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PEI Sociable Singles

PEI Sociable Singles is a non-profit, non-denominational, social group with members age 40 and over. [ ... ]

Speak–Easy Toastmasters

Speak–Easy Toastmasters meet the first and third Wednesday of the month from 6:00–8:15 pm a [ ... ]

Take a Trip

The Seagals

Review by Andrea McVean

"I think it was Stan Rogers who recognized that farm wives are actually farmers," says Margie Carmichael, as she begins to strum a heart wrenching tale of a farm wife turning her back on the family farm. I feel my eyes well up, as I listen to Carmichael, a seasoned pro who is able to capture the same human spirit that Stan Rogers loved to sing about. It's the second set of The Seagals opening night at the Benevolent Irish Society, and the audience is starting to loosen up and really enjoy themselves. I am excited to see four women on stage, experimenting with poetry and song, while re-forging an age-old Island identity.

The Seagals performance group is comprised of Margie Carmichael, Laurie Murphy, Christina Forgeron and Amanda Mark. These names should ring a bell, most recently from their collaborative work in Murphy's improvisation troupe, The F.I.G.H.T. Club, and their individual work as singer/songwriters, comedians and actors. The show is a Prince Edward Island mosaic, jam packed with all sorts of goodies, somber tales of making it on the land, knee slapping, howlin' coyote tunes, and sweet love poetry, all written by the gals.

The show's format is roughly based on the good ol' Rise and Follies of Cape Breton, but with a feminist edge. It's quite an undertaking, when you consider how Cape Bretoners eat and sleep music, but these women have some serious talent to draw upon. You can tell that Carmichael and Forgeron, the musical backbone of the group, have been raised on a steady diet of music, and just love to perform. Mark adds a sweet edge to the show with her ironic poetry and great bass playing, and Murphy shows a different side of herself, putting the comedian on the back burner, and showing us the poet and singer.

The show possesses a raw energy with room to evolve into a polished performance. I have a feeling that this is just the beginning for the Seagals.

Little Show, Big Heart

Ireland Meets Scotland

Review by P. Joan Smith

We buy tickets at the door from stage manger and director Nan Jeffrey, and learn from our programmes that through music, dance, verse and drama, this company of five artists plans to take us back in imagination over three hundred years. Kevin Jeffrey, the show's writer, producer and narrator invites us to follow the Island's Irish and Scottish immigrants back to their roots; we find it is to be a journey of the heart.

During the musical prelude we meet the players-Kevin plays guitar, while his son, Colin Jeffrey, a classically trained professional musician, plays fiddle; Amanda Mark a flautist in the PEI Symphony, provides the perfect complement to the traditional airs on a variety of instruments; and we meet the two young dancers who are to enthrall and bewitch us, Brittany Banks, aged twelve, an experienced competitor in Maritime Celtic Dance, and nine-year-old Gwyneth Islay, another member of the Jeffrey family.

Using the minimum of stage props and costumes, the narrator Kevin takes us to the first scene: the Sligo Fair, 1689, "during a time in Ireland's turbulent history." He recites Yeats' poem "The Fiddler of Dooney" that assures us that a merry heart is worth more than anything else. A Gaelic medley follows with the step dancers wearing traditional Celtic dress.

Scene Two shifts to Scotland in the year 1746, when the Highland clans were losing their power "and much of their cherished culture." Colin plays a violin solo, "Rosaline Castle" that captures the heart-wrenching beauty of the times. The mood continues with a gentle rendition of the "Skye Boat Song," with Brittany singing solo, and finally we sense the pride in the "Jacobite Sword Dance," performed by the girls, in Highland dress.

During the intermission, the performers offer Scottish oat cakes and Irish cream scones and pour our coffee and tea.

Following the intermission, Act 2 tells of the immigrations to Canada (we'll let you discover the details for yourselves, when you attend) .

This is a family affair that, while small in number, is large in heart and soul.

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

The Island Christmas Review

With Patrick Ledwell and Mark Haines December 5–8
Harmony House Theatre Christmas gives us permis [ ... ]

Come Home to Us

Christmas programming at the Celtic Performing Arts Centre Select dates
Celtic Performing Arts Centr [ ... ]

Symons Lecture

Dr. Margaret MacMillan is 2018 medal recipient and lecturer November 23
Homburg Theatre Confederati [ ... ]

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9th UPEI Chancellor

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