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Charlottetown Festival auditions

With a month to go in this season’s festival, Adam Brazier, artistic director of The Charlottetown [ ... ]

Island A Cappella chorus

Island A Cappella, PEI’s only female chorus singing four part-harmony in the barbershop style, is  [ ... ]

Lucy Maude's Lives

New play by Leo Marchildon and Adam-Michael James premieres

by Wendy Doubt

Adam-Michael James and Leo MarchildonOur visit to Cavendish Beach four years ago transformed our lives,” say playwrights Leo Marchildon and Adam-Michael James. “We felt like we had “come home to a place we had never been before.”

They were captivated by Lucy Maude Montgomery’s history, her birthplace and the celebrated musical, Anne of Green Gables—The Musical. After someone suggested they write a musical about Montgomery herself they enthusiastically immersed themselves in the culture of Anne and allowed Montgomery and the eight principal characters of Green Gables to take over their lives. “It felt like Maude chose us (to write her biography),” Marchildon says.

The playwrights visited every conceivable historical site connected to Maude, read all of her stories, books, journals and papers, interviewed (or viewed the works of) everyone who has ever been involved in researching the author’s life or recording their interpretations of it. James’ and Marchildon’s musical production The Nine Lives of Lucy Maude Montgomery opened June 20th at the King’s Playhouse in Georgetown—exactly one hundred years after the release of Montgomery’s beloved Anne of Green Gables.

Montgomery’s family “were surprisingly in accordance with what we did,” Marchildon says. “They found our treatment clever, poignant and touching….We tried to be tasteful and circumspect,” he says. “But it ain’t Anne.”

“She always chose to do what was expected of her,” says James. “Maude wanted to create something good (from her life) but had a belief system that prevented her from divorcing her husband. She had a great power to live a lie.”

Montgomery kept the miseries of her existence a secret from even her most intimate friends until her last breath was expelled. It was only in her carefully preserved journals that she dared impart the full extent of her anguish.

A number of theatrical and film devices anchor the audience’ perceptions—rear screen images project the actual locations of the scenes; the scores reflect the genre of the day as do the period costumes. The “Anne” characters step onto the stage from inside a large facsimile of the first Anne of Green Gables book and the actors playing actual historical figures freeze in action while the fictional characters voice their opinion about what’s happening in the “real world.”

When a friend asked Montgomery if she could write a biography about her, Maude replied, “Biography is a screaming farce.” It remains to be seen whether or not audiences will enjoy this latest attempt to express Montgomery’s innermost thoughts and ideas and her deeply private torments on stage, or whether they will agree with the author’s opinion.

Tremtones Tribute

PEI’s “first rock and roll band” receives Stompin’ Tom Award

by Stephen Pate

The Tremtones with the Stompin’ Tom Award presented at the 2008 East Coast Music Awards in Fredericton in February. From left: Doug Carmody, Doug MacEwen, Billy Roy Murnaghan, Niall MacKay. (Photo: Stephen Pate)

After waiting 51 years to receive acknowledgment of their music The Tremtones walked away from the 2008 East Coast Music Awards (ECMAs) with a major piece of prize hardware.

“It feels terrific to win the Award,” said Billy Roy Murnaghan Tremtones founder. “It took a long time. We didn’t expect it. It came out of nowhere.” Murnaghan, who now lives in Barrie, Ontario, travelled back to PEI for the awards ceremony.

“There were two Doug’s at the Awards, Doug MacEwen, Doug Carmody, Niall MacKay and I,” said Murnaghan. Fellow band member Niall MacKay of Montague said the Award “was humbling to think we deserve it after all those years.”

The Tremtones at Prince of Wales College, circa 1958. From Left Doug MacEwen, Gordie Ferguson, Billy Roy Murnaghan, Dave Mills. Thanks to Billy Roy Murnaghan for use of the photograph.The Tremtones, PEI’s first rock and roll band, were awarded the Stompin’ Tom Award at ECMAs in Fredericton. The Tremtones were formed in 1957 and played in and around PEI and Atlantic Canada for the next ten years.

