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CAPE BRETONERS GIVING THANKS FOR THE MUSIC SINCE 1994


In the October 1995 issue of What’s Goin On magazine (WGO #5), local musicians Gary Hatcher and Jason Dauphinee from the band Hedge reported that “last year, CAPR radio put on an all-day and into the evening fundraiser at the steelworkers hall in Sydney. Featuring all local bands of almost every description from Industrial music to the blues, the show won the station an award for talent development. This year they expanded the format to include three venues over three days, featuring more than 25 bands from Newfoundland, Cape Breton, the Mainland, and Ontario.”


And in the more than 25 years since then, Gobblefest has continued to grow and evolve, having a strong impact on the local independent music scene. Produced by Caper Radio during Thanksgiving weekend, the influential event has presented some of the top acts on the scene including Sunfish, Buck 65, Gob, Tom Fun Orchestra, The Weakerthans, Slowcoaster, C'mon, and hundreds of others.


The tradition continues this weekend with Gobblefest 2023 featuring more than 50 performances over four days, showcasing a variety of rock, punk, folk, hip-hop, pop, indie, and jazz artists. From songwriters' circles to late-night shows, and ticketed events to Pay-What-You-Can shows, there are plenty of opportunities for folks to find their new favourite band, or rekindle their love for live music.


Gobblefest gets underway on Thursday, October 5 with an all-ages songwriters circle at Doktor Luke’s showcasing the emerging talents of Natalie Costello, Breagh Kelly, Destiny Dawn, and Juliet Carol. Gobblefest’s songwriter circles continue throughout the weekend with Molly MacNeil, Jon Creeden, Danny MacNeil, and Freya Milliken at Breton Brewing on Friday, and on Saturday Wayne Bedecki, Destiny Dawn, Cassie Josephine, and Andrew Eugene will be at Daniels Alehouse while Island Folk Cider House will host Women & Songs featuring Molly MacNeil, Freya Milliken, Indee Anna, Natalie Costello, Kyra Foulds, and the Alicia Penney Band. Sunday morning, Joe Costello and Alicia & James' Show of Friendship will gather for songs and stories during Gobblefest Brunch at Selkies Diner.


Since it began in 1994, Gobblefest has catered to an all-ages crowd. In addition to the all-ages songwriters circle at Doktor Luke’s and the Gobblefest Brunch, two shows at City Hall's Round Room on Friday and Saturday will offer up a mix of established and up-and-coming performers including Like A Motorcycle, Baited, Conductor, 10 Slip, Izra Fitch, Origami Workshop, Draino, and Hemlock Pistol. The all-ages access continues Sunday night with a concert at the CBU Boardmore Playhouse featuring one of Canada’s most renowned performers, Joel Plasket, in celebration of 30 years of Caper Radio. Joining Plaskett on stage Sunday night is Greg MacPherson and Gee Stewart. This is a good chance to see MacPherson, a well-respected songwriter from Winnipeg with Cape Breton roots, if you didn’t get tickets for his sold-out, 19+ show Saturday night at Breton Brewing with local favourites The Lotoyas.



While the all-ages shows are always a big hit, there’s plenty for the over 19 crowd on the go too. Shows Friday night at the Ashby Legion and Saturday night at Daniels will feature, among others, Avalon & the Pyramids, Alright Already, Brooke Waye & the Noble Rot, Trash Brain, The High Tide, Good Dear Good, Gearl, and The Seasonographers. The whole thing wraps up Sunday night at Capri Cabaret with a great mix of rock and hip-hop acts including Like a Motorcycle, KU$H, 10 Slip, Painted Seagull, Nomad & Jay Cobra, Advocates of Truth, and Electric Spoonful. Check the listings for more information on who’s playing when and where during Gobblefest or visit cjbu.ca/gobblefestfor the full lineup.


In the almost 30 years that Gobblefest has been establishing itself as a premiere event for indie, rock, and punk-oriented bands and performers, Cape Breton’s music scene has had kind of a split personality. In the mid-1990s, Cape Breton got branded as a hotbed of “Celtic” music with the emergence of traditional musicians like Natalie MacMaster, Ashley MacIsaac, the Barra MacNeils, and the Rankin Family. In 1997, the Celtic Colours International Festival debuted with a focus on this traditional music and the culture that inspires and sustains it. The nine-day event features local fiddlers, piano-players, pipers, singers, dancers, pickers, strummers, and tradition-bearers alongside some of their renowned counterparts from around the world in a Cape Breton Island-wide celebration that has attracted a loyal following both here at home and abroad.



This Thanksgiving weekend marks the start of the 27th Celtic Colours. Running from October 6-14 at venues all over the Island, the Festival includes 49 concerts and hundreds of community events ranging from community meals to square dances to instrument instruction. Celtic Colours 2023 will feature artists from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, the Isle of Man, the U.K., the U.S., and across Canada, along with some of Cape Breton Island’s finest. The list of performers includes Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy, Blazin' Fiddles, Le Vent du Nord, John Doyle, Béla Fleck, Allan MacDonald, Maggie MacInnes, Cathy Ann MacPhee, Tim Edey, Iarla Ó Lionáird, Heather Rankin, J.P. Cormier, Mary Jane Lamond, Howie MacDonald, Dwayne Côté, Brenda Stubbert, Béolach, Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, Hauler, Mama’s Broke, Villages, Bradley Murphy, and Morgan Toney.


Celtic Colours opens with a concert called The Universal Language on Friday night in Port Hawkesbury, but there are plenty of concerts scheduled for the CBRM in Sydney, Membertou, North Sydney, Sydney Mines, Sydney River, New Waterford, Christmas Island, Big Pond, Louisbourg, Boisdale, Eskasoni, Leitches Creek, and Glace Bay. For the full schedule and lineup of artists, to buy tickets, or to tune in to the nightly livestreams, visit celticcolours.ca.


Whether you’re into punk or trad, hip hop or Gaelic singing, step dancing or head-banging, Cape Breton is the place to be this Thanksgiving if you’re a music lover.

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Cape Bretoners Giving Thanks for the Music Since 1994 celebrates the rich musical tradition and vibrant culture of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. Since its inception in 1994, this event has become a cherished annual tradition that brings together both locals and visitors to express gratitude for the music that is deeply intertwined with the identity of the region. If you want to increase the popularity of your song, then order premium spotify plays: https://artistpush.me/products/10k-premium-spotify-plays

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