September 9, 2004 in Features

MacMaster lays out a perfect ‘Blueprint’

By The Spokesman-Review
Courtesy photo

Natalie MacMaster brings bluegrass sound to Spokane.
(Full-size photo)

On Grammy-nominated fiddle virtuoso Natalie MacMaster’s latest album, “Blueprint,” she not only unites the sounds of Celtic and bluegrass, but also sews together a tight lineup of bluegrass all-stars.

Released almost exactly a year ago, “Blueprint” features bluegrass burners such as banjo players Bela Fleck and Alison Brown, mandolinist Sam Bush, singer John Cowan, bassist Edgar Meyer and dobro player Jerry Douglas.

MacMaster, in Spokane for the Western Arts Alliance conference, performs songs from “Blueprint” and the rest of her catalog on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at The Met.

In addition to her 2000 Grammy nomination for best traditional folk album for “My Roots Are Showing,” MacMaster has been named Fiddle Player of the Year for the past five years by the Canadian Country Music Association, has won two Juno Awards (Canadian equivalent to a Grammy) and 11 East Coast Music Awards.

Through her career MacMaster’s albums have alternated between traditional efforts and jaunts that stretch into the worlds of Latin and jazz. Produced by fellow fiddler Darol Anger, who plays a concert here tonight, “Blueprint” leans toward the contemporary, with familiar tinges of jazz built on a traditional foundation.

Once the roster of guest artists was assembled MacMaster realized many of the featured artists’ careers had intersected in the past.

Fleck, Bush, and Cowan had all been members of bluegrass innovators the New Grass Revival. The three of them appear on “Touch of the Master’s Hand,” a poem set to music by MacMaster and guitarist Brad Davridge.

Douglas, who recorded on five of “Blueprint’s” 13 tracks, had worked with both Meyer and guitarist Bryan Sutton.

Working with the high-caliber cast inspired MacMaster to write and play in ways she never expected.

“Much of the fiddling on this CD was not planned but felt because of the moment created by the music,” said the fiddler from Canada’s Cape Breton Island. “I’d be fiddling along and all of a sudden play something I had never thought of before because they had carried me to a new musical place that was absolutely natural.”

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