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Melanie Chaisson & Paul MacDonald

by Beth Johnston

Melanie Chaisson & Paul MacDonald

"Can you take the picture from the waist up?" Melanie asks, bouncing in to the Arts Guild before her Saturday night show. "I'm wearing his shorts."

You can tell these two musicians are more than colleagues. Melanie Chaisson and Paul MacDonald are just wrapping up their first season in David Weale's A Long Way From the Road. The two have also been dating for the last "year and a week," says Melanie.

"Is that how long it has been?" Paul asks incredulously.

"He knows," Melanie replies.

Weale saw the couple play together last year in a show with Theresa Gallant, later asking Paul to play on his Christmas recording. This year, Weale decided to change Long Way by having two people accompany him while he spins his local folklore to sold-out crowds at the Guild. The lucky recruits were Paul and Melanie.

"I needed a piano player," Paul explains, "and Melanie can sing and play the piano, so it worked out just fine."

Melanie, who is entering her first year of an arts degree at UPEI this fall, says she has been rehearsing non-stop since finishing school. She and Paul both manage to hold down full-time day jobs. Paul is entering his third year of chemistry at UPEI, but his real passion is music.

"Every time I get going in school," he says, "I run away and play the fiddle somewhere."

The two agree this summer has been a success, and both are planning to stay on the Island next year. Audience response is what inspires them.

"There were no nights we had a really bad crowd," Paul says. "One night in Victoria, the three of us were laughing as much as the audience. It doesn't matter how many times you've seen the show-you still get into it."

Melanie and Paul are both interested in taking courses at UPEI with Professor Weale.

"I need an elective first semester," Paul says with a grin, "so I might take one of his courses. I don't think he'll show me any favouritism-he's pretty fair."

What's it like mixing business with romance? "There have been lots of fights and arguments this summer," Melanie admits. "Not with David, but between Paul and I." The fights couldn't have been too bad, though, since their partnership still seems pretty amicable-and as such, they're probably not a long way from the road to success.

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