Ottawa Cape Breton Session


Sun. July 21 - Pub Session - 2pm to 5pm The next best thing to being in Cape Breton! Come to listen or come to play - open jam session at the Barley Mow, 1541 Merivale Rd. Everyone is welcome - all levels, all instruments. If you like playing, or hearing Cape Breton traditional music this is the place to be. 

Sun. Aug 4 - Pub Session - 2pm to 5pm Glengarry Highland Games Weekend! We hope you aren't fiddled out from the Games and still have energy to join us for a great jam session playing the tunes of Cape Breton Island. Open jam session at the Barley Mow, 1541 Merivale Rd. Everyone is welcome - all levels, all instruments. If you like playing, or hearing Cape Breton traditional music this is the place to be. Let us know if you have a song you'd like to sing, or a special set you'd like to play.

Sun. Aug 18 - Pub Session - 2pm to 5pm Open jam session at the Barley Mow, 1541 Merivale Rd. Everyone is welcome - all levels, all instruments. If you like playing, or hearing Cape Breton traditional music this is the place to be. Listeners and/or players welcome - bring the whole family, there is something for everyone on session days at the Barley Mow. 

Other Events

Sat July 20 - Cape Breton Square Dance - Music by FRASER, with caller Ananda Kelly. Second floor of Watson's Mill, 5552 Dickinson St. Manotick ON. Admission by donation. 

 Fri. Aug 2 - Sat. Aug 3 Glengarry Highland Games The Cape Breton Fiddler's Association will have a group attending this year's Games from Thursday through Sunday. They'll be playing at the afternoon fiddle events in the arena and with the massed fiddles. Check out some of the other great entertainment too!

!!!Attention Fiddlers!!! 🎻🎻🎵
You are invited to play at the Glengarry Highland Games with the Cape Breton Fiddler's Association and/or with the Glengarry Massed Fiddles. 

The Cape Breton Fiddler's Association will have a small group attending this year's Games from Thursday through Sunday and would love to have fiddlers from Ottawa Cape Breton Session join them. . They'll be playing at the Saturday afternoon fiddle event in the arena as well as at the Kirking of the Tartans on Sunday. The sheet music with an audio file to play along with are available here.
Sets for Saturday concert:

Sets for Sunday Kirking of the Tartans:

The Glengarry Massed Fiddlers will play Friday night, both in the arena and then on the fields as part of the Tattoo, as well as during the Saturday Scottish Fiddle concert.  You can obtain free Friday and Saturday admission to the Games if you attend the massed fiddle practice on Monday July 29th at 7:00pm Arena Hall, Maxville. If you don't attend the practice you are still welcome to play, but you'll have to pay your own admission. For Friday evening dress will be Men: White shirt, tartan tie and dark pants or kilt.* Ladies : White blouse and tartan skirt, kilt, or dark slacks or skirt. The list of tunes as well as downloadable sheet music and audio tracks to practice with are available here.

Arena Hall: 2:00pm – 5:00 pm Scottish Youth Fiddlers’ Showcase
Arena Hall: 5:00pm -5:30pm Judi Nicolson acc. Kathy Fraser Collins & Fred Collins
Arena Hall 5:30pm – 6:00 pm Glengarry Massed Fiddlers
Main Stage: 6:30pm The Glengarry Massed Fiddlers (concert in front of grandstand)

Arena Hall: 9:30 am – 11:30 am Fiddle Workshop
1:30 pm – 5:00 pm Scottish Fiddle Concert - including Cape Breton Fiddler's Association and Glengarry Massed Fiddlers, in addition to solo sets from many other great fiddlers. 

Sessions, sessions, sessions - there are lots of Celtic sessions going on in the National Capital Area that include a nice mix of Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton and French Canadian tunes. Check out our Google calendar below  for dates and locations. 

Scenes from some of our past pub sessions - always a great time!


Ottawa Cape Breton Session provides an opportunity to play tunes and sets that are part of the Cape Breton traditional repertoire. 

Pub Sessions

Sunday afternoon pub sessions are generally at a pretty fast pace. It is mostly group/session playing with occasional songs or solos.  Everyone is welcome to join, with fiddle, guitar, mandolin, accordion or even a cello! Sessions  are led by Aylene, or sometimes other folks. Let her, or the pianist Ellen know if you have something special to share with the group.   