The Stompin’ Tom Awards are given annually to the unsung heroes of the East Coast Music industry. “These well-deserving recipients have all made significant contributions to East Coast music…” says Wade Pinhorn, of the East Coast Music Association.

Murnaghan who had been playing in country bands recalled how the Tremtones started. “The band started in the footings of Birchwood High School,” said Murnaghan. “Gordie Ferguson and I were working digging the footings. We sat down next to each other one day at lunch. We got talking about music and Gordie said ‘I just got a new guitar, one of those Sears Harmony Silvertone guitars.’”

“I decided to work with him,” Murnaghan continued. “At age 17, I’d been playing guitar for 4 years. Next in was Gordie MacEwen the keyboard player and Dave Mills on drums. After that we were the Tremtones.”

“There weren’t many basses back then,” recalled Murnaghan. “The first bass was made from an old jukebox guts. We drove over to Moncton and bought an old jukebox from the distributor. We made a bass amplifier from the guts and the big speaker.”

Playing around Charlottetown, the Tremtones covered rockabilly, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Gene Vincent, and Eddie Cochrane among other popular artists of the day.

“We did a lot of Elvis,” said Murnaghan. “I still do a lot of Elvis in the old folk’s homes. Elvis is popular. When I sing ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ I get the audience to sing the ‘Oooh oooh oooh’ to make it fun.”

“We did Jerry Lee Lewis ‘Great Balls of Fire’ and that became the theme of our reunion at the Rollaway,” said Murnaghan. “That was an historic club for us and PEI. Don Messer and the Islanders played there along with lots of other musicians.”

“Our favourite fast songs were ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ and the Jerry Lee Lewis ‘Whole Lot of Shaking’. The crowds loved Ricky Nelson’s ‘Lonesome Town’ for a slow song,” said Murnaghan.

“’Oh Donna’ was a big favourite for snuggling,” added Niall MacKay who variously sang, played bass and drums with the Tremtones. “We made a lot of people happy, made them smile. We played one end of the Island to the other, sometimes 6 nights a week. CJRW Radio would broadcast our dances at the Cahill Stadium.”

“My biggest regret at the ECMA’s was not having a chance to pay tribute to our fallen members, Gordie Ferguson, Dave Mills and George Halliwell,” said Murnaghan.

In their 60s, Billy Roy Murnaghan, Niall MacKay, Doug Carmody and Doug MacEwen are still performing in public. MacKay has been dubbed the ‘Grandfather of Rock and Roll’, a title he likes.

Old rock and rollers don’t fade away. They just rock on, their music still popular at dances and parties across PEI.

Glass Bead Making

Nova Scotia artisan Susan Hood gives Island workshops

by Ann Putnam

Glass artist Susan Hood demonstrating lampwork technique of bead-making at workshop at Victoria Glass Studio. Below: Susan’s “fantasy shell.”I had the opportunity recently to watch a fiery demonstration of glass bead making at the Victoria Glass Studio in Victoria-By-The-Sea by acclaimed bead maker and glass artist, Susan Hood. Susan also held demos and workshops at the Firehorse Studio in Charlottetown. In Susan’s studio, Glass Harp Gallery (www.glassharpgallery. com) in Yarmouth Nova Scotia, she has designed, created and restored stained glass works for many years. It was through her experience in stained glass that she came to glass bead making. It is this art medium, specifically lampwork, which most fulfills her as an artist.

Glass bead making is a craft that dates back centuries. The technique which was demonstrated here, called lampwork, torchwork or flamework, was popularised in Murano, Italy in the 1930s. Murano is still the capital of lampworking to this day and where you can find the masters of the art. Susan herself studied there under master bead maker, Lucio Bubacco.

