Home Routes brings music to the people

Carly Dow is next up as concert series shifts to online performances

Tyler Waugh

The people can’t come to the music, so the music is coming to them over the next little while.

COVID-19 has forced the cancellation of upcoming live performances, including the Home Routes presentation of Sherry Ryan on April 6 at Pine Valley Lodge.

But Home Routes is keeping the music alive by presenting the Season 13 concerts online, via Facebook live and YouTube, in place of the previously scheduled tours.

“Who would have ever thought of online concerts?” said Lois Carnell, Home Routes coordinator in Hinton.

“Home Routes will keep us posted of the upcoming shows and we will network this information to everyone. With support now these musicians will be around when this crisis is over.”

Having to cancel the balance of Season 13 left artists, hosts and patrons wondering what could be done to continue to support and entertain, so Home Routes decided to bring the artists digitally to patrons and to an even larger audience.

“To support artists and bring fresh entertainment to folks during this time was an obvious win/win, and doing live streaming concerts has been something we have been talking about for a while, so we decided that this was the perfect time to launch it,” says artistic director Tim Osmond.

The online shows kicked off March 21 with Rick Fines, followed by Casati on March 22, Sherry Ryan on March 23 and Sherman Downey on March 24.

Next up is Manitoba performer Carly Dow on March 26, James Gordon on March 27, Willi Carlisle on March 28, Ganspil on March 29, The Schotts on March 31 and Annie Avery of Two Piano Tornado and Sarah Hamilton on April 1.

Additional programming is being confirmed to continue these shows beyond the Apr 1 date, and will be announced as schedules are finalized.

Carnell said that the online concerts are an important way to support these artists.

“The touring musicians that I know have no other income. No RRSP’s to draw upon, No collateral for loans. Without support they are in dire straights. Touring musicians need our support more than ever right now,” Carnell said.

“However, realizing that most people are in the same situation of insecure incomes, they are asking only for what you can afford – $5, $10, what ever will be gratefully accepted.”

For financial support in these difficult times, our performers will be sharing a ‘tip jar” during their live concert, so viewers can “pay what they want.” By adding this virtual tip jar it will be easy for anyone to support.

All shows are at 7 pm Alberta time.

“So gather your family, your pizza, your storm chips and get ready to enjoy an evening of Canadian Folk music and stories, from our home, to yours,” said Osmond.

For more information about on how you can support or on any Home Routes performer, including live performance videos, please visit homeroutes.ca

Stream Season 13 Home Routes performers via this Spotify playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/1KDbku6iQFQ9bHiiK1lotS.

Home Routes has been pairing artists with rural and urban hosts in Canada for more than a decade, presenting more than 7,000 performances at nearly 1,500 locations before 207,000 fans to date, generating more than $4 million in artist revenue and royalties since beginning in 2007.

One-Act tripleheader for Play-A-Palooza

Sarah Burns Photo

Masha Scheele

Three one-act plays are up to win the audiences heart at this year’s Play-A-Palooza. 

After skipping the evening of one act plays last season, Break-A-Leg (BAL) Theatre is bringing back the competition.

Play-a-palooza is done primarily in conjunction with the Alberta Drama Festival Association (ADFA) One-Act Play Festival held in the spring.

The favourite play voted on by the audience will be considered for the regional competition. 

Don Engerdahl, BAL’s artistic director, is directing two of the adult one-act plays, and acting in both of them.

The Death of Me written by Norm Foster has a cast of four including Daniel Gagne, Ian Rosseel, Engerdahl, and Anna Cerovski, it follows John who bargains with the Angel of Death for a second chance at life.

Engerdahl’s second play is called Inflatable You with a cast of two including Gagne and Engerdahl.

The third play is called Awkward Silence and is directed by Chandra Moir, who acted in Waiting for the Parade earlier in the BAL season.

Awkward Silence has a cast of two including Risa Croken and Ian Rosseel. 

During the most recent Play-A-Palooza, a play called Crashing the Gate won and took home best acting and best director at the Regional Festival.

“We always kick butt at regionals, we’re a contender,” Engerdahl said.

This year’s regional festival is held in Devon on April 25.

“We usually fair well at regionals. It’s always fun for us to do the one act plays because a lot of times it gets new blood into our organization. One act plays are a lot easier to memorize because they’re shorter in length and it gives those people that want a taste of live performance what it actually takes to be involved in theatre production. It’s an opportunity to get their feet wet,” said Engerdahl.

This year, BAL has also invited a couple of high school monologues to be part of Play-A-Palooza in an effort to showcase some local youth on stage.

“It gives the youth an opportunity to showcase what they’ve been working on as well,” said Engerdahl.

