One final note
After a decade of hosting musical socials at his home, the Dunk owner Hal Mills will welcome musicians and audience members to the last Fiddlehead Social this Sunday afternoon
After a decade of hosting musical socials at his home, the Dunk owner Hal Mills will host the last Fiddlehead Social this Sunday afternoon.
When Hal Mills built a wooden loft house on the Dixon Road over a decade ago, he was contemplating retirement.
However, plans changed when the geographer/environmental consultant was called back to Yellowknife to complete a project.
So, he left his friend Jeff ( Jethro) Stewart, a musician, to house sit.
Before long, up in the Northwest Territories, Mills began hearing reports that his new home in Breadalbane had become a vibrant venue for musicians and appreciative music lovers.
“Jethro told me the place had great acoustics. People were also telling me that they had been to some great parties at my place.”
That’s because Stewart and his band, Out From Under, were holding regular practices and socials at his home (The Dunk) while Mills was away. So the landlord decided to call up his tenant to find out just what was going on.
“I told Jed that I’d heard he was having parties at my house. I told him that I had a problem with that: ‘The problem is I’m not there so you’re going to have a party for me when I come home,’ “he laughed.
So, when Mills returned to P.E.I. two years later, he continued the tradition of musical socials in his lofty house.
“Through a series of (happy) accidents, things started happening here. It was quite amazing and nothing that I had planned.”
Now, after dozens of parties and one major annual musical blast, this era will come to a close when he hosts his final Fiddlehead Social at The Dunk on July 19, 1-10 p.m.
“It’s going to be a happy time. Basically, the last 10 or 11 years have been a really good run here. But, for various reasons, it’s time to move on. So, I’m looking at the Fiddlehead Social as going out with a bang,” says the property owner, who is selling his house at the end of the summer.
Mills may move on, but the impact of this music industry builder will be long remembered, says singer-songwriter Bryson Guptil.
“Hal has made a significant and lasting contribution to the music scene on P.E.I. He’s provided a hospitable and supportive venue for so many musicians — Catherine MacLellan, Meaghan Blanchard, Dennis Ellsworth, Ashley Condon, Racoon Bandit, Irish Mythen, Ten Strings and a Goatskin and many others,” he says.
Doc MacLean, one of many Canadian artists who performed
at The Dunk, is also appreciative of the support he received from Mills.
“Hal enabled me to come to know the Island well, to make many friends and to share in and even be a small part of the wonderful Dixon Road community. I’ve birthed a number of songs around his table,” says the Delta blues artist, during an Internet interview.
Singer-songwriter Teresa Doyle is also thankful for the efforts of this music promoter.
“Hal Mills gave so much of himself in making it happen for us. (He) hosted some of Canada’s finest folk musicians and worked hard to support P.E.I. artists as well. We are all deeply grateful to him for his amazing contribution to the music scene on P.E.I. We wish him all the best on this next chapter of his life.”
As Mills prepares for retirement, he won’t be going very far.
“I’m going to be making a step-by-step move to North Rustico . . . . Sometime in the near future, I’ll be moving there on a permanent basis.”
And, before he goes, Mills wants people to know why he’s made his decision.
“Why am I moving on? It’s partially an age and health thing. I’m 76 now and I have heart and eyesight issues.
“Also, everyone on P.E.I. had a bad winter, last year. And it was a really bad one for me.
“Before last winter, I had been thinking it was time to move on, but that pretty much reinforced things.”
Jeff (Jethro) Stewart, left, and Hal Mills take a break from planning Sunday’s Fiddlehead Social at The Dunk in Breadalbane. It’s the final social at the venue because Mills is selling the house at the end of the summer.
Hal Mills stands outside of his wood home in Breadalbane.
In years gone by, cars lined both sides of Dixon Road for Funk the Dunk. After some changes, the weekend festival has morphed into the Fiddlehead Social, an afternoon event, taking place July 19.
This is the exterior of The Dunk on the Dixon Road in Breadalbane.
A cabin, built by Nick Maros, houses visiting musical artists when they visit The Dunk.