Creative Current – Elvis lives! at the Wellness Festival

Nadine Davenport's bi-monthly column of art and theatre in the region.

Packing House presents Sean Ashby

The Packing House presents Vancouver Singer-Songwriter/Guitarist and Producer, Sean Ashby on Wednesday, July 17. Book your table, sit back, eat, drink and enjoy! Sean’s tour currently includes Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver …and Spences Bridge! A small, acoustic setting like the Packing House may be the smallest venue Sean plays on this across Canada tour but he assures Paulet and Steve it will be one of his best…you have to hear it to believe it! For reservations to book your table call (250) 458-2256.

Chances are, if you’ve had a radio on today you’ve heard his guitar playing. As one of North America’s go-to guitarists, Sean Ashby has played and recorded with Sarah McLachlan, Delerium, Ginger (former Grapes Of Wrath), and many more. Ashby, is a singer /songwriter/guitarist/producer who released his debut album “Brass and Gold” in April 2008. As a solo artist, Ashby is an evocative, melodic songwriter, emotional singer, charismatic performer, and of course, a monster guitar player!! He was also recently voted one of the top five guitarists, all time – in all of Canada by CBC listeners.

Dustin Bentall struts his stuff in Clinton

The Summer Music in the Park series in Clinton has three great shows left this summer. This week you can catch Dustin Bentall with Kendel Carson on Friday, July 20. Dustin plays and sings some great original rootsy folk-rock tunes along with accompanist fiddler, Kendel Carson. They make a great combination. Should be a great night. Kendall will no doubt play a number of barn-burning hoedowns.

Ridley Bent will take to the Gazebo on Aug. 10, and Barney Bentall on Aug. 31. Show times are at 7:30 pm at Reg Conn Centennial Park in downtown Clinton.

Music and dance for your soul

The 1st Annual Ashcroft Wellness Festival, July 19-21 will feature a number of musical and dance acts throughout the weekend. The outdoor festival will take place on the streets of downtown Ashcroft, from 2nd to 8th Avenue.

There will be two outdoor stages of scheduled entertainment plus an array of local and regional Buskers which include Jim Ryan, Mavourneen Varcoe-Ryan, Nadine Davenport, Karla Cummins, Andrea Bona, Theresa Takacs, Ken Leinweber (performing at Shelley’s Place) and Llynn Kellman. Other activities planned are workshops, demonstrations and vendor booths, belly dancing, geo caching, hiking, kids triathlon, yoga, tai chi and lots more!

On Saturday, there will two performances by Elvis Tribute singer Steve Elliott with his show –  ‘Elvis Elite’. Steve also takes the stage on the Sunday morning of the Wellness Festival for an interdenominational church service at St Albans Hall. You can look forward to many gospel favourites and sacred songs made famous by Elvis Presley.

Steve has been a performer since 2000 and has won various Elvis contests throughout Canada, including the Grand Canadian Championship of the Pacific Northwest Elvis Festival 2004 in Penticton.

He travels now full time with his “Elvis Elite “show and his act has taken him throughout Canada and the USA. Expect a high energy tribute to the Century’s Most Celebrated and Loved…. Elvis Presley! Steve has the Young Elvis down to a tee, along with the hip swivels and classic duck walk that made Elvis so recognizable in the 50’s! Crooning through the Ballads and Rockabilly Hits, Steve is ready to shake!

The Festival begins on Friday at 5 pm and ends at 3 pm Sunday. Friday night’s concert is Flat Busted, featuring the lovely ladies from Spences Bridge, 7:15-9 pm. On Saturday, Spiritus Mundii, the local world folk fusion quartet, plays from  5:15-6:15 pm, followed by various local actors performing Improv and Stand Up Comedy, and a Saturday Night Street Dance – featuring the 60’s Rock Band, 32nd Avenue to follow from 7-10 pm. Most of the weekend’s entertainment is free, but the Street Dance is by donation.

Folk Troubadour and cello duo at MITP next week

Winding Rivers Arts & Performance Society presents Music in the Park concert series in Ashcroft every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month. The next Music in the Park is Wednesday, July 24 and will feature the Vancouver husband/wife duo of Mark James Fortin (guitar and vocals) and Lorna Brampton Fortin (cello). Mark James Fortin has been described as raw, powerful, and dynamic. He performs songs that speak to the heart and mind. The local opening act will be the increasingly popular world folk fusion quartet, Spiritus Mundii. Members are Brian Benner, Jan Schmitz, Denise Tapia-Benner and Kirk Watson.