The two monologues presented are from the Harry Collinge High School drama program, which could be part of their own regional youth competition.

“We’re always looking for outreach for those youth that may want to eventually get involved with the adult drama group,” Engerdahl added.

Play-A-Palooza was held on March 6 and 7 at the Performing Arts Theatre of Hinton (PATH).

Wild Mountain lands Lightfoot, closes in on headliner

Wild Mountain Festival 2019

Masha Scheele

With just 20 weeks left before the 13th Wild Mountain Music Festival is here again, the organizers are feeling optimistic about how the event is shaping up.

Still waiting to hear back from their potential headliner, festival president Layne Seabrook, did reveal that she’s an American rock/blues/country/folk artist. 

Terra Lightfoot is confirmed as a ‘sub-headliner’ this year along with a second sub-headliner in the works. Lightfoot was a fan favourite from 2019, said Seabrook.

Other confirmed acts include Edmonton-based Swear By The Moon, Misery Mountain Boys and Back Porch Swing.

After a successful festival last summer despite the rain, organizers were able to increase both their band budget and their marketing budget.

“Last year we were super conservative on everything because we didn’t know where we would be. Just to be fiscally responsible for everybody that’s investing in it,” said Seabrook.

The most important thing was to create a sustainable financial plan to ensure survival if another year of horrible weather happened, said Seabrook.

He added that they’re not quite there yet, and it will take another few years similar to last year to put some money away as a safety net.

Seabrook hopes to get around 30 per cent more turnout to the festival than they had last year.

“Looking at the last 12 years, numbers are between 2,000 and 2,500 people,” he said.

More sponsors have stepped up compared to last year’s 77 businesses, which is hugely beneficial for the event.

A new community initiative during this year’s festival is a youth media team that will be livestreaming and documenting the weekend.

Schools in Hinton have been approached for feedback on the team and three or four locals will be selected to be part of it.

On top of that, youth will again get the chance to play on stage throughout the day on Saturday of the festival.

“Last year for the first time ever we had local youth play on stage on the Saturday. We’re going to continue that, that’s kind of our community initiative,” Seabrook said.

Registration for this will be available on the website closer to the summer.

Registration for volunteers is already available on the website and they currently have around 50 signed up.

Each year the festival utilizes up to 250 volunteers, while last year they streamlined some jobs and brought it down to 220 volunteers, Seabrook explained.

Vendor applications are also being accepted online with a few already signed up. This year’s festival takes place July 17-20 and early bird tickets are available now at wildmtnmusic.ca.

Tickets will also be available for purchase April 1 at Cold Creek Boutique and The Old Grind.

Ryan McNally digs deeper in latest album, Listen Up

Masha Scheele

Ryan McNally, known for his acoustic blues, jazz, and old-time music, is now incorporating the calypso rhythm into his music.

His new album, Listen Up, will be officially released in April this year but McNally has already been promoting the tunes through many of his shows this past year.

When he stumbled upon some early calypso tunes he was surprised to hear lyrical content talking about colonialism or social justice issues.

“You’d be listening to the song and it sounds really happy and fun to dance to and groovy but its not until you’ve heard the song three or four different times where you actually start hearing the words and what the story might be in the song,” McNally said.

Discovering these songs inspired him to write a couple numbers that were easy to dance to but also made a statement on certain topics without being too controversial.

“You can dance but if you want to listen more to the lyrics there’s a bit more behind that too if you want to go deeper,” he stated.

He added that writing big bold lyrics wasn’t necessarily a goal for him, but he is happy to have discovered it by accident.

McNally was surrounded by old sounds and sights as he grew up, which he now realizes has influenced his musical style.

His mother was an antique dealer and he learned to appreciate the craftsmanship of all the wacky old items coming in and out of his childhood home. He inherited a vast collection of vinyl from his grandparents and discovered jazz and blues.

“At 10 years old, my room was full of vinyl and I could listen to them on five different record players that my mom was trying to sell in her antique shop,” he said.

His love of old timey tunes has only grown as he’s created a life out of it. More often than not, he’s found on the road to his next show.

Currently he won’t be back home in the Yukon until April when his album officially releases, before he heads off again in June for festival season. 

He commented that music has taken him to some crazy places he never thought he would find himself, from small towns to Chinese jazz festivals and more in the works. 

In early 2019, he performed solo in Hinton with the Home Routes tour. Most of the music he played then was from his 2018 album, Steppin’ Down South, which he wrote while on a three month trip to New Orleans.

“I just went on a tear in a short amount of time with writing. This [new] one I took more time. I was going down different paths with my musical interests,” he said.

