Together again

Sally
Sally Cole
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Members of the popular EastLink Cable 10 television show, Arnold MacDonald and Friends show a photograph that was taken following their last show in 1999. They are part of a committee organizing a Friends of Arnold and Ruby MacDonald reunion concert at the Princetown United Church in Malpeque on June 1 at 7 p.m. From left are Joyce Bryenton, left, Darlene Harding and Carl MacLean.

Friends of Arnold and Ruby MacDonald reunion concert set for June 1 in Malpeque

For seven years, hundreds of Prince Edward Islanders tuned in every week to watch Arnold MacDonald and Friends on television.

The popular EastLink Cable 10 show was broadcast every Sunday afternoon from 1992 to 1999.

Hosted by MacDonald and his wife, Ruby, the country gospel show featured special musical guests, including Gene MacLellan, Roy MacCaull, the MacDonald group and the Buchanan Family, as well as 20 regulars who performed each week.

Band member Carl MacLean has fond memories of being part of the show.

“What I remember most is the atmosphere at the monthly tapings at Wedgewood Manor in Summerside. We arrived shortly after lunch and would always try to be out by 5 p.m.

“Arnold’s casual attitude kept the whole thing light and fun,” says MacLean, bass player and soloist.

Now, 15 years later, he and several other members are making plans for the Friends of Arnold and Ruby MacDonald reunion concert to be held at the Princetown United Church in Malpeque on June 1 at 7 p.m.

“I can’t wait. It will be exciting just to see everybody again,” says Darlene Harding, who was the keyboard player.

Although the MacDonalds won’t be there (Ruby died in 2002 and Arnold in 2003) the regulars will on hand to sing old hymns like Oh How I love Jesus, To God Be the Glory, Revive Us again, I’ll Fly Away and others.

“We’re going to do it in the format of the television show. Just like the old days when the cameras started to roll, we’ll be in there, singing a hymn.

“Then, after a few more hymns, there will be some special numbers as well as a Scripture reading. Then we’ll finish things off with some favourite old hymns. Everyone is invited to sing along,” says Harding.

Watching the concert come together is a dream come true for Joyce Bryenton.

“Ever since we had the last show, I started saying we have to have a reunion concert. Then three or four of us got together to bring the Arnold MacDonald show to the light again. And that’s what we’re doing,” says the Malpeque singer who has fond memories of the show’s founder.

“Arnold was a close personal friend of my husband, Robert. That’s how I met him. He would come to the house and bring his guitar and they shared a special bond that way. So when Arnold started the show, he gradually brought in everyone he knew who could sing.

“Then when we got together to sing, oh my goodness, it was just such a wonderful Saturday afternoon. We met so many wonderful people.”

MacLean agrees.

“We knew who our audience was. We knew who would be watching. We were singing to the seniors. It never ceased to amaze me, years after the show went off the air, the sweet little ladies who would stop me on the street and tell me a memory of Arnold MacDonald and friends. It was always a treat to hear that.”

Sally Cole is an entertainment writer with The Guardian. She welcomes comments about her column as well as suggestions for future columns from readers. She may be reached at scole@theguardian.pe.ca or by phone at 629-6000, ext. 6054.

If you are going

-  What: Friends of Arnold and Ruby MacDonald reunion concert.

-  When and where: Princetown United Church in Malpeque on June 1 at 7 p.m.

-  Details: Fundraiser for Harvest House, Salvation Army and Princetown United Church.

-  Tickets: are $10 and available from Carl at 436-7934 and Darlene at 436-3237.

Organizations: Princetown United Church., The Guardian, Harvest House Salvation Army

Geographic location: Malpeque, Summerside

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