NEXT STAGE #4 Mar 25 2005

French, Ukrainian and Hillbilly tunes heat up Yukon night

In my last column I lamented the public’s lack of interest in getting up on the open stages of Whitehorse and performing. This past week I attended a talent night hosted by the Association Franco-Yukonnaise that proved this whining premature.

The event brought together the French community in Whitehorse for an evening of family fun and a mixer that allowed the Moms and Dads to mingle and let off steam. I came here to witness my friend’s daughter perform a skit with friends.

This small stage, in the heart of the French community in Whitehorse, was alive with talent … with children of all ages literally falling about the stage.

The evening started with dinner and drinks, conversation and some very yummy desserts.

Once the tables were cleared and packed away and the chairs turned around, the MC started introducing the performers.

The evenings fare included toddler ballet, a guitarist, a minor miner and his mandolin, several poets, plays, dancing, singing and skits in all shapes and costumes.

Even though my understanding of the French language only allows a pathetic shamble through a fog of disconnected words, I needed no translation to understand the various performances.

The acts were judged, none to harshly, by audience reaction and after an interval of deliberation, all participants were given a prize. A splendid time was had by all.

When I see a poster that states “Ukie Girls Do It Best” my interest is peaked.

Heading to the Backwater I found local performer Steve Slade warming up the room with a set of folk music accompanied by fiddler Amelia Rose. The room was filling up by time they finished, as is the nature of the warm-up acts audience.

The main act was worthy of the advertised “blues meets bluegrass” and “hot”. Both Rose on fiddle and Ana Bon-Bon on accordion held down the stage with sexy, understated cool music.

Rose and Bon-Bon are both excellent musicians and interpreted Lead Belly’s Bourgeois Blues and bluegrass classic Cluck old’ Hen in a unique style. A rousing rendition of Joshua Fought The Battle Of Jericho with an eastern European rhythm roused memories of the motherland.

Plump women with accordions stir my inner Ukrainian. Enough said.
Back to the Discovery Blues Bar for an evening of country rockabilly with Vancouver’s, Cousin Harley.

Even with an admitted cold, guitarist Paul Pegat was in fine form.
All in attendance seemed transfixed by the spectacle of this individual running his hands up and down the fret board of his big ol’ Gibson hollow body electric, effortlessly pulling licks and chords out of the air.

This is a tight combo with a big classic 50’s rockabilly tone. A sound evocative of Chet Atkins country fused with Les Paul jazz pulled the group through some very interesting musical styles

With Pete Turland on bass and Steve Taylor, in a fantastic polka dot shirt on drums, this group had the joint jumping and cheering all night long.

Not bad for some hillbilly blues in downtown Whitehorse on a Saturday night.