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Masterclass with David Francey

Music PEI will host a songwriting masterclass with the celebrated singer-songwriter David Francey Ja [ ... ]

Sunday life drawing sessions

Sunday life drawing sessions with live nude model are held Sundays from 2–4 pm at the Gertrude Cot [ ... ]

Having a Blast

Montreal Symphony's Paul Merkelo is the featured soloist

by Jeff Bursey

In February, the Prince Edward Island Symphony Orchestra gives its third performance of the season. This month's featured soloist is Paul Merkelo, whose home base is Montreal, where he has been solo trumpet with that city's symphony orchestra since 1995. In 2001 Merkelo released his own recording, A Simple Song (Amberola Records), which proved especially popular in Quebec.

Conductor James Marks says Merkelo has a terrific reputation and is considered an outstanding virtuoso. "It's always a challenge to have a visiting soloist," Marks says, adding, "I've never conducted any of these pieces, so it's going to be a first for me." Even the orchestra will sound different, as the selections dictated there was no need for trombones, tubas or percussion.

Audiences will hear a diverse performance. In devising the program, which Marks describes as "light, pleasant, enjoyable from beginning to end," both musicians were enthusiastic about Hummel's Trumpet Concerto. As Marks recounts part of their conversation, Merkelo asked, "Wouldn't it be fun to play the Hummel?" There was instant agreement. The second piece is an early work by Bizet, Symphony in C, a romantic, approachable work, written when the composer was a student but not performed until eighty years ago. For the third composer, Marks, who likes to present Canadian music as often as possible, selected works by Sir Ernest MacMillan, who was an organ virtuoso, helped found the Canadian Music Centre and served on the faculty of the University of Toronto. "He was a very active and versatile musician, and is sort of the father of Canadian music." The selection, Two Sketches, is based on two French-Canadian folk songs. They were originally written for a string quartet in 1927 but a year later MacMillan adapted them for a string orchestra. The work is in the tradition of Vaughan Williams.

"The concert will be uniformly enjoyable," concludes Marks, who looks forward to it as much as concert-goers do. "It should be a pleasurable February evening."

It's a Body Thing, OK?

Dance, music and dialogue make points about how we relate to our bodies

by Julia Sauvé

(Stuck up) Stacey: Didn't you know, that when the clock strikes midnight on December 31, we'll finally be in the age of Aquarius. Ya know, peace will guide the planets, love will steer the stars, and all that jazz.
Jacque (le Jock): What the?
(Stuck up) Stacey: Oh, that's some song from the 70s.
Billy (the Bully): Yeah, well what if I'm not Y2K compliant?
Teacher, Ms. B. (Brain): (entering) Well, let's hope you are now, Billy.

The above snippet of dialogue is part of a scene entitled, "Body Language 800," which is central to the performance piece It's a Body Thing, O.K. Combining dialogue, music, dance, and movement pieces, the show deals with the hows and whys of body, mind, and spiritual integration. Actually, it's my homework assignment. When I began my graduate work in Teacher Education (with an emphasis in Movement Education) at Goddard College in Vermont, I wanted my thesis project to be experiential-something engaging that could be shared with students.

It's a Body Thing, O.K. synthesizes my studies on the body and movement and illustrates the interconnectedness of some of the aspects that make us human. In my search for an appropriate term to define this project, I stumbled upon, "Edu-tainment."

Written to appeal to an adolescent audience, It's a Body Thing, O.K. toured to Queen Charlotte, Birchwood, and East Wiltshire schools in November. It played to approximately 600 grade 9 students and faculty in two days!

The story centres around four high school students, Billy the Bully, Brainy Brianna, Jacque le Jock, and Stuck up Stacey, as they navigate their way through the events, conflicts, and average ups and downs that typify the school year. Woven throughout are issues relating to body awareness and image, athletics, dance, body language, and youth culture. A major theme is the realization that these stereotypical characters possess opposing qualities that lead them to their own transformation. Change is possible and good!

I was blessed with an outstanding cast of talented and committed performers. Bill Collier made his acting debut as Billy, Shawna Van Omme played the intelligent Brianna, Thea Campbell was the soulful Stacey, and Ed Rashed the vulnerable athlete, Jacque. Our technician was Pete Martin and the sound was recorded at Marihekau Recording Studio. Ron Quesnell designed and built the set and Christine and Somelia Smith created the "mask of the subconscious."

