Unplugged night a highlight of Music P.E.I. Week

Todd MacLean
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There’s just nothing like stickin’ it to winter, eh?

One of our favourite pastimes as Canadians — to live it up in the middle of the coldest season and just have a full-on blast of a party. Because really, at this time of year, what else better is there to do?

And for the past week, music-loving Islanders have been living it up all over P.E.I. as Credit Union Music P.E.I. Week 2014 has been thoroughly entertaining audiences with a smorgasbord of amazing concerts in various locations, featuring some of the best talent that this Island has to offer.

One of these concerts took place at Marc’s Lounge this past Monday night with a show called Music P.E.I. Unplugged, which boasted a stellar lineup of Meaghan Blanchard, Tim Chaisson, Dennis Ellsworth and John MacPhee of Paper Lions.

This new Music P.E.I. Week event featured all acoustic performances by the artists, filmed for upcoming broadcast on Sessions with Jimmie Inch on Bell Aliant’s Community One TV.

Set against a backdrop of the rustic brick and old wood beams of Marc’s Lounge, the four artists sat on stools, each with an acoustic guitar in hand and each with an ensemble of five different original songs prepared — as each took turns performing for the appreciative crowd before them in this exclusive Music P.E.I. songwriters’ circle.

The show began with MacPhee, who probably had the toughest job of the night as he was not only performing solo, which he does not often do, but he was also singing through a sinus cold.

I would never have known this fact about the cold, though, if hadn’t informed me after the show, as through songs like Little Liar, Ghost Writers, My Friend and the second half’s performance of Travelling MacPhee’s voice rang out strongly. And it was a treat to hear these songs done so well in the solo/acoustic setting.

Ellsworth’s touring experience as a solo artist (with three recent U.K. tours under his belt) certainly shone through in this show, as his voice swelled through the lounge to the rafters while he strummed out contemplative songs such as Everything’s Fine (from his 2013 recording Hazy Sunshine), Sleeping Easy and one of his most-loved songs, I Thought My Name Was Dark Clouds.

The lone girl in the group, Blanchard (or the “one rose in the centre of the thorns” as was described that night), serenaded the crowd through her songs like Watchin’ the Dandelions Grow (from her 2013 album She’s Gonna Fly), Number One and a brand new one called Crash. She also provided sweet harmonies that added to songs sung by others that night.

Tim Chaisson added his musical touch, too, to a song of Blanchard’s, adding sweeping fiddle lines to Number One, while in his own songs, his prowess-filled musicality was on full display.

Using a foot-tap-propelled bass drum rhythm device called a Stomp Box now and then, a loop pedal for rhythmic repetition of parts and even chording for himself on the fiddle while singing along, Chaisson performed songs such as Beat This Heart, On the Other Side and The Healing and brought the idea of solo acoustic performance to a whole other level.

The video content of Music P.E.I. Unplugged will be prepared for broadcast over the coming weeks. Keep an eye out for the show’s airing on Bell Aliant’s Community One TV next month.

And, of course, what a weekend we have in store for us, as, here in the dead of winter, as P.E.I. continues to be alive and kicking with music.

Tonight, Music P.E.I. in partnership with Community One TV presents Friday Night Live, where 13 different concerts will take place in 13 different venues across the Island (in recognition of the 13th annual Music P.E.I. Awards). Visit www.musicpei.com for all the information on what will surely be an incredible night of music.

And nine days of celebration through Credit Union Music P.E.I. Week culminate at tomorrow evening’s 13th annual Music P.E.I. Awards Gala at the  new P.E.I. Convention Centre in Charlottetown.

The much-anticipated show will feature 12 award presentations and 12 performances by some of the top nominees.

And again, www.musicpei.com is your place to visit for online ticket purchases and for all the information you need.

What a time it will be, and I will see you there — where we’ll all be celebrating the music of our fair Island and, of course, stickin’ it to winter in prime style!

Next week: I’ll be bringing you a big Music P.E.I. weekend recap.


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 tmaclean@theguardian.pe.ca or at 626-1242. But he won’t be offended if you don’t.

Todd’s weekend picks


1. Friday Night Live – various locations, tonight. Music P.E.I. presents a variety of musical styles, including folk, rock, country, blues and Celtic on the same night from Montague to Alberton. Shows on the bill include Fiona MacCorquodale, Gordon Belsher, Richard Wood and more at the Olde Dublin Pub, Colour Code, Death Valley Driver and more at the Solid Rock Café; Dylan Menzie, English Words and Wildcat at Hunter’s Ale House, Jamie MacSwain and Teresa Doyle at The Dunk, Dennis Ellsworth and the Dwellers at Kensington Club and many more. Visit www.musicpei.com for full details and schedule.

2. Music in The Mall – Confederation Court Mall, tomorrow, 2-4 p.m., featuring Dylan Menzie, Richard Wood and Gordon Belsher in this free all-ages concert.

3. Thirteenth annual Music P.E.I. Awards Gala – P.E.I. Convention Centre, Charlottetown, tomorrow at 8 p.m., hosted by Patrick Ledwell and featuring 12 performances and award presentations.

4. Haviland Sunday Blues – Haviland Club, Sunday, 3-6 p.m. Enjoy the cozy atmosphere by the fireplace with a blues set by the Gibson Hunter Band and surprise guests.

Organizations: Credit Union Music P.E.I. Week, Bell Aliant, P.E.I. Convention Centre Ale House Kensington Club Haviland Club Gibson Hunter Band

Geographic location: U.K., Charlottetown, Death Valley

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