Chance meeting on a bus tour leads to the formation of a new musical group, Touch of Country, playing at venues across the Island this summer
For Mary Smith, the benefits of playing the fiddle go far beyond gaining the skills to play toe-tapping music on a beautiful stringed instrument.
It’s also a great way to develop strong social connections.
Smith is continually meeting new people as a member of the Prince County Fiddlers, the P.E.I. Fiddlers and the Sussex Avenue Fiddlers, a group led by Ivan Hicks.
“I have made so many friends now through music. It’s also provides opportunities to travel,” says Smith, adding that her friendship with Ferne and Laurie Belliveau of Moncton has resulted in the formation of a new group, Touch of Country, which is performing across P.E.I. this summer.
“We sing great old country songs, performing on guitar, fiddle, mandolin and keyboards. Touch of Country is a new music group performing on P.E.I. this summer. From left are Mary Smith, Theo Wiegers, Laurie Belliveau and Ferne Belliveau. We also have a great drummer, Theo Wiegers from P.E.I., who joins us.”
The inkling for this new group began seven years ago. Smith was on a performance tour with the Sussex Avenue Fiddlers in the United States when she met the musical couple on the bus.
After a busy day, Smith was always looking for people to play with in the evenings.
“Fern and Laurie were often available, so we’d jam a bit. And we hit it off,” says the North Rustico native.
One thing led to another and another and soon Smith and the Belliveaus were traveling back and forth across the Northumberland Strait to jam and visit.
Then, two years ago, when the couple retired from their jobs, they decided to do some shows together.
“We played a lot in Florida together last winter. And now we’re going to play for people on P.E.I.”
At each concert, the program consists of old country songs, including Just One Tear Drop, Six Days on the Road, She’s Gone, Gone, Gone and others.
Smith enjoys their creative collaboration.
“Music is a universal language. Whether you’re French, English, Dutch or whatever, music just seems to draw people together.
“It’s the enjoyment of playing ( for yourself) and the enjoyment of playing for other people.”