Stan Roger Festival rises again
Lyrics & Laughter return to Louisbourg Playhouse
I couldn’t get to everything, but I tried!
Let’s start in Canso. Three days of excellent weather and StanFest rose again after last year’s cancellation, with larger crowds and top-notch entertainment that ranged from the blues of Guy Davis, to the traditional music of Còig, to the eclectic sounds of Steeleye Span.
It’s hard to pick the best but a few acts really caught my ear: Còig and Ontario’s Everything Fitz, jointly showcasing different approaches to Celtic Music; Matt Anderson. Period!; the Fortunate Ones delicate harmonies; Mike Doyle’s stirring version of Harris & The Mare; Jen Miller singing anything, anywhere; Livingston Taylor and Tom Chapin, together; John Curtis Sampson doing his Hillside Stage concert; and the Singing Stan showcase on Main Stage.
Alan Doyle had people hopping on Friday and Rita Coolidge really impressed me on Sunday. Two other people that had everybody talking: New Brunswick’s Melanie Morgan and 10-year-old Tennessee prodigy EmiSunshine, both with massive voices and incredible stage presence. 2016 is Year 20! See you there!
••• I joined the large crowd at Sydney’s Wentworth Park Band- shell last week for the Makin’ Waves Concert Series. Carmen Townsend’s distinctive voice impressed me, but I was less impressed with Ron Hynes, a performer I have often enjoyed. A victim of cancer in his jaw and throat, I found his speech slurred and difficult to follow. It’s a shame that an artist as great as this doesn’t know when to back away.
••• Last Saturday evening I made my first trip of the year to the Louisbourg Playhouse, always a good location for music, where the Lyrics & Laughter gang appeared for the thirteenth consecutive year. Their wonderful music selection included songs by writers as varied as Mark Knoppler and Gordie Sampson. They even did a David Francey number: Fitting, considering David will be on stage at the Playhouse on July 16. Lyrics & Laughter returns in mid-September.
••• On Canada Day I ventured to Baddeck to catch the dress rehearsal for the Bells of Baddeck, a new production that takes place in the Bell Museum. It’s mainly a lyrical presentation and sometimes the vocals are difficult to understand but luckily they are supplemented by the scrip on an adjoining screen.
While the play is fast-paced and may be difficult to follow if you aren’t already fully familiar with the story, it is a well-produced and carefully staged production that involves both local and outside actors. The majority play a number of roles, with only the gentleman playing the part of Alexander Graham Bell keeping the same role throughout, aging as the story progresses.
It’s an interesting and entertaining evening that may peak your interest in a trip to Baddeck.
••• I hit RibFest twice to enjoy both the music and the excellent food, catching Andrew Doyle on Friday and Crowdis Bridge on Saturday. I spoke to a few of the Bar-B-Qers and they were impressed at the large weekend crowd that clearly made the event a success. I certainly hope that this is the just the first of many trips they make to Sydney.
••• Many mourn the unexpected passing of Stan Carew, CBC Radio’s Weekend Morning host and an entertainer who performed in Sydney just a few weeks ago. A lover of East Coast music, he was someone who did more than his share to promote independent artists. Stan will certainly be missed!
Makin’ Waves Concert Series, Wentworth Park Bandshell, Sydney
July 16, 6 p.m. - Joe Waye Trio with Charlotte MacDonald and Breagh Mackinnon Trio
July 23, 6 p.m. - The Divorcees with Margie and Dawn Beaton
Bell National Historic Site, Baddeck
Running regularly until Aug. 2 - The Bells of Baddeck: Savoy Theatre, Glace Bay July 20-21, 27-28 - The Reunion: 1970 - 1979 (Dinner Theatre) Judique Community Centre Thursday, July 23, 7:30 p.m. – Ashley MacIsaac and the Cape Breton Fiddlers Louisbourg Playhouse Music almost every evening throughout the summer. Rita’s Tea Room, Big Pond Sunday’s throughout the summer, 1 PM — entertainment featuring different artists Highland Arts Theatre, Sydney Thursday’s in July - Heart of Steel
Friday’s in July - Mature Young Adults
Saturday’s in July - No Great Mischief
Sunday’s in July - The True Meaning of Cape Breton