Com­ing in from the cold

Singer in the au­di­ence stuns with af­ter-show duet with Matthew Byrne

Advertiser (Grand Falls) - - Sports - BY SARAH LADIK Sarah.ladik@ad­ver­tis­ernl.ca

Part of the magic of live mu­sic is the an­tic­i­pa­tion of some­thing un­ex­pected.

Usu­ally that comes from the per­form­ers on stage, but in the case of Matthew Byrne and Sher­man Downey’s Win­ter Is­land Tour per­for­mance in Grand Fall­sWind­sor Feb. 28, that spark of some­thing spe­cial came from the au­di­ence.

“It was amaz­ing to be get to sing with (Byrne) in per­son in­stead of singing along to his CD in the car,” said as­pir­ing folksinger Maddy Mouland, who came all the way from Mus­grave Har­bor to see the duo per­form in their fourth an­nual Win­ter Is­land Tour. “I’m so happy I got the op­por­tu­nity to sing with Matthew.”

Af­ter more than two hours of songs, sto­ries and ban­ter, the singers had re­turned to the stage at the Clas­sic Theatre for an en­core to thun­der­ous ap­plause.

Mouland’s hand shot up from her spot in the sec­ond row, and when Byrne spot­ted her, she re­quested he play a song called “Fair Ellen.”

Byrne re­sponded that it be­ing the sad­dest song in the world, he would play it for her af­ter the show.

“That’s the sec­ond one we’ve had on this tour. Sher­man had a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion af­ter our show in Petty Har­bour, where a girl there, she had re­ally wanted to hear one of his songs and it wasn’t in our set. So, he played it for her af­ter­wards and she was in tears,” Byrne said af­ter. “Peo­ple get so amazed by it, but we would never say no. It’s just one more song, and we’re happy to play it. It’s not a big deal to us, but it means so much to them.”

But Mouland was not about to be a pas­sive par­tic­i­pant. Perched to the side of the stage, af­ter all but 20 or so spec­ta­tors had left, her voice joined Byrne’s af­ter the first line.

“That was re­ally spe­cial,” he said. “She knew it so well and she knew the har­mony and she sang it so beau­ti­fully.”

That night was not the first time Mouland had shared a stage with Byrne; she has opened shows for him be­fore, once in Mus­grave Har­bour and then again in Gan­der.

“I fell in love with (the song) and added it to my reper­toire,” she said. “My aunt told me to ask last night be­cause I kept say­ing I was hop­ing he sang it. But I had no idea I would get the op­por­tu­nity to sing it with him!”

Mouland is au­di­tion­ing for a sport at Me­mo­rial Uni­ver­sity this week­end and hopes to pur­sue a ca­reer in mu­sic ed­uca- tion. She said her mu­sic teacher al­ways says Byrne is the best folk singer in the coun­try and singing with him was “just amaz­ing.”

“For some­one like him to com­pli­ment your voice, it’s a re­ally big deal to a young folk singer,” she said.

Value of small venues

For Byrne and Downey, this sort of event is part and par­cel of why they like to play smaller venues, which is the whole point of the Win­ter Is­land Tour.

“Ev­ery year we build on the pre­vi­ous year,” Downey said be­fore the Grand Falls-Wind­sor show. “A lot of acts come to the is­land and skip over th­ese towns.”

Byrne ex­plained that New­found­land didn’t have much in the way of a house con­cert cir­cuit, and the tour is meant to fill that role, at least once a year.

It af­fords the mu­si­cians a chance to re­ally con­nect with au­di­ences, play mu­sic, and tell the sto­ries those au­di­ences have come to ex­pect.

Downey said do­ing the tour in win­ter, they some­times worry the weather will in­ter­fere and peo­ple won’t be able to make it to the show, but in the end, that sense of hav­ing ven­tured out in the snow to be there to­gether ends up adding some­thing ex­tra to the at­mos­phere.

“The small venues lend them­selves to a ca­sual, in­for­mal na­ture,” Byrne said. “Ap­par­ently when (Mouland) came in, she was work­ing up the courage to come say hello, and by the end of it, she had the courage to come sing a song with me. That’s what small venues can do.”

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