The Pictou County Christmas Fund telethon will once again dominate Sunday events in Pictou County.
The annual event, held at the deCoste Performing Arts Centre in Pictou, runs 1-7 p.m. and local residents are encouraged to drop into the deCoste to see and hear the talented local artists live. And make a pledge while you’re there!
Every year, the event is held to raise funds that provide a Christmas dinner with all of the trimmings for county families in need during the festive season.
Local committee members work to put the event together, and local musicians and artists generously give their time and talents.
Among the featured performers this year are:
Pat Spaulding has been entertaining Pictou County with his solo acoustic stylings, but has now created a dynamic duo with his daughter Kendell. These two have had a very busy summer, playing at the Lobster Carnival, Music LORDA, and various benefits and events throughout the county.
Hailing from Thorburn, Randy Swallow has earned a reputation as an engaging and dynamic guitarist, frontman and solo performer. Swallow categorizes himself as progressive blues — Jeff Healey, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Colin James, and Eric Clapton all bear influence on Swallow’s guitar playing. Performing on a custom built-guitar of his own creation, Swallow has shared stages and traded licks with the likes of Jeff Healey, Dutch Mason, Jerry Doucette, and Mike Smith, better known today as Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys.
The Music Company is an eclectic group of local musicians who come from backgrounds of Irish, bluegrass, and classical music. The group’s repertoire features everything from world music to tunes from the swing era and soft jazz classics. With rhythm bass and guitar and two expert drummers, you can expect to tap your toes! Members, all from Pictou County, are: Joanne MacDonald, silver flute, mandolin; Charles Decoste, fiddle and mandolin; Allan MacDonald on guitar and fiddle; Janet Goguen Proudfoot, bass; Merton Arbuckle, percussion; and Darrell Burke, percussion and vocals.
Trilogy consists of three musicians who had played separately for a few years, and occasionally teamed up on stage then decided to join forces. Powerhouse vocalists Niki Veniot and Steven Auld teamed up with multi-instrumentalist Michelle Tracey this past year and have been playing together ever since. It’s hard to place their music in any one genre. You’ll hear a little bit of country, folk, pop, and rock, sometimes with a bluesy feel. Not only can Trilogy change it up by genre, but each member can carry a tune on multiple instruments. Each musician in this group brings something special to the table.
The Kitchen Criminals (TKC) is a four-piece ensemble from Pictou County. Their East Coast, Celtic-rock sound was largely influenced by Atlantic Canadian bands MacKeel, Great Big Sea, and Rawlins Cross. TKC formed in 2016 due to a shared musical connection, enthusiasm and a love for the typical East Coast kitchen party atmosphere. They have built a large fan base by playing for pubs, colleges and universities, as well as entertaining at private functions. Their music ranges from original songs, to fiddle sets and Celtic classics. This group’s musical appeal is one that extends into many stylistic tastes.
Amelia Parker started playing the fiddle with Fleur Mainville when she was six years old. This past June at the age of 13, she recorded a CD at the Wee House of Music with Dave Gunning called “Intertwined”. She plays a variety of styles including old time, Scottish, Quebecois and classical. In August 2019, she travelled to Abbotsford, BC, to perform at the Canadian Grand Masters as one of four junior showcase performers from across Canada.
Pam Leblanc grew up in Pictou where started out on piano and stepdancing in her childhood years and took up the fiddle at 15 years old with instructor Shelia Cameron and later on, Fleur Mainville. From there, she attended various workshops including at the Gaelic College in Cape Breton. She enjoys many styles of fiddle but likes to stay close to her Cape Breton roots. She has been teaching private lessons in Pictou County for many years and loves to share her love for music with her students and involve them in the community. Through out the year you will catch them playing at various events, festivals, benefits and more.
Ray Stewart is a singer / songwriter / guitarist who was strongly influenced by folk music. Growing up, he was a huge fan of such artists as Gordon Lightfoot, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, and Jim Croce. Because he was a guitarist first, he spent many years accompanying other artists and became exposed to many different genres of music. When he began writing, these experiences influenced his writing style. Although his songs still have roots in folk, their melodies tend to touch on many different facets of musical genres including gospel, country, bluegrass, jazz, and blues. Stewart’s solo CD, “Through These Doors,” produced by Dave Gunning at Wee House of Music, is a compilation of 12 original songs that will take you on a musical journey. He does prison ministry work for a local correctional centre, where his song Not Broken is often requested. Lately, he has continued his solo writing as well as having the opportunity to co-write with one of his folk heroes, Dave Gunning, with one song to his credit on Gunning’s Lift album, as well as two on his latest album Up Against the Sky.
Anyone looking to register to receive assistance from the Pictou County Christmas Fund this year can do so in New Glasgow on November 13, 14 and 15 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Summer Street Industries, or in Pictou on November 14 from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church Hall.
Disbursement dates in New Glasgow are December 11 and 12 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Summer Street and in Pictou on December 12 from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church Hall.
Watch this year’s telethon on East Link TV channel 10, drop by the deCoste Centre in person, or listen online thanks to Lucas Technology & Analytics. There will be an audio streaming link made available on mix941.ca and on the Pictou County Christmas Telethon Facebook page.
Pledges can be honoured at The Advocate office, Atlantic Insurance on Provost Street in New Glasgow, or any bank or credit union in the county.
Amelia Parker will be performing at the Pictou County Christmas Fund telethon on Sunday.