Fer­gus and the young folk

New­found­land mu­sic leg­end works with area’s youngest mu­si­cians

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

The mar­tial arts movies of old usu­ally fea­tured the grand mas­ter teach­ing a young pupil.

Over the course of the film, the pupil works along­side the mas­ter, learn­ing ev­ery­thing he can and hon­ing his craft.

That’s un­til the pupil has to dis­patch the movie’s vil­lain in im­pres­sive fash­ion.

That’s kind of what you got at As­cen­sion Col­le­giate in Bay Roberts on June 4 when renowned Ir­ish-New­found­land mu­si­cian Fer­gus O’Byrne con­ducted the lat­est ver­sion of his Young Folk At The Hall. Only you re­place tra­di­tional mu­sic with mar­tial arts and an epic end-of-film show­down with a con­cert at Grace United Church in Co­ley’s Point the next day.

Twenty-five young mu­si­cians from around the Trin­ity-Con­cep­tion re­gion signed up for the highly an­tic­i­pated event, which took place over two week­ends.

Work­ing with O’Byrne and seven men­tors, the group split into six dif­fer­ent bands to hone their sound and set list for the Sun­day night per­for­mance.

Walk­ing through the halls of As­cen­sion, you heard ver­sions of tra­di­tional favourites like “Aun­tie Mary Had a Ca­nary” and “Salt­wa­ter Joys,” as well as con­tem­po­rary clas­sics like “Wagon Wheel.”

The sounds wafted from the cafe­te­ria to the far end of the school, blend­ing with each other to cre­ate a har­mo­nious melt­ing pot of tra­di­tional New­found­land mu­sic.

For many of the young­sters with in­stru­ments on their laps or be­neath their chins, they were play­ing with peo­ple they’d never played with be­fore.

Cre­ativ­ity comes quicker in a group set­ting. Be­sides, tra­di­tional mu­sic should be played in a group any­way.

“I found be­fore I couldn’t play with other peo­ple,” said Blake­town’s Kyla Rus­sell. She played with The Wild Bologna. “Now, I find it eas­ier play­ing in a group. I’d never re­ally played with peo­ple be­fore.”

Abi­gail Mor­gan, another of mem­ber of The Wild Bologna, found play­ing with peo­ple sparked some­thing cre­atively.

“I found that on some of the songs, I can change it up and make it more in­ter­est­ing,” she said.

In­still­ing habits

The process for di­vid­ing them into bands played into the idea of pass­ing down tra­di­tions from one gen­er­a­tion to the next.

“I put them all in a list and look at them, first of all by age. The range now is 17 down to eight. I look at that and I also look at what each of them play and bring to the pro­gram,” said O’Byrne. “Then I di­vide them into bands. I want the older ones with the younger ones be­cause I want to give them a sense of pass­ing it on. So when they grow through the pro­gram, they’ll have this idea.

“It’s all an os­mo­sis that once they’re to­gether, they’re go­ing to share … and each kid is unique.”

They picked their own band names that will go in the event’s pro­gram. Names like The Celtic Seals, Put A Pur­ple Pen­ney in a Pink Pan and Ice Ice Pur­ple Pur­ple Baby Mole dot the in­side cover of the pam­phlet.

What each brings to the table is some­thing O’Byrne looks for­ward to.

“I never know what’s go­ing to the table,” he said. “Some­times, you get re­ally strong acts.”

This was the first time the work­shop was held in Bay Roberts. It was a part of the highly suc­cess­ful Songs, Stages and Seafood Fes­ti­val held by the town every year.

With such high reg­is­tra­tion num­bers, O’Byrne can’t think of why there wouldn’t be a sec­ond edi­tion next year.

“It’s great for the first time out here and I hope this be­comes an an­nual thing,” he said.


Renowned Ir­ish-New­found­land mu­si­cian Fer­gus O’Byrne (mid­dle) works with the group Ice Ice Pur­ple Pur­ple Baby Mole dur­ing the Young Folk At The Hall mu­sic work­shop at As­cen­sion Col­le­giate in Bay Roberts on June 4. The ses­sions were a part of a new event of the Songs, Stages and Seafood fes­ti­val. Mem­bers of the group, from left, are Steven Reid, Brady Piercey, men­tor Naomi Brown and Gabe Ardis.

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