chrispygal - Trip Advisor Review
People in New York make Anne of Green Gables jokes when you tell them you're going to Prince Edward Island. They are sad cynics. Anne is pure sweetness, something New Yorkers have a famously hard time understanding. But I'd take my bitterest, most cynical friends to see The Ross Family Ceilidh, just to watch them grinning so hard their faces hurt and singing along to "The Rattling Bog." Because, well, they would.
A Ceilidh is a "kitchen concert," a gathering of traditional musicians playing Celtic/Acadian tunes. The Ross Family is a group of three siblings: Johnny on piano, Stephanie on guitar and vocals, and Danielle on fiddle and vocals. The gals step dance like they've been doing it since they were babies--and they probably were.
But I still haven't said why these folks are special. I've been to a lot of Ceilidhs. I play some trad music myself. Ceilidhs can be a lot of the same. What's special about the Ross Family is that they aren't purists, although they totally respect their tradition. They're not above hula-hooping and playing fiddle. Or step dancing and playing at the same time. Or, in Johnny's case, playing piano rockabilly style, bench tossed back, shoes on the keys. Or covering "The Orange Blossom Special" to close the show.
But Johnny's bass notes still sound like the most pristine aged ladies I've heard on Cape Breton--just as true to the music. And Danielle could hold her own at the most hide-bound show. Anyone who doesn't love Stephanie's powerhouse vocals and contagious joy at being on stage is a Grinch, pure and simple. Plus, that girl sure can play rhythm guitar!!
I think the Stephanie summed it all up when she mentioned that the last show this summer was going to be on Bruce Springsteen's 66th birthday. She's obviously a fan, and her Big Man and Bruce stance with her sister on stage is a heart-melter. Here's the thing: this Ceilidh (of all things) has Springsteen levels of energy. Plus you could take your kids--please take your daughters, so they can see what terrific gal musicians who love to play are like. A little girl at the show tonight was totally star-struck, and it was a beautiful thing.
Date of experience: July 2015
Ross Family Ceilidh
A rousing, toe-tapping good time
Review | by Chris McGarry - The Buzz
The finest in Scottish and Acadian inspired Island roots music was brought to life in a lively, energetic performance by the Ross Family at The Guild in Charlottetown on July 2.
The Ross Family Ceilidh, which plays at The Guild every Tuesday until October 1, showcased the amazing talents of siblings Stephanie, Danielle and Johnny Ross as they entertained the full-capacity crowd (most of whom were visiting PEI) with sprightly jigs and reels, hilarious tales of Island life and as well as insightful stories of the background of their PEI-based roots traditional music, which has a rich heritage dating back to 1803, when the Ross Family ancestors first arrived on the shores of Abegweit.
After making their grand entrance, the Ross Family kicked off the sparkling evening of music and storytelling with an exhilarating number titled “Rattling Bog” that had the entire audience clapping their hands and stomping their feet. The guitar/fiddle and piano-infused songs were not all fast-paced jingles that took a lighthearted approach to the Island’s Scottish and Acadian cultures.
There were masterful compilations such as “Fiddle and Bow”—a stirring, beautiful ballad that demonstrated the brilliant fiddle playing prowess of Danielle Ross—as well as a haunting Celtic melody sung by Stephanie Ross in old-style Gallic. Johnny Ross, well-known around PEI for his work in various bands, including Fallback, had the excited audience on the edge of their seats with his energetic style of piano playing and hilarious stories that poked fun at the local Scottish heritage as well as Island stereotypes, such as Islanders asking people whom they just met where they’re from and who their father is. Johnny perfectly displayed those skills on the group’s version of “Tennessee Waltz” and old-style rock and roll songs, including a classic number from Jerry Lee Lewis.
Halfway through the show, the siblings’ mother, Dorothy Ross, joined her children on stage with her amazing step-dancing talents. While the show placed considerable emphasis on Scottish roots music, the audience was also given a good taste of the Clinton Hills-based trio’s French ancestry, taking them by a song on a ten-minute tour through the Evangeline region of Western PEI.
Throughout the evening, Johnny, Stephanie, and Danielle created a dynamic, never dull atmosphere with their vigorous performance of music and tales passed down through close to eight generations. They also explained the significance of the fiddle in Island music, particularly centuries ago when in their free time people enjoyed playing the popular instrument (which originated in 10th century Europe) at kitchen parties, a legacy which lasts to this day.
For those who are visiting PEI and are eager to become immersed in some of the finest illustrations of traditional Island roots music, then the Ross Family Ceilidh is the place to be on a Tuesday night at The Guild or at the family’s concert venue in Clinton Hills every Monday and Wednesday at 7:30 pm to October 2.
Date of review: July 2019
About the show
Presented every summer since 2006, the Ross Family Ceilidh has become a staple of the PEI roots music scene and a vacation highlight for travelers. This young brother-sister group is noted for full-throttle performances, doused in “crazy legs” and non-stop movement -- You have to see it to believe it!
Fun, engaging songs, backed by brisk fiddling, guitar picking and energetic piano playing, combine with synchronized step-dancing to deliver a memorable evening of entertainment for children, seniors and everyone in between! Also featuring performances by their mother, a
Shows take place at two great locations: Clinton Hills, a beautiful rustic barn venue located in the countryside west of Cavendish and The Guild, an intimate theatre in downtown Charlottetown. Both venues are air-conditioned and offer a licensed bar and snacks at intermission.