HELLO GOODBYE. It was a little echo of ECMA 2000 when last Saturday night saw the last LOAD OF WOOD and the SLOWCOASTER / LIZBAND / ROCK RANGER show play simultaneously across the street from one another. It was good to have the choice, but on the other hand, few people made the short jaunt from Branch 12 to Chandler’s (or vice versa) to check out the tunes. Who would have thought the generation gap would be the width of Dorchester Street? Bridging the gap were those boys in the big hats, THE SQUATTERS, who burst into the Legion grinning like they had a whole company of federales on their tails. They plugged in, and busted a few broncs, and brought down the house with a cover of “I Walk The Line”. Then they road off into the night, or at least across the street, where ROCK RANGER was finishing up the night after the Lizband. Meanwhile, back at the Branch 12, the Load Of Wood finished its 15 year run in style. A lot of familiar faces, both onstage and in audience, partied until the wee hours as they re-visited a lot of the great tunes that debuted at the “Loads”. It was a grand time, and a worthy send-off.
PLAYWRIGHT IN THE HOUSE. WENDY LILL, playwright and Member of Parliament, visited Sydney last week and met with groups representing persons with disabilities and also with some people involved with culture and heritage groups. Lill is the New Democratic Party critic for those portfolios. But before her election to the House of Commons, many Cape Bretoners would have known her for her radio and stage adaptations of SHELDON CURRIE’s short story, “THE GLACE BAY MINER’S MUSEUM”. Lill was also the guest of honour at a screening of a television documentary about her rookie year as an M.P., and gave a brief talk about her views on the performance of the government to date. Although it was an admittedly partisan audience, Lill’s remarks about the gutting of the CBC had a lot of resonance for Cape Breton artists. As she pointed out, her radio play of Currie’s story reached audiences as far away as the Australian outback, but with cutbacks to regional drama, the CBC is gradually being forced to silence many voices that might not otherwise get to be heard. Unfortunately, Lill did not read from any of her work, although a media release said she and fellow MP PETER MANCINI would do so. Many local theatre goers fondly remember Mancini in his pre-M.P. days when he trodded the boards in many community theatre productions. If more M.P.s had Mancini’s theatre background, maybe CPAC would have better ratings.
GOING PLACES. Just back from her exciting week long trip to Germany, BRITTANY ELLSWORTH, along with her mother Kim, were given quite the royal treatment. There were four producers involved in the production of a demo tape which includes seven songs written especially with the young singer’s voice in mind. The demo tape will forwarded to Virgin Records for review. Brittany was also the subject for a professional photo shoot during her Germany visit. Kim says the whole experience was a once in a lifetime event in Brittany’s career. The people involved stressed the importance of education and letting a 12 year old be a regular kid as much as possible, something that was extremely important to the Ellsworths. Brittany and her family are anxiously awaiting to receive a package containing the mixed demo so that they can hear the quality of the product for themselves. The softspoken Brittany takes it all in stride, and is un-phased by all of the attention. “I wasn’t nervous,” she says, “Just excited about the thought of recording. The travelling was great and meeting new people.” She even made friends with a 13 year old German girl and they plan to keep in touch by e-mail, even though they must first translate the correspondence. Hopefully, WGO might get a listen to the demo when it becomes available.
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS. Musicians will devote themselves to learning every lick, riff and chop imaginable, but when it comes to the business side of their work they are tone deaf. OPEN FOR BUSINESS is a program to help small business entrepeneurs and they are offering a helping hand to local musicians. The centre, which operates out of the YMCA Sydney and the YMCA Enterprise Centre in Glace Bay, offers free Internet research, for example, on recording information, help with advertising and marketing. And if there is enough interest, they are considering offering a workshop designed to address the business needs of musicians. (They have already offered a number of arts related workshops, including one on “Writing And Publishing Opportunities” led by WGO Associate Editor, Ken Chisholm.) Anyone interested should contact Andrea or James at either location or by phoning 849-1794 in Glace Bay.
THREE TO SEE. In*sight gallery in Sydney Mines presently has three exhibitions on the go. “FIGURING” features work addressing the subject of the human figure through works by Cape Breton and halifax artists including two photographs by WGO staffer, MIKE MORRISON. “HOME AND AWAY” is a mail art exhibit with pieces by local and not so local artists from as far away as Spain. This exhibit highlights works that mailed but includes more than just postcards; some items included are glass bowls, a puzzle and a scroll. “PAINTINGS BY PATRICE” is a series of portraits of the island’s coal miners. The gallery is located at 73 Main Street, Sydney Mines, and is open on Tuesday to Saturday from 1 pm to 5 pm. To raise funds for the gallery, in*sight will also be hosting a yard sale on Saturday, June 24th, from 9 am to 12 noon. Table rental is $10.00, and to reserve a spot, call Kathleen Bunin at 794-2603.
MURRAY ROAD NEWS. After sell-out crowds for their first three shows, the MURRAY ROAD CONCERT SERIES is looking forward to another capacity crowd when they present MARTHA WAINWRIGHT on Monday, July 3rd, at 8 pm. Wainwright has all the right musical genes: her mom is KATE MCGARRIGLE who with her sister, Anna, formed one of the most popular and influential folk duos of the Seventies and Eighties; her dad, LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III, has a loyal following for his wry, acerbic songs (he is also a sometime actor with appearances in the early tv M*A*S*H shows and recently in the Sandra Bullock flick, 28 Days); and her brother RUFUS WAINWRIGHT released a highly praised solo album. And they all appeared together on the MCGARRIGLE HOUR cd. Martha is now touring with her own band after finishing a tour of the United Kingdom and Ireland with her father. She’ll be appearing at the STAN ROGERS FOLK FESTIVAL before stopping off at the Murray Road Church. Tickets are $10.00 each at MUSICSTOP in Sydney, KIDSTONE LANDING in Baddeck, the INDIAN BROOK GAS BAR, or by calling ANGELO or NICOLE at (902) 929-2628 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org . To learn more about Martha Wainwright, check out her website: http://www.bradthegame.com/martha-wainwright/index.html .
CROSS THE CAUSEWAY, MAKE A LEFT. Along with Martha Wainwright, the STAN ROGERS FOLK FESTIVAL in Canso offers three days of great music. GORDIE SAMPSON will be one of the headliners on Friday, June 30th, the opening day, along with singer songwriter, DAVE GUNNING, who has a new cd out. Saturday will see bohemian rocker MAE MOORE, and iconic Canadian folkie, VALDY performing with GARY FJELLGAARD. On Sunday, July 2nd, the third and final day of the festival, Martha Wainwright hits the mainstage along with LENNIE GALLANT (also with a new cd due), RAWLINS CROSS, and THE FABLES (who are recording some tracks with producer DECLAN O’DOHERTY at Soundpark in Irish Cove). As this festival, even though Stan Rogers was too soon taken from us, his legacy will endure.
KIDS STUFF. THE CELTIC KIDS will open the new Theatre Space at TWO RIVERS WILDLIFE PARK on Saturday, June 24th, from 2 pm to 4 pm. They will also be performing at the LOUISBOURG PLAYHOUSE on Friday, June 30th.
CHECK SCHEK. Cape Bretoners Richard Hines, Jude Donahue, and Carmen Townsend are back town this week as members of SCHEK, who will be playing at Chandler’s with SLOWCOASTER. After a series of successful shows, and even opening for the RHEOSTATICS, Schek, according to a media release, “acquired a smokin’ rhythm section, hammered out a 4 song demo” and a hit on the Toronto indie scene. The six piece, multi-genre band covers many musical genres from hard rock to traditional jazz, so they are definitely worth “schek”-ing out.