Fiona MacCorquodale performs on the fiddle during the gala show.
©Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Unbelievably, we are now through our first week of August. And as the sights and sounds of Old Home Week now embrace Charlottetown, we all sing out that same familiar chorus together when we see each other: “Where is the summer going?”
But luckily, even though that ol’ “F-word” season is right around the corner, you still have six more chances to see a show that I would unquestionably describe as being the best variety I’ve ever seen in a summer ceilidh.
I’m talking about a show called Heartbeat Ceilidh, hosted by fiddler Aaron Crane and featuring eight young and exceptionally talented traditional music performers, playing every Monday night this summer at the Brackley Beach Community Centre.
I think it has been taking some time for the word to get around about this brand new ceilidh as Cynthia MacLeod’s longtime ceilidh has now finished its more than 10 straight years of summer residency at the same venue.
But, with a fairly good crowd at the centre this past Monday night, it seems as though locals and tourists could be collectively catching on to the fact that there is a real gem of a show to be taken in here.
Some may have initially balked at the description of the show, but I suppose it could be understandable as it makes sense that, upon hearing about a show put on by a group of youth performers, it might seem as though it could be more of a “cutesy” show as opposed to one that displays impressive musical prowess in action.
But, in this case, don’t let the fact that they’re kids fool you. Heartbeat Ceilidh is skill-level-through-the-roof entertainment that will leave you shaking your head in delight.
First off, you have two-time Music P.E.I. Award nominee, 16-year old fiddler Fiona MacCorquodale, who shines brilliantly in her first featured starring role in a summer ceilidh, as she strolls her way through zipping tunes that many veteran fiddlers would never even attempt.
Champion youth step dancers, Janelle Banks and Kennedy Leard, make several appearances throughout the show and fire up the crowd each time that they do.
I did say that the ceilidh is not so much about the “cutesy” factor, but when “the Fiddle Monsters,” 11-year-olds Lindsey Doiron, Cailyn MacAulay and Jenna Cyr (Cailyn was away that night) are on stage, the lovable trio thoroughly wraps the audience around their flying fiddling fingers.
The core group of musicians is completed by the skillful Annie Kitson on piano and Julien Kitson on vocals/guitar/mandolin (the musical offspring of well-known, award-winning Island performer Joey Kitson). And when Julien Kitson plays and sings songs like Sonny’s Dream, Bye Bye Love and Wagon Wheel, the massive applause that follows each song says it all: we could be watching a new star being born right before our eyes.
Special guests are a part of each night as well, and this past Monday we had the pleasure of taking in performances by step dancer Elijah Moase (of Anne and Gilbert-The Musical), along with sweetly-sung versions of classics like Loch Lomond, Caledonia and Danny Boy by Celia Keoughan (also of Anne and Gilbert and who recently returned from playing the role of Anne of Green Gables in a visit to Japan).
Produced by dance teacher Michelle Banks and musically directed by Aaron Crane (who also plays Moody MacPherson once again in Anne and Gilbert-the Musical this summer), Heartbeat Ceilidh does feature different multiple guests every week (including dancer Brittany Banks for the next four Mondays). It runs through until Sept. 15, with all shows starting at 7:30 p.m.
Next week: I’ll tell you all about show tomorrow night at The Mack.
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. Matthew Good - Celebration Zone, Confederation Landing, today at 8:45 p.m. (Free admission.)
2. The Tale of a Town P.E.I. - Victoria Playhouse, preview today and opening night tomorrow, at 7:30 p.m. A theatrical presentation inspired by recorded stories recently gathered on the Island, part of a national oral history project called The Tale of a Town Canada.
3. Atlantic Fiddlers' Jamboree - Evangeline Region, today at 5 p.m. through to Sunday night. Visit www.atlanticfiddlersjamboree.com for info on artists and schedule.
4. The Sounds of the Island - Old Home Week, Charlottetown Civic Centre, today and tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. Featuring fiddler Keelin Wedge, Kim Albert and friends tonight and Eddy Quinn, Courtney Hogan, Dino Dunsford and friends tomorrow night.
5. Spotlight P.E.I. at The Mack features all-Island songwriters circle, Aug. 9, 8 p.m., showcasing P.E.I.'s youth movement of writers, including Meaghan Blanchard, John MacPhee, Dylan Menzie, Emilee Sorrey, Fraser McCallum, Nathan Gill, Josh Carter and Richard MacLeod.
6. Hey Ocean - Celebration Zone, Confederation Landing, tomorrow at 8:45 p.m. (Free admission.)
7. Musical Mosaic - Indian River Festival, St. Mary's Church, Sunday at 7:30 p.m. Featuring violinist Lara St. John and pianist Serouj Kradjian.