Powerful song circle points to bright future for musicians on P.E.I.

Todd MacLean
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Do you remember that old Pepsi slogan from their mid-1980s ad campaign: The Choice of a New Generation?

These are the words that came to mind with regards to the choice that local music fans made this past Saturday night to attend a show called The Next Generation Song Circle at The Mack, instead of choosing one of the dozens of other entertainment options around town that night.

As the smorgasbord of live entertainment is the summer reality nowadays — and seemingly in an increasing way each year — 2014 appears to have brought with it an ongoing variety of daily P.E.I. performance choices that could give Las Vegas a run for its money.

And, as this particular songwriters’ circle featured eight popular young Island singer/songwriters, it is clear that if a show like this were held in the off-season, it would be sold out. But, amidst a fairly good (yet not capacity) crowd at The Mack, Racoon Bandit lead vocalist Fraser McCallum perhaps summed it up best on that August Saturday night:

“I think this is the busiest summer I’ve ever seen on P.E.I. There were like 25 other things going on around town tonight, so thanks so much, guys, for coming out.”

The Next Generation Song Circle’s first half lineup featured four artists that have all received Music P.E.I. nominations, either with their associated acts or as solo artists, with some being Music P.E.I. award winners: Nathan Gill of North Lake, Emilee Sorrey of Colour Code, Richard MacLeod of Wildcat and solo singer/songwriter Dylan Menzie.

As the performance baton was passed along, we enjoyed three songs from each performer, as they each took turns singing their tunes that were very often brand new material.

Gill will be embarking on a solo record this fall, and he treated us to new songs we can expect on this recording. Sorrey is also in the midst of preparing for the release of a solo CD, and she soothed the audience with three of these upcoming tracks. MacLeod heartily belted out three Wildcat tunes, one of which was a song about a chicken man, written just the day before the show. And, through a voice that rings out like a canyon call in the wilderness, Menzie also delivered three songs, one of which is an extremely catchy new song called Julia.

The second half brought on a whole new lineup of performers to the stage, including the aforementioned Fraser McCallum, Meaghan Blanchard, Kyle Drake of The Meds, and John MacPhee of Paper Lions.

Aside from the night’s focus on the new musical generation, another strong theme was certainly eclecticism — as the second half’s ranging of styles from folk to Americana to country to rock to indie pop kept things interesting at every turn.

Highlights included an engaging new tune from McCallum called Hotel Get Well; a steamy-hot brand new song from the always-polished Meaghan Blanchard called Wake Me (which really got the crowd whooping it up); the former East Coast Countdown number one song by The Meds called Running the Edge Down performed by Kyle Drake; and John MacPhee’s solid solo performance of Paper Lions’ Travelling, for which Paper Lions will be hosting a 5,000,000 YouTube views party sometime very soon.

Thus, as the night came to its close, it was clear that those who were in attendance were happy that they did indeed make the choice of a new generation for their Island summer’s night.

And now, as we head into another performance-jam-packed P.E.I. summer weekend, perhaps I’ll bookend this article and turn to Coke this time (to keep it balanced in the competitive carbonated beverage realm, I suppose) to describe what your weekend could entail — as I quote one of the soft drink’s recent slogans: “Open happiness.”

Next week: I’ll tell you about 1864: The Tall Hat Chronicles at The Guild tomorrow night.


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 Picks

- Gold Cup and Saucer Parade – Downtown Charlottetown, today at 10 a.m.

- Classic Music Reignited – Watermark Theatre, North Rustico, today at 7:30 p.m. John MacPhee and Dylan Menzie reignite George Gershwin and Cole Porter with special guest Catherine McKinnon.

- National Acadian Day with 1755 and Vishtèn – Celebration Zone, Confederation Landing, today at 7 p.m.

- The Once – St. Mary’s Church, Indian River, today at 7:30 p.m.

- Old Home Week Sounds of the Island Showcase – Red Shores Racetrack and Casino, today and tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. Featuring The Ross Family with Lester MacPherson today, and Barry O’Brien, Nathan Condon, Brittany Banks and more tomorrow night.

- Matt Andersen and the Mellotones – Celebration Zone, Confederation Landing, tomorrow at 8:45 p.m.

- 1864: The Tall Hat Chronicles – The Guild, tomorrow at 9 p.m.

- Matt Minglewood – Trailside Café, Mount Stewart, tomorrow and Sunday, doors open at 6:30 p.m. and show begins at 8 p.m.

Organizations: The Mack, New Generation, The Next Generation The Guild Brittany Banks

Geographic location: Las Vegas, North Lakes, Americana Charlottetown Mary Indian River Mount Stewart

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