Susan Hood is now a registered teacher in stained glass work and glass bead making. As we watched, Susan used hot flame to melt the end of a glass rod. Constantly coming back to the flame, she wrapped the molten glass around a thin metal mandrel. (The glass rods come in a multitude of colours and the mandrels come in different sizes which determines the size of the hole in the beads.) Layer after layer, with twists and turns for different effects, she added colours and textures until each unique bead was completed. With a steady hand and experienced eye, Susan created several different styles of beads during her two hour demonstration.

The demo preceded two days of workshops where her students were introduced to the art of lampwork and where they were able to make m any beads each in a surprising array of colours and styles

Victoria Glass Studio will be offering more workshops in the upcoming months, in bead making, fusing, stained glass, mosaics and sand blasting. Also, Victoria Glass Studio is now set up with supplies and equipment for lampwork glass bead making and other glass arts. Any person who has taken a one-day workshop or has the equivalent experience, subject to approval, can rent studio space and equipment at the studio.

Future workshop dates will be posted in The Buzz or you can check out the website at www.natures-creation.ca.

Simple

Searching for Simplicity

Review by Sara Ritchie

What resonated with me in the documentary Searching for Simplicity, filmed by Charlottetown PEI’s born and raised Andrew MacCormack, more than even the dramatic footage and scenery, was how he starts off saying that he doesn’t want this documentary to be about him, and yet as he recognizes within the film, this movie is about him. It’s about him and his experience traveling and living in South America, it’s about the people who were gracious enough to sit and talk to him about their country and culture, and more than anything it’s about humankind.

Starting off with a question about how we perceive other cultures based on mass media and the disconnect between the way a society is represented versus what it is in reality, this documentary explores on a very real and connective level what the culture of South America is like. This documentary highlights Andrew’s travels through Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil and yet the message was the same—by showcasing local people and people traveling in South America, he captured people who are striving for authentic experiences and living within the moment.

This documentary is focused on helping viewers to change their preconceived notions, to be open to the exploration of life, and while the imagery is astonishing, it is Andrew’s presence both onscreen and as a narrator that pulls his message through. At one point, he is sitting at Machu Pichu and the look of sheer wonder on his face transcended the screen, transporting me to that same emotion and allowing me to actually feel it duplicated within me. Powerful.

More than anything, this documentary gives you itchy feet, makes you want to get up and travel to wherever—even if it is just down the street you walk everyday to stop and to see what’s going on around you. To really engage with those little moments that we take for granted and to perhaps question how we can’t help but be united with people all around the world, living their lives, embracing their culture and pursuing their passions.

“Simple” or “simplicity” is a word frequently used in this documentary—not just by the filmmaker, but also by the people being interviewed—and it’s quite appropriate. While the scenery is overwhelmingly breathtaking, it is the simple things in life that unite people, and the people interviewed in this documentary seem to recognize that in abundance.

While Searching for Simplicity is focused on a largely ignored part of the world, it was about the world at large and being open to the experience instead of the hype. Andrew’s commitment to sharing his personal journey, combined with the genuine desire of the interviewees to share their opinions of their country’s culture, conveys the message that we all share a common humanity, and embracing that while celebrating our differences is essential to creating a culture that can let go of perceptions and opinions that are based on the misinformation that we are inundated with in the daily media.

World Class

Karen Lips earns Master of Conservation in Monuments and Sites

by Laurel Smyth

Karen LipsA jaunty character with a playful personal style, Karen Lips is always at the heart of things; it seems we see her supporting local culture at every gallery opening, play, or book launch. Recently this landscape architect set wider horizons for herself: Karen has just graduated as a Master of Conservation in Monuments and Sites. “I think it gives me the qualifications to aspire to some new work in the national and international heritage scene, and that is something I find really challenging.”

