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Festival favourites

Country Prose
by Charlie Hansen

Della MaeThere’s a new duo on the PEI music scene called Partners in Time made up of a real veteran of the music business in Neil Matthews and a relative new comer in Sue Pitre. The two combine their talents to make for a great evenings entertainment. Their set list includes Celtic, Maritime, and Newfoundland songs as well as Country and Bluegrass and when you wrap all this around Neil and Sue and add a bit of comedy you're sure to enjoy your visit to one of their shows. They will be playing several dates throughout the summer at Kate’s Cafe in the Downeast Mall in Montague, the first of which will be July 20. Partners In Time can also be seen at Carr’s Oyster Bar in Stanley Bridge Beginning on July 14.

The PEI Bluegrass and Old Time Music Festival takes place July 6, 7, and 8 at The Festival Grounds in Rollo Bay. This year’s festival features the best lineup in the maritimes this summer with Grasstowne, The Darrell Webb Band, Nu Blu as well as Blue Tie Affair, The Bluegrass Diamonds, Eight Wheel Drive, Windy Creek as wells as many local bands to round out the show. The festival also features The Buzz workshops as well as a children’s program and lots of concessions so see you in Rollo Bay. The PEI Bluegrass and Old Time Music Society has a new website so if you need more information on the festival or other events sponsored by the society go to

The Evangeline Bluegrass and Traditional Music Festival is being held on July 13, 14, and 15 in Abram Village. The festival this year features all girl band, Della Mae, Hard Ryde, Rhyme N' Reason plus Windy Creek, The Bluegrass Diamonds and many local bands. Evangeline is one of the finest festivals on the Island so get up there and hear lots of good music. For information contact Raymond Bernard at (902) 854-2324

The Red Clay Bluegrass Festival takes place August 17, 18 and 19 at the Heritage Site in Tignish. This is always a great festival so plan to take it in. This year’s event features lots of great bluegrass and old time groups both local and from across Canada. For information and an updated lineup call Aggie Gaudet at 902-882-2385.

Labour Day weekend brings us the 2nd Annual Twin Shores Camping Area Bluegrass Festival which features The Mountain Connection from Kentucky as well as The Douthwrights and Simply Blue from New Brunswick. Island favourites Two Plus Three, Country Grass, Blue Persuasion, Simply Acoustic and Bluegrass Revival will also make an appearance. This lineup will assure us a great weekend of music. Twin Shores has all the facilities necessary to make your stay very enjoyable so call early to reserve your site at 902-836-4142.

Festival Fun

Country Prose
by Charlie Hansen

We ventured to north eastern Florida this month to the town of Palatka which hosts one of the largest and best run festivals in Florida. This year’s festival featured Dailey and Vincent among others.

Friday was a full day of bluegrass opening with The Wildwood Valley Boys, one of the most under rated groups on the circuit today. They have great material, a lot of which is written by Aubrey Holt, a former member of the Boys From Indiana and still a member of The Wildwood Valley Boys along with his son Tony.

Next up was Audie Blaylock and Redline. Audie has put together a great group of young musicians and they produce a traditional sound with a bit of a contemporary edge.

Marty Raybon and Full Circle took the stage after Audie and were somewhat of a change of pace with Marty bringing back some of the hits from his days with the country group Shenandoah. Very good but not spectacular. One would expect him to have better back up musicians.

Bluegrass legend Jesse McReynolds and the Virginia Boys (and girl) hustled through a set of Jim and Jesse hits with some other covers thrown in. Jesse is backed up by a couple of his grand children (Amanda McReynolds and Garrett McReynolds) as well as banjo legend Buddy Griffin and Travis Wetzel on fiddle. Even at his advanced age Jesse can still cross pick that mandolin as well as anyone.

Chris Jones and The Night Drivers did and admirable job even though Chris had a case of the flu. Chris and his banjo player, Ned Lubrecki are also DJs on Sirius XM radio’s Bluegrass Junction.

