Lennie Gallant’s new CD, ‘Searching for Abegweit’ is a gem

Doug
Doug Gallant
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Lennie Gallant, centre, is accompanied by Sean Kemp and Patricia Richard during a performance of “Searching for Abegweit” at the P.E.I. Brewing Company this past summer. His hit musical has made the transition from the stage to a new double CD offering.

Gallant recaptures the magic of his summer show at the P.E.I. Brewing Company

For the past two summers singer-songwriter Lennie Gallant has charmed and delighted audiences with “Searching for Abegweit”, a musical constructed around some two-dozen songs inspired by his great love of P.E.I. and its people.

Through those songs, some of which date back to the beginning of his career, Gallant chronicled the lives of those who built a life for  themselves working the rich, fertile farmland of rural P.E.I. or harvesting the bounty of the sea.

He sang about our duties as caretakers of the land, the sea and, most importantly perhaps, each other.

He sang about the importance of celebrating our diverse cultural make-up and the legacy of the Mi’kmaq, French, Irish, Scottish and other peoples who settled this province.

He sang about the quality of life enjoyed by those who live in communities like the one he grew up in, the caring and the compassion, the strength of character of these people and the shared desire to seek a better life for all.

What had begun a few years ago as a desire to somehow bring his songs about P.E.I. together - something fans had been pressing for years - evolved into a textbook lesson on how to take a show with many elements from the drawing board to the stage.

Bringing together the songs, the stories, the videos and the dozens of paintings by Lennie’s sister Karen that became such an integral part of this show took a lot of time and a lot of hard work.

But every minute, every hour they invested in creating this show was worth it because the end result was a gem.

I saw Searching for Abegweit three times and every time I saw it I took something different away from it.

If you didn’t see it - and many who wanted to did not because it continually sold out - you missed something very special.

But you can now rectify that.

At least in part.

Gallant recently released “Searching for Abegweit” as a two-CD package with over 20 selections from the show.

You don’t get the full meal deal because the artwork and the videos aren’t there but what you do get are solid performances of such classic Gallant offerings as Island Clay, Which Way Does The River Run, Peter’s Dream, Tales of The Phantom Ship and Northern Lights. They shared the spotlight with slightly less well known but equally compelling pieces like Lord Selkirk’s Land, Country Store and the show’s title track, Searching for Abegweit.

The performances by Gallant and his band - nephews Jeremy and Jonathan Gallant, Patricia Richard and Sean Kemp- are top drawer all the way through. You could not have asked for more from any one of them.

Together they delivered one very memorable evening.

And you will get a real sense of that from this recording.

Yes, you will miss Karen Gallant’s images, which so handsomely complimented Lennie’s songs.

But you know.. there is a book.

Buy the book and flip through the pages as you listen to the music and the snippets of dialogue here.

Sounds like a plan.

 

(Rating 4 out of 5 stars)

 

Doug Gallant, a reporter with The Guardian, writes his music review column for The Guardian every week. He welcomes comments from readers at dgallant@theguardian.pe.ca or 629-6000, ext. 6057.

Organizations: P.E.I. Brewing Company, The Guardian

Geographic location: River Run, Northern Lights

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  • PeiGuytoo
    January 24, 2016 - 16:45

    Spot on, Doug! This is an Island Celebration ... this sellout show should become an annual summer event.