If you’re a fan of traditional, down-home, live music, and all for a good cause at that, there is a “ceilidh across the way” with your name on it, that happens year-round.
Every third Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m., at Stratford’s Cotton Centre, the Stratford Lions Club hosts a variety-filled ceilidh, with all proceeds going to the Lions Club to help fund needs and initiatives of the community.
The monthly fundraiser has been going since last February and usually attracts a great crowd of music fans.
So this past Tuesday, I dropped by to check out the scene and take in some good old fashioned toe-tappin’ music.
Janice and Joe Hebert on piano/vocal and guitar hold down the fort as the house band for the show, and they kicked off the evening with some traditional favourites at 7 p.m., as just over 50 gathered ‘round for a cozy night of song on a cold winter’s night.
The first musical guest of the night was young Dylan Ferguson on guitar and vocals — a 16-year-old country/bluegrass up-and-comer from down Murray River way who has become a fixture at many weekly musical events on the eastern part of the Island and beyond over the past few years.
And with this past year’s release and successful sales of his first CD, Country Roots, Dylan continues to make his mark has a young country singer and guitarist who nails the old hits, and yet with a style that’s all his own.
Through songs like Moe Bandy’s Picture in a Frame, Your Old Love Letters and Johnny Cash’s Give My Love to Rose, Dylan delivered a well-received set, surely making many wonder how someone of his age has even heard these classic tunes, let alone sing and play them so well.
Next up on the bill was none other than Eddy Quinn.
“I kinda (ticked) Eddy off earlier, I think,” said emcee Avery Blaxland, whose job was made easier that night with a reduced number of performers on the bill.
“I told him we were short on talent ... should have worded it that we were short of entertainers instead, I suppose,” Avery chuckled, as laughter filled the room, and Eddy grinned and shook his head.
“You takin’ shots at me already?” Eddy joined in the laughter as he got to the mike.
Accompanying himself on guitar (with extra accompaniment by Dylan and the Heberts), Quinn hammered home a great ensemble of songs like Hank Williams’ Your Cheatin’ Heart, George Jones’ She Thinks I Still Care, and Jessi Colter’s Storms Never Last.
After a sweet intermission lunch of some scrumptious biscuits and jam, complete with cookies and loaves and tea (and I can tell you, it was all delicious because I sampled it all - hey, it’s my job to do so), the second half began with some enjoyably impressive harmonica playing by Fenton MacSwain, as he accompanied himself on a 12-string acoustic, with guitarist Vince Keoughan by his side.
And following performances by Roy Trainor, who zipped through a good handful of jigs and reels on the mandolin, and Mark Kaiser, who vocally serenaded us with Walk on By and King of the Road, Keoughan came back and sang a few (including a quick-chugging version of My Bonnie that got everyone singing along). He also played a few waltzes, reels and jigs on the fiddle.
Through it all, Janice and Joe Hebert filled out the sound for every performer with piano and guitar accompaniment, as they finished off the evening with a lovely set of tunes, highlighted by Janice’s beautiful vocal delivery of Quand Le Soleil Dit Bonjour Aux Montagnes.
The next Stratford Lions Club Ceilidh will be on Tuesday, Feb. 19. For more details, to suggest a performer or for any more general information on the ceilidhs or on the Stratford Lions Club, call ceilidh co-ordinator Erma Rose at 569-3956.
Next week: St. Dunstan’s Basilica Organ Concert tonight.
Todd MacLean is a local freelance writer and musician. If you have a comment or suggestion for a review, you can get in touch with him at email@example.com or at 626-1242. But he won’t be offended if you don’t.
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