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March Hare celebrants from left: Charlie Payne, Allan Byrne, Pamela Morgan and Des WalshEnjoying On the Job Training at the March Hare in Corner Brook

by Charissa Reeves

On the weekend of March 10 to 12, I had the opportunity to enjoy the March Hare in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. Conceived by the late legendary Newfoundland playwright and poet Al Pittman and his friends Rex Brown and George Daniels it started off as a one poetry night reading to try and sell beer. Since then it has grown into a five-day music and literary festival starting in St. John’s with a reading on Wednesday night moving to Gander on Thursday, then to Corner Brook for the weekend with a total of six events in the last three days.

The festival featured poets such as Des Walsh, John Steffler, Agnes Walsh, Michael Crummey, and internationally known Irish poets John Ennis, Eilean Ni Chuilleanain and Norwegian poet Arne Ruste. Also featured were journalist Stephen Brunt, and novelist Wayne Johnston. The weekend was jam packed with talent.

On the Friday afternoon a dual CD, and book launch, launching well-known Newfoundland singer-songwriter Ron Hynes’s first self-titled album and first songbook and Ennis’s new book of poetry at Casual Jacks Roadhouse on West Street.

Every year the Friday night at Casual Jacks is a tribute to a living poet this year was Irish poet Ennis. Tickets were in high demand, being sold the Saturday before with only 26 available due to the small size of the pub. The rest were reserved prior to the event by performers and people coming in from out of province.

The respect for the poets reading and musicians playing that night was incredible. When performers where on stage all one could hear was the rattle of coin at the bar, the ring of the cash register and the clink of ice in glasses as the bartenders served drinks. If someone murmured too loudly they were quickly shushed by another audience member.

The night started with a reading from Ennis’s new book Goldcrest Falling. Later, the bar, packed with people standing along the door way and around the edges of the room was silent as Pamela Morgan sang her song “West Moon To Waterford.” She wrote the song after performing in Pittman’s play West Moon when it went to Ireland in 2001. Morgan and Anita Best sang two duets together with Morgan on guitar singing the harmonies. John Steffler, a creative writing professor at local Sir Wilfred Grenfell College(SWGC) read a humorous poems about moose. Paul Dean told the story of his conception, birth and early childhood years in a light-hearted Newfoundland folk story style. Some of the highlights of the night musically were the Byrne brothers, Allan and Matthew, each performing separately and Stephanie Payne. Payne charmed the audience and thrilled us with her voice.

After the performers had finished and some of the audience had filtered away the party continued. Remaining musicians sat around one of the tables and started a sing-song with the patrons left.

The Mad Hatters Tea Party Saturday afternoon was for the kids featuring a performance by the College Actors Troupe, and a dance lesson teaching children and their parents how to do the Virginia Reel as Charlie Payne played his accordion.

Saturday night at the Columbus Club proved no less stimulating than the first evening. Once again poets and musicians from the first night charmed the audience, hushing the crowd sometimes and making them roar with laughter others. Des Walsh read a poem he had written after a previous March Hare when Michael Ondaatje was performing as well. Walsh had ribbed Ondaatje for supporting anti-sealers in the Globe and Mail. Walsh had the audience roaring with laughter in his poem about Paris Hilton and the English Patient joining the seal hunt protest. “Stroking each others carcasses, with their legs wrapped around misinformation,” read Walsh. When the program was over musicians once again hung around with those of the crowd who stuck around to party and make music.

Sunday afternoon was strictly musicians at the King Henry Pub located in the Glynmill Inn. The feeling in the room was melancholy, yet still appreciative. A close friend of many of the musicians had passed away. Some of the artists dedicated songs. Morgan sang an original about friends lost over the years. Her voice was haunting as she sang, “Petals from your precious flower strewn across my memory.” The afternoon wrapped up with all the performers gathering at the front of the stage to sing the song “The Grey Funnel Line” with the audience joining in for the chorus.

Next year will be the 20th anniversary of the event and I strongly recommend anybody not to adverse to a snowy vacation in March to check out this celebration of words and music.

Reel Island Film Festival

Scaled-down film festival features PEI film and video projects

by Charissa Reeves

Patsy, one of the characters in Mille Clarkes documentary Stalking LoveIsland filmmakers who were disappointed that there was no festival last fall will have a chance to showcase their films at a smaller version of the Reel Island Film Festival (RIFF). The festival will be held at City Cinema February 20 -21 and will feature six hours of Island films with two awards available and an after-party at Brennan’s.

Fox Henderson, organizer and local film maker, said the festival is being called the Reel Island Film Festival mainly for continuity because people recognize the name. He wanted a place to show his work and other films he had been involved with. The owner of City Cinema agreed to rent the theatre for two nights. “It’s more like a showcase, because we’re not doing anything else,” said Henderson.

Pete Murphy, another local filmmaker helping with the festival said it’s all about the films. “We were making films before there were festivals, and we’ll be making films when there aren’t any festivals.”

There may be a few longer films but most will be under 15 minutes, said Henderson. “There’s nothing wrong with making a five-minute movie.”

Jason Alward, the web designer for Reel Island, said people were disappointed when there was no place to show films last year. “We have been getting a lot of response about people wanting to show their films.”

The cost to organize the festival so far is the $8 Henderson spent on posters asking for film submissions. Rental of the theatre will be paid through ticket sales.

We think there will be enough interest, especially because of the time of year, said Alward. “It’s an event too. You don’t pay to see a blockbuster, you’re going to see a creative work.”

