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The Family Tree - August/September 2003
Wee Snippets (10)

Jennifer Chabot wins North Carolina Gaelic Mod at GMHG

The following information was received from Donald F. MacDonald. A young student from a class in the Scottish Gaelic language, held earlier in the week at Lees-McRae College in Banner-Elk, was named winner of the Women's Section in this year's North Carolina Gaelic Mod -- a singers' contest held on July 12th at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games to test contestants' knowledge of Scotland's ancient Mother Tongue.

Jennifer Cabot received a first place trophy, a gold medal and a new book on Gaelic grammer. Winner of the men's competition was Donald F. MacDonald, a former Charlotte newspaper reporter, who has lived for the past forty years in Edinburgh, Scotland. MacDonald learned songs in the ancient classical language from his wife, a native speaker from the Scottish Island of Lewis.

Other winners in the Women's Section were: second, Mary Baxley of Little Rock, Arkansas, who sang a beautiful lament called Griogal Chridhe. It means Gregor of My Heart. Dating from as early as the 13th century, the song tells of the death by beheading of a young Chief of the Clan MacGregor. Gregor MacGregor was killed by members of his wife's own clan, the Clan Campbell.

The third place was shared by singers Anne Landin of Siler City, North Carolina, and Ceit Stewart of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Second place in the Men's Competition was won by Gerald Daniel of Fayetteville, North Carolina. He sang Sine Bhan, a love song which means Fair Jean. Daniel is head of the Cape Fear Valley Scottish Clans and is a lecturer at a Fayetteville college. Christopher Justus of Etowah, North Carolina, near Hendersonville, won third place with a children's tune, Oran na Nurs, which means The Song of the Nurse.

Winners of the state-wide competition are invited to go forward and participate in the U.S. National Gaelic Mod, which is held in September as a feature of the Ligonier Highland Games, held in Pennsylvania. There is another state Mod, which takes place in Houston, Texas.

Scotland's National Mod is held every October, usually in a city within that nation's Highland Region.

One of two visiting judges for the North Carolina Gaelic Mod was Cathy Ann MacPhee, a well-known singer/actress from Scotland, who now lives in Ottawa, Ontario. She is a native Gaelic speaker from the Hebridean Island of Barra and has appeared often on Gaelic programs on BBC TV and Radio, and on Grampian and Scottish Television. Ms. MacPhee has toured with theatrical groups in countries of the European Union.

The second judge was Dr. James Roderick (Jamie) MacDonald, a teacher of Gaelic and Scottish Studies at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.

The Gaelic language, which represents Europe's oldest culture outside ancient Greece and Rome, is still spoken regularly by over 80,000 bi-lingual Scots in the Highlands and Western Isles and in the cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee. Scottish Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, Welsh and Manx are the four existing Celtic languages.

The seven Celtic nations are Scotland, Ireland, Wales, the Isle of Man, Cornwall in England, Brittany in France and Galicia in Northwest Spain.

Laughter Abounds at Lochaber Trump Competition at GMHG

There was "a laugh a minute" at this year's Lochaber Trump Competition, as some of the favorite entertainers at the annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games played the jaw-harp, mouth-harp or Jew's harp for top prizes.

Carl Peterson, the Scottish recording artist from Greenock, put away his guitar and took up the Scottish Trump, winning a third place prize of a Highland quaich. But there was nothing therein to drink in this ancient Gaelic cup, the design of which is based upon the scallop shell. Instead, the liquids, which can be drunk from quaichs, were the prizes that were awarded later to two other Trump "twangers" -- (1) Pete Campbell and (2) Andy Lane.

A well-known musician and Scottish country dancer who hails from Greensboro, North Carolina, Pete took second place by playing a March, Strathspey & Reel. He received a bottle of moonshine in a Mason jar. His medley consisted of Mairi's Wedding, The Uist Tramping Song, and Highland Laddie.

Andy Lane from Todd, North Carolina, was winner of the first prize -- a bottle of Highland single malt whisky, after giving a spirited rendition of the American (and Scotch-Irish) reel tune, Turkey in the Straw. Andy also received the handsome Lindsay Porteous "Twanger" Trophy, presented by Scotland's leading Trump artist, Lindsay Porteous of Culross, Fife.

Fourth prize, a CD by America's top jaw-harp artist, Mike Seeger, was won by Kirk Raisbeck of Natural Bridge, Virginia. A talented bagpiper, Kirk is the son of the late Tom Raisbeck, co-founder (with Donald F. MacDonald) of the annual competition.

Honorable mentions went to Robert Murray, accordionist from Lanark, Scotland, and Radio Personality G. B. Barker of Boone. Each received a kiss from the judge, the competition's co-ordinator, Moire MacDonald Latamore from Washington, D.C.

The word Trump, from Gaelic tromb, is the name by which the jaw-harp or Jew's harp is known in Scotland. In the past years it was particularly popular in the Highland district of Lochaber, which is Clan Cameron Country, situated in the west and north of the town of Fort William.

Eighteenth century Scottish fur traders brought Lochaber Trumps to America and gave the instruments to Native Americans of the Cherokee and Creek Nations in exchange for valuable animal skins.

"Just think what would have happened if they had traded with bagpipes," said the judge.

The contest was held on Sunday afternoon, July 13th, the last day of the 48th annual Highland Games on the western slope of mile-high Grandfather Mountain, two miles from Linille, North Carolina.

Scottish music trio Smithfield Fair will bring Jacobites to Scottish Weekend

Scottish music trio Smithfield Fair will make its own appearance on February 14 & 15, 2003, at our own Scottish Weekend here in Moultrie. Currently, Smithfield Fair is touring in support of its sixth and latest compact disc - Jacobites By Name - released internationally in June of 2002 by Centaur Records.

Jacobites By Name centers on songs from Scottish Jacobite rebellions, showing an aggressive and up-tempo setting for the trio over the more reserved sounds of The Winter Kirk, the trio's 2001 release. Some of the band's most popular and requested songs from the past year of touring are included on the disc.

Over the past year, Smithfield Fair has stayed continuously on the road in a region from the East Coast to West Texas - playing Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi. The group's performances have drawn increasing audiences, forcing some concerts to be moved to larger venues while selling out others. The Winter Kirk drew the strongest critical reviews yet for their music, and was featured on radio programs in the Virgin Islands, Scotland and New Zealand, as well as receiving strong airplay throughout North America.

Critics have also praised the group's original material as the perfect balance for the traditional songs, and some songs have been hailed as "new standards." Dirty Linen magazine commented that Smithfield Fair's music is "based on strong songs with strong harmonies taken from or drawing on Scottish traditional sources, presented in uncluttered arrangements," and that they are "hearty singer and capable multi-instrumentalists." The group's next project will concentrate on the works of Robert Burns.

Considering themselves to be 'song-driven', the group's sound is lively and contemporary without losing its traditional focus, and effectively utilizes harmonies and driving rhythms. The trio is the husband/wife/nephew team of Jan Smith (vocals, accordion), Dudley-Brian Smith (vocals, guitars), and Frang Bladen (vocals, bodhran, percussion).

Their website is, or contact them at Smithfield Fair, 8323 Justin Ave., Baton Rouge, LA 70809, USA, or call at 225-928-3902.

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