Saturday, February: BINGO!
BY i.k. macleod
The Atlantic Lotto Community Stage, which spanned Thursday, Friday and Saturday, was a great way to showcase artists from the four Atlantic Provinces and give some free entertainment to the public. This was a great chance for the up and comers to play for the masses when they are willing to fork over money in the mall.
The first young band I saw was PEI’s Chaisson Celtic Tide and they seem to have a lot of potential, if they would break out of the Ashley tribute mode. Not being a huge fan of Celtic rock, I thought they were best when they stuck to the more energetic traditional sets. I am pretty sure you will hear more about these folks.
Dave Gunning is a songwriter and singer from Pictou who, despite criticisms of being too regional or relying too much on cover tunes, is a guy to keep an eye on. ECMA nominee John Gracie also performed in front of a large crowd.
It was reported that 6000 people were crammed in front of the stage in Champlain Mall when Slainte Mhath hit the stage. The people were packed in like sardines and they wanted to be entertained, and that is definitely what happened. Everything went without a hitch, and Boyd’s sewer pipe intro to their drum salute went over really well – I would expect a Canadian Tire sponsorship any day now. Another interesting addition was the use of an effects flanger on the octave mandolin or bouzouki. Ryan also sent out a traditional set of Cape Breton reels to the late Archie Neil Chisholm.
The Barra MacNeils were next up, with Stewart MacNeil brandishing a new accordion. They delivered a powerful opener with the “Clumsy Lover Set” and continued to dazzle the crowd with a run through of some of their most popular songs to date. For an encore they hit the audience with one of their most impressive compositions and arrangements, “The Longest Day of the Year”. Unlike their awesome Boxing Day stint in Sydney, they did not treat us to the new catchy and cool compositions “Mary Ann” and “When Are You Coming Back To Me”, but I am sure these will be available on their next recording.