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Silence, Bloodhound!

Susan Rodgers and son Christopher collaborate on video

by Peggy Miles

Scene from Silence, Bloodhound! with Christopher Rodgers in the backgroundIt’s a collaboration that seemed like a natural fit for Summerside filmmaker Susan Rodgers and musician Christopher Rodgers. I speak of Susan’s latest project, a film set to music…the music of Christopher, her son.

Susan is the face of Blue Mountain Entertainment, producer of documentaries, short films, feature dramas and more. A Vancouver Film School Honours graduate, the cinematographer is a member of the industry association Island Film Factory and has sold productions to CBC and Bravo.

The film collaboration between the two Rodgers is entitled Silence, Bloodhound! and showcases the song by the same name, written and performed by the younger Rodgers.

Shot earlier this summer at locations such as the Dunk, Cabot Beach, and Indian River Church, the film is a reflective piece of work that explores the concept of life and death. Local actors appearing in the project include Sarah Jackshaw, Nick Richards, Nancy Price and Duke Ferguson.

The film opens with an old woman in a rocking chair who is drawn outside toward melodic sounds coming from a nearby beach. Along the way she is transformed into her adolescent self and finds musicians making merry around a shoreline fire.

From there time becomes jumbled as scenes move between the beach and an escape from a chase—an experience from the young woman’s past—where a suitor gives up his life to protect hers. As if in a dream, she is reconnected with the young man back at the fire on the beach. Making her way back to the cabin and morphing into her aging body, she peacefully passes away.

Christopher appears in the video at the beach fire singing the aforementioned folk ballot. “It encompasses three versus all of which focus on being young, growing older and then passing away from the perspective of the adolescent,” says young Rodgers.

Shares Susan: “…I have always loved this song. I thought it might be our only chance to collaborate together on something that would be so meaningful for both of us. I brought the idea to him and was thrilled when he agreed that he would like to have a video for that particular song.”

Christopher adds: “I just had to remember that I could explain all I could and all I felt about the project to her and trust her as an artist to portray those ideas in her own way on screen. It was a really neat project and it’s something I’ll have for the rest of my life.”

Active in youth within the music programs at school and at the College of Piping, Christopher now teaches drumming at the College, is focusing on his career as a performer and is in the process of putting together a folk rock group.

Plans are in the works to host a launch of the music video in the near future. In the meantime, the video can be viewed at under Susan Rodgers.

Coffee and Culture

Moyna Matheson opens Samuel’s Cafe in downtown Summerside

Summerside Report
by Peggy Miles

Moyna Matheson hanging out at Samuel’sYou know that scene in The Sound of Music where Rolfe finally kisses Liesl in the gazebo, and then Liesl utters the most joyful of expressions in the form of a loud and shrill ‘Wheeeee!’? Well that’s how I feel about the newly opened Samuel’s Coffee House in downtown Summerside. I’ve been waiting for this as long as Leisl was waiting for that kiss from Rolfe.

Located on the corner of Queen and Water Streets in the historic Journal Pioneer building, Samuel’s has everything you’d expect from a specialty coffee shop. The java is fair trade, there are specialty teas (courtesy of Lady Baker’s Tea Trolley) and baked goods are made in-house. Basic lunch items such as soups and sandwiches will soon be added to the menu. All items are served by conscientious staff that warmly interact with returning customers and inquisitive first timers.

“I want customers to feel that all of their senses are being fulfilled and that they’ve had an experience and not just a drink,” says Moyna Matheson, the proprietor and social entrepreneur behind Samuel’s. The determined business owner began putting the plan for Samuel’s in motion two years ago after acknowledging that Summerside lacked a contemporary coffee house. Her solution to the void? “I’ll bring it.” resolved Matheson.

The owner is a fifth generation descendent of former Surveyor General of PEI, Captain Samuel Holland, thus the coffee house name is a nod to the proprietor’s family history. Across the street once stood the Clifton Hotel, owned and operated by Matheson’s grandparents.

Her family’s history of commerce as well as the desire for community connection were the catalysts for Matheson’s decision to set up shop in the downtown core. She sees her business as a contributor to Summerside’s creative culture and she hopes her establishment will lead the way to furthering economic success and a cultural presence in the community.

The business operator’s commitment to connecting with the community is also demonstrated by the fact that she uses local products where possible and has a wall reserved to showcase local art. She plans on hosting workshops where people can learn how to brew tea or find out what a latte really is.

Samuel’s is environmentally conscious and staff marvel at how little waste goes into the shop’s black cart at the end of the week. Tea and coffee ‘to go’ orders are served in biodegradable cups made of corn starch. Matheson wants customers to understand where their coffee comes from and is happy to share a dialogue with patrons about what they’re drinking.