Last but not least Dailey and Vincent did a 90 minute show full of music, great vocals, and comedy. This show alone was worth the money spent on our trip. They are professional, accessible and have talent beyond measure. The 90 minutes flew by as they ran through their hits as well as some of the material that Jamie made famous as a member of Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver.

Unfortunately rain on Saturday forced us to miss the second day of the festival but we found the venue to be clean, friendly and well run if you have a chance by all means take in one of their festivals.

We had a chance to venture down to Skipper’s Smoke house in Tampa to see the Darrell Webb Band. This is a powerhouse of a band and I’m sure if you come over to Rollo Bay on July 6, 7, and 8 you’ll really enjoy their show.

Had a chance to talk to Terry Poirier at the Arcadia festival. He is doing a fine job on bass for Newtown and the band is very busy including headlining the 2012 Nova Scotia Festival in late July.

Until next time don’t forget to support live country and bluegrass music a and listen to Bluegrass Island every Sunday at 9 pm on CFCY 95.1 in Charlottetown and on the internet at

And They’re Off

Country Prose
by Charlie Hansen

Winter is progressing well in sunny Florida although music hasn’t become a large part of it so far. We’ve taken in a few jams and small concerts and had the opportunity to put on a gospel show for the folks at Hunter’s run RV park a couple of weeks ago but music hasn’t been a large part of the winter so far.

We’ve replaced music this winter with attending some small community events that we haven’t had the opportunity to attend in years past. Two weeks ago we took the opportunity to drive up to Richland’s Sunshine Raceway to attend the horse races. Now this isn’t like any other races I’ve ever been to. This is trotting bred racing. You would think from the description that this horses would all be trotters but this isn’t the case. Some are pacers. Most of these horses are owned by winter visitors to Florida. They bring their horses with them on vacation and stay at an RV park that appears to be associated with the raceway. These horses race on the northern fair circuit in the summer and instead of standing idle all winter they come to Florida and race. I guess you could call them “snow horses.”

The trotting bred horse is smaller than a standard bred and races on 5/16th mile track. The trotting bred can’t be any taller than 51 1/2 inches or 13 hands. The DeSilva family seems to be the dominant family at Sunshine Raceway and many of the races feature father, mother, and daughter all battling it out for bragging rights.

We’ve also attended the dog races at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg. I actually came away 80 cents to the good so it

wasn’t a total loss.

Since this is a music column I suppose we should include some mention of music. By the time that this column goes to print we will have attended on of the biggest Bluegrass festivals in the US at Palatka, FL. This year’s festival features some of the best bands on the circuit including Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Dailey & Vincent, IIIrd Tyme Out, Marty Raybon, Audie Blaylock & Redline and many other fine bands. This will be a scouting mission for the PEI Bluegrass and Old Time Music Festival 2013.

The Twin Shores Camping Area Bluegrass Festival is taking shape, bands are being hired and organization is proceeding well. This festival will be held on August 31, September, 1 and 2.

The PEI Bluegrass & Old Time Music Festival has completed the hiring of it’s regional bands for the July 6, 7 and 8 show. The regional bands will be, Blue Tie Affair and Eight Wheel Drive from Nova Scotia, Windy Creek and the forever popular Bluegrass Diamonds from New Brunswick. This will be the Bluegrass Diamonds 16th trip to Rollo Bay.

Until next time don’t forget to support live country music and listen to Bluegrass Island every Sunday evening at 9:00 on CFCY FM 95.1 in Charlottetown and on the internet at

Keeping Warm

Country Prose
by Charlie Hansen

Not a lot happening in Florida these days but we’re managing to keep warm and that’s not hard because the weather has been great with only a couple of days that were below normal.

We’ve just been taking in some local jams and music in the “Park.” The festival season hasn’t begun yet but when it does we’ll be taking in a number of them.