If you don't play, but love to hear Maritime and Cape Breton music live you're more than welcome to come down to the pub sessions and have some fun. It's always a big and friendly group of folks, a great place to meet old friends and make new ones too. You'll meet lots of other Maritimers in the crowd. Jam ouverte avec concentration sur le pieces de l’ile du Cap Breton, de l’Écosse et de Glengarry. Apportez un instrument ou venez partager une chanson avec nous. Ou, venez savourez la musique et notre plaisir. On ne sait jamais qui s’y présentera, mais c’est certainement toujours un groupe avec un accueil amical avec qui passer l’après-midi.

House Sessions  **Looking for hosts for house sessions**

House sessions are are great way to learn new tunes and meet new people and get familiar with the Cape Breton repertoire. House sessions occur on a second or fourth Sunday from 2-5pm . The pace at house sessions varies, new tunes are learned mostly from sheet music. Players take turns hosting house sessions, or sometimes they are hosted by folks who just love to hear the music. The schedule is a bit erratic, when a house session is scheduled it will be posted on the website. Session à vitesse moyennement accéléré où apprender de nouveau ‘sets’ de pieces, généralement  à partir de feuilles de musique mais aussi ‘à l’oreil’. Lieu idéal pour faire l’essaie d’une  nouvelle chanson, ou pratiquer de nouvelles pieces avant de les jouer à la session au pub. C’est aussi un bon temps pour faire du ‘social’ avec des gens forts sympatiques et pour savourer des grignotines délicieuses.

Reel Slooow Jams

These house sessions play at a more moderate tempo for learning, great if you are new to your instrument or are nervous playing with a group. You won't find a more welcoming and encouraging group anywhere else. Players take turns hosting house sessions, or sometimes they are hosted by folks who just love to hear the music.   On vise les débutant(e)s au violon (ou piano ou guitar) qui désirent apprendre le pieces de l’Isle du Cap Breton dans un millieux amical et sans pression. Plusieurs aires et valses lentes ainsi que des jigues et des reels à partir du repertoire régulier, mais à une vitesse plus lente; ceci donnera plus de temps à ceux et celles qui ne savent pas lire la musique a apprendre à l’oreil. Vérifier la page “Tunes” pour la liste le plus souvent joué au Slow Jam (“jam lent”).

Host a House Session or Slow Jam

Hosts provide space and chairs (without arms) for anywhere from 6 to 20 fiddlers, and some space for socializing during the break. Session lead,  and all other arrangements are through Cape Breton Session. Please do not contact session hosts directly. To get on the email list for slow jams, or if you want to host a slow jam send an email to  Hosts can be fiddlers/pianists or just folks who don't mind listening to the same tune played over and over again. Ideally hosts provide an in-tune piano (or keyboard), but we can usually arrange to bring a keyboard and/or some extra chairs if needed.  Sessions are BYOB, and players bring along snacks for the break,  but usually the hosts provide tea or coffee, or other non-alcoholic beverages (depending on the weather). Slow jams will always require advance sign up, the host locations have varying capacities. If you have not received a registration confirmation you are not signed up - and should not show up.  More about slow jams...

Cape Breton fiddle music is best learned by ear. Although detailed sheet music and sound files are provided here for learning the basics of a tune , be aware that the tune may sound different when played live. The best way to really learn these tunes is to come out and play along with us at either a house or pub session. You would be more than welcome! The Tunes page contains tunes and sets you are likely to hear at one of our sessions. 

Stay in the loop by subscribing to our email list. You'll get all the information from our website delivered right to your email inbox. We NEVER share our email list, and we won't inundate you with mailings. Our mailings are usually monthly, occasionally more often if there is a lot going on that we think you should know about. 


Join our Facebook community to find links to online videos, music resources and other Cape Breton goodness. We also share news via Twitter. To see videos from past sessions check out our YouTube channel. 

Sign up to receive occasional notices about Ottawa Cape Breton Session events, as well as other events involving Cape Breton music and culture in the National Capital. A newsletter goes out approximately once a month, more often if there are last minute events, or a significant change to a planned event.  Past newsletters are here if you want to get an idea of what to expect or catch up on what you missed.

We NEVER share our list with other groups, we may occasionally pass along relevant information from another local group but rest assured that we won't give your email address to anyone else!

Fiddlers/Bands for Hire

Ottawa Cape Breton Session is an informal jam session, not a band, so we don't provide music for concerts or special events. If you are looking for some fiddle or kitchen party type music we offer a few suggestions on the Hire a Band page. 

Cape Breton fiddlers occasionally come and present workshops on fiddle, step dancing and piano here in the National Capital region. We'll make sure that any such events are communicated via our email list, website and social media accounts. There are a few Ottawa-area fiddle teachers who include Cape Breton tunes and stylings in their lessons.     More...