This morning Cheryl Henry-Leggo (Executive Director of Vision Gaspé-Percé) and I headed down to the market put on by the Barachois and Area Development Committee outside the Rec Centre to share the recordings we have archived and information about our project and Vision’s other activities. There were about a dozen stalls featuring crafts, baked goods, preserves, and fresh vegetables.
For the market, I’d assembled a catalogue binder with all the performers in our archives and the recordings on which they are featured. When putting this together, it was nice to get a sense of the size of the archives: as of today, we have music from over 140 Gaspesian musicians and over 96 hours of music, mostly from home recordings that have been loaned to us.
The idea was to set up a mobile listening booth at the market, allowing people to flip through the catalogue to find performers they wanted to hear and then I would cue up some of their music and pass them the headphones. While I didn’t have any takers for spending a few minutes in “the booth,” I chatted with quite a few people about our archives, a project I’ve been running with Vision for over a year now. One gentleman had heard the music from Leo Fitzpatrick’s first 1958 tape in our last post and had gotten a kick out of hearing local characters from his youth and shared our post with his co-workers from Cape Breton. I also had a nice chat with a woman who had recently loaned me several tapes of Keith Chicoyne (Barachois West) that I look forward to incorporating into the archives as soon as I get some time to transfer them from cassette onto my computer – she was there selling treats and her knits.
We were also giving away free copies of a CD sampler I made last year for the people at the Barachois Wellness Centre held at the Legion. It features a mix of musicians from the Gaspé and Barachois areas and several genres. The highlight of my morning was when Sandy Vibert from the Development Committee asked if she could take one of these CDs over to her gang at the big RV hosting the coffee. I’d been playing music for our archives rather quietly over my laptop speakers but she had bigger plans for it. At the RV, they had a real stereo. And they weren’t shy about the volume either. Nor did they skip over any of the selections. In their own way, I felt this gang were quite literally, the loudest advocates for the work we are doing at Vision to preserve recordings of Gaspesian music. I was especially moved when Claude Rehel’s voice came over the speakers loud and clear to sing the song about Wilbert Coffin (we featured this recording back in February).
This sampler CD has been circulating a bit in the Barachois area the past year and given the vote of confidence it received this morning, I wanted to share it with our online readers today. There are many artists here, including many of the same performers featured on an earlier sampler I made for the Gaspé Wellness Centre and shared here a while back. However, I went out of my way when making this sampler to find more music from the Barachois area so that it would be that much closer to home. You’ll hear the following Barachois and area musicians:
- Claude Rehel (Barachois) singing the Milton McGregor (Barachois North) composition about the Wilbert Coffin story. Barachois.
- Bunny Mitchell (Barachois West) singing an original composition about the hardships facing the Barachois area in the 1960s.
- Hermas Réhel (Bridgeville) playing a snappy version of “Big John MacNeil” at a house party.
- Ira Syvret (Belle-Anse) playing a beautifully flowing version of “The Quintruplets'” (Le reel de cinqs jumelles).
- Roma Cunning-Doody (Haldimand but married to Bougainville’s Ralph Doody) singing the 19th century parlour ballad “If Brother Jack Were Here.”
- Kingsley “King” Marion (Bougainville) playing an expertly syncopated version of the fiddle standard, “The Woodchopper’s Breakdown.”
I’d love to do a short bio for all these performers but it would take me a long while to do them each the justice they deserve. If any of these musicians were family or friends, feel free to leave a comment and tell us a bit about them.