By this time the PEI Music awards are over and the winners have gone home with their hardware. Congratulations to all the winners and here’s a hope that those who were nominated and didn’t win will continue to make great music.

Music PEI has done a lot, since it’s birth as The PEI Music Awards Association several years ago, to foster and promote the music industry on PEI and they have taken a disorganized group of musicians with no real focus and turned them into a force for the good of music in the province and have nurtured them into fine representatives for music across the country. Many groups and individuals have made an impact on the Canadian music scene and they should be proud of their achievements and thankful to have a association like Music PEI behind them.

The 27th annual PEI Bluegrass and Old The Music Festival is well into the organization stages and has all the off island bands booked. The festival will be held, as usual, at The Festival Grounds in Rollo Bay July 6, 7, & 8 featuring some of the top bands in bluegrass music in North America. This year’s festival features Grasstowne from South Carolina, The Darrell Webb Band from Kentucky, Nu Blu from North Carolina. Maritime groups this year are, for the sixteenth time, The Bluegrass Diamonds, Blue Tie Affair, Windy Creek, and Eight Wheel Drive. The Island bands will be put in place soon and the festival will be ready to go.

I had some good news the other day. The Twin Shores Camping Area Bluegrass Festival, which was such a success last year, will be back this year and planning has begun to make this year’s festival even better than last year’s. There will be at least one high profile US band as well as two or three Maritime bands and the local bands. We’ll have lots of information for you in the months to come.

As the months go by we’ll be taking in lots of bluegrass and country festivals and we’ll be reporting our findings. The first festival that we'll be taking in will be a festival that is held in honour of Florida’s smallest fruit, the kumquat. The Kumquat festival in Dade City is always packed with folks and there’s lots of music and food so I guess I’ll be right at home.

Until next month when we’ll have more southern news don’t forget to support live country and bluegrass music and listen to Bluegrass Island every Sunday evening at 9 pm on CFCY FM 95.1 in Charlottetown and online at

Keep Your Hand In

Country Prose
by Charlie Hansen

Dusty Roads - Harold NoyeWhen most people reach the point where they have had a successful and fulfilling life they tend to lay back and enjoy what they have accomplished over their lifetime. This is not the case with Harold Noye. Harold, besides operating the very successful Sun N’ Shade campground along with his wife Marnie, has always kept his hand in the music business.

Harold and Marnie were part of the very successful bluegrass/gospel group Jericho Road. Harold and Vans Bryant were also partners in Dunromin Duo.

After several successful projects in these musical configurations Harold has set out on his own to produce a CD that he calls Dusty Roads. This CD encompasses everything from the sounds of Hank Williams to an instrumental called “Spinnaker’s Landing” that Harold wrote several years ago. All in all this CD represents Harold’s love of country and bluegrass music.

Some of the selections on this CD are the Bill Monroe instrumental, “Tennessee Blues,” a Freddie Hart song called “Hank Williams Guitar,” the Rodney Crowell penned “Til I Gain Control Again” and a bluegrass standard called “Cecil Barfield” written by Bill Castle.

Harold does a fine job on mandolin and guitar as well as lead and harmony vocals on this project while the rest of the instrumentation was handled by Gordie Belsher. The project was recorded at Guernsey Cove Parlour Productions with Gordie Belsher doing the honours.

This is a fine CD, as a matter of fact so fine that it has received a nomination for country recording of the year at the PEI Music Awards to be held this month in Charlottetown.

This project features many songs that may not be familiar to the general listener but they are all a great listen. Some of the tracks on this project are old favourites and those that are not will become new favourites after the first spin.

If you’d like a copy of this CD you can give Harold a call at 902-436-8833 and I’m sure that it’ll be available at The Sun N' Shade campground in Borden-Carleton next spring. Best of luck at the PEI Music awards Harold.

Congratulations to all who have received nominations for the 2012 PEI Music Awards and best of luck to all.

