I’m always looking for new things to do around Cape Breton. Sometimes I just get in the car and go searching on my own, sometimes I hear about things going on via word of mouth or sometimes I search the internet to find out what is going on. At this point in my life, as long as it does not involve drinking until I pass out or frequenting bars, it’s something worth looking into. I’m well passed that stage in my life and now prefer low-key evenings strolling the beach, hiking a new trail, or taking in some live acoustic music. Just last week, as I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, a post about a live music event coming up in Little Narrows caught my attention.
I clicked on the link about an event called “The Songbird Series”. Music lovers were being invited to attend a live event featuring Prince Edward Island singer-songwriter, Catherine MacLellan accompanied by Chris Gauthier. Live music and a long drive and an evening spent in the country for $15.00? Sounded like my kind of night! I purchased a ticket immediately.
You may or may not have heard of Catherine MacLellan but you most likely have heard of her father. Catherine in the daughter of legendary Canadian singer-songwriter Gene MacLellan who wrote and performed the iconic song “Snowbird”. Catherine released her first solo album in 2004 and has since released several more. During that time, she won a number of industry awards including Female Solo Recording of the Year, Folk Recording of the Year and SOCAN Songwriter of the Year.
Although the concert didn’t start until 7PM that evening and it was only an hour-and-a-half drive, I left at 4PM. Not because I am anal and afraid I will get tied up in traffic and be late and not because I thought I might get lost (I know Cape Breton Island like the back of my hand despite a recent episode that saw me hopelessly lost in the Mabou Highlands) but because I like to turn one event into an entire evening’s excursion. In other words, I grabbed a coffee for the road and took the longest possible route to the concert and took my time enjoying the leisurely drive through Bras d’Or. Little Narrows is an interesting little place and confusing too believe it or not! A ferry crossing splits the little community in two and I thought the Little Narrow’s Community Center was located on the Trans Canada 105 side of the ferry. I was wrong. After driving up and down the little strip between the turn off from the highway and the ferry looking for the hall, I finally asked a man who was parked in his truck waiting for the ferry where it was located. Sure enough, it was on the other side. Good thing I had the exact amount of change needed to board.
I was a couple of minutes late and the concert had just started when I entered the little community hall and I was very happy to see that it was a full house. I love it when Cape Bretoners come out to support events like this. I took a seat at the back and was instantly pleased with what I was hearing. Over the next two hours, Catherine wowed that sold-out crowd with a diverse set that included soulful tunes of real life events and upbeat rhythm and bluesy tracks. A ten-minute intermission brought me outdoors for some fresh air where I spoke with a woman who was quite surprised that I had made such a long trip by myself to see the show. I get this all the time. Not many young woman like to drive alone in the country by themselves but it’s something I do all the time without giving it a second thought!
With some interesting and sometimes sad, sometimes funny stories of her youth and personal life thrown in the mix, Catherine put on quite a show that closed only after she flawlessly performed her father’s famous song to a standing ovation and encore. The event went so well that the community center is thinking of hosting some more similar events in the new year. I will definitely be watching for that announcement!
I had no choice but to take a different route home than I had taken to get there because I used up all my change on the ferry crossing and could not cross back. I didn’t really pay attention to my gas gauge and was a little nervous that I might not have enough fuel to reach North Sydney and there were no stations along the way. I drove through Iona, Grand Narrows, Boisdale and other sleepy communities until I reached the highway 125 in North Sydney and promptly filled up. Another night on The Cape and Another successful Cape Breton music event. I think I’ll start attending more of these!