Hector MacDonald | Bowing Down Home

Biography

Hector MacDonald was a major fiddler in Northern and Central Kings County from the 1920s through much of the 1970s. In the late 1920s and early 30s, he played fiddle relatively regularly on Island radio. In the 1960s, he and his son Allan MacDonald built a dance hall on their property that served as a major gathering place in the community for over a decade.

According to Allan MacDonald, the recordings available here were made towards the end of Hector’s life, when it was clear that his abilities were beginning to fade due to illness. The original recording was made on a reel-to-reel machine, but the version available to this project – from the collection of Hector’s daughter Bonnie MacDonald Campbell – had been informally copied from the original tape onto a cassette. Despite the lack of fidelity, MacDonald’s powerful yet lyrical playing shines through.

A note of interest: When MacDonald played on Island radio, he coined the name Little Donald in the Pigpen for one of the tunes in his repertoire. The family story is that years later noted Cape Breton fiddler John Morris Rankin learned this tune from Hector; in any event a tune by this name and with a similar “contour” was released in 1990 on a Rankin Family recording called Fare Thee Well, Love. Those familiar with the Rankin version will note that the tune seems to have evolved considerably from Hector's version.

Tune Selections

MacDonald, Hector (home recording) - HecMacDonald Reel 2 Accompanied by: Allan MacDonald, gtr
Central Kings
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MacDonald, Hector (home recording) - Little Donald in the Pigpen Accompanied by: Allan MacDonald, gtr
Central Kings
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MacDonald, Hector (home recording) - Pigeon on the Gatepost Accompanied by: Allan MacDonald, gtr
Central Kings
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MacDonald, Hector - Caber Feidh Accompanied by: Allan MacDonald, gtr
Central Kings
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