It was Friday evening in St. John’s, Newfoundland and after excessive alcohol consumption for the previous 24 hours, I was ready to attend the “Cape Breton party”, as it was being called by everyone making their plans for the evening at the bar in the lobby of the hotel. The party was held at O’Reilly’s Pub, and turned out to be one of the highlights of the weekend for almost everybody in attendance.
Every half an hour, about one hundred drunken, caribou eating people would clamber up or down the stairs to be entertained by performers on one of two stages. Cyril MacPhee’s set was filled with great songwriting and his soothing voice. Angelo Spinazzola played one of the best harmonica solos I’ve ever heard during his acoustic set upstairs. Gordie Sampson and Natalie MacMaster tore the roof off the place during their set, which featured some fantastic guitar and fiddle playing, and Slainte Mhath’s set downstairs had everybody in the room moving.
The evening wrapped up with performances by some less traditional Cape Breton Artists. I played some rare acoustic versions of P.F.Station songs, and was followed by performances from Tom Fidgen and Carlo Spinazzola, both of whom were backed up by Scott Brown on bass guitar and Matt Foulds on drums. Tommy’s voice has never sounded better than I’ve heard it this weekend. He and his band were extremely tight, and old Sunfish fans were blessed with a version of “These Days” to end his set. Carlo then proceeded to rock the house with his powerful blues voice and great slide guitar playing. Each and every act that played at O’Reilly’s that night was completely different, yet we all had one thing in common and we were sharing it with all who were there.