Yippie Yi Yo Kayah

Tim Hus will make you sit up and pay attention to his songs, story songs that capture the pioneering spirit that motivates and inspires truck drivers, miners, rum runners, trappers, men of the land, men of the sea, and vagabonds.

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Part of a new generation of Alberta-based songwriters who have been nurtured on the tapestry of sounds that country music served up in the sixties and seventies, Hus points to many life experiences and the influences of family and specific musicians when it comes to assessing his own make-up as an artist.

“I look up to Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, and road dogs like Fred Eaglesmith. Then there’s all the people I meet out on the road and the stories that come with those introductions,” says Hus, citing the influence of other artists including Corb Lund, Ian Tyson, Woodie Guthrie and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot.

The summer of 2009 marked a career highlight for Hus when he had the opportunity to tour with the late Stompin’ Tom Connors on a number of dates across the nation.

“It’s not a secret that Tom is one of my heroes and it was quite the time out on the road with him. I could tell you all sorts of stories, but we’ll leave those for another time,” laughs Hus, who was honored to work with the legendary Connors.

Connors made his appreciation for Hus’s songwriting skills known as the two played before large and enthusiastic crowds, declaring, “I’ve been looking for 30 years for a young guy who’s proud to write songs about our country. I’d like to pass the torch to Tim Hus.”

Tim Hus is at the Harbourfront Theatre in Summerside on February 26. All tickets are $25.00.

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Katie Kerr Stars as Sophie

Over 60 million people around the world have fallen in love with the characters, story, and undeniably catchy music that make Mamma Mia! the ultimate feel-good musical. Now Artistic Director Adam Brazier is turning to a Festival favourite of recent seasons – Katie Kerr – to play the lead role.

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Kerr, a veteran of five seasons at Confederation Centre, including two starring as Anne Shirley, will play bride-to-be Sophie in this summer’s must-see musical, directed by Brazier with musical direction from Bob Foster and choreography from Kerry Gage.

“It is always an honour to return to The Charlottetown Festival in any capacity, but I am especially thrilled to be one of the first girls in Canada to take on the role of Sophie this season,” says Kerr, from her new home in Charlottetown. “The Festival has been so integral to my career, and I am very thankful for the opportunity to star in yet another iconic show here.”

Inspired by the storytelling magic of ABBA’s songs, from ‘Dancing Queen’ and ‘S.O.S.’ to ‘Take a Chance on Me,’ Mamma Mia! is a celebration of mothers and daughters, old friends, and newfound family. The sunny tale that unfolds on a Greek island paradise where, on the eve of her wedding, Sophie’s quest to find her father brings three men from her mother’s past back to the island they last visited 20 years ago. Over 24 chaotic, magical hours, new love blooms and old romances are rekindled on this lush island full of possibilities.

For Katie Kerr, it’s exciting that the Festival is one of only two theatres in Canada credited to present the blockbuster since it closed on Broadway in 2015, and she looks forward to seeing where Brazier’s vision will take Mamma Mia!. “It’s so comforting to have an actor as intuitive as Adam on the other side of the table,” she offers. “You know that he is seeing everything, not only from a directorial position, but from the actor’s view as well. His ideas are fresh and forward thinking, which makes for a very exciting time at the Festival. I am so thankful to be a part of a company under his leadership.”

Kerr’s previous credits include Ring of Fire, Alice Through the Looking-Glass, Evangeline, and various roles in Anne of Green Gables-The Musical™, notably as the title heroine during the musical’s record-setting 50th season in 2014. “After embodying that role for two years, it becomes second nature,” she explains. “That experience continues to inspire me, in both my theatre work and my personal life. I am constantly finding fragments of Anne in everything I do.”

Confederation Centre wishes to recognize CIBC as the returning title sponsor of The Charlottetown Festival. The Centre also acknowledges the Department of Canadian Heritage; the Government of P.E.I., through the Department of Education, Early Learning, and Culture, and the City of Charlottetown for their continued support. Media sponsors are The Guardian, Hot 105.5, Ocean 100, and CTV.

Mamma Mia! is presented from June 1 to September 3, 2016 in the Homburg Theatre at the Centre.