Lips’ work had already made an impact on the landscape of Charlottetown. She transformed the Library Plaza into a much-used garden space, created raised Victorian seating in Rochford Square, and influenced the development of Hensley Green and King’s Square Housing Coops with their inner-block courtyards. These projects were satisfying. but Karen yearned for something more. “I wanted some time to look at the ideas and concepts behind design work… I had this feeling in the back of my mind that I wanted to have contact with some of the great thinkers and to learn more.”

Opportunity arose through a Belgian scholarship administrated here by the Societe Nationale d’Acadie. Karen won the chance to study at the Raymond Lemaire International Centre for Conservation located at the University of Leuven in Belgium, one of a select few centres recognized by the international conservation movement. “They only take a few students, and the professors come from all over the world—a really interesting range of practitioners, academics, and specialists. They’d come in for 2 or 3 days and we’d be bombarded with information, so it was a challenging and intensive program. The scholarship allowed me to spend that first year concentrating on daily classes and a lot of project work on weekends and evenings.”

She received a diploma for that year, but was determined to write a Masters thesis on ‘The Fountains of Paris.’ She spent 3 months walking all over Paris, visiting fountains. All 385 of them. “There were little invisible wall fountains left over from the time historically when they were the source of potable water for Parisians…. At the other end of the scale was the Place de la Concorde, totally fabulous, elaborate and showy. On my birthday I had a personal tour of the vaults under the fountains there.

“Conservation involves so much more than just technical perfection. It’s how the viewer experiences the place. UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, the body that oversees designation of world heritage sites, recently expanded their definition of conserving authenticity…. They’re using words now like ‘feeling, spirit, mood’. You can’t conserve a monument in isolation—you must consider the way it fits into its modern city setting.”

Karen questioned how to look at restoration in the context of setting, if mood and feeling are important in conserving authenticity. “Nobody’d really figured out how you actually apply these intangibles to a particular site. My thesis looks at ways you could…. I developed a system of three zones around each fountain within which you could apply conservation solutions.”

Karen Lips’ work and its presentation earned her the highest recognition amongst her fellow graduates in a class of 13. “When I realized that I had graduated magna cum laude, I felt a sense of deep satisfaction.”

World Vision

Edward Burtynsky

by Sally Blake Hooff

We all take photographs for personal records. The professional, however, is beyond sentiment and can use his images in any format. Edward Burtynsky is an Ontario photographer whose works are monumental. They look splendid in the Art Gallery at Confederation Centre.

Four brilliantly-coloured scenes from container ports at Delta, British Columbia, and Halifax, Nova Scotia, appear above the stairs, Canada’s contemporary bookends of giant metal boxes. Then at the entrance to the gallery hangs a dark, threatening but very beautiful landscape. Could it be an Island beach at dusk? No, these are nickel tailings from Sudbury, fierce reds from neither surface soil nor sky above. The subtle greens and yellow of a companion piece are from no natural lake but of the Inco Tailings Pond. And is the third print a magical study of snow or an elegant cloudscape? No, more nickel tailings, cold as ice.

Burtynsky confronts us with more industrial residue in ghastly yet decorative patterns of tin cans and auto engines from Hamilton, Ontario, and a tire pile from California. The detritus of North American industry leads naturally to the terrifying scenes from Chittagong in Bangladesh where rotting ships from around the world are broken up. In one print workmen are watched by relaxed adults and children, but they and the close-ups of rusting metal are suffused with satanic red light.

Not so the prints from a 2002 expedition to the Yangtze River where the artist records in the cool greenish-grays of Northern China the Three Gorges Dam project. In Wushan apartments are being demolished apparently by hand while some are still occupied! We see close-ups of men extracting recyclable materials from shapeless messes of broken concrete and bricks, high above the misty river and a bridge as ancient as the willow pattern.

Less emotionally charged are the architectural forms in deserted marble quarries. Even the mazes of parallel piping in oil refineries and glistening new pipes snaking through grass and boreal forest at Cold Lake seem relatively benign, but beside these loom the most desolate of all Burtynsky’s images, oil derricks in a California desert, nodding in regimented rows into infinity. Around such gruesome corrals the artist uses high stepladders to photograph where he cannot trespass. In 2004 he rented a helicopter to shoot from the air a Volkswagen lot in Texas. Try to count the cars. The implications of these scenes are awful. We are all complicit in the paving of North America.

