Len­nie Gal­lant takes his search for Abeg­weit to Wolfville

Annapolis Valley Register - - ARTS - Wolfville, ns

A multi-award win­ning song­writer and this year’s East Coast Mu­sic Awards En­ter­tainer of the Year is bring­ing his tour to Wolfville.

On Sept. 21 Search­ing For Abeg­weit: The Is­land Songs & Sto­ries of Len­nie Gal­lant to the Deep Roots Mu­sic Fes­ti­val will be pre­sented. It takes place at Fes­ti­val The­atre with doors open­ing at 6:30 p.m.

This crit­i­cally ac­claimed pro­duc­tion has not left Prince Ed­ward Is­land un­til now. In fact, at the start of the week Gal­lant was busy in Summerside build­ing a por­ta­ble 12 X 20 foot screen for the tour.

Gal­lant presents his folk-rock­roots mu­sic, along with cap­ti­vat­ing tales, but re­quires a mul­ti­me­dia for­mat that en­larges stun­ning vis­ual works by his artist sib­ling, Karen Gal­lant.

The im­ages are con­stantly in mo­tion be­hind some of the East Coast’s most tal­ented bilin­gual mu­si­cians. The show also fea­tures vi­olin vir­tu­oso, Sean Kemp, the won­der­ful Aca­dian singer/in­stru­men­tal­ist, Pa­tri­cia Richard, his dy­namic neph­ews, Lawrence Gal­lant on vo­cals/per­cus­sion and Jeremy Gal­lant on vo­cals/pi­ano, along with ap­pear­ances by Mi’kmaw singer, Hu­bert Fran­cis.

While he’s been stag­ing this pro­duc­tion 135 times over four sum­mers, this past sea­son was one of the best.

He finds re­newed mean­ing in a world where so many are dis­placed and have been dis­placed.

“It’s timely,” Gal­lant says. “There’s talk of put­ting up walls and we have refugees com­ing from other places.”

This dy­namic, en­er­getic pro­duc­tion is mu­sic and sto­ry­telling at its best, but the his­tory of High­land Clear­ances, Ir­ish re­li­gious di­vi­sions and the Aca­dian Ex­pul­sion are in­her­ent. Gal­lant also wanted a homage to the Mi’kmaw peo­ple.

When the Mi’kmaw orig­i­nally named the Is­land, Abeg­weit - which loosely trans­lated means ‘cra­dled on the waves’ - there was a leg­end that came with it. They say the Great Spirit Glooscap took all the most beau­ti­ful colours of the world, mixed them to­gether, and then used them to paint the Is­land into ex­is­tence.

In Search­ing for Abeg­weit, this leg­end is brought to life as Karen Gal­lant has taken all the most beau­ti­ful colours of the is­land and in­cor­po­rated them into her paint­ings, which are show­cased with Gal­lant’s songs and sto­ries to add a spec­tac­u­lar new di­men­sion to his works.

But Gal­lant be­lieves es­sen­tially the pro­duc­tion is about com­mu­nity, fam­ily and his­tory. His fam­ily his­tory in­volves the loss of the French lan­guage.

The na­tive of Rus­tico did not learn to speak French un­til he was 20 and vis­ited Baie St. Marie. There he dis­cov­ered a life­style “so much like my com­mu­nity” that he made it his mis­sion to find his French roots.

His par­ents spoke only English – with a French ac­cent and he re­calls his grand­par­ents stopped speak­ing French as young adults.

This renowned Cana­dian singer­song­writer, in­ter­na­tional tour­ing artist and Order of Canada re­cip­i­ent has recorded 11 al­bums (nine mostly in English and two in French), which have won him a host of awards and nom­i­na­tions.

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