by Charlie Hansen
First let’s address the PEI folks that have been granted showcases at ECMA Week. Not long ago if we had one act showcasing at the ECMAs we were considered to be lucky, but this year we have 23 per cent of the showcasing acts coming from PEI. This is a huge accomplishment for a province that has less than half the population of Halifax. This explosion in the music industry is due, in large part to the diligent efforts of Music PEI and their never ending promotion of local artists.
It isn’t a surprise to me that so many local artists have emerged from this small population. The talent was always here but before the advent of Music PEI and its predecessor, PEI Music Awards Association, the infrastructure to propel those artists into the main stream didn't exist. Congratulations to all those who continue to promote Island music and musicians.
On a sad note this month, we’ve lost one of the greatest musicians in traditional music that ever came out of PEI. Cecil MacEachern has passed away at the age of 88. Cecil was the last surviving member of The Don Messer band. He was a very humble and shy man who had a magician’s touch on the guitar and fiddle. His approach on fiddle was very delicate and subtle. He could swing from a waltz right in to a raging reel with the same masterful approach. Although Cecil didn’t play much in later years, he came to Florida for Islander Day for several years and it was my good fortune to have played bass for him on a number of occasions. His talent always came to the front when he played fiddle, usually not having played for a year and normally playing a borrowed instrument that was well below his talent level. He always made it sound like a million dollar violin. He will be missed.
We had the opportunity to go down to Skipper’s Smokehouse for some bluegrass music with The Beaumont Brothers with Mark Kreitzer and John Geurin. The Beaumont Brothers, Dave and Mike, are members of the Beaumont Family band that is mostly dormant at this time but surface occasionally. Dave and Mike are the go to guys in this part of Florida when you need guys to fill in and do a great job on bass and guitar. Mark Kreitzer who hails from Minnesota is a great fiddle and mandolin player and strong harmony singer and John Geurin is an accomplished guitarist and singer who at one time was a member of John Denver’s band. He is also a great entertainer. John Geurin has a music dealership in Naples, FL which features the best in acoustic instruments.
More bluegrass next month will come from Yeehaw Junction. Until next time don’t forget to support live country and bluegrass and listen to Bluegrass Island every Sunday evening at 9:00 on CFCY FM 95.1 in Charlottetown and on the web at cfcy.fm.