J.J. Chaisson is celebrated far and wide as a talented multi-instrumental musician. He has collaborated on award winning recordings, acted as front man for a Celtic rock band, and toured widely as a solo artist. It is not possible to put into words what this young man does with his fiddle and guitar. In the words of Cape Breton fiddling sensation Natalie MacMaster, who’s known J.J. since he was eight years old, “he’s the best musician, entertainer and friend P.E.I. has to offer.”
Born into the well-known and respected Chaisson family helped to immerse J. J. in the world of traditional music from an early age. He began gracing halls and stages across the Island when he was barely able to touch the floor while sitting in a chair; word spread quickly about this young prodigy.
When he was just 14 years of age, J.J. released his first CD. In the Genes was a tribute to his two grandfathers. It was heralded as a treasure and astonished fiddlers far and wide with the professional ability of this burgeoning young musician. In the Genes led to invitations to travel, to teach at The Ceilidh Road School on Cape Breton Island and at the world renowned Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp in Colorado. He was also invited as the youngest player to be featured on the Rounder Records CD The Fiddlers of Prince Edward Island.
While still in high school, J. J. and his cousins formed the Celtic Rock band “Kindle”, recognized with a nomination as Best New Group at the 2000 East Coast Music Awards (ECMA’s) and a performance on the bill of the awards’ nationally televised broadcast. The group traveled widely throughout Canada and into the USA, with J. J. working as front man on fiddle and as a vocalist. He astounded audiences everywhere he performed.
In 2002, his second CD was released. Class Act again showed J.J.’s enormous fiddling talent and also introduced audiences to his skill as a guitarist. As he continued to hone his musical craft, his personality too emerged as being equally powerful to his playing abilities, reaching into the hearts of young and old alike with his smiles and endless jokes and storytelling.
J. J. is married to the love of his life, Julie MacDonald Chaisson. After four years working as a helper, he has been captain of his own lobster boat, aptly named “Chaisson a Dream”, for more than a decade. He loves his time at sea, fishing primarily for lobster on the cold Atlantic for two months each Spring, but with knowledge and experience in other fisheries such as snow crab, Jonah crab, mackerel, and herring. When fishing season comes to a close, the music season begins. He plays at locations across Prince Edward Island throughout the summer and travels off Island whenever the opportunity presents.
In 2007, J.J.’s and Julie’s daughter was born, inspiring the title of his next CD. The Gift was launched in 2008 at the Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival., featuring many of J. J.’s original tunes, highlighted by one of the most touching tributes ever written; the rousing Ella Rose’s Reel in honor of his first born. The Gift also includes Seas the Moment, an emotional tribute to the late Eastern P.E.I. fisher Captain Charlie Campbell, and went on to earn him the P.E.I. Music Awards Instrumentalist of the Year.
J.J. has traveled widely across Canada, into the USA and Denmark. He performed at the 2014 Cape Breton Celtic Colors Festival’s Guitar Summit, performing alongside the crème-de-la-crème of East Coast guitarists J.P. Cormier, Tony McManus, Dave MacIsaac, Scott MacMillian, and Quinn Bachand. He received a standing ovation for his part in the performance. J.J., his brother Koady, and cousins Darla MacPhee and Brent Chaisson were chosen to have a set from their Celtic Colors performance in Inverness, Cape Breton included on the 2014 Celtic Colors Live CD. It’s always a thrill for J.J. to play guitar as part of Natalie MacMaster’s band on numerous occasions.
It’s one thing to write about J.J.’s natural ability to entertain and make people feel happy and special. But it’s a whole other dimension to be a part of the experience, live!