His Listen Up album remains in the old time vein but jumps around between country blues, old time fiddle, and original calypso.

Recently he’s also enjoyed getting into the fiddle music community, playing at fiddle camps with friends.

“I really like the community set around fiddle music. It’s pretty inclusive and awesome,” he said.

McNally and the band, the MessaRounders, will be bringing a bit more energy to the stage this month in Hinton, compared to his solo performance in 2019.

Banjo, fiddle, acoustic guitar, tuba, baritone, saxophone, a marching band bass drum, and four combined voices all make for a big sound during their performance.

“If people want to dance they can do that. It’ll be more all over the place – trad jazz off the older album, calypso off the new album, country blues – different styles of music,” he said.

Ryan McNally & the MessaRounders perform on Feb. 15 at the Performing Arts Theatre of Hinton, starting at 7:30pm. For tickets, go to pathinton.ca.

Film sheds light on domestic violence, systemic oppression

Still photo from the film

Masha Scheele

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers thought often about the pregnant indigenous woman she found standing barefoot in the rain on a busy Vancouver street. 

Tailfeathers plays the character of Áila in the film The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, a role that mirrored her real life experience in Vancouver.

The barefoot woman, Rosie, who is played by Violet Nelson, escaped an assault by her boyfriend, and Áila chooses to bring Rosie into her home.

“One day it dawned on me that it could be a film and that could be my way of connecting with this woman. I don’t know if she’s seen it, I don’t know if she gave me her real name but it could be a means of getting closure in a sense, or being able to tangibly do something with the experience that propels it forward into some sort of positive light,” she said.

Tailfeathers, a member of the Kainai First Nation as well as Sámi from Norway, is co-writer, and co-director of the film in collaboration with Canadian screenwriter and director, Kathleen Hepburn.

Throughout their writing and production process, they stuck closely to the true story.

Hepburn added that they did create a few drafts that were drastically different but eventually came back to a place that was more true to the original experience. 

Over the course of the film, the two women deal with the after-effect of this traumatic event.

Áila comes to realize she’s ill-equipped to deal with the situation and that Rosie has a lot of strength on her own.

“I learned that it was so much more complicated than just leaving. It really opened my eyes as someone who hasn’t experienced interpartner violence and it’s something I didn’t witness growing up,” said Tailfeathers.

The film was created to honour their shared experience and shed light on the complicated issues surrounding domestic violence and structural systemic oppression.

Tailfeathers added that necessary services to help women like Rosie are deeply underfunded, underserved, and overwhelmed with need.

“Rosie is in this situation because she comes from generations of oppressive state policy designed to oppress and control indigenous communities and divide and fracture our families,” said Tailfeathers.

Tailfeathers explained that while the film ends on a heavy note, they wanted to honour the truth and also show that a solution to the issues touched on aren’t simple.

“Women can often try six or seven times before they’re able and willing to go,” she said.

Throughout filming, the most powerful part of the process for Hepburn was working in such an intimate space with the two women while exploring their characters.

In an effort to build capacity for young indigenous people in the film industry, 11 people worked on the film through a mentorship project.

“Working with young people and having them with us every step of the way grounded us and it was something very real and added meaning to the work,” said Tailfeathers.

Hepburn added that during the writing process they scripted with several women who went through the foster system, which was also an eye opening experience for them.

The film was originally released on Feb. 9, 2019 and can now be found on the Toronto International Film Festival’s (TIFF) Canada’s Top Ten list of 2019. 

The film has also won multiple awards including several at the Vancouver International Film Festival and an honourable mention for Best Canadian Feature Film at TIFF.

Tailfeathers said that every single screening they’ve attended somebody from the audience has come up to tell them they can relate to the story on a personal level, which has meant a lot to both her and Hepburn.

Hepburn is currently working on a hybrid teen coming of age/detective series, while Tailfeathers is editing a documentary shot over three years with a focus on community work done around the opioid crisis.

The Hinton Film Club, in collaboration with TIFF, will show The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open on Feb. 19. Go to the Hinton Film Club Facebook page for a link to the trailer and information on tickets.

Valentine’s concert features songs from the heart

File Photo
Alice Paquet will be one of the local artists featured at the YRAF 2020 Valentine’s Day concert at The PATH.

Masha Scheele

Jon Tomas and Emma Bauer may be new to the Yellowhead Regional Arts Festival (YRAF) organization, but they certainly aren’t new to the stage.

They both grew up singing and performing at open mic nights in their hometowns, which was right here in Hinton for Bauer.

The duo has also performed at the open mic nights at The Old Grind and sing in the Hinton choirs. Tomas and Bauer will be performing some unique songs for the Valentine’s Day concert hosted by YRAF on Feb. 14. 

