When the P.E.I. day’s lemon yellow sun sinks to a hazy orange in the evening sky, and maybe when you’ve fired up the barbecue and had your fill of new potatoes along with it, perhaps you then recall a road sign you spotted earlier on your way home from work: “Ceilidh 7:30 p.m.”
So, to the hall you go, where the sound of the ancestors resounds, where the rhythm of the jigs and reels resumes, where you find the heart of it all once again: the summer ceilidh.
This year, it’s a lot like most years in our era of musical abundance — the community ceilidhs are out in full force. But don’t let the plentiful numbers fool you. Just because the ceilidh pool is wide doesn’t mean that the quality of performance is diluted. You can find stellar entertainment in even the tiniest little corners of our Island all summer long.
And this week I had the pleasure of venturing to one of these such corners — Orwell Corner — for a ceilidh that could have possibly gone with the name Big Treble in Little Orwell or maybe You’re in Big Treble, Sista! or even Look out, Here Comes Treble. But, instead, its performers have wisely gone with the very appropriate name of Treble at the Corner.
Starring Treble With Girls, the ceilidh runs every Tuesday at 7:30 at the Orwell Corner Community Hall and features the combined musical talents of Sheila FitzPatrick on fiddle/vocals, Jolee Patkai on guitar/vocals, Maxine MacLennan on guitar/bodhran/ vocals and Norman Stewart on guitar/vocals.
What you may notice right away in this lineup is the fact that all four performers sing. And the group uses this key feature to its advantage in a great way, right from the get-go of the show.
In fact it was the tightly-harmonized a cappella version of One Voice that began the performance this past Tuesday, as the Orwell Hall crowd was mesmerized immediately by the four voices, building and blending in surging vocal chords throughout the piece.
Standing proudly on stage in his red tartan kilt, Stewart then heartily strummed and sang Star of the County Down to jack the musical energy up a notch, as he was supported by the voices and instrumentation of the three girls.
“How are those long socks feelin’ Norman?” Patkai then grinned.
“Warm,” he stated, after gulping from a large canteen of (what we were told was only) water.
The playful jabs and digs at each other’s characters continued through the show, producing many a chuckle as the tunes rolled along.
As they all took turns leading songs throughout (which makes for great variety in the program), the baton was then passed to Patkai as she led the group in a lovely version of Jimmy Rankin’s Fisherman’s Son. The second half brought chances to hear a couple of Patkai’s original songs as well, such as One Room Schoolhouse and Going Home, which were received in warm delight by the audience. (And certainly not just because it was her birthday, but we all did sing Happy Birthday to her and enjoyed some cake too at the end of the show.)
Catchy heartstring-tugging original tunes were also sung by MacLennan throughout the night, such as Some Fine Day (a brilliant tribute to Lem Chaisson) and Just a Little Rain.
We even got to hear FitzPatrick lead the quartet on vocals in the sweetly harmonized Rose of Allendale in the second half. She also fired up the program with a number of driving reels on the fiddle at various points in the evening.
And, always reliable for a foot-stomping classic, Stewart got the audience singing along at many points — highlighted perhaps by a rare Stompin’ Tom song called Home on the Island, which perfectly sums up that feeling of P.E.I. homecoming we Islanders know so well.
So, if you’re in the mood for a relaxed evening in a historic village, complete with down home music accentuated by engaging original tunes, impressive vocal harmony work, and a few good laughs in between, head to Treble at the Corner on a Tuesday night this summer.
And maybe, take a friend because remember, “a treble shared is a treble halved.” Yep. I know that one makes little sense, but, I just had to get one more in there.
Next week: Denise Djokic and David Jalbert at Indian River on Sunday.
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 email@example.com or at 626-1242. But he won’t be offended if you don’t.
1. Serena Ryder with Cuff the Duke – Celebration Zone, Confederation Landing Park, today, 7-10 p.m. There is free admission.
2. David Myles – St. Mary’s Church, Indian River, today, 7:30 p.m.
3. 14th Evangeline Bluegrass and Traditional Music Festival – Abram’s Village, all weekend. Visit www.
evangelinebluegrassfestival.ca for information on musical acts and schedule.
4. Big Red Music Festival – Charlottetown Event Grounds, tomorrow, starting at 3 p.m., featuring Death Cab for Cutie, Drive By Truckers, Matt Mays, The Killers and many more.
5. Spotlight P.E.I. presents Meaghan Blanchard – The Mack, tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. in Charlottetown.
6. Story: A Portrait of Home Through Story and Song - The Guild, Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
7. Denise Djokic and David Jalbert – St. Mary’s Church, Indian River, Sunday at 7:30 p.m.