Brewing Co. concocts a treat of a show

Todd MacLean
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Hosted by Andrew King, the show boasted an incredible lineup of P.E.I. songwriters

Last weekend, The P.E.I. Brewing Company turned one year old. And, to commemorate the occasion, the company brewed up an ensemble of celebration shows around the Charlottetown area.

Called the first annual Taps and Tunes Music Festival, the four-day long event featured an impressive lineup of both original and cover artists performing in eight different venues around town.

A key part of the festival was the Songwriter’s Show at the P.E.I. Brewing Company last Saturday evening.

Now, if you recall the weather that last weekend brought with it (and, let’s face it, I don’t think any of us could forget that May long weekend treat from Mother Nature after the pummeling endless cold of the winter from hell), you will have in mind that last Saturday’s sunny and warm evening was the prime time for everyone to be sitting in their backyard, on a patio, or somewhere in nature, enjoying that glorious “what a concept” feeling of being outside and not freezing your butt off.

 So, while the long weekend weather circumstances were not exactly conducive to bringing out a big crowd for an indoor songwriters’ showcase in a brewery, those who were in attendance for the Taps and Tunes presentation could certainly be described as the lucky few.

Hosted by Andrew King, the show boasted an incredible lineup of songwriters, including Nathan Wiley, Al Tuck, Drea MacDonald, John MacPhee of Paper Lions, Emilee Sorrey of Colour Code, and Dylan Menzie.

Divided into two halves, with three songwriters performing three songs each in each half, the show’s first segment featured Drea MacDonald, Nathan Wiley and Dylan Menzie.

As the three sat with their acoustic stringed instruments in hand, taking turns performing tunes, King did some engaging conversational interview questions with each of them before they began each song.

For instance, he asked Dylan Menzie what his first ECMW experience as a performer was like last month, and Menzie responded by saying that while he had very little sleep the whole weekend, he was highly impressed by some of the artists — particularly Old Man Luedecke at the ECMA Gala — so much so that he promptly went home and wrote a new tune, inspired by the events of the weekend, called Surviving Just on Coffee.

“It’s kind of a cross between Old Man Luedecke and My Morning Jacket,” Menzie said, as he then went into the brand new fiery song — one that definitely depicts the type of lifestyle that ECMW brings about.

Fresh material was also performed by Nathan Wiley, who will indeed be putting out a new album “sometime in the next two months to five years,” he said that night as he played new contemplative songs such as Long Way to the Door and Ordinary Hearts.

And in an interesting twist in the first half as well, Drea MacDonald played a song actually written for her by Nathan Wiley, one called White Flag — which was a delight to hear Wiley’s style coming through MacDonald’s voice, with her own signature stamp upon it.

The second half of the Songwriter’s Show contained unique elements as well, as it was lovely to hear Colour Code vocalist Emilee Sorrey perform in a solo context without the layers of a full band around her, where the character of her voice could be purely enjoyed, through songs with compelling arrangements like Thick as Thieves and You Love Me.

The non-layered musical context favored well for Paper Lions’ Jon MacPhee too, as he performed Lions’ songs such as My Friend, Little Liar and Philadelphia — and he moreover entertained the audience as King prompted some funny tales of the road from him, with the Lions now being home from their winter/spring touring.

And, of course, on the note of storytelling, what a joy it was to do some close listening for Al Tuck’s three tunes, including Stompin’ Tom Connors Dot Com and That Married Life — as his enveloping songs never fail to wrap the listener into that ‘novel-in-a-folk-tune’ world that is always so hard to leave after three short minutes of being there.

Many of those who were in attendance then closed out their night by heading on down in the warm spring air to Fishbones to catch the late night performance by The Love Junkies — which was the rocking finale to the 1st Annual Taps & Tunes Music Festival.


Next week: Royal Wood at The Mack 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 or at 626-1242. But he won’t be offended if you don’t.

Todd's Picks

- 1. Royal Wood — The Mack, today at 7:30 p.m.

- 2. New Festival of Wines — EastLink Centre, today at 7 p.m. and tomorrow at 3 p.m.

- 3. J.P. Cormier — Trailside Café, Mount Stewart, today and tomorrow. Shows begin at 8 p.m. with dinner seating at 6:30 p.m.

- 4. Tiptoe Through the Tulips Market — Memorial Hall, Confederation Centre, tomorrow at 11 a.m.-2 p.m. This free event will feature music by Dylan Menzie, Cynthia MacLeod and Larque.

- 5. Tulip Extravaganza Variety Show — The Guild, tomorrow at 6 p.m. As part of this weekend’s Charlottetown Tulip Festival, the show features Amy & Rachel Beck, Ripped Paper, Nudie, Dennis Ellsworth, the Popalopalots and more.

- 6. Ron Hynes — Harmony House Theatre, Hunter River, tomorrow at 8 p.m.

- 7. Jerry Leger, Mike Dixon and Dan Paynter — Trailside Café, Sunday at 8 p.m. with dinner seating at 6:30 p.m.

Organizations: The P.E.I. Brewing Company, The Mack, Royal Wood Confederation Centre The Guild Harmony House Theatre

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Philadelphia, Mount Stewart Hunter River

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