OZFM’s Danielle Butt talks the history of Jigs & Reels, the beloved program’s wide-reaching audience, and getting primed for Paddy’s festivities
Danielle Butt is a well-known name amongst any household across the province, and even in homes across the rest of the country and abroad. Having dedicated the past 28 years of her life to broadcasting, the talented Carbonear-born personality has also been involved with NTV for over a decade as the host of NTV’s Monday feature, Made Right Here and the NTV Lucky Number Contest. Her distinctively charming voice is most often heard every Saturday and Sunday morning on OZFM as the host of Jigs and Reels, Newfoundland’s traditional and Irish music show.
JIGS & REELS
Jigs and Reels is exactly what it sounds like, a radio show featuring traditional Newfoundland tunes with a dash of Irish Celtic music that’ll make you want to get up and do a little jig. For the record, a jig is a common dance type of English origin, and the reel is the most common type of dance tune played in Irish traditional music, heavily influenced by similar dances in Scotland.
With a large Irish background settled in the roots of Newfoundland and Labrador, it comes as no surprise that we’ve adapted our own twist on Celtic music, widely known as Newfoundland traditional, or trad, music. Based on the Irish, English and Cornish traditions that were brought to our shores centuries ago, Newfoundland trad music is quite easily identifiable as being specific to our easternmost province.
“I just added a new song to the Jigs playlist, and it’s not a new song in terms of being released, but it’s a new song to Jigs. It’s Tom Tuohy’s My Little Honda 50 and you’d say it was written from somewhere around the bay, absolutely, but it is an Irish song,” Butt shared in an interview with The Newfoundland Herald.
“They’re very, very similar. Our connections are so tight and their culture is pretty much the same as ours, their weather is pretty much the same as ours, and we have so many people that immigrated from Ireland, that we really are half Irish.”
Jigs and Reels is still the number one ranked show, with listeners from all over the world who tune in via OZFM.com including Australia, Singapore, Mexico and Costa Rica, just to name a few.
“I’m humbled all of the time. I think it’s just wonderful that people think so much of the show. They always write in, so I have comments every week on Facebook, Twitter, and our OZFM website, people just writing on my wall saying how much they’re enjoying the show every weekend, like these are faithful listeners. Newfoundlanders love their Jigs and Reels,” she explained.
FRIENDS & FAMILY
“I’m so lucky to be in an industry that musicians are so talented and yet they’re all so down to earth. I consider most of them good friends, my extended family. Chris Andrews, I could hang out with him any day. He dropped off his new album recently, I called him afterwards and said, you need to come in soon and do an interview on Jigs. He said come down to the house now and have a cup of tea and we’ll talk about it. We build a relationship.
“Not only do the musicians you hear on Jigs come in and see my playing field, I go out and see theirs. I really have an appreciation for what they do, and I’m honoured to be able to promote Newfoundland’s incredible artists.” Butt shared.
“I’ve developed a close relationship with The Celtic Connection. I’ve been good friends with them now for over 25 years. We joke that I am their resident MC. We’ve travelled the island together and there’s been a lot of laughs over the years. My favourite memories are from the famous Graham Christmas parties in Aquaforte.
“Scott Graham was the mandolin player and youngest of the five Graham boys. They were all born with a musical instrument in their hands, and they all can sing. I picture Scott’s father, Don, getting up to sing George Jones. He’d have his five sons behind him singing back up and playing instruments, and his wife, Liz, tucked under his arm. It really is a whole fam jam and you can tell how close they are. Music does that to people, it really brings people closer together.”
Jigs and Reels and the crew at OZFM aren’t only known for presenting trad music across the island, they’re also known for using their radio famous voices to promote local charitable causes.
“We had a bit of fun again this year with the Children’s Wish Foundation TV/Radiothon. We broadcasted live from O’Reilly’s that morning and it’s turned into a great annual event,” Butt shared.
“This was our second year. It’s to help any child in our province with a life-threatening illness. We’re going to give them a wish to help boost their spirits, give them quality time with their family and of course, just to make them happy.”
Speaking of children, there’s a new baby girl in Butt’s life who might soon enough steal the spotlight from her.
“First-time grandma, ‘Nana.’ I am a 26-year-old grandma. Make sure you stick that in there,” Butt shared with a laugh.
“Alice is just so much fun and she brings so much enjoyment to our lives. As soon as she comes through the door we’re on the floor playing. Not only has she started to crawl, but she’s now starting to enjoy standing. She can almost stand by herself. She loves baths and food – she’s a lot like her grandma that way. She listens to Jigs and Reels every Sunday and she dances – like seriously – she loves it. Anytime there’s music on, her hands are clapping.”
ST. PATRICK’S DAY
As for St. Patrick’s Day, the radio star will be out listening to The Celtic Connection. “It’s become a tradition, myself and Jennifer, of The Celtic Connection, are like five-year-olds when we’re together. It’s laughs and giggles the whole time. And Glen (Harvey) and Barry (Kenny)… well, ya know, it’s gonna be a time!”
Butt will be putting on a special show of Jigs and Reels for St. Paddy’s Day.
“Jigs and Reels is always special that day, that’s when the show turns even more Irish than Newfoundland, but then you actually really do get to see how much our trad, Newfoundland traditional music, is connected to Irish music.”
Tune in to hear Danielle Butt on Jigs and Reels every Saturday from 6-8 am, and every Sunday from 8 am to 1 pm on 94.7 OZFM or via live stream at OZFM.com. Or visit her on Twitter @OZFMJigsReels