Canadian lighthouse keeper Paul Cranford, one of that country’s few remaining keepers, has for the past three decades utilized his unique 28 day on, 28 day off schedule to satisfy his passion for Irish and Scottish fiddle music. Over the last thirty years, Cranford has become a respected player, composer and publisher of fiddle music. Since 1979, his company’s publications have helped add and keep tunes in the repertoires of Irish, Scottish and Cape Breton traditional musicians. His own compositions have also worked their way into the repertoires of a diverse group of musicians including Grammy nominated Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster and Irish accordion virtuoso Sharon Shannon.
Cranford’s love affair with fiddle music began in 1975 upon his arrival in Nova Scotia from his native Toronto. Drawn by an interest in folk music, he stumbled upon a job as a lighthouse keeper within a week of his arrival. It wasn’t long before he picked up the fiddle as his primary instrument and never looked back.
During his 28 days of shore leave, Cranford gleaned tunes and technique from Cape Breton’s finest traditional musicians. He would travel the 3,970 square mile island learning from players in each community. The 1970s were the beginning of the end for the Golden Age of Cape Breton fiddling, and Cranford gleaned all he could from that eras greatest players. The 28 days of seclusion that followed, stationed at one of Atlantic Canada’s lighthouses, allowed Cranford the unique opportunity to digest what he had heard and seen during his travels.
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