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Old time country music is alive and well in Slemon Park

Way Up West
by Jan Cox

Musician Bernie DesRoches and fiddler Ira Strongman take their turns at the mic. (photo: Jan Cox)One of the audience members told me “It’s like sitting in your own kitchen.” It might be difficult to squeeze up to 40 people in your kitchen, but after visiting The Shed recently, I know exactly what she meant.

What began 15 months ago as an afternoon for men to gather for cards and conversation in the community room at the Slemon Park Plaza, (named The Men’s Shed) is now a vital part of the local music scene in the area. And yes, women are allowed!

Sixtus Perry, Slemon Park resident and one of the organizers of The Shed told me, “It gets people out of the house to meet others and listen to music. We just love the music, just love it. You know we out grew the community room…here we are.”

“Here” is one of the large, comfortable meeting rooms at the Slemon Park Hotel and Conference Centre. Every Tuesday from 7 to 9 pm musicians gather to have fun, entertain and do what they love so much—play music. Audience participation is encouraged as evident from the number of voices singing along. No one takes a break and the preferred drink of the night is ice cold water.

Sadie Perry, guitar and fiddle player from Summerside, said “It’s fun, everybody’s friendly.” Sadie and her sister Alice Gallant tell me they play hard and everyone has a turn at performing a solo. “There’s no planning really. There’s no rehearsals, that’s too much like a job", said Alice, adding the sisters have been singing and playing together for years, “since we were yay high!”

Summerside fiddler Ira Strongman said, “I enjoy coming here, not only is it fun but I get to practice! I’ve only been playing for about seven years.”

I sat with a group of women from Summerisde, Victoria West, St. Eleanors and Slemon Park. As one country music fan said, “I wouldn’t miss this, it should never stop.”

Mr. Perry is obviously proud of what’s happened over the past year and how much this group of dedicated, talented musicians are appreciated.“Just wait until the tourists come home this summer. We’ll be packed,” he said. I have no doubt The Shed organizers will be moving the retractable wall in the room to make more space.

Everyone is invited Tuesday evenings. Bring along an instrument, and your voice; they’d love to have you. Come expecting a great time. There’s plenty of parking and there is no charge for this wonderful gathering.

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