The best of the best

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ISLAND WEEKEND - 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@the­ or at 626-1242. But he won’t be of­fended if you don’t.

In his an­nual year-end re­view out and About col­umn, Guardian free­lancer Todd MacLean gives his take on the en­ter­tain­ment high­ights of 2016 - ev­ery­thing from best fiddle solo and best trum­pet solo to most emo­tional show and fun­ni­est show.

Do you know those “Earth at Night” satel­lite pho­tos that dis­play the amount of hu­man­made light be­ing emit­ted from large pop­u­la­tion ar­eas around the world?

If one were able to do the same kind of map that could dis­play global live mu­si­cal sound out­put in­stead, I would imag­ine P.E.I. would light up like one con­stant white beam of light, glow­ing there in the Gulf of St. Lawrence at the edge of Canada.

In­deed, as so many of us know so well, if you’re a lover of mu­sic, this is the place for you. And as we look back on an­other sen­sa­tional year of Is­land mu­sic, this truth can be all the more clar­i­fied.

Thus, with­out fur­ther ado, it is with ut­most plea­sure I now present my an­nual Out and About Year in Re­view list for 2015 - a year of many mu­si­cal high­lights I took in:

Best gui­tar solo: Keith Ur­ban, Cavendish Beach Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, July.

Best drum solo: Yissy Gar­cía with Jane Bun­nett and Maque­que, P.E.I. Jazz and Blues Fes­ti­val, Au­gust.

Best trum­pet Solo: Neil Knud­son, John Cain Blues Band, An­nual Blues Bash, The Old Tri­an­gle, Novem­ber.

Best fiddle solo: Kyle MacNeil play­ing Beau­ti­ful Point Aconi, The Barra MacNeils, In­dian River, June.

Best oboe solo: Marc Des­Roches, Kirk of St. James, Novem­ber (ad­mit­tedly this was the only oboe solo I heard in 2015 - and prob­a­bly the first in years - so it does win by de­fault...but hey, I’m giv­ing him props for it nonethe­less.)

Best group vo­cal per­for­mance: The East­ern Belles, Con­tact East at The Mack, Septem­ber.

Best solo vo­cal per­for­mance: Keith Ur­ban, Cavendish Beach Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, July.

Best dance per­for­mance: African Chil­dren’s Choir, St. Paul’s Church, June.

Best sto­ry­telling: Pa­trick Led­well, Frank Led­well Sto­ry­telling Fes­ti­val, St. Peters Court­house The­atre, July.

Most emo­tional show: Mem­o­rable Todd’s picks 1. Got Blues Mati­nee: Muddy Wa­ters Theme with spe­cial guest James Phillips - The Fac­tory, to­day, 2:30-4:30 p.m. 2. Lo­gan Richard - Old Tri­an­gle Pub, to­day, 6 p.m. 3. Christine Camp­bell - Old Tri­an­gle Pub, to­day, 8 p.m. 4. Goose River Dance - Goose River Com­mu­nity Hall, to­day, 9 p.m. 5. Adam’s Eve Re­union with The Royal North - Hunter’s Ale House, to­day, 11 p.m. Mu­si­cal Me­mo­rial for Hal Mills, The Dunk, Breadal­bane, Oc­to­ber.

Best “rock­ing on through the el­e­ments”: Matt An­der­sen with The Mellotones, sum­mer down­pour at Rock the Boat Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, Tyne Val­ley, Au­gust.

Most cre­ative use of per­for­mance space: Be­cause You’re Not pre­sented by A.N.T. of New York City, Fishies on the Roof, Is­land Fringe Fes­ti­val, Au­gust.

Best rock per­for­mance: Stars, Mu­sic P.E.I. May Run Fes­ti­val, Delta Prince Ed­ward Ball­room, May.

Best pop per­for­mance: Tim Chaisson, P.E.I. Brew­ing Com­pany, May.

Best gospel per­for­mance: Kel­ley Mooney CD launch, Trin­ity United Church, May.

Best blues per­for­mance: Ripped Pa­per fi­nale, The Guild, Novem­ber.

Best in­stru­men­tal per­for­mance: The East Point­ers, 39th an­nual Rollo Bay Fiddle Fes­ti­val, July.

Best elec­tronic per­for­mance: Jenn Grant with de­but of Aqua Alta, Hunter’s Ale House, March.

Best jazz per­for­mance: Jane Bun­nett and Maque­que, P.E.I. Jazz and Blues Fes­ti­val, Au­gust.

Best coun­try per­for­mance: Keith Ur­ban, Cavendish Beach Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, July.

Best tra­di­tional per­for­mance: Vishtèn CD launch, The Pour­house, Septem­ber.

Best act­ing per­for­mance: Noah J. Nazim star­ring in Ham­let pre­sented by ACT, Robert Cot­ton Park, Strat­ford, Septem­ber.

Most en­gag­ing per­for­mance: Diana Pan­ton with Don Thomp­son, Reg Sch­wa­ger and Guido Basso, P.E.I. Jazz and Blues Fes­ti­val, St. Paul’s Angli­can Church, Au­gust.

High­est en­ergy out­put: Alan Doyle, Cavendish Beach Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, July.

Most unique per­for­mance: J.J. Chaisson, The Fid­dling Fish­er­man fish­ing boat, Souris har­bour, Au­gust.

Fun­ni­est show: Aladdin, Con­fed­er­a­tion Cen­tre, De­cem­ber.

Most en­ter­tain­ing show: Mike Su­per, Con­fed­er­a­tion Cen­tre, March.

Best show I saw that I wished I could’ve had the chance to write an ar­ti­cle for: Pa­per Li­ons, P.E.I. Brew­ing Com­pany, Novem­ber.

Best over­all per­for­mance: Keith Ur­ban, Cavendish Beach Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, July.

It was cer­tainly a plea­sure to present this “Is­land mu­si­cal best of 2015” list.

And I must add, here in my 10th year of writ­ing this col­umn, that it is such an on­go­ing plea­sure to re­port to you weekly on the re­mark­able mu­sic from our mu­si­cally-filled-to-the-brim Is­land.

I’m look­ing for­ward to all the sweet sounds that 2016 will surely have in store for us - and for me it be­gins to­day at The Fac­tory for the Got Blues Mati­nee with spe­cial guest James Phillips. I’ll tell you all about it next week.

Happy 2016 one and all!


Karisa Talen and Tif­fany Talen lend their voices to the an­nual Sing Along Mes­siah this past Mon­day at the Kirk of St. James in Char­lot­te­town. The fes­tive event, pre­sented by the Con­fed­er­a­tion Singers, en­cour­ages the au­di­ence to sing along with the choir as it per­forms parts of Han­del’s most fa­mous choral work.

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