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Toronto Adventures

by Christian Ledwell

On the second night of its three-week run at the Victoria Playhouse, writer and actor Lindsay Kyte’s Toronto Adventures impressed a sold-out audience with seasoned acting, boisterous humour, and professional production.

Framed as a series of mass e-mails, Toronto Adventures recounts Kyte’s experiences uprooting from Cape Breton to Toronto to pursue an acting career, treating the familiar differences between urban and rural living with comic hyperbole. Life in Cape Breton—awash in booze, Tim Hortons, regional dialect, and featuring such pastimes as ‘meat bingo’—is contrasted with life in Toronto, which is criticized for pretension and materialism.

Kyte departs from Cape Breton with Anne of Green Gable’s braids and romantic vision, and works her way through a series of amusing blunders and triumphs in her acting career, once adding the word “ocean” to every line of the Rankin family’s “Rise Again” when prompted for a Celtic ballad at an audition.

Kyte was supported by an excellent cast of Sherilyn Brady, Stephen MacDougall and Josh Weale, who juggled upwards of five roles each as the various characters Kyte meets in her escapades. Under the Artistic Direction of Erskine Smith, the cast admirably managed their task, keeping their many personae distinct. Brady was memorable as Carmela, Kyte’s Toronto friend who needs to be reminded she has a grandfather and three uncles named Nipper home in Cape Breton, and MacDougall provided musical accompaniment as Kyte’s eccentric roommate.

A veteran of the Victoria Playhouse, Weale gets laughs dressed in drag as Kyte’s hard-living grandmother, who once outdrank a soccer team, thinks her dialysis machine lets her drink more, and is the voice moderation when Kyte is guilty of “channeling the cast of the goddam Sound of Music.” Kyte’s grandmother is the play’s hero, and the story reaches its resolution when the Toronto Star publishes Kyte’s e-mails, a feat accomplished by Kyte’s grandmother hounding the paper’s editor.

Jonathan Smith and Ron Quesnel’s impressive metalwork backdrop economically negotiated the play’s constant shifts in setting; equipped with lights and symbols, the set-piece presented Kyte’s navigation of coffee shops, acting classes, airports from Cape Breton to Toronto with astounding clarity.

Toronto Adventures’ only misstep came after the intermission, with a veer into melodrama in the depiction of Kyte’s struggles as a waiter and call-center employee. This lull was soon corrected by the return of the production’s strong humour, with Kyte’s culture shock on her return to Cape Breton.

Toronto Adventures’ lesson is that an East Coast artist can have success in Toronto through a combination of stick-to-it-ness and quirk—Kyte’s only sacrifice of artistic integrity is the sale of a farcical ass-dance to a cell-phone ad campaign. But despite its promises of Upper Canadian acceptance, Toronto Adventure fits exceptionally well in its presentation here on the East Coast; the drive to Victoria’s cliff-side coastal view and pastoral landscape added much to the theatre-going experience, and the professionalism shown in the small-town theatre was a sure demonstration of the abundant talent outside of Toronto.

Name That Tune

Andrew Rollins hosts Music Trivia at Hunter’s Ale House

by Christian Ledwell

Andrew RollinsSunday night Music Trivia at Hunter’s Ale House celebrated its second anniversary this September, and host Andrew Rollins sees no end in sight for the weekly event.

Trying to express the extent of his music fanaticism in as humble a way as possible, Rollins opts to let his music collection speak for itself. The collection covers approximately sixty square feet of his and his wife’s bedroom wall, and Rollins estimates the number of records to be between three and four thousand. Though he admits “it’s hard to navigate,” the collection accommodates Rollins’ diverse musical tastes which he has refined through various jobs selling records at RecordOnWheels, Radioland, and currently in the music section of Futureshop.

Rollins began hosting Music Trivia at Hunter’s after responding to an online advertisement, and hosted his first night with nothing more than a boombox and a microphone, which he held up to the speakers to make the songs audible.

As the technology for amplifying music has become more sophisticated (he now runs mp3’s through the Hunter’s soundsystem), so has his promotion of the event,with advertising through internet communities such as,, and Facebook. Having studied graphic design at Holland College, Rollins designs a distinctive new poster each week incorporating often humorous music-related images.

