Morgan Toney and Keith Mullins
MEL LEHAN HALL AT ST. JAMES i
3214 West 10th Ave, Kitsilano
Accessible All ages
$26 Advance | $31 Door
(NO service charges)
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Morgan Toney is one of the most in-demand young fiddlers and singers in Atlantic Canada. He was nominated for three East Coast Canadian Music Awards, and his debut album, First Flight, is being reissued by Indigenous record label Ishkode Records. In just a short amount of time, Toney’s been able to invigorate both the Atlantic music communities and Mi’kmaq communities by bringing together the fiery fiddling of Cape Breton Island with the old songs of the Mi’kmaq, one song dating back up to 500 years. He calls this fusion Mi’kmaltic (Mi’kmaq + Celtic) and it's his way of celebrating his language and heritage. He’s honoring the elders who’ve taught him the songs and the language, and he’s taking his place on the front lines of Eastern Canada’s cultural divide.
Born and raised in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Keith Mullins, for a quarter-century, has been synonymous with the East Coast Music Scene. His professional career, beginning at the ripe age of 15, has taken him around the world and onto many stages sharing the spotlight with some genuine musical greats such as Matt Anderson, Ron Hynes, Bruce Guthro, Lennie Galant, Gordie Sampson, Jimmy Rankin, Natalie MacMaster, The Mellotones, Garrett Mason and many, many more. In spite of being a largely undiscovered gem, Keith has garnered several industry Awards including two ECMAs and six Music Nova Scotia awards, two of which being musician of the Year. Keith plays over 250 shows a year and is currently promoting his latest album, Onward and Upward. The album consists of tracks made in collaboration with Matt Anderson, Gordie Sampson, Meaghan Smith and Classified.
A chance encounter at the Baddeck restaurant where Morgan Toney was working at the time introduced Toney to Keith Mullins. The two bonded quickly over music and have been inseparable ever since, operating as musical partners and pushing each other to craft bigger arrangements and to try bigger ideas. Mullins heard Toney sing the “Ko’jua”, a Mi'kmaq social song, and knew he had to record it. The Ko’jua is a song family from deep in Mi'kmaq tradition, dating back 500 years or more. Inspired by the unusual example of local fiddler Vincent Joe who had learned the Mi’kmaq Honour Song on the fiddle, Toney figured he could do the same thing with the more difficult Ko’jua song. “There are two worlds of Mi’kmaq music,” Toney explains, “song and fiddle. They had never come together before. People knew of each, but never had I ever seen a collaboration between Celtic and Mi'kmaq culture before. It was either play Mi’kmaq songs with a drum or record a Cape Breton fiddle album. I knew I could sing, but me and Keith really had to think how we could give something out to the world that was different and made sense at the same time. We did that, we blended the two together and it’s been crazy. It’s like an explosion. It’s so fresh, but also familiar, and people can connect with it on a personal level.” Now their shows are full of both Mi'kmaq and Cape Bretoners revelling in a shared culture, and the duo have created a new sound that bridges two worlds, drawing a sense of pure love from both.
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