Notes from the Road
by Catherine MacLellan
Spring officially arrived in April, but actual spring is now here: lawns need mowing, leaves are budding and black flies have taken their first bites. At the Dunk, the river has fallen back to normal levels and my partner Chris has brought me home the most beautiful trout from the North shore rivers. My garden is mostly planted and I’m just waiting for the final chances of frost to pass.
We had our second annual Fiddlehead Social at the Dunk, which was a beautiful success. Warm weather and sun drew people out of their holes and a stellar line-up of wonderful musicians played all day. It was actually the tenth year of this event, previously called Funk the Dunk, which was beginning to be too big for Hal’s back yard party.
After a few years of larger-than-manageable crowds, we have succeeded in bringing things back to a real community event, with the older generations guiding the way and a hoard of young children running around, dancing and laughing and playing. The day started out with a newer band, Larque, playing a beautiful set of music followed by bands who regularly grace the Dunk with their talents. Brian Dunn played a heart-warming solo set, I got to borrow my old band from Jon Rehder who played a rollicking set with Rhythm Rules, and Raccoon Bandit made an all too rare appearance as they came out of hiding from the studio. Spencer Soloduka & The Tearaways, newer friends to the Dunk, played to a huge, rowdy throng of dancers.
A few bands from off-Island made the effort to cross the bridge, our somewhat extended family members - Eric and Charlotte Fresia, Acres and Acres, and David Celia, all amazing additions. David ended the whole night with a spectacular set of great songs and improvised moments with his Island band (Jon Rehder and Shane Coady). It was one of the best things I’ve ever seen at the Dunk, a perfect end to a perfect day!
The next day was an altogether different occasion with a visit from Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall. I was honoured to be asked to play as part of the celebration and so arrived early for sound checks and run throughs. My daughter Isabel was so excited that I was playing for royalty, she told her whole class and showed up early with her dad to take in the entire event with face painting, hot-dogs, ice cream and fireworks. Slight drizzle didn’t keep the crowds away, it only made the event more colourful with plenty of umbrellas painting the scene.
I must say, it was a somewhat strange experience. Security was very tight and our instruments were required the night before so they could be inspected. We were given dressing rooms at the Confederation Centre backstage, and then ushered through tunnels from the Centre to Province House. The tunnels were an unknown element to me, and felt like remnants of the cold war.
The crowd was lovely and it was great to see such a diverse audience and all the kids running around, dancing to the bands and laughing with the comedians. Performing in front of our government leaders and the royal couple felt quite odd, as you can probably imagine, but everyone did a great job, including all the amazing crew members who made it run so smoothly.
I woke up the next day feeling very much like it had all been an odd dream. Now, back in my grungy gardening clothes and my hands in the dirt, all is as it should be and the rain is softly falling.