Be sure to ask coffee house staff about the history of the Clifton Corner Vault on your next visit. Mochas, Iced Americanos, Mint Chocolate Tea…these are a few of my favourite things at Samuel’s.

Enchanting as Ever

Anne & Gilbert

Review by Peggy Miles

It’s been at least a couple of years since I sat in the comfy seats of the beautiful Harbourfront Theatre in Summerside to experience Anne & Gilbert—The Musical. Recently I again found myself in the audience and as I waited for the show to begin, I reminisced about the magic of that last performance. Would I have the same experience? I am happy to report that the 2011 production is as enchanting as ever.

If you have not had the pleasure of attending this popular summertime show, I offer a brief synopsis. As young adults, Anne and Gilbert are exploring their next steps in life. For Gilbert, the path is unambiguous—he is in love with and wants to marry Anne Shirley. It is obvious to all except the infamous redhead that the sentiment she feels for her fellow scholar is more than just friendship. During the performance the audience finds itself aligning with the Avonlea townspeople in an attempt to bring the two together.

For those who’ve seen the show in years past, it’s worth taking in again to see new faces and the development of the characters.

Even though this is Amy Reitsma’s second year performing the role of Anne, this was my first time viewing the ‘new’ Anne. A bolster of sassy cheekiness was apparent, and Anne’s passion for life comes through in Reitsma’s interpretation of the character.

After a two year hiatus, Aaron Kyte returns to the stage as Gilbert. Kyte carries a strong and swoon-worthy demeanour, while allowing the character’s vulnerability to show through at appropriate moments.

Long time Anne & Gilbert performer and local talent Brittany Banks reprises her role as Diana Barry. Her rendition of “Averil’s Ideal” (post Rollings Reliable Baking Powder discrepancy) is quite humourous.

This year’s scene stealer is the Young Company’s Elijah Moase who plays Paul Irving, the squeaky clean lad from Boston who ends up as one of Ms. Shirley’s pupils. A very likeable portrayal, the entire audience cringed when Moase’s character was the recipient of an unfortunate whooping by his kindred spirit of a teacher.

And Maria Campbell playing Phillipa Gordon in Act Two shines as the confident boy crazy student who befriends Anne at Redmond College.

The production’s musical numbers are memorable. They evoke all sorts of emotions—through Kyte, Gilbert’s melancholy “All You Can Do is Wait” and Marilla’s regret filled rendition of “When He Was My Beau” portrayed by Pamela Campbell were terrific. Serious ballads are balanced by high energy songs involving the entire ensemble such as the toe tapping “You’re Island Through and Through.”

Anne & Gilbert plays at the Harbourfront Theatre on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays until September 25.

Love Endures

Separate Beds

Review by Peggy Miles

All aboard—Separate Beds is setting sail at the Confederation Centre of the Arts. Referred to as “a high seas comedy,” the stage production is part of this summer’s Charlottetown Festival.

My plus one and I recently attended the performance which drops anchor in Studio 1 inside the centre. The storyline takes place on a cruise ship and the Festival Team captures the play’s nautical atmosphere by welcoming attendees with Hawaiian leis and a tiki bar just outside the room. The space has been configured as a cruise ship’s banquet hall and audience members are seated around cocktail tables. Mini umbrellas are abundant.

The comedy is handily carried by two performers (Catherine O’Brien and Gordon Gammie), both familiar faces of the Charlottetown Festival. O’Brien and Gammie fuse together and play the role of two completely different couples. Appearing first is Island duo Ernie and Twink Fraser who are celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. In Act Two the audience is introduced to Torontonians Blake and Beth Stone who have been married for just 10 years. The two distinct couples end up on the same Caribbean cruise and are forced to wade through the choppy waters of their lives to take a deeper look at both reality and perception.

While one marriage is merely a decade old, and the other enduring for 30 years, it appears that all parties involved are tackling tender issues related to love, happiness and success.

From the hard working, small town Frasers to the big city, seemingly successful Stones, O’Brien and Gammie do an outstanding job of appropriately portraying both couples. Costume changes help to facilitate the transition from one couple to the other but more striking is the actors’ ability to adapt their movement and disposition to reflect the attributes of the characters they are portraying.

The comedy takes place on a revolving stage: one moment we’re in the bedroom cabin, and in the next scene we’re taken to the dining area of the floating hotel. An abundance of props are not found on stage, but the audience is easily able to visualize the setting. Changes to lighting also assist in painting a picture in the minds of festival goers, as do scene changes that are kept light and airy with Caribbean music and nautical numbers.

Baby boomers in the prime of life will relate to the Separate Beds production. It will also offer a lesson to young newlyweds that hard work and patience are needed to make love endure.

Separate Beds was written by Maryjane Cruise (irony noted), and directed by Wade Lynch. The comedy runs as part of the Charlottetown Festival until September 4.