Described as “Canada’s best unsigned artist,” Mark James Fortin is also one of Canada’s best-kept secrets. This powerful songwriter, vocalist and guitarist turned his back on Toronto’s live music scene just as he was poised to break with his debut CD and has been quietly perfecting his craft on the West Coast ever since.

Born in France, raised in Canada and Germany, he spent his early years playing hockey, drinking beer with old men and soaking in classic jazz supplied by his trumpet-playing father. A return to Toronto in his late teens and the sounds of intelligent roots-based music from artists such as John Hiatt, Elvis Costello, and Tom Waits inspired him to trade his hockey stick for a guitar. The collision of hockey, jazz, rock, and women brought forth his first batch of “tough but tender” songs, which combined the sophistication of jazz with a straightforward emphasis on groove, feel, and honesty.

After winning Toronto’s Radio Q107 Homegrown Contest, he recorded his debut CD “Two Days in Rexdale” and was offered management, label deals and a lot of the seedier trappings of the industry.

Disillusioned and burned out, he moved to the West Coast where he began rediscovering what it was that made him an artist in the first place. Mark’s first west-coast musical collaboration was with Yvonne McSkimming, co-writing music for the Fringe Festival Hit “Crossing Boundaries”. After rave reviews the two went into the studio with Bill Buckingham to arrange and co-produce Yvonne’s debut CD “A Place of Standing” which spent six months at the top of the charts and across Canada.

The artist’s collaboration also resulted in the co-creation of one Vancouver’s most beloved and well-attended monthly songwriter’s showcases in the city’s history. The ongoing benefit event “Just Singing Round” hosted by Fortin and McSkimming has raised over $160,000 for numerous Vancouver charities over the past five years and is regularly sold out. Since its inception Fortin has toured to Scotland for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where the JSR showcase garnered rave reviews.

Today, Mark James Fortin continues to write record and perform new material. Concentrating on music for its own sake, he has delighted scores of listeners of all tastes and backgrounds with his accessible, yet authentic songs. Fortin’s wide appeal is based on skill, talent, and something much more important – an uncompromising desire to offer music with heart. Onstage, on the page or in the studio – Mark James Fortin delivers.

House Concert with Celtic Duo, Pennybrook

Creative Cow House Concerts presents the Celtic folk sounds of Pennybrook. Join Jude & Charlie on Wednesday, July 31 for a beautiful summer evening of original instrumentals and old fashioned songs at the Farmhouse at Barnes Lake (just 12 minutes from downtown Ashcroft). The show starts at 7:30 pm and the house location is at 3820 Barnes Lake Rd, just past IG Machine. Call Nadine or Andrea at (250) 453-9100 to reserve your seat. Hope to some new faces at this very enjoyable community event – coffee, tea and sweets provided.

Pennybrook is an acoustic duo based in southwestern Nova Scotia, specializing in original instrumental compositions with a Celtic flavour. Charlie Wilson plays Irish flute and whistles, and Jude Pelley plays guitars, mandolin, and Appalachian dulcimer. They have given concerts from Nova Scotia to British Columbia, and have just released their first full-length CD.

Originally hailing from the North West of England, the promise of adventure drew Charlie to northern Canada in 2000, first to Inuvik, then to Whitehorse, where she lived for seven years. Her recent adventures have included sailing from South East Alaska to Vancouver; working as a theatre artist in Whitehorse and Vancouver; as an apprentice boat builder in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia; and, wherever she is, practising aikido as much as possible.

Continuing her childhood passion for the flute, Charlie has over the past several years amassed a collection of her own compositions. In Fall 2010, Charlie travelled to Nova Scotia to record a CD with her friend Jude Pelley. She stayed, fell in love and is now happy to call Nova Scotia’s South Shore her home. After two years of playing music together, the Pennybrook project with Jude continues to delight and inspire her.

Jude Pelley was born in Carbonear, Nfld, in 1975. His interest in music stems from his father’s involvement in seminal Canadian folk-rock group Figgy Duff, and also from the many Richard Thompson records that were played around the house during his childhood! He has been playing music off and on for 25 years, in styles ranging from rock and blues to jazz, bluegrass, and celtic. When he’s not working on Pennybrook tunes, or pretending to be a carpenter, he produces records and works on art music compositions.

Nadine Davenport