The project was funded in part by the Cultural Development Program, The Department of Education, and dance umbrella. A special thanks to Vicky Allen-Cook, Peggy Reddin, Mau Dennison, Reg Ballagh, and videographer Rus Melanson. The video version of It's a Body Thing, O.K. will be available as a resource for educators and the public. The bodies and minds that blended together on this project produced incredible spirit. Brianna would put it this way, "You absolutely can not separate the mind from the body or the body from the mind because if you did, you would merely cease to exist."

Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson

by Stahl MacIntyre

You've played with luminaries of the blues; late greats like Magic Sam and Muddy Waters. What was it like, and what did you learn from them?


Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson: That was back in the 60s. I was little Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson. I had a bit of fun, you know, play the blues, drinkin' whiskey. With Muddy, it was great, you know. I travelled with Muddy, you know, playin' with his band, you had to learn his ways, you know?

During those days, you've shared the stage with the likes of the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and Johnny Winters, as well as an appearance in the Blues Brothers Movie. Do you miss all of that?


LJ: Yeah, uh huh (laughs).

In 1982 you won a Grammy award for your rendition of " Walkin' the Dog." How did that make you feel?


LJ: That was great...yeah.

Who do you listen to for inspiration?


LJ: Years ago, before I started to play guitar, I used to listen to all the guys: Muddy Waters, B.B [King], T-bone Walker, Sonnyboy Williamson, Little Walter, and all those guys back then. But since I been in the business, you know, I listen to myself...see if I make any mistakes, you know (laughs).

I'm going to name some people from your past and I want you to tell me the first thing that comes to mind about each.

Stevie Ray Vaughan

LJ: I met him down with Muddy, he was this little kid, you know, I used to go to his house and eat barbeque. Then at the point when he got big, we used to go down to Austin, Texas and play together, so he was great. When he got big, if I was in the city, the only thing he wanted was for me to call him and I'd just go right on up on stage and he'd go "Ladies and Gentlemen, I want you to see where I got my influence" and I'd take his guitar and play whatever I want. He always was good like that.

Bonnie Riatt

LJ: She always been a sweetheart, we always got along good, you know, I opened some shows for her.

Willie Dixon

LJ: Willie was great. I didn't play with Willie too much, I used to go over to his house and record. I used to sit down with him and he'd tell me about different people he'd record.

Chuck Berry-He came up the same time as me, he was a peer, but he played a different style. I recorded once live in Nice, France, a record on the Black & Blue label. Chuck was out in the audience.

Magic Sam

LJ: Chicago I met him one Sunday night, hit it off with him, you know, he say, "I heard about you." And I say, "Yeah?" I didn't want him know I tried to played guitar, I just told him I sing. He said, "Well I heard you used to play a little guitar too." And I said, "Well, sometimes I try to play a little guitar." And he said, "Get up and play that guitar, get up and do something." He gave me the guitar and I tore the house down and he hired me on that very Sunday night.

Muddy Waters

LJ: I played with Muddy seven and a half years. I couldn't wait 'til night to go to work and hear his sound.

What can Charlottetown expect to see at Myron's on December 8?


LJ: They can expect to see me, you know, I ain't been to Canada in some time, I used to play a lot in Canada, I'm due back in Canada. I got a lot of fans in Canada, so they be happy.

Any advice to young up and comers?


LJ: Yeah, keep playin' the blues.

Events Calendar

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Some Upcoming Events

Raised on TV #3

February 15 & 16
The Guild Now in its third season, Raised on Television (RoTV3) is taking a loo [ ... ]

Bluegrass at the Carriage House

February 3
Beaconsfield Carriage House Janet McGarry and Wildwood, a favourite PEI band, will be fea [ ... ]

Confederation Centre: Art Gallery exhibi...

Open daily Mitchell Wiebe: VampSites Until March 3 The Gallery opened a new solo exhibition by Mi [ ... ]

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Music PEI Canadian Songwriter Challenge

In partnership with ECMA 2019 Music PEI and ECMA 2019 have announced a partnership bringing togethe [ ... ]

The facilitator

Profile: Steve Bellamy by Jane Ledwell “Arts are ways into emotions. Arts are where we connect, [ ... ]

A gift of Island poetry: John MacKenzie

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Or country, or even galaxy
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