And the early Western landscapes? Busy backyards in the Rockies and a tiny lone house in prairie foothills where a distant river seems unpolluted in 1983, a far cry from today’s destruction in China’s Three Gorges. Yet the brave strands of macramé on a British Columbia washing line find their echo in the bright clothes hanging on a rooftop in Wushan. Burtynsky’s vision makes the connection.

Country & Far Eastern

Islander Annette Gallant plays in all-girl country band in Hong Kong

by Jay Scott Kanes

The Shotgun She-Ras, from left: Annette Gallant, Meg Olinger, Claire Tallon, Sholan Tsang.Few Prince Edward Island musicians venture farther “away” than drummer Annette Gallant, a country-music pioneer of sorts in one of Asia’s leading cities. Annette’s skills on drums spur the Shotgun She-Ras, an all-female country-and-western band based in Hong Kong where most of the music fans clearly prefer rock or Canto-pop.

“Soon we’ll play two shows in Shanghai, which is pretty exciting,” said Annette. She knows of no other PEI musicians active in Hong Kong, although she’s met several from elsewhere in Atlantic Canada.

“Every day, I get a kick out of saying, ‘Wow! I’m playing music, I’m in a band and it’s so much fun,” Annette said. “I just want to go with the flow.”

Leader singer Sholan Tsang from Britain, guitarist Meg Olinger from Iowa and bass-player Claire Tallon, a Brit who grew up in Hong Kong, complete the She-Ras lineup.

“Annette’s fantastic,” said Claire. “She’s one of the best drummers. Steady Neddy! That’s what we call her—because she is.

“On top of her drumming skills, we need Annette’s personality. The rest of us get very nervous and shy. We hate things like having our pictures taken. But Annette’s really good at jollying us along. ‘Get ‘er done for God,’ she always says.”

“Annette’s so positive about everything,” Sholan agreed.

Not an original band member, Annette joined early on when the initial drummer, a Nova Scotian, returned to Canada. “We like drummers from Atlantic Canada because they’re such easy-going, friendly people,” Claire joked.

Although country music is a rarity in Chinese cities, the She-Ras perform songs popularized by the likes of Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Alison Krauss, plus their own material. All four band members help to write songs. For example, Annette and Claire collaborated on “Eddy the Fiddler” about a veteran PEI fiddler encountered by Annette at the Rollo Bay Fiddle Festival. The band plans to release a debut CD later this year.

Born in Summerside in 1980, Annette grew up in Charlottetown and then lived in Ottawa before crossing the Pacific Ocean in 2004. “Coming from PEI definitely contributed to my interest in music,” she said. “My Mom’s family was really musical. A lot of my relatives sang in choirs. My Mom always played the piano for us to sing along.

“In Grade 4, I played the violin. Then I joined a school band at Stone Park Junior High and took up the trumpet, but that wasn’t cool enough so I switched to percussion. I stayed in a school band until I graduated from Charlottetown Rural. Later, I bought a ukulele. So my musical background’s a bit scattered. I never mastered most of the instruments. But I played music with my friends all the time. Instead of going to bars, we’d take guitars and drums to the beach, sit around and play music. Truthfully, I never really thought that I’d play in another band. But now I can’t imagine not doing it.”

Annette’s a daughter of the late Julia (Cheverie) and of Eric Gallant, the latter a former Kinkora school principal now living in the Souris area. Her brother Adam led the PEI band Officer Girl and later joined Mars Hill. Also a recording-arts specialist, Adam, who lives in Montreal, has helped the She-Ras (by email) on their upcoming CD. Another brother, Scott, is also a musician.