Hootin’ and Hollerin’

Woody Holler and his Orchestra are purveyors of “western swing” music…but also so much more. Woody grew up hearing the songs of the cowboy. Although he was later trained in opera, a sense of nostalgia held him close to the early western genre. Woody met up with some top-notch jazz musicians and the cross-over was magical.

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Consisting of some of Canada’s finest folk/jazz musicians, Woody’s orchestra creates a style that Woody defines as “jazz from the saddle”. Greg Lowe on guitar, Richard Moody on violin and Danny Koulack on bass add clever arrangements rich with virtuosity and style. The repertoire is eclectic, fun and fascinating, featuring finger-snapping swing beats, honey-slowed love croons and show stopping “extreme” yodeling.

Since 2010, the band has showcased very successfully across Western Canada, which has led to several tours from Manitoba to the Pacific coast. They have also enjoyed a tour of the Northwest Territories and Woody’s yodel has been heard past the Arctic Circle. A recent showcase event on the east coast has led to a tour of the Atlantic Provinces next spring as well as a tour of Great Britain.

Their first album “Western Skies” was nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award in 2010. Woody and the boys have just completed their second album “Jazz From The Saddle”. It’s filled with all the things that make Woody Holler and his Orchestra so entertaining.

“But it was more than the yodeling that caught the audience right from the outset and held us through a much warranted standing ovation at evening’s end. It was the full, rich sound of four very talented musicians who have coupled clever arrangements, musical genre fusing and the joy of performing into one delightful package.” wrote Sue Morhun of the Oliver Daily News

“…the audience had saddled up to join him for the adventure. They were with him every step and hoof print of the way, perfectly attuned to the mood of each song”

Woody Holler and his Orchestra appear at the Harbourfront Theatre in Summerside on Wednesday, February 17, at 7:30 PM. All tickets are $25.00.

Winning Hearts for the Arts

The Confederation Centre’s Find the Heart for the Arts fundraiser will launch a new and improved format beginning this Monday, February 1. Under the new format, ticket holders do not need to be in attendance at the weekly event, and can win from home.

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Tickets for the Tuesday night game will now be on sale at the Centre’s Box Office, Monday to Saturday, from 12 to 5 p.m. The weekly event remains on Tuesday nights in Studio 1 from 7-9 p.m., with the live draw at 8:45 p.m.

The Chase-the Ace jackpot currently stands at $2,424.00. Chase-the-Ace tickets are available at $2 each, with discounts based on the number of tickets purchased. Full rules and regulations as well as a full ticket price list is available at http://www.confederationcentre.com under the Chase-the-Ace icon.

For all information, rules and ticket prices, please visit the web site. Proceeds from the lottery will be go towards the $ million dollar cost of Phase Two improvements to the Homburg Theatre. The theatre closed in December for four months of essential restoration work to the back-of-stage, including rigging, hanging, fly systems, access and safety equipment, and needed infrastructure upgrades.

Bringing the Bluegrass

Husband & Wife Bluegrass Team Bring The Noise To The Mack

Comprised of New Brunswick’s John and Lisa McLaggan, quirky folk duo Tomato/Tomato present their signature take on old timey roots music at The Mack on February 20.

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The couple’s unique sound, strong vocal harmonies, and colourful outlook on life have led to them becoming one of the most sought-after acts in Atlantic Canada. Tomato/Tomato’s dynamic live show features John on vocals and guitar and Lisa on washboard, bass-drum, vocals, and tambourine. It’s not unusual to find her performing all four at once!

Island audiences may recall the group from 2015 Festival of Small Halls appearances in Tracadie and Long Creek, one of just 60 gigs they performed across the Atlantic provinces last year. Other stops included Harvest Jazz and Blues, the Larlee Creek Hullabaloo, and two weeks filling in for David Myles as guest hosts of CBC Radio’s East Coast Music Hour.

The duo released their debut album last year, So It Goes, a strong set of original music that embodies their patented musical style and clever and comedic writing. The album was nominated for multiple accolades and earned the pair an East Coast Music Award for 2015 Roots/Traditional Album of the Year and three Music New Brunswick Awards.

“Their music is bound to put a smile on your face,” says a Here magazine review, while The Musicnerd Chronicles describe the group “striking a wonderful balance between playful and serious at virtually every turn, helping ensure you’re back for another listen by the time the record is over.”

