My first memory of Wolfville is a flash of a kilt and a brogue-ish chuckle; a smart-dressed man signing me up for an open mic at Paddy’s Pub on a Monday night. Mike Milne (along with a certain pony-tailed sound guy) were my first friends in town, making me feel welcome as they shouted at me over their beers. No doubt bucketloads of other ruddy-cheeked newbies have had this exact same first experience.
In addition to his personable charm and earnest hospitality, Milne is a solid musician who has just dropped his first album, Fine Felt Hat. With these eleven tracks of Celtic craic and ceol you can take the pub home with you (minus the belligerent drunks), or out in the car when you’re feeling lonesome on the road.
All the pub favourites are there, including “Marching Inland” and “The Last Shanty” (the ‘sailor ain’t a sailor’ song), presented in a high-quality production complete with superb backing musicians. Among them, the ever-amazing Ariana Nasr on fiddle, and the talented Heather Ann Cameron on bodhrán and accordion. Andy Flinn’s recording studio has fashioned yet another professional accomplishment, with Mike’s rich vocals coming out clear and booming.
Milne’s style combines the lyrical and playful sweetness of an Irish Clancy Brother with the hard-fisted passion of a Nova Scotian Stan Rogers. All this delivered with a sincerity and energy that reveals his honest love of the music. Wolfville wouldn’t be Wolfville without Paddy’s Pub, and Paddy’s wouldn’t be Paddy’s without Mike Milne. Ergo, he’s a local treasure, so treasure him.
And go to his CD release party Saturday, September 10th at 8pm in the Celtic Hall of Paddy’s Pub in Kentville. Tickets are $10, available from Mike Milne or Andy and Ariana, or email email@example.com to reserve.
By: Laura MacDonald