Lordy, Lordy…

Brothers Two in Summerside celebrates its 40th anniversary

by Peggy Miles

Lordy, Lordy…Times were groovy, hot pants were in, and the Brothers Two Restaurant in Summerside was opening its doors. It was July 1971 and the establishment had just launched itself as the newest hotspot in Summerside.

The Brothers Two is a family establishment that has been retained in the Groom Family for all 40 years of its existence.

When you hear the Brothers Two name, you probably recollect an amusing experience at the dinner theatre or perhaps a Christmas memory involving the eatery’s renowned shortbread cookies. The restaurant is also well known for providing an “eat free on your birthday” deal, and has a Royalty Rewards Program it uses to communicate with and reward its customers.

The venue has made a myriad of transformations over the years. Customers may remember the disco bar in the downstairs lounge, which exists today as the location for the Feast Dinner Theatre.

Milestones and memories?

The Brothers Two prides itself as the first dinner theatre location in Atlantic Canada; 2011 marks thirty-three years of the Feast at Brothers Two. This year’s production of Stop in the name of love! has a Las Vegas wedding theme—and celebrating the fact that the half millionth dinner theatre ticket will be sold this summer, Feast organizers are giving away a package for a Las Vegas wedding.

The restaurant is a hub for entertainment; in addition to the Feast the pub hosts local entertainment every Friday night. Locals congregate at the pub as a launch to their weekend, and to enjoy emerging local talent and favourite musicians.

The restaurant also caters to its off Island customers and offers a dynamic lobster menu in the summer months.

“We value both our local and tourism markets. Everyone that walks through our doors is important to us,” communicates owner David Groom.

The restaurant and pub has seen its share of memorable customers over the years—from politicians to major NHL hockey stars, and even a visit from Eric Clapton in the 1980s (who is reported to have left without paying his bill).

The restaurant is interested in “continuing the tradition of providing value meals and continuing with food trends”. For example, you can order the garlic and wine scallops—a staple on the menu since 1971—but pair it with a contemporary spirit from the restaurant’s expansive new wine list. The establishment is also conscientious about using local food product and incorporates Island seafood and beef on the menu, as well as local Gahan beer.

The Brothers Two credits its success as the result of consistency and the desire to create a guest experience. The official date of the 40th anniversary is July 13, but the venue is planning a more substantial celebration for its customers in the fall.

Peggy Miles has worked as a marketer and communicator for many organizations in Summerside, including the City, the Chamber of Commerce and Credit Union Place. She now runs her own marketing company Red Envelope Marketing and Communications. Peggy joined The Buzz as a regular contributor in 2008, to bring news from Summerside and west.

Cordelia’s Women

Five partners to open second location—at Spinnakers Landing

Summerside Scene
by Peggy Miles

Cordelia'sCordelia’s Artisan Boutique puts a refreshing perspective on the term “hand made.” Picture wee woolen owls you can hold in the palm of your hand, salvaged scrabble tiles spelling out a thoughtful phrase on an old metal ceiling tile, hammocks made of recycled bags and jewelery that will catch your eye.

Cordelia’s exists at two Island locations—Charlottetown (at 93 Water Street) and at Spinnakers’ Landing in Summerside.

It is the creative convergence of five local women, all artistic forces in their own right. The partnership includes magician of material July Brook, hammock maker Courtney Gallant, crafter and jeweler Claire Palmer, jewelry designer Mary Lee and Shelley Tamtom, who makes one of a kind creations using repurposed objects.

The name Cordelia was chosen purposely and is an elaboration of the word “cor”, which means “heart” in Latin. In Celtic usages, the name is generally understood to mean 'daughter of the sea', which the women felt was reflective of the creative work they do here on the Island.

The joint venture between the five artisans came together this past winter. Some of the women were acquaintances through their involvement in the artistic community, while others met for the first time through the formation of the business. “An amazing partnership has been formed by fate. Cordelia’s is really about women helping women more than anything” expresses July Brook, who refers to herself as a fabric alchemist.

“(Cordelia’s) gives us an avenue for sharing our work and our passion” says Shelley Tamtom. She says that even though the women vary by age, background and personality, each has a dynamic that they bring to the table.

Brook adds: “Each woman…brings her own set of skills and knowledge. Some of us have stronger financial skills, while others have skills in merchandising or communication. Even our consignees are very involved in Cordelia’s and the best interest of the shop and the quality we want to represent.”

The ladies stress that they are making and selling fine quality products and are conscious to keep up with current trends. “We want locals to know that you can find things of beauty right in their community. And we want to…be able to offer tourists Island made products,” stresses Brook.

Tamtom notes that many of the products made by the five women incorporate a “green” theme, where items such as fabric, metal and buttons and other bobbles have been reprocessed to create something distinctly unique.

