I left Gaspé on January 5th to return to St. John’s, Newfoundland for another semester of school. On the first day of the drive back, I was definitely feeling a little sad to leave the community and my quiet camp with its wood stove and gorgeous view of Gaspé Bay. But I was also looking forward to spending time with some of my friends and colleagues in St. John’s and being in an equally beautiful place with a bit more nightlife and restaurants/cafés for a few months and taking the time to think through the research I carried out during my time in Gaspé in 2015.
The two weeks before my departure were filled with community events and final visits. The community really comes together during the holidays in Gaspé and it was the first time as an adult I’ve felt what might be called the “Christmas spirit.” I recorded extensively during the holiday season and wanted to share with you some of the sounds I heard; there were lots of them but these are some of my favourites, organized by date.
December 24, 2015
3 pm: Crib Service, St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, York.
Ms. Karen Briand put together the choir for this special Christmas Eve nativity service in York. Members of the Anglican choir were joined by five children singers. I joined them on fiddle for a few pieces. The service saw the church nearly full and a dozen or so adults and children came dressed the part as the lay reader/narrator Gracie Annett told the story of the Nativity through scripture readings. This was the last song of the service and I feel it captures the sound and spirit of togetherness created through the service.
“Ding Dong Merrily On High” – Anglican choir members with guest children (Directed by Karen Briand with CD accompaniment)
“Dance of the Vagabonds” – Isabelle Normand (solo piano)
Isabelle Normand showed up at our rehearsal the night before and played this beautiful, haunting two-voiced piece on the piano during one of our breaks. Karen Briand asked if she would play it during the next day’s service. Isabelle is a preteen from Ville LaSalle in Montreal’s southwest although both sides of her family are from Gaspé. Her great grandfathers were Joe Howell and Damien Norman, both of whom were well-known local musicians. Isabelle impressed me with her musicianship and calm composure. She is currently studying jazz piano privately. The piece reminds me of the stillness of the dark nights in late December. Isabelle’s playing here strikes me as soulful and contemplative without being sentimental.
10 pm: Christmas Eve Mass, Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church, Douglastown
“See Amid the Winter’s Snow” – Saint Patrick’s Choir
Driving back along the icy roads from Gaspé to Douglastown following a small 9 pm Eucharist service in Gaspé, I was thoroughly exhausted and ready to call it a night. However, the unusual site of full parking lot of trucks and cars at the church in Douglastown compelled me to turn in. I knew I would see a lot of friendly faces together in one place, some for the last time before leaving for Newfoundland. I was a few minutes late and opened the door the soft light on a full congregation facing an elaborate nativity display near the altar. I was slow to setup my recorder but I managed to record a snippet of the choir singing this gem which I’d never heard before.
December 27, 2015
12 pm: Jam at Jeanie LeLacheur’s, Rosebridge
“Satin Sheets (Ray McAuley)” – Angie Levesque (vocals), Jeanie LeLacheur (vocals, guitar), Dale Baird (guitar), Glenn Patterson (fiddle)
I was invited to Jeanie LeLacheur’s place for a daytime jam along with Angie Levesque, Kim Simpson, and Dale Baird. It was nice to get to spend time with these new friends (whom I’d met at the end of November through the Cap-aux-Os hymn sing) with some music, chili, a warm fire, and some early afternoon beers on a snowy day. Both Jeanie and Angie are big fans of Ray McAuley and pulled out this song during our jam. I asked them if we could do the song over so that I could record it for Ray McAuley’s sister. I’m glad I did. Dale Baird and I are backing them up on second guitar and fiddle.
4 pm: York Hall potluck and jam, York
Dale Baird and I left Jeanie’s and headed over to York Hall for an afternoon party put on by Elaine Coull and her friends. Dale and I were soon joined by Debbie Sams (accordion) and Nash Stanley (vocals, guitar). It’s hard to get good sound when recording in community halls where there’s lots of room reverb from the floor and walls but all the same, Nash and Dale gave us these two fine renditions of songs about different places in the United States.
“Luckenbach, Texas (Waylon Jennings)” – Nash Stanley (vocals, guitar), Debbie Sams (accordion), Dale Baird (guitar), Glenn Patterson (fiddle)
“Saginaw, Michigan (Lefty Frizell)” – Dale Baird (vocals, guitar), Debbie Sams (accordion), Nash Stanley (guitar), Glenn Patterson (fiddle)
December 31, 2015
11 pm: Party at Waldon Gaul’s, Douglastown
“Clark Waltz” – Glenn Patterson (fiddle), Jack Gaul (guitar), Owen Gaummond (guitar)
“When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again” – Jack Gaul (vocals, guitar), Owen Gaummond (dobro), Glenn Patterson (fiddle), Norma McDonald (vocals)
I played two New Year’s Eve parties in Douglastown, one after midnight at Trachy Hall (where I didn’t record) and an earlier one at Waldon Gaul’s with his family and friends. The Gauls are some of my favourite people and I often play music with Waldon’s sister Norma McDonald and their brother Jack Gaul. The fiddle waltz comes from the Missouri tradition and is one that Jack Gaul really enjoys so I wanted to include this recording for him. “When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again” is a popular country song well-loved around Douglastown and here we can hear Jack’s great vocal and guitar stylings with Norma and others singing along. The fine dobro playing is from Jack’s friend and musical partner, Owen Gaummond. This one really captures the cozy, laid-back atmosphere at Waldon’s. It was a pleasure to ring in the New Year with these people.
January 2, 2016
10 pm: House Party at Carole Smith and Leonard Vezina Jr.’s, Douglastown
“Clyde Durst’s Tune” – Glenn Patterson (fiddle), Jack Gaul (mandolin), Leonard Jr. Vezina (guitar), Owen Gaummond (guitar)
I played four parties between December 31st and January 3rd and this is from the final one. I met Leonard Jr. Vezina and Carole Smith at the New Year’s party in Trachy Hall two nights earlier and they invited me to their place for a Saturday night get together and “lunch” with about 20 people in their basement concert hall complete with stage, sound system, and beer fridge. This selection is a short segment of us playing for a long square dance that Bryce Kennedy managed to rile up. This tune also comes from Missouri.
All of these sounds and memories keep me looking forward to seeing my friends in Gaspé this summer.
Here is all the music in playlist format:
Fonds: Glenn Patterson