Shar­ing words, voices of Pla­cen­tia Bay

Ex­hibit launch co­in­cides with an­nual fes­ti­val

The Compass - - NEWS - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON We­blink: https://www.face­book.com/voic­e­sofpb editor@CBN­com­pass.ca

The new Voices of Pla­cen­tia Bay ex­hibit is now on dis­play in Pla­cen­tia, giv­ing cu­ri­ous folks a chance to learn about songs and sto­ries linked to the area’s rich history.

An of­fi­cial launch for the ex­hibit takes place July 31 at the Pla­cen­tia Bay Cul­tural Arts Cen­tre start­ing at 2 p.m. That event will also serve to help kick-off the an­nual Voices of Pla­cen­tia Bay Fes­ti­val, a two-day event fea­tur­ing mu­si­cal per­for­mances and other ac­tiv­i­ties.

The Pla­cen­tia Area His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety ap­plied for and re­ceived gov­ern­ment fund­ing to hire pro­fes­sion­als to re­al­ize the ex­hibit.

“I never thought there’d be so much in­ter­est for peo­ple from (out­side the area),” said so­ci­ety pres­i­dent Tom O’Keefe. “We’re quite happy with it.”

The ex­hibit in­cludes mul­ti­me­dia com­po­nents. Peo­ple can use tablet com­put­ers to hear lo­cal per­form­ers play songs or to lis­ten to in­ter­views with older folks re­searcher Eric West col­lected in the late 1970s.

The ex­hibit works with themes to help or­ga­nize the wealth of ma­te­rial used to cre­ate it. A wall ded­i­cated to the sub­ject of leav­ing home looks at songs and sto­ries tied to re­set­tle­ment. Another part of the ex­hibit fo­cuses on the for­mer navy base in Ar­gen­tia, where en­ter­tain­ers per­formed fre­quently and a ra­dio sta­tion was op­er­ated.

Across from the Ar­gen­tia dis­play is a wall ded­i­cated to lo­cal sto­ry­telling tra­di­tions. Along with some of West’s archival record­ings, this dis­play in­cludes a small wall filled with rid­dles that are as­so­ci­ated with Pla­cen­tia Bay com­mu­ni­ties. Those game to give it a go can take a guess at what the rid­dle is talk­ing about be­fore flip­ping a small piece of wood to find the an­swer.

A lit­tle record­ing sta­tion at one end of the ex­hibit lets mem­bers of the public record a song or story, with an ac­cor­dion, guitar and bodhrán avail­able to use.

“This has ac­tu­ally been very pop­u­lar,” said Scott Man­ning, an em­ployee at the arts cen­tre. “You can record any­thing you want.”

Upon en­ter­ing the ex­hibit, you’re greeted by a looped video of the Fox Har­bour Dancers per­form­ing at the New­found­land and Labrador Folk Fes­ti­val in what could be the 1970s or early 1980s.

“They dance straight for 33 min­utes and 48 sec­onds,” notes Man­ning with a bit of a laugh. “The women sit down for a sec­ond. The men never stop.”

Ar­ti­facts from lo­cal ar­chaeo- log­i­cal digs that are typ­i­cally loaned to the arts cen­tre for the sum­mer will also re­main on dis­play.

“It com­ple­ments what they were do­ing, be­cause the ar­ti­facts alone wouldn’t draw as much as two par­tic­u­lar (ex­hibits) that peo­ple can look at,” said O’Keefe.

PHOTOS BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON/THE COM­PASS

A look at the singers, song­writ­ers and mu­si­cians known for shar­ing a song or two in the Pla­cen­tia Bay area over the years. Pla­cen­tia Area His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety pres­i­dent Tom O’Keefe shows off one of the tablet com­put­ers screens peo­ple can use to lis­ten to songs and per­form­ers as­so­ci­ated with Pla­cen­tia Bay. This is where peo­ple can sit down to record a song or story to share with the Voices of Pla­cen­tia Bay ex­hibit. Those who leave an email ad­dress can later have their per­for­mance sent back to them.

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