The Charlottetown location opened in mid April during the ECMAs and has resulted in encouraging feedback from all who’ve stepped through the doors.

The Summerside location is set to open on June 15. “Summerside is where it all started and we would like to keep a summer location at our Spinnakers’ spot for as long as we have the support of our community” says Brook.

“Cordelia’s Artisan Boutique” can be found on Facebook.

The Landing Reopens

Oyster House and Pub in Tyne Valley under new ownership

by Peggy Miles

Hurray—the Landing is back in Tyne Valley! The Landing Oyster House and Pub is under the ownership of young entrepreneurs and West Prince natives Erica Wagner and Joel Fitzpatrick. Erica worked at the restaurant as a youth, and when it recently came up for sale, the two dreamed of what it would be like to act as proprietors of the pub. Cut to May of this year when the couple opened the doors and welcomed the community back inside the warm wooden walls of this cozy eatery.

The building where the Landing dwells was built in 1879 and first housed a mercantile business selling meat, barley and other staples. In the years since then the structure has served as a drug store, the Village library, a general store, laundromat, flower shop, café, antique shop and an apartment building.

With so much historic charm, the small space provides a cozy retreat for diners and music fans.

“Our customers are local people looking for a different dining experience.  We have really opened up the pub to everyone in the area. We put on events that cater to all age groups and demographics,” says Wagner.

In addition to being a favourite place for locals, it provides tourists with an authentically local experience. “When tourists come in they really get a feel for how friendly and how close knit our community is. Last Saturday a couple from the UK sat down beside a local couple and by the end of the night they were sitting together—sharing a plate of oysters and enjoying the music together.”

And how will the Landing contributing as a venue for local music and entertainment?

“Many of the bands who have played here already rave about the atmosphere—I think our pub is a musicians dream. It’s small and intimate and has a great sound. But people pile in this place and they stomp their feet and sing along—it is always a lively crowd. We are always looking for new acts—emerging young artists and local favourites. We find each musician brings in a different crowd—we find it so fascinating.”

And the food. Part of the pub’s mandate is to use fresh local ingredients whenever possible. They acknowledge that fishers and farmers are a big part of the area’s makeup and the pub owners want to support their community members.

I tried the Valley Burger, topped with Island cheddar and bacon and accompanied by PEI hand cut fries—yummo! Also, if you check the back of menu, a line at the bottom reads “Like lots of fries? Ask us to “pile ‘er on” at no extra cost.”

Where would the young couple like to go from here? “We would like to make some expansions—expand the patio and perhaps renovate downstairs. Most importantly, beyond the cosmetic we want the Landing to represent a gathering place. A place where people feel welcomed and a part of the community.”

Art House Residency

Summerside Scene
by Peggy Miles

In recent years Summerside has rebranded itself with a “small is big” message. You may have seen the message presented as “Small City. Big ideas” (or “Big opportunity” or “Big possibilities”).

With the launch of a new artist-in-residence program, Summerside can add another tagline to the mix—“Small House. Big Vision.”

The house itself can be found at 471 Notre Dame Street and offers living quarters and a creative space for visiting artists. Renamed the West End Cottage, the name is reflective of the building’s history as one of 10 cottages formally located at the Summerside golf course and moved to Notre Dame Street in the early 1950s.

From the outside the house appears small, but once inside, the feeling is surprisingly cozy and spacious. The interior includes enduring hardwood floors, neutral coloured walls, and historical photos reflecting Summerside’s harness racing heritage. The property is directly adjoining the Summerside racetrack and is one of the reasons for the programs’ official name of PACE.

The seeds for the project were planted last year when the City of Summerside purchased the grey-blue house and the staff at the City’s Wyatt Heritage Properties began exploring how an artist-in-residence program could be developed locally. WHP naturally reached out to the PEI Council of the Arts, who became an enthusiastic partner for the project. The association will be covering the cost of the weekly stipend to artists. “This entirely fits our mandate,” communicates Arts Council Executive Director Darrin White. “We’re always looking to support artists in meaningful ways.”

Wyatt Heritage Properties is now actively seeking applications from artists across the country. Chosen applicants will be eligible to reside in the house on Notre Dame Street during one of three residency periods (July–August, September–October or March–May).

Benefits to the artists include the opportunity to develop their practice, connect with other artists, and to get to know the community on an intimate level.

“What’s so exciting is the unknown,” conveys Lori Ellis, the Manager of Cultural and Heritage Properties at Wyatt Heritage Properties. Since applicants will propose the kind of contributions they will share as participants of the program, there is great potential for “increased dialogue about the arts in the community.”

Artists will be responsible to maintain an on-site studio presence and to be available to the public for discussion and idea exchange. Artists will also be responsible for performing community engagement activities, for example conducting workshops or participating in existing community spaces and cultural programs.

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