There will be advanced ticket sales early on the days of the festival and tickets will also be available at the door on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Islanders support Island films, said Murphy. “After working the festival for a couple of years there was a big hullabaloo because people weren’t coming to see off-Island films.” “It didn’t seem people care like they do for Island films. They know someone who’s in it or made it,” said Henderson. “The Island’s small, the film festival’s small,” said Murphy.

Two awards will be given out after the festival by Nicole Balderson, she has made the awards for all of the previous festivals and each award is unique. The awards will be the viewers choice award, and the Shaye Reno memorial award for best first-time effort. For information go to, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Stalking Love screening

Stalking Love, a full-length documentary produced and directed by Millefiore Clarkes, will screen Tuesday, February 21 at 7 pm at City Cinema. The Reel Island Film Festival Awards Party will follow at the Kier Gallery.

This is the second local screening of Stalking Love. The documentary explores the state of love in the hearts and minds of a wide variety of individuals from across North America. It had its debut screening at the Kier Gallery in the spring of 2005. Since then it has screened at The Atlantic Film Festival and is under consideration to be turned into a television series by an independent producer in Halifax.

Millefiore Clarkes describes his film: “Stalking Love documents a journey that traverses the continent in search of something, anything, to do with love. From prostitutes to priests, the wealthy to the poor, the aging to the very young—there is no one who has nothing to say about love.”


Talking Bands
by Charissa Reeves

On January 6 one of Charlottetown’s newest bands played its third show at Hunter’s Ale House. Though they have already been recorded on the local compilation Well Oiled, Lenore only played its first gig on December 6.

The six-member group started playing together last March adding lyrics to the songs in November. Donovan Morgan, guitarist and vocalist, said the lyrics follow the music. “The music is the mood. It’s the picture frame.” The band has a heavy pop-rock sound with vocals in three-part harmonies sung by Laura Pineau, Patrick Lantiegne, and Morgan.

Morgan used to be a member of Flush along with Lenore’s drummer Chris Wood, and bassist, Elliot Carter. Morgan DJs around town as well, and can be seen playing an acoustic set with Pineau on Tuesday nights at Hunter’s. The sixth member is guitarist Joel Court. He played with the group Seraphim Slaughter. A few difficulties come from having so many people, figuring out schedules for practice time being the biggest.

There are always creative differences between members, but because there are six of them things never get too tense, said Morgan. “Two people would fight to the death.” “It’s more of a democracy,” Lantiegne added.

The group starts recording an album in the third week of January but length, track list, album title, release date and distribution have yet to be discussed. “Baby steps,” said Lantiegne. “But the thing is, it took 10 months for the baby to be born,” said Court.

The band did not apply for the upcoming ECMAs as they were just newly forming, but will be playing at a no-case, (an unofficial event), during the events at Hunter’s Ale House.

The band’s goals remain simple, said Wood. “Just getting back together and making music is the number one priority.” “Finish a set,” jokes Pineau.

They tease Pineau about being the lone girl of the group. “Ask Laura if she’ll ever be pirate,” said Morgan. “No, I’ll never be a pirate because they don’t allow girls on boats,” said Pineau. “Wait until we go on tour with a bus,” said Morgan. “We’ll need a side car with some goggles.” “If I’m going in a sidecar I’m getting a little dog, a terrier, and he’s wearing goggles and a helmet too,” said Pineau. They all laugh and Pineau adds, “I’m just a stupid mermaid.”


Talking Bands
by Charissa Reeves

They played their first show together in April, and eight months later released their new six-song CD. Local band Fugato, pronounced Foo-gaw-toe, launched their first CD entitled Grass Radio at Baba’s Lounge December 17. About 100 people gathered to watch, listen and dance. Band members include, Mark Steele, vocals and guitar, Peter MacDonald, bass guitar, Jonathon Holmes, drums, Devin Stevenson, guitar, and newest addition Mike MacDougall, percussion.

They have a reggae/funk sound with an occasional rock bass line and psychedelic guitar, and Steele’s girlfriend Tamara Gough sometimes guest vocals with her big diva voice.

When playing Steele is always bare foot, MacDonald has a tendency to raise his right eyebrow, Holmes bites his bottom lip and Stevenson’s cheeks get red on his straight face. Holmes and MacDonald have played together before the in bands Port Citizen and Supercar.

Steele says he and Stevenson were fans of Port Citizen and Supercar as teenagers. “They were up and kickin’, and listening to music before we were born,” he jokes.

“These guys are young pups, I’m an old fart,” 29-year-old Holmes said of Steele, 22, and Stevenson, 23. Steele and Stevenson played in the band Tumbleweed, and MacDougall played for the bands Eyes For Telescopes and The Tuesdays.

MacDougall joined the group in August, although he is not on the CD and could not make it to the release due to family commitments. Holmes says MacDougall is an excellent percussionist and brings a new aspect to the band’s sound. “I bought my first set of drums off of Mike.”

The band doesn’t really have any creative differences when writing music, says Holmes. “It all comes from Mark in the get-go and then we mold it.” Steele says the credit is not all his own. “I don’t come up with the drum beats,” he said. “Damn right you don’t,” laughs Holmes.

The band’s name came about by chance. They were discussing names when Steele said something and Holmes asked, “Did you say Fugato?” “And I said, ‘Fugato what the hell,’” said Steele. Other names discussed for the band were Black Lung Boutique, and Hot Buttered Elvis. “I was pushing Hot Buttered Elvis pretty hard,” said Steele.

The band says its goals are the same as any other band, to play music and try to make a living out of it. Holmes says he happy if he can buy breakfast the next day.

Fugato has a song on the recently released local artist compilation CD, Well Oiled. Well Oiled and Grass Radio are both available at Back Alley Discs.

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