By the time this column goes to print I’ll be in Florida for the winter (across the street from Harold and Marnie) but I’ll be keeping you informed of the comings and goings in the sunshine state. Usually we attend a number of bluegrass and country events and I’m sure that this year will be no different. We like to take in some of the local activities around Zephyrhills and will be reporting on those as well.

Until next month, stay warm and don’t forget to support live country and bluegrass music and listen to Bluegrass Island every Sunday at 9 pm on CFCY 95.1 FM in Charlottetown or at

Night Out with the Girls

Country Prose
by Charlie Hansen

Girl's Night OutA couple of months ago I mentioned that Neil Matthews was beginning to record a new CD. Now, this isn’t new for Neil as he’s done this many times before, but this one is special in that it is made up of fourteen duet tracks featuring five of Neil’s female friends and family.

The ladies featured on this CD, Girl’s Night Out, are Jolee Patkai, Gloria Rodgerson, Jeannie Kelly, Jen Hicks and Neil’s daughter, Darlene Matthews. Each in their own right are fine singers but as a group they have put together something special on this project.

Jolee Patkai is well known, especially in eastern PEI, and has made in roads in the music scene across the province as well. Jolee recorded a CD of her own a few years ago called Shore Rhapsody which has done very well for her. She has a very strong and accurate voice which is well represented on her versions of, “We Must Have Been Out Of Our Minds,” “Are You Mine” and “Just Between The Two Of Us.”

Gloria Rodgerson is making her return to the music business after an absence of a few years and has recently been concentrating on her song writing. She has a number of fine songs that she is presently demoing. Gloria does a fine job on, “My Baby’s Gone,” “Are You Teasing Me” and “Must You Throw Dirt In My Face.”

Jeannie Kelly has been in the music business on PEI for a number of years and is best known as a karaoke presenter. Jeannie has a very pleasant voice and does a fine job on the classic country songs, “If Teardrops Were Pennies,” “Golden Rings” and “Storms Never Last.”

Jen Hicks, although a performer in dinner theater with a trained voice, makes the transition to classic country seamlessly with, “Country Roads,” “Daddy Sang Bass” and “Jackson.” Jen has also been a performer at Avonlea village with Neil.

Neil’s Daughter, Darlene has been singing since she could talk and is proof that talent runs deep in the Matthews clan. Darlene did a fine job on “Can You Stop The Rising Tide,” a song written by her father and “The Last Thing On My Mind.” Darlene currently lives in Reserve Mines, Cape Breton.

The musical accompaniment was provided by Jimi Platts on lead guitar, Billy Matthews on drums, Thomas Webb on pedal steel and Judy Lowe on keyboard.

A launch for this CD will be held at the Benevolent Irish Society Hall on North River Road in Charlottetown on December 3. Doors open at 8 and the show starts at 9 pm with an admission of $5 so get there early because I’m sure there'll be a big crowd.

All in all this is a fine CD and a great way to enjoy these classic country duets over and over again.

Until next time don’t forget to support live country and bluegrass music and listen to Bluegrass Island every Sunday evening at 9:00 on CFCY 95.1 FM in Charlottetown and at on the world wide web.

Fading into Fall

Country Prose
by Charlie Hansen

The Bluegrass BrothersWell, the summer has faded into fall and many of the musical events associated with the warmer season have ceased operation for another year.

The summer season on PEI is always awash in music of every kind and colour and never ceases to amaze local and visitor alike. I’ve heard from visitors to the Island that they can’t understand how a place so small holds a talent pool so large and deep.

At one time we were famous for Celtic and country music with a bit of everything else thrown into the pot but in recent years, partly due to the emergence of Music PEI, other genres have more than flourished as witnessed in the many nominations (and wins) at both the Music PEI awards and the ECMAs.

Being a country and bluegrass music fan I spent my summer at many of the, mostly, bluegrass festivals across the island. Whether it was Rollo Bay, Abram Village, Tignish, Twin Shores or Marco Polo Land this summer was a great year for bluegrass music on the Island.

