The past weekend was a busy and festive time around Gaspé and seemed to mark an unofficial start of the holiday season with a full-schedule of Christmas parties and community events. On Saturday, there was a dinner at the Mason’s Lodge, a nighttime concert by Nash Stanley at the Legion, and a carol singing in Cap-aux-Os. Sunday saw the Gaspé Cancer Society’s annual Christmas Tea while Télé-Gaspé held a telethon all day at the Polyvalent featuring many local musicians, including The Mussels (les Moules Marinières) who raced over to perform after their set at the Cancer Society’s Christmas tea.
Today, I would like to share two sounds I recorded this weekend.
The first is from the carol-sing which took place at the United Church in Cap-Aux-Os on the Forillon side of the bay on Saturday night. The setting was perfect. We wound our way around the peninsula in darkness, gentle snow flurries sweeping the road before arriving to our first glimpse of the church, radiating the soft glow of oil light through its windows. The church is built on a gentle embankment opposite a horse stable and a dozen cars were parked in the snowy grass outside. I felt the the warmth of the hard-working wood stove as the doors opened. A friend there told me that the church had been transported board-by-board from Jersey Cove on the other side of the peninsula many years ago. I was invited by a group of local musicians including Linda Drody, Jeanie LeLacheur, Angie Levesque, and Dale, Shirley, and Melvina Baird. For the next hour we led the music for a short hymn service with hot chocolate and treats before taking requests from the congregation. Here is everyone singing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” definitely my favourite hymn—I have a soft spot for the more melancholic ones I guess.
Then next day, the Gaspé Cancer Society held its annual Christmas Tea at the Legion in Gaspé. They are a wonderful volunteer organization who have been raising money to help pay the transportation costs for those who need to leave the Gaspé region to receive cancer treatments since 2003. It was a packed room with lots of talent to go around. Debbie Sams, Don Barclay, and I backed up Nash Stanley, a high school student at the Polyvalent, on a rousing rendition of a country Christmas classic which was popularized by Bill Monroe in the 1950s but goes way back into the American folk tradition. I should have some more music from Nash Stanley here in the coming weeks.