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

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY SALLY COLE

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.”

SALLY COLE/THE­GUARDIAN

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.

SALLY COLE/THE GUARDIAN

Hal Mills stands out­side of his wood home in Breadal­bane.

RAY BROW/SPE­CIAL TO THE GUARDIAN

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.

RAY BROW/SPE­CIAL TO THE GUARDIAN

This is the ex­te­rior of The Dunk on the Dixon Road in Breadal­bane.

SALLY COLE/THE GUARDIAN

A cabin, built by Nick Maros, houses vis­it­ing mu­si­cal artists when they visit The Dunk.

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