Although Doug Lamey was born in Norton, Massachusetts, he has Atlantic Canadian music in his blood – his grandfather, Bill Lamey, was a renowned fiddler from Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island. And, like many in the area, Bill had Celtic roots – both Irish and Scottish.

“I have always been inspired by his recordings,” Lamey shares via email with Celtic Life International from his home on Canada’s east coast. He credits both grandfather Bill, as well as his grandmother Sally (a Gaelic speaker), as two of his biggest influences.

Of course, other Cape Breton musicians have made their mark on him also.

“I have a memory of being quite young. I must have been two years old or so. I wasn’t walking quite yet. My dad sat me on one of the steps to the stage at Glencoe Mills Dance Hall. Howie MacDonald was playing, and I remember watching, mesmerized, thinking, ‘I want to do that!’ That has always stayed with me.”

Back in his hometown, he took lessons from instructor Sheila Falls Keohane. He studied classical along with Irish and Cape Breton fiddle, and later trained with the likes of Buddy MacMaster, John Campbell, and Carl MacKenzie.

“There is such a great crew of classic Celtic players. The traditional fiddle scene is thriving and inclusive…even my kids are playing fiddle – traditional music that has been passed down from generations prior, for hundreds of years, really.”

Over the years, Lamey has performed at a slew of concerts, festivals, and ceilidhs in the Greater Boston Area and elsewhere across North America, including the Celtic Colours International Festival in Cape Breton. One of his favourite experiences took place at the Washington Irish Festival in 1998.

“I played with a ‘next generation’ group of excellent musicians. Following our performance, (Irish folk band) Altan took the same stage. That is also when I met piano player Mac Morin, who is on my new album. I asked him if he would play with me during my performance and he said he would. This was a very special and memorable gig.”

These days, he calls Cape Breton home, residing in Baddeck with his wife and children.  He released his debut recording after moving to the island in 2011. The album’s title, A Step Back in Time, is appropriate for a number of reasons. For one thing, the move to Cape Breton brought him home to a 150-year-old house. It is also a nod to his family’s origin. That same year, he was invited to Celtic Colours to play a tribute to the late fiddler and composer Dan R. MacDonald. “There were some great fiddlers from Cape Breton and Scotland there that night and we were all sent the tunes for the group numbers ahead of time. I played a set of Dan R compositions in B flat with Barbara MacDonald Magone on piano, which was great. The group numbers were exhilarating, to put it mildly.”

He now has upwards of 70 compositions of his own under his belt.

“My creative ideas have mostly come in the middle of the night. I have sat at my computer many times between 2-4 a.m. writing out ideas. Following through with the ideas is when the fun really begins.”

Lamey recently released his sophomore recording, True North – an album, he notes, that is “a complete listening experience.” From fast-paced jigs to slower, soulful tunes, it is a well-rounded taste of Cape Breton fiddle.

“The response has been great. I have had some wonderful performance opportunities come up as result of the recording. The official release was at The Narrows Pub, which was live streamed as part of the Gaelic College Wednesday Night Ceilidh Series. I did another release concert as part of The Burren Backroom Concert Series in Somerville, MA, which was sold out.”

Thanks to local fixtures such as the Gaelic College and the Cape Breton Fiddlers Association, Lamey feels that the region has done a great job of preserving Celtic culture, although there is always room for more opportunities for musicians to learn and perform.

“For those who are involved, it is way cooler than pop culture. If you could see Natalie MacMaster or Taylor Swift in concert, who would you choose? I would choose Natalie MacMaster.”