Music Trivia’s format begins with two rounds of song-name and artist identification, followed by another round of general knowledge questions such as biographical information or identifying solos and backwards songs. The rounds are broken up by a Beer Question—a guess costs a quarter and a right answer wins a free beer.

Rollins attempts to accommodate the eclectic mix of musical knowledge held by Trivia attendees, playing music from many different genres. He assures, “I’ll throw in one country song, at least.” Rollins acknowledges that the internet has broadened people’s exposure to different music, and that finding common ground can be difficult. He says, “Before the digital age, there wasn’t the same search [for new music].”

Rollins hopes for Music Trivia to allow participants both to reminisce about songs they have forgotten and to be exposed to unfamiliar songs and artists. Internet downloading has at least made it possible for Rollins to include some popular music that he admits is part of the collective experience of music, such as “the ‘Mambo #5’s, and stuff that I wouldn’t touch with my own money.”

Recognition of Rollins’ work over the last two years is visible on the Hunter’s Ale House menu, with the club sandwich and fried dill pickles platter proudly bearing the name ‘The Andrew Rollins.’

Behind the Wheel

Profile: David Gibler

by Christian Ledwell

David GiblerAs owner of the Stratford Music Academy and Maritime Luxury Limosine, Dave Gibler says he would rather have one single business that took care of all the bills, and most people—having a keen desire to play guitar while in a limosine—would see it as a shame that his businesses could not be somehow combined.

As things stand however, his Stratford Music Academy offers lessons in guitar, electric bass, piano, fiddle, drum and violin, by teachers Gibler, Aaron Crane, Allison Ling, and Danny Vent. Gibler’s second company, Maritime Luxury Limosine, is a five-vehicle chaffeured service which caters primarily to corporate clients, providing black limosines.

Gibler grew up in a musical family: his mother was a classical pianist and avid Ray Charles fan, and his father was a jazz drummer who listened to country & western in his spare time. “So, of course, I like rock,” he jokes. After learning guitar from his uncle and developing a teenage obsession with Jeff Beck and Led Zeppelin, Gibler spent two years studying jazz guitar at William Patterson University, where he found his interest waning on account of the jazz purist-bent of the instructors.

Gibler applied and was accepted into the 350-student class at the Guitar Institute of Technology in Hollywood, California, where he studied under instructors who allowed for greater stylistic variety. After class at GIT, Gibler and his classmates would go out to watch still up-and-coming acts Motley Crue and Ywngie Malmsteen perform in Hollywood clubs.

Gibler spent three years playing original music in New York City with the group Teachers from Detroit, fronted by a Wall Street stock broker who financed recording sessions out-of-pocket in high-end studios, including Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland.

During his residence in New York, Gibler also became involved in the limosine business. Gibler says he enjoyed the work, in which he got to meet Bob Hope and Willem Defoe.

Gibler has been teaching guitar on PEI for over six years, and opened the Stratford Music Academy three years ago. He says his students range from 6- to 80-years old; from teenage boys who want to learn speed metal, to a middle-aged woman studying under him for the last six years who can now read music in seven time signatures, and plays guitar because it keeps her mind sharp and helps her arthritis.

Gibler enjoys the range of experience teaching exposes him to, saying, “I love beginners; I love when that light comes on. I remember when that light came on for me.” He sees playing music as a populist discipline, explaining, “Maybe you can’t hit a baseball far, but anyone can have a level of proficiency on an instrument.”

This fall, Stratford Music Academy will also be opening a full-service rehearsal space for rent, with microphones, amplifiers and a drum kit provided. More information on this service and on booking lessons can be found at

Beating a New Path

Island drummer Kirk White joins the band of Stepcrew

by Christian Ledwell

Kirk WhiteWhether in pedagogy or performance, Kirk White—Island native and new drummer for the high-profile stepdance and fiddle troupe The Stepcrew—is an advocate of broad and open-minded listening.

White’s introduction to music came through playing drums in his basement along with his favourite records while still in grade school. After enrolling in private lessons in his final year of high school, White was accepted into the UPEI’s Music Department. He continued on to complete a Percussion Masters at McGill, which led to performances with the McGill and Montreal symphony orchestras.

