Hitting the high notes

By Sally Cole, The Guardian
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 2015 was a great year for P.E.I.’s performing artists.

From concerts and CD launches to sparkling award galas and exciting national and international tours, Island musicians have made their mark time and time again.

And The Guardian has been there, reporting on their triumphs as well as upcoming shows in the entertainment section every week.

Here’s a fresh look at three of those stories from the past year:

A timely tribute

After riding the wave of success with last summer’s musical, “Searching for Abegweit”, P.E.I. singer-songwriter Lennie Gallant has just released a new album of the show.

“Searching for Abegweit,” the 22-track, double CD contains everything from fan favourites like Peter’s Dream, Northern Lights, Island Clay, Back to Rustico, The Nelly J. Banks and the Band’s Still Playing to newer songs, such as Country Store, Lord Selkirk’s Land and the title track.

“I think it makes for a great sounding record. Some of the songs sound like they were done in the studio,” says the Rusticoborn singer-songwriter who has painstakingly mixed the album after recording it four times.

For those who've seen the show it's a much sought-after souvenir.

“I’m getting a lot of positive feedback. People have told me they’ve put it into the CD player in their car and they feel like they’re taking a trip and watching the show at the same time,” says Gallant, with a laugh, during a telephone interview from his home in Halifax.

The CD will also come in handy when “Searching for Abegweit”, returns to the P.E.I. Brewing Company for the 2016 season. The show will play every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in July and August. Showcasing the Island songs and stories of Gallant and featuring the talents of Sean Kemp, Patricia Richard, Jeremy Gallant, Jonathan Gallant, it sold out at the venue last year.

“After the shows, people were asking for the new songs and we didn’t have them recorded. Now we have all the songs from the show on CD. I also hope that people who hear the CD will want to come in and get the whole experience.”

Acting on his instincts

Great things are happening for P.E.I.’s Brady Cudmore.

The actor, who now goes by only his first name, moved to New York City from Hampshire to pursue his dream of becoming a pop star, nine years ago.

After getting his first big break in 2014, the lead in “Honestly Abe” a musical based on Abraham Lincoln, his persistence in auditioning resulted in many acting roles.

“This has been my most theatrically successful year yet. It’s been a whirlwind,” says Brady, whose credits include the lead in “Find the Golden Bird”, a new musical on an old tale, and “The Dreaming” a musical written by Howard Goodall and Charles Hart, based on William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Cudmore also performed in the music video, “I’m Sorry”, provided the voice for a cartoon character in Mad Screen Box Video Game and worked as a host at Club Urbo.

“I feel that I’ve achieved more than I could ever imagine. I still feel like I’m growing and I have so many more things to do before I get to that picture in my mind. All the experiences that I’ve had this year, professionally and emotionally, have made me a totally different person.”

His most memorable professional achievement was co-starring with George Marcy in a sold out performance of “Come Back Once More So I Can Say Goodbye” by Sasha Spielvogal, at the Ailey Citygroup Theatre this past June.

“I never imagined that I would get to perform with this Broadway legend. So it’s a huge highlight,” says Brady, who has a new album in the works, produced by Julio Fernandez, of Spyro Gyra.

Fisherman’s luck

The year has been a lucky catch for King Fish Man a.k.a. Timmy Cudmore who, after returning from recording studio waters, is releasing his 20-track double album, “Ice Fishing” on CD Baby today. With titles like Iceberg Jumping, Drone Delivery on Ice, I’ve Gone Ice Fishing and Hook Up on the Ice, the lyrics are similar to the comedy found in novelty songs like Disco Duck by Rick Dees.

“It’s been an incredible, exciting journey. I’ve been writing these songs one after another. I don’t know where I get them. They just come into my head,” says Cudmore, an experienced ice fisherman who began dreaming up wacky scenarios whenever he took in the sport.

“It might be a memory of my father, Maynard, and I ice fishing and the fun we had. I start with an idea and go from there.”

Another song idea, the popularity of drones, came from his CD producer, David Musial.

“David said, ‘Timmy, why not write a song about drones delivering beer to you while you ice fish?’ So I wrote it and he added all the sound effects. It’s really funny.”

Besides the CD, he voiced Hakkerchief, a cartoon dungeon master in the Mad Screen Box video game, released a Funny Holidays album as well as a Trout Town tribute album. Along the journey, he began conversations was with Joan Salvato Wulff, also known as the First Lady of Fly Fishing in America.

“I was inspired by her work so I wrote her a serious song about her. I sent a (musical file). Joan sent a note back that she loved the song. She suggested a few word changes and I made them,” says Cudmore who is pleased with his accomplishment.

“I was the first person ever write a song about her and that makes me happy.”

AT A GLANCE

- "Searching for Abegweit" CDs are available at Back Alley Music in Charlottetown, the P.E.I. Brewing Company and Gallant's Clover Farm in Rustico. Lennie Gallant is just back from a tour with Symphony New Brunswick. He will tour Western Canada in February and March. 

- Brady's music is available throughiTunes, CD Baby and www.oneworldartists.com.

- Timmy Cudmore's new CD, "Ice Fishing", is available through CD Baby and www.oneworldartists.com. It will be oniTunesnext week.

Organizations: P.E.I. Brewing Company, Golden Bird, Club Urbo Ailey Citygroup Theatre CD Baby

Geographic location: Iceland, Halifax, New York City Broadway America

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