Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 53 > Page 5 - Our Uncle, Dan R. MacDonald From Talks with John Donald and John Allan Cameron

Page 5 - Our Uncle, Dan R. MacDonald From Talks with John Donald and John Allan Cameron

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1990/1/1 (296 reads)

in a lumber camp somewhere. And a chap that was there told me that they'd wake Dan R. up in the morning--Dan R. would roll over in his bed, and he'd be whis? tling a tune. Perhaps a tune he didn't--it was just going through his head--that he was just learning--just--something origi? nal. It seemed to be just born in him, some way or other. It seemed to be.... lively dance player, later on. He might have been earlier, before I ever heard him. But he was a much better player than people give him credit for.... He had his faults, of course. (What would you consider a Dan R. fault?) (John Donald laughs.) Well, he was probably--perhaps be? ing a bachelor--maybe I shouldn't say that --being a bachelor, he never--most of his life he didn't haye to worry about anybody else but himself. Maybe that wasn't his-- you know, he could get up and go, you know. So he almost didn't realize that there were certain responsibilities that somebody had to, you know.... When he was, perhaps, in Mabou, you know--anything--social event-- was going on, he'd be wanting to go, wheth? er my mother wanted to go or could go or not. You know, he wanted to--he'd have to go anyway. But when he was - -that's when there was a drink available! But if there wasn't a drink available, sometimes he'd--for example, now, he was on the keg for 6 months one time. And he .was totally anti-social. He wouldn't go anywhere. People would call up, ask him to go--he wouldn't go to play for anybody or do anything. Because apparently he felt that the little dram went with that--went with the music. And I think that was a bit of a fault! (John Donald chuckles.)... When he went overseas in the '40s--in the Second World War. A lot of the tunes he picked up over there, he was playing, he took back here. And he made a lot of con? tacts over there, as to where to find the old books. He found a lot through J. Murdock Henderson in Aberdeen. And he bought the books and sent them back over here. Besides the contacts he made over there, he opened the gates for a lot of the export from Scot? land of books to Canada, that we have today. Really he did. Indeed he did.... I'd say that Dan R. was more closely con? nected to the newer, the more modern style of playing. And I refer to that as being Scott Skinner's. Like, most people in Scotland today, their fiddling is adapted to that way. But in Cape Breton the fid- dling's more attuned to dancing, as op? posed to Scotland, where it's more for listening.... But I'd have to say, going a little fur? ther about that--Dan R. was a better player than people give him credit for. He really was. I hate to hear people say he wasn't that good a player. I've heard peo? ple say that. I don't think they always heard him in the right light. You know, he did drink. And he'd play when he was drinking a lot, which perhaps he shouldn't. But he was a much better-- because he was willing to play things that other people wouldn't even touch. He was willing to try them, anyway, and play them as best he could. He wasn't, perhaps, a Well, my mother was another story!... She was a colourful--perhaps more blunt. Her and Dan R. were.similar personalities in many ways, but then in other ways they Pay for a Room, Stay in a Suite. ?? Complimentary Continental Breakfast ?? Separate Living and DiningAreas ??Microwave, Fridge, Cofteemaker, Dishes ?? WeekKMana- - - .. ger's Reception &. ,' i' "'' Rooftop Barbe? cues Halifax 1583 Brunswick St. Halifax, N.S. B3J 3P5 902 420-0555 1-800-565-1263 ?? Complimentary Grocery Shop? ping Service ?? Remote Control TV, Inroom Movies ?? Daily Maid Service ?? 'Tiirlpool, Sauna, Fitness Centre ?? Res? taurant ?? Rates De? crease with Length ' ' of Stay CAMBRIOGE SUITES' Sydney 380 Esplanade Sydney, N.S. BIPIBI 902 562-6500 1-800-565-9466
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