Tomato/Tomato are on deck at The Mack on Friday, February 20 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the box office at (902) 566-1267, toll free at 1-800-565-0278, or online at confederationcentre.com.

Appreciation is extended to Sobeys, the returning title sponsor for LIVE @ The Centre. Media sponsors are The Guardian, Hot 105.5, and Ocean 100.

Popalopalots Appears (and Appears) at The Guild

The eight-person Popalopalots comedy group will host P.E.I.’s first-ever improv comedy marathon, Popalopalooza, Jan. 29–30. They’re making it up as they go along.

Improv is comedy created on the spur of the moment without a script, usually as short sketches or games driven by audience suggestions. “Even as I say it, it sounds — like, what am I doing?” Rob MacDonald of Popalopalots told CBC Radio Island Morning host Matt Rainnie.

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All proceeds go to the Cancer Treatment Centre at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to purchase new heated seats for patients.

“Everybody is affected by cancer and a couple of the Popalopalots have or have had people go through there,” Mr. MacDonald said. The marathon will start at The Guild in Charlottetown on Friday Jan. 29 at 8 p.m. and run until the following Saturday night at 10 p.m.

“It terrifies me, and I’m looking at it as a sort of sociological or psychological experiment,” Mr. MacDonald joked.

Members of the group will take turns on stage so everyone will get a chance to take a break over those 26 hours.

Admission to the show is by donation for the first 24 hours. Tickets for the final two hours, from 8 to 10 p.m. Saturday, are $15.

Stamina is required. Even if the audience is nonexistent at 4 a.m., the show will go on, promises Mr. MacDonald. “I’m going to try to be on stage for as many minutes as are humanly possible,” he said.

Participants are now scheduling themed hours so they have a rough plan to follow.

“Saturday morning, I think we’re going to be doing fairy tales for a couple of hours,” said Mr. Macdonald. The group is calling the section from midnight to 4 a.m. “the filthy and the dirty” and tailoring it to crowds coming in from local bars.

The Popalopalots suggest the best time to check out the action is on Jan. 30, from 2 to 4 p.m., when they plan to improvise a complete full-length 2-hour movie slash play, which they’re already promising will be “terrible.”

Predictions are that by the end of the 26 hours the actors will be fighting with one another and sobbing from exhaustion. Members of the brave crew include Rob MacDonald, his son Cameron MacDonald, Graham Putnam, Dylan Miller, Jordan Cameron, Ben Hartley, Kelly Caseley, and Alicia Arsenault.

‘Holding the Pose’ Opens at Confederation Centre’s Art Gallery

Portraits are often thought of as a fairly straightforward kind of art work. The goal is to produce a likeness of the subject, whether physical or psychological, mediated by the interpretation of the artist. But those portrayed are rarely passive actors in the exchange that takes place when a portrait is made. Through pose, attitude, costume, and other means of self-presentation, sitters always influence the end result.

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The active involvement of subjects in the creation of any portrait is the focus of Holding the Pose: Portraits From the Collection, a new exhibition presented by the Confederation Centre Art Galleryopening on January 27th.

Featuring works from the gallery’s permanent collection by artists from across Canada, the show demonstrates the complexity of the interaction between artist and sitter through a wide variety of portraits in various mediums. From P.E.I. painter Brian Burke’s evocative portraits of local literary figures Milton Acorn and Libby Oughton to the work of David Blackwood, Marion Wagschal, Edward Poitras, and others, the exhibition reflects the richness of the art of portraiture in Canada.

The Gallery’s collection also includes a significant quantity of works by one of Canada’s definitive portrait painters, Robert Harris, and the work of Harris will feature prominently in the exhibition.

“In the work of Robert Harris, we encounter an incredible richness and subtlety brought to bear on the craft of portraiture,” says Gallery Director Kevin Rice. “In the context of this exhibition, we have a great opportunity to see how the artist approached the vibrant subjects of his paintings, and how they played a role in the final result.”

Curated by the Gallery’s Pan Wendt, Holding the Pose will be on display from January 27 to November 27, 2016. The Gallery is open Wednesday to Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, 1-5 p.m.

For more information visit http://www.confederationcentre.com.