Fes­ti­val of Small Halls wraps up

Fea­tur­ing 50 shows, fiery tunes were played from the east to the west

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ENTERTAINMENT - Todd Ma­cLean Todd Ma­cLean is a lo­cal free­lance writer and mu­si­cian. If you have a com­ment or sug­ges­tion for a re­view, you can get in touch with him at tmaclean@the­guardian.pe.ca or at 626-1242. But he won’t be of­fended if you don’t.

Surely with all the ac­tiv­ity in this al­ways ac­tion-packed time of year, it prob­a­bly now seems like a long while ago that you first heard talk of the 2015 Fes­ti­val of Small Halls.

Yet, with its more than 50 per­for­mances in 14 days within over 40 ru­ral com­mu­nity halls this year, the fes­ti­val did only wrap up last week­end. Small Halls’ big­gest year yet came to a grand close with a sold-out fi­nale in Georgetown last Satur­day night.

And on my way to take in one of the fi­nal shows, on the western end of P.E.I. last Fri­day, one added-on beauty part of the fes­ti­val be­came ap­par­ent to me: Some­times it can bring you to parts of the Is­land you’ve never ex­pe­ri­enced be­fore.

As I took a wrong turn on my way to Bur­ton in West Prince that evening, I sud­denly found my­self driv­ing along what looked to be the serene-and­green edge of the Earth, north of West Point, while I was awestruck by the breath­tak­ing cliff-side sun­lit views around each new turn in the road.

Even­tu­ally, though, that road did lead me to St. Mark’s Hall, where the show be­gan with 2009 Cana­dian Folk Mu­sic Award nom­i­nee/2009 Mu­sic P.E.I. award win­ner, Celtic singer Co­lette Chev­erie, ac­com­pa­nied by Tim Chais­son on acous­tic guitar.

Send­ing a blan­ket of vo­cal warmth upon the good-turnout crowd in their seats be­fore her, Chev­erie be­gan the night on a great note with songs like What Will We Do and The Fish and the Bird.

Up next on the night’s bill was Red Moon Road from Win­nipeg, Man.

And how cool it was to be en­joy­ing a rare tour­ing act visit there in that quite re­mote part of the Is­land – a per­for­mance by an en­dear­ing Cana­dian folk trio – whose fiery mu­sic then seemed to trans­port us to a unique and en­chant­ing time and place. Fea­tur­ing Daniel Jor­dan on vo­cals/acous­tic guitar/bass drum, Daniel Pelo­quin-Hopfner on man­dolin/banjo/vo­cals and Sheena Rat­tai on lead vo­cals, Red Moon Road are just a mu­si­cal de­light to take in. And through en­gag­ing sto­ries and well-re­ceived songs like Mighty Glad You Came (a na­ture col­lab­o­ra­tive tune inspired by the song of the White Throated Spar­row), Do or Die and Breath­ing Slow, the trio won over the western P.E.I. Small Halls fes­ti­val crowd in a big way.

The last act of night was The East Point­ers, a group who al­ready stood on quite a high pedestal in my mind, due to how much peo­ple have raved about them to me over the past sev­eral months.

Yet some­how, within the trio’s 45-minute set of tunes that blew the room away (and which also fea­tured some lively step danc­ing by Bron­wyn Bridges), I would have to say they ex­ceeded all those ex­tremely high ex­pec­ta­tions.

With Koady Chais­son on banjo, Tim Chais­son on fid­dle and foot per­cus­sion and Jake Char­ron on acous­tic guitar, the group is sim­ply a pow­er­house of tra­di­tional mu­sic prow­ess that is cur­rently fired with a ‘ storm­ing-outta-the-gates’ fu­elled energy that is pal­pa­ble.

At the risk of rais­ing your ex­pec­ta­tions too high as well, I will sim­ply sum it up with this: When you see them, you’ll know what I’m talk­ing about.

Your two chances to catch The East Point­ers in ac­tion on P.E.I. this sum­mer are on July 15 at the Trail­side Café, and next week­end at the Rollo Bay Fid­dle Fes­ti­val. For more info, visit east­point­ers.ca

Red Moon Road has a new al­bum on the way later this year, and we’re told that they may be back out this way on tour this fall.

Check out www.red­moon­road.com to see where the road will bring Red Moon Road, and to lis­ten to the sooth­ing sounds of Co­lette Chev­erie, visit http://mu­sic.cbc.ca/#!/artists/Co­lette-Chev­erie

Next week: I’ll be at the P.E.I. Brew­ing Com­pany to see Search­ing for Abeg­weit: Is­land Songs and Sto­ries of Len­nie Gallant

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