Featuring 50 shows, fiery tunes were played from the east to the west
Surely with all the activity in this always action-packed time of year, it probably now seems like a long while ago that you first heard talk of the 2015 Festival of Small Halls.
Yet, with its more than 50 performances in 14 days within over 40 rural community halls this year, the festival did only wrap up last weekend. Small Halls’ biggest year yet came to a grand close with a sold-out finale in Georgetown last Saturday night.
And on my way to take in one of the final shows, on the western end of P.E.I. last Friday, one added-on beauty part of the festival became apparent to me: Sometimes it can bring you to parts of the Island you’ve never experienced before.
As I took a wrong turn on my way to Burton in West Prince that evening, I suddenly found myself driving along what looked to be the serene-and-green edge of the Earth, north of West Point, while I was awestruck by the breathtaking cliff-side sunlit views around each new turn in the road.
Eventually, though, that road did lead me to St. Mark’s Hall, where the show began with 2009 Canadian Folk Music Award nominee/2009 Music P.E.I. award winner, Celtic singer Colette Cheverie, accompanied by Tim Chaisson on acoustic guitar.
Sending a blanket of vocal warmth upon the good-turnout crowd in their seats before her, Cheverie began the night on a great note with songs like What Will We Do and The Fish and the Bird.
Up next on the night’s bill was Red Moon Road from Winnipeg, Man.
And how cool it was to be enjoying a rare touring act visit there in that quite remote part of the Island – a performance by an endearing Canadian folk trio – whose fiery music then seemed to transport us to a unique and enchanting time and place. Featuring Daniel Jordan on vocals/acoustic guitar/bass drum, Daniel Peloquin-Hopfner on mandolin/banjo/vocals and Sheena Rattai on lead vocals, Red Moon Road are just a musical delight to take in. And through engaging stories and well-received songs like Mighty Glad You Came (a nature collaborative tune inspired by the song of the White Throated Sparrow), Do or Die and Breathing Slow, the trio won over the western P.E.I. Small Halls festival crowd in a big way.
The last act of night was The East Pointers, a group who already stood on quite a high pedestal in my mind, due to how much people have raved about them to me over the past several months.
Yet somehow, within the trio’s 45-minute set of tunes that blew the room away (and which also featured some lively step dancing by Bronwyn Bridges), I would have to say they exceeded all those extremely high expectations.
With Koady Chaisson on banjo, Tim Chaisson on fiddle and foot percussion and Jake Charron on acoustic guitar, the group is simply a powerhouse of traditional music prowess that is currently fired with a ‘storming-outta-the-gates’ fuelled energy that is palpable.
At the risk of raising your expectations too high as well, I will simply sum it up with this: When you see them, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Your two chances to catch The East Pointers in action on P.E.I. this summer are on July 15 at the Trailside Café, and next weekend at the Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival. For more info, visit eastpointers.ca
Red Moon Road has a new album on the way later this year, and we’re told that they may be back out this way on tour this fall.
Next week: I’ll be at the P.E.I. Brewing Company to see Searching for Abegweit: Island Songs and Stories of Lennie Gallant
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or at 626-1242. But he won’t be offended if you don’t.
Todd’s Weekend Picks:
1. Waterfront Concert Series 2015 - Confederation Landing Park, today and tomorrow. Starring April Wine and Kim Mitchell tonight and Joel Plaskett and City and Colour tomorrow.
2. Ron Hynes - Trailside Café, Mount Stewart, today and tomorrow at 8 p.m. with dinner seating at 6:30 p.m.
3. Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad opening night - Confederation Centre Studio 1, today at 8 p.m.
4. 30th Annual PEI Bluegrass and Old Time Music Festival - Rollo Bay Festival Grounds, today through to Sunday. Featuring The Lonesome River Band, The Spinney Brothers and many more. Visit peibluegrass.tripod.com for more info.
5. David Myles at Indian River Festival - St. Mary’s Church, Sunday at 7:30 p.m.