As a day job, Annette teaches English and math at a tutorial centre. “Teaching isn’t necessarily what I want to do for my whole life,” she said. “I almost left Hong Kong last year, but I stayed because of the band. So music comes first, and teaching’s second. I won’t make any other plans for a while.”

Between lessons and songs, Annette pines to visit PEI. “I love going home, and miss it like crazy,” she said. “I haven’t been there in two years. I miss the beaches, the laid-back attitudes and sitting around playing music with my friends.”

Maybe Annette should convince all the Shotgun She-Ras to spend a summer performing on PEI. “That’d be great fun,” Annette said. “Find someone who’ll fund it, and we’ll be there.”

Jay Scott Kanes, currently a resident of Hong Kong, is the author of the recently published book on PEI musicians, Island Toes A’Tapping. The Buzz would like to welcome Jay to the roster as our newest foreign correspondant.

Commitment to a Cure

Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure

by Mary Beth Roach

Holding the “Woodlands Creatures” quilt which will be raffled in order to raise funds for breast cancer research are members of the Rose Runners CIBC Run for the Cure team, Peggy Roach Rivard, Mary Beth Roach (left) and Mary Leah Trainor (right).In 1996, my mother, Rose Roach, was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 52. A family therapist with Addiction Services dedicated to helping and supporting others, she organized a family team, the Rose Runners, to participate in the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure. The Rose Runners has participated in the Run for the Cure every year since 1996. For my mother, the event was not only about raising money for breast cancer research, education, and awareness, but also about bringing family, friends, and communities together to support Island women with breast cancer. On the day of the run, she was always amazed as the sea of white and pink t-shirts flooded streets for as far as the eye could see.

Although my mother, lost her battle with breast cancer in 2000, the Rose Runners continue to participate in the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure. We remain committed to supporting Island women with breast cancer and believe that one day a cure will be found. This year alone, 100 Island women will be newly diagnosed with breast cancer and 25 Island women will die from the disease (Canadian Cancer Statistics, 2006).

Two members of the Rose Runners, Yvette McKenna and Mary Leah Trainor, hatched a fund-raising idea. Accomplished quilters, they spoke with other quilters, about the possibility of making a quilt to support the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure. Sixteen quilters agreed to help. Woodland Creatures, the quilt pattern chosen, features 9 woodland animals, flanked by a sparrow border at the top and chipmunk border at the bottom. Each stitch has been hand quilted. In total, the quilt has taken over 1000 hours to complete. A work of art, the quilt is a gift from talented Island quilters to women and families touched by breast cancer.

Thanks to Lucy Hickey, Karen Beauregard, Maureen Garrity, Brenda MacKinnon, Edie Zakem, Iva Steward, Brenda Harper, Jean Steele, Velda Taylor, Mary Leah Trainor, Yvette McKenna, Judy Fraser, June Lund, Eileen Howatt, Joyce Doyle, Cheryl Doyle, Marsha Dennis, and Beverly Boswell for the many hours spent quilting Woodland Creatures in support of breast cancer research, education, and awareness.

Events Calendar

September 2018
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Some Upcoming Events

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September 29
Confederation Centre Art Gallery afterimage, the Gallery's after-hours art party, retur [ ... ]

9th Evangeline Country Music Festival

October 12–14
Acadian Musical Village The 9th annual Evangeline Country Music Festival will be hel [ ... ]

Colette

October 15–25
City Cinema rating tba
Dir: Wash Westmoreland, UK, 111 min. Keira Knightley, Dominic  [ ... ]

Recent News & Articles

Drawing the line

Profile: Sandy Carruthers by Jane Ledwell Retired for a year now after twenty-five years teaching  [ ... ]

Filmworks Summerside

Film series is back for 7th season Filmworks Summerside opens for their 7th season on September 12  [ ... ]

An Island wish

On August 23, 4 year old Cooper Coughlin will arrive on Prince Edward Island soil for a once in a li [ ... ]