Review by Treva McNally
On a hot evening in early June, just before they left for Scotland, Roy Johnstone and Steve Sharratt kicked off a preview of their new show, Hot Plaid, to an audience which included descendants of the original Scottish settlers to P.E.I. This enthusiastic group were planning to accompany the duo to the Isle of Skye for celebrations marking the departure of their ancestors two hundred years earlier. The current President of the Belfast Historical Society, Hesta MacDonald, spoke for a few moments, telling the audience how thrilled she was to be going to Scotland with them for the Scottish celebrations, and inviting everyone to Belfast August 7-10 for the 200th Anniversary celebrations of the landing of the Selkirk settlers on P.E.I.
Veteran musicians Johnstone and Sharratt have created a show celebrating the heritage of those original Scots. That night the audience was treated to a sampling of some of the guest musicians, singers, storytellers and dancers who will be performing in the relaxed, kitchen party show. College of Piping instructor Iain MacInnes gave a virtuoso demonstration on a low-D whistle and the Scottish pipes, and accompanied Sharratt and Johnstone for several numbers. Step dancers Ginnelle and Brittany Banks gave an energetic performance that had the audience amazed that such talent could exist in such small people. (Brandon was busy in Anne of Green Gables that night and big sister Brittany was filling in for him). Scotsman Jim Smith, getting ready to leave P.E.I. for Rome as a food specialist for the United Nations, sang a capella, treating the audience to a rousing rendition of "Ramblin' Rover" and a slow sweet version of the "Skye Boat Song". Singer Faye Pound, whose low smokey voice is perfect for blues arrangements, sang several numbers. Then the past President of the Belfast Historical Society and master storyteller Alan Buchanan entertained the audience with his relaxed humorous delivery that has made him one of the best storytellers on P.E.I. and isn't to be missed whenever or wherever you get the chance to hear him.
Roy Johnstone played his new composition, the Skye Suite, which recreated the voyage of those early settlers to P.E.I. The audience at the Benevolent Irish Society that night could feel the mixture of sadness and anticipation those early Scots must have felt leaving their homeland, knowing they would never return. Johnstone is an extremely talented violinist and fiddler as well as a skilled songwriter, and it is always a delight to hear him play. The combination of his fiddling and Steve Sharratt's beautiful guitar music results in a very pleasant show.