Two new festivals emerged this year, one very successful and the other less so but still a valid opportunity for Island musicians to perform and add to their exposure to the music scene.

The Summerside festival which was associated with the Lobster Carnival was less successful due to lack of marketing and promotion but still, as I stated previously a valid opportunity for Island bluegrass players.

The 1st Annual Twin Shores Camping Area bluegrass festival was a rousing success and this will be a first class event for years to come. The Bluegrass Brothers from Virginia headlined the show and brought many folks from off-Island to Twin Shores due to their familiarity with the band. Probably the most well received band on the schedule were local favourites, Gordie MacKeeman and his Rhythm Boys. These guys are dynamite on stage and deserve every one of the accolades that they receive. They are high energy on stage and as personable as they come off stage. Well done guys.

The operation at Twin Shores is first rate and the owners bend over backward to make sure your experience is pleasurable in every aspect of your stay. This is another fine show place for local bluegrass to be experienced in a first class setting.

There may be some changes at Marco Polo Land next year. There is talk of a Gospel festival on the same weekend next year but we’ll have to wait and see.

There is a new CD in the making for Neil Matthews. This effort is a duet project with five young ladies accompanying Neil. Neil is in good voice after having some health issues over the last couple of years. This is a CD worth the wait, I’m sure.

Until next time don’t forget to support live country and bluegrass music and listen to Bluegrass Island every Sunday evening at 9:00 on CFCY FM 95.1 or on the world wide web at

Our Hearts and Minds


Review by Charlie Hansen

John Connolly, Mark Haines, Caroline Bernard, Chas Guay, Ashley Condon in Come-All-Ye (photo: pixbylorne))Come-All-Ye is essentially a showcase of Island music, story telling and comedy with an under current that features the values that make us what we are—Islanders.

The musical parts of the show, all arranged by John Connolly, are very well put together and make great use of a minimal amount of orchestration.

The comedy is pure Island with Patrick Ledwell regaling the audience with humourous tales that we, as Islanders, take for granted but when presented in the proper context are both delightful and down right funny. Patrick is extraordinary in his approach and delivery and the use of visual aids really makes his routines stand out.

The cast is made up of veterans of the Island music scene in multi-instrumentalist, Mark Haines and bassist extraordinaire, Chas Guay. Others, who can not yet be called veterans, show ample proof that the musical future of PEI is in good and capable hands. Both Haines and Guay not only hold up their end of the musical numbers with expected ease but are also excellent vocalists.

John Connolly, a talented singer and songwriter, is also musical director for the show and does it all with a wide grin. To my amazement, after not seeing John perform for a number of years, he has turned into a fine guitarist and handles all other instruments effortlessly.

Ashley Condon is as fresh as the hay fields of Murray Harbour (North) and shows us all that you can come home and be a happy Islander. Her vocals are spotless and she shows a great ability to write songs that the audience can relate to.

Caroline Bernard is spectacular and, although suffering from a case of strep throat on the night of this performance, proceeded to bring the house down with her rendition of “Plus Jamais la Mer” written by Calixte Duguay. Her voice is smoky and sensual and her command of a number of instruments is amazing.

The show over all is a great representation of what goes on in the hearts and minds of us as Islanders. How we take for granted the everyday things that make Come From Aways (CFAs) shake their heads in disbelief and how we all come together as one when it comes to story and song.

I must admit I thought the name, “Come-All-Ye” a bit strange [hint: rhymes with “Somalia”] until the show began and the audience was drawn in and became part of the on stage happenings.

All in all this show is well worth seeing whether you’re a lifelong Islander, an expatriate or someone who is visiting for the first time. There is something in this show for everyone and it just might make your stay on PEI a bit more enjoyable.

A tip of the hat to the cast, crew and directors of the Confederation Center of the Arts for having the foresight to put this type of show on stage for all the world to enjoy.

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