after her. Although it was originally written in _ time, Tracey created a new arrangement while having a mellow moment one day. Our friend, Ed Woodsworth who plays bass on this recording, plays with heart & soul creating a performance outclassed by none. Eddie's visits to our home were always a total pleasure.

Fretless Bass...Eddie Woodsworth
Acoustic & Electric Guitar...Gordie Sampson
Drum Kit...Dave Burton
Percussion...Matt Foulds

The Big Hollow

  • Air Faillirinn Iu...Traditional
  • Lorient Macalish...Allan MacDonald (MCPS)
  • Mrs. MacInroy of Lude...Joseph Lowe
  • Salmon Fishers...Traditional
  • Mrs. Webster...Traditional
  • Willie Murray's...Traditional
  • Chuckie MacLellan...Cameron Chisolm

So much of our musical inspiration has been assimilated from the great oral tradition of the area in which we live. One of our favorite nature walks takes us through the BIG HOLLOW near our home in CastleBay...Air Faillirinn Iu has been sung by many Gaelic singers in our area. Allan MacDonald, a phenomenal piper and Gaelic scholar from Glen Uiag, Scotland composed the march. It can be found in his book entitled 'The Moidart Collection'. The strathspey in this medley is one we heard played by the MacLellan Trio and was arranged to fit the pipes by Tracey. The first three reels are traditional with the 3rd and 4th turns of Willie Murray's having been composed by G.S. McLennan who is renowned in the piping world for his dynamic compositions. Margaree fiddler, Cameron Chisolm, composed the last tune.

Acoustic Guitar...Gordie Sampson

Culturally Challenged

  • Bob Thomson's...Pipe Major William Robb
  • The Left-handed Quick-step...Traditional
  • Irish Jig...Traditional
  • The Three Little Drummers...Traditional

This is the group we felt had that "electric kind of sound" …bring on the bass and drums! One of our all time favorite drummers is Dave Burton. He plays with both passion and authority making him fascinating to watch and hear. Jamie MacInnis found the first tune in the 'Cowal Collection'. Jamie has been a close friend of ours for many years and has inspired and influenced Paul's style of piping as well as his practice of searching through old music collections and sharing good, old tunes. The Left-handed Quickstep can be found in the 'Glen Collection'. The traditional Irish jig came out of the 'Northern Fiddler'. Jamie originally arranged The Three Little Drummers from a recording of his father Dan Joe. Between Jamie and Dan Joe they had four turns on the tune; we stretched it a little bit further.

Acoustic Guitar...Gordie Sampson
Electric Guitar...Dave MacIsaac
Electric Bass...Eddie Woodsworth
Drum Kit...Dave Burton


The Crest of the Wave

  • Barr nan Tonn...Allan MacDonald MCPS
  • The Little Cascade...G.S. McLennan MCPS

These two composers make a good pair. Allan's love and dedication to the history of the Gaelic language, song and music is inspiring. He appears to have come from a different place in time. The work of G. S. McLennan, whose compositions were truly ahead of his time, has also been a great source of enthusiasm and motivation. His tune, The Little Cascade, was written circa 1920. The arrangement you hear on this recording was created by Tracey & Paul. This medley was recorded the day we lost a great friend, a friend who moved us both personally and musically. We offer this group to the memory of John Morris Rankin.

Acoustic Guitar...Gordie Sampson

Alex's Last Dance

  • Alex John J….Paul K. MacNeil (SOCAN)

Alex John J. MacLean was a carpenter by trade but an incredibly witty man by nature... "Gentlemen, if I may abuse the term...and…He had a face on him so long he could eat oats out of a churn..." were some of his favorite sayings. These are good memories of Alex; with this air we hope to return a little bit of his warmth.

Acoustic Guitar...Gordie Sampson
Fretless Bass...Eddie Woodsworth


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