Skip to content

Cape Breton comes to Courtenay as Còig plays the Sid Williams Theatre

Còig, a Celtic band from Cape Breton comes to the Sid Williams Theatre on Saturday, April 20, the season finale of the theatre society’s 2023-2024 Blue Circle Series. Photo supplied

The Blue Circle Series is giving Maritime ex-pats - and all other Celtic music fans - the opportunity to ‘go home’ for an evening, as the Cape Breton trio Còig comes to Courtenay.

The Sid Williams Theatre Society presents Còig on Saturday, April 20, the season finale of the theatre society’s 2023-2024 Blue Circle Series.

Featuring a captivating blend of influences as they meld Celtic tradition with the modern era, Còig lights up the stage celebrating East Coast music’s timeless allure.

“We kind of mix it up a little bit…. Rachel [Davis] plays fiddle, and so there’s a lot of Cape Breton fiddle in the show,” said founding member Darren McMullen. “Myself, I play a bunch of other Celtic instruments, like the mandolin, bouzouki and whistles, but more in the Irish style. Then Zak [Cormier] is from PEI, and he plays guitar and also does the French-style foot percussion, which is a great addition to the other two styles.”

The result is an eclectic and energetic combination of music and melodies. And don’t forget the singing.

“Other bands that are doing this kind of music don’t focus very much on vocals, if at all,” said McMullen. “Rachel, well, I’ll toot her horn, in 2020 she won the Canadian Folk Music Award for vocalist of the year.”

So how did this band with different Celtic backgrounds come together? Serendipitously, according to McMullen.

“It kind of happened by happy accident really, in 2010. We were five solo acts – we each had our own record and did our own shows. But we were all invited to perform with the Celtic Colours tour. We kind of backed each other up and played as a group as well as individually. And we just had so much fun doing it that any time we had a chance to, we’d play together. But it wasn’t like we sat down and said, ‘Okay, we’re gonna make a band and who do we get?’”

However, after getting “hounded about it” enough while on the tour, they decided they would form a band and quickly chose the name Còig.

“It’s a Scottish-Gaelic word, one of the only ones that actually looks the same way as it sounds…. It’s the word for the number five,” says McMullen. “Of course, shortly after that, there (were) only four of us. But by then we already had a CD with the name written on it, so we were like, ‘Well, may as well just keep it.’”

Officially, they are still a four-piece band, but these days they more often perform as a trio.

“It’s one of the pandemic things that happened. Chrissy [Crowley], the second fiddler ended up getting into some courses during COVID which turned into furthering a degree… so she’s not really able to tour right now.”

As with so many performers, the pandemic had a significant impact on Còig, with live shows, tours and festivals abruptly halted.

Along the way, the Còig members continued to find solace and resilience in their enduring bond as a band.

“Rachel and I are married, so we’re obviously very close to each other, and we just love Zak as well. Getting to make music with Zak and perform in front of people now, because of the pandemic, it makes it special… it even hits us a little more when you look across the stage and you’re seeing people that are also your best friends.”

Post-pandemic, Còig has emerged with renewed determination and a deeper appreciation for the power of music. And they remain steady in their mission to spread joy and celebrate the timeless melodies of Celtic tradition in nontraditional ways.

“We hope people have a good time and forget about whatever the things are they have to worry about all day and have a little party with us with some tunes and some songs,” said McMullen.

From navigating the evolving landscape of live performance and embarking on new musical endeavours, including a long-awaited duo project by Davis and McMullen, Còig continues to inspire audiences with their vibrant performances and unwavering passion for Celtic music.

Tickets for Còig are available now online, by phone or in person at the box office. For more information, visit