A graduate with a degree in Music generally enters into one of two broad career streams: teaching or performance. Initially, White opted for the stability of a job teaching, settling into a position at Montague High School. Though he continued to be involved in a variety of musical projects, White credits fellow UPEI Music Department graduate Mike Ross with reawakening his love of performance, when White was asked to drum on Ross’ album The Dennis Lee Project.

Through Ross, White met dancer and fiddler Stephanie Cadman, who was performing with Ross in two Confederation Center Mainstage productions. White, Ross, and Cadman worked together on the Mainstage’s run of “Celtic Blaze,” which led to White’s invitation to drum on Cadman’s album Unleashed.

While in Toronto last year, White attended a performance of Cadman’s latest project, the Stepcrew. He explains, “I saw them play in November and I was blown away. It was incredible.”

The Stepcrew consists of seven dancers and fiddlers, including past and present members of Bowfire, Riverdance, and Ireland’s folk ambassadors, The Chieftains.

The group is backed by a five-piece band and, on the strength of his contribution to Cadman’s album, White received a phone call from her several weeks after attending the show, asking if he would join the band as a percussionist.

On accepting, White was flown to Toronto for two weeks of intensive rehearsal. He was astounded daily by the level of skill and professionalism within the group, many of whom have known and performed with one another since early childhood.

White was equally impressed by the breadth of stylistic influences within The Stepcrew and the diversity it affords him as a percussionist. He says, “It’s not just a Celtic show where I’m sitting there all night with the spoons.”

White’s broad musical interests were evident during our conversation, in which The Chieftains, Herbie Hancock, The White Stripes, and Supertramp were all given approving mentions.

Though White still loves teaching music, his decision to take a leave from conducting school-band to dedicate himself to The Stepcrew was calculated. “Some of these opportunities [in performance] started coming and I said, ‘I need to take a run at this’.”

White will continue to offer private lessons in the upcoming months, during which The Stepcrew have shows booked across the United States. These lessons—like White’s own beginnings in music—are taught from the studio in his basement surrounded by his favourite records.

Making an Impact

Jeff King operates Impact Video and Game in Montague

by Christian Ledwell

Jeff KingJeff King—the founder of Montague’s new entertainment business, Impact Video and Game—believes that video games can be a wholesome group activity and an affordable form of good, clean fun. “People hear ‘video game,’ and they think of a dark, dingy arcade,” he says, “But parents are be able to take their kids here.”

King hopes that the business he began operating last January will provide a social atmosphere for a wide age-range, and wants to emphasize a side of video gaming other than that of a solitary pastime which revels in ultraviolence. “Games have become a lot more sociable,” he stresses. The games on Impact’s computers and consoles allow for visitors to compete against one another in large numbers, and King hopes that children’s parties will become a staple of his business.

Eight to twelve year olds are the targeted age range during the day, while more mature gamers will have overnight rentals available at a rate of $30 per ten hours, with a strict ban on smoking, drinking or drug-use. King describes Battlefield II, one of his most popular games with mature gamers, as a team activity to be enjoyed by a group of friends.

Impact Video and Game offers preferential rates to its expanding membership, and recently added pool and foosball tables to the ten computer terminals, Dance-Dance Revolution console, and two 106-inch screens available for films, sporting events, or video-gaming. “These are some of the biggest screens you’ll find outside of a movie theatre,” King says.

Traditional arcade consoles will still be available to provide the sense of nostalgia already a part of the brief history of video-gaming. Other older systems, such as Nintendo and Super Nintendo, are available for similar reasons, and are complimented by the state-of-the-art Xbox 360, Playstation II and Wii systems.

Impact Video and Game shares a building with Montague’s Generation XX, but King clarifies that, though they are both providing an outlet for youth entertainment, their affiliation ends at shared real estate. However, he feels the proximity of the two organizations should be mutually beneficial.

With nine years of experience working with computers and A+ certification, King will offer seminars this fall on adult computer literacy and general computer proficiency in the afternoons from 1 to 3 pm, when his younger clientele are in school. He also performs computer repairs. “If you’re looking for anything computer-related in the area, I want this to be the place you try first,” he concludes.

Impact Video and Game is on 112 Fraser St., Montague PEI, and its website is

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