“I’ve watched them perform throughout the community in the past and they’re really going to add a lot to the show,” said Jacqueline Delisle, executive director of YRAF.

Their repertoire includes a song by Scott Cook, who performed at the Wild Mountain Festival in 2018, an old Albertan song called I Heard the Bluebird Sing, and the old love song, Pretty Fair Maid Was in Her Garden by Mandolin Orange.

“I think they work well for our harmonies and our voices put together. They are simple tunes and we seem to enjoy singing older stuff rather than modern songs,” said Tomas.

The third annual event features more than 20 local artists, many returning and some new to YRAF. The list of artists filled up quickly for this concert and most performers were signed up while Delisle was still working on Journey Into Christmas, she explained.

While some artists don’t have Christmas songs, almost everyone has some type of love song in their repertoire, she added. 

“This is one [concert] where the artists can push the envelope and really push the boundaries. They can have songs that are a little grittier,” Delisle said.

Twenty-five songs will be featured throughout the evening with nine sets of acts. Deanna Henderson returns to the stage and will be teaming up with locals Kara Lazorek and Alice Paquet.

“They’re doing Don’t Leave Nobody But The Baby. It’s such an amazing song, it’s from O Brother Where Art Thou? They came together to create that piece for us and it’ll be nice to have them collaborate on a song like that,” said Delisle.

Delisle also witnessed a collaboration stemming from the first Valentine’s concert they hosted, between performer Spencer Richard, known as SERVNT, and Kara Lazorek. The two plan to release a song together later this year, added Delisle.

“Seeing those moments are really what makes it happen for us, it’s so special to see artists have a place to meet each other and find people that are like minded,” said Delisle.

Charmaine Stinson will perform La Vie En Rose, partly in French, just as Paquet did at last year’s event.

“We really cultivated this list because we had so much interest. There’s a lot of really diverse music,” added Delisle.

YRAF hosts four main events each year including the fundraisers Journey Into Christmas, and the Valentine’s Day Concert.

The Grand Concert is part of the festival and a new program will begin this summer to give artists a full understanding of hosting a show.

“The artists get to see the full expenses of what it takes to put on the show,” said Delisle.

This event is a way for YRAF to give back to the artists who receive any proceeds. The Valentine’s Day Concert takes place at the PATH from 7 pm to 9 pm and is an 18+ event.

A full bar will be available with funds going to ASH, as well as hand baked goods by YRAF board members. Doors open at 6:30 pm with prelude music by Stacy Renard.

Hinton choirs to shake things up with Curtain Call

Masha Scheele

Spirit of the Rockies women’s choir and the Foothills Male Chorus are switching things up with their third annual combined concert this January.

Curtain Call, a Broadway concert, will not only include different Broadway songs but will also have choreographed and costumed numbers.

Choir director Christina Oliver really wanted to step out of the choir’s comfort zone with this performance.

A choreographer helped teach specific moves, but each member has to make adjustments that work for them, said Oliver.

“There’s not choreography in every song, but we made sure to really put emphasis on the songs that need it,” said Oliver.

A few years ago, when Oliver suggested combining the two choirs in one concert to showcase their talent, she already had the idea for a Broadway Disney concert.

“We thought let’s put our heads together and this way they share the load. Half the choir takes some songs and the other half takes some, and we also sprinkle in some small group stuff and solos and duets. Just to give more variety,” she said.

She decided to wait until the Performing Arts Theatre in Hinton (PATH) was up and running before presenting the idea of a Broadway concert with dancing, a little bit of acting, and a few costumes. 

“We’re not going all out like a Broadway show, but we want to add these accents, whether it’s choreography or acting or lines here and there, just to do something a little bit different,” she said.

Curtain Call will use the lights in the PATH to their full potential, and there will be no risers on stage for the chorus to stand on.

“This concert is going to shock a lot of audience members in the sense that we’ve really stepped outside of what our cookie cutter has been throughout the years,” said Oliver.

Oliver dug through some entertaining arrangements that could work for the choirs, and that might just tug at a few heartstrings. 

Some of the men haven’t been too keen on dancing, but have had quite a few choreography sessions with Melissa Pattison, who’s active in Hinton’s performing arts scene.

“They were very very hesitant at first but they’re laughing and getting into it and it’s going to be a great show,” said Oliver.

Oliver already promised the men’s choir they won’t have to dance at the spring concert after they mentioned meeting their dancing quota for a couple of years. The ladies have also worked on their choreography, especially one big number which will have everyone on stage dancing and singing. Oliver was impressed with the ideas that have come forward.

“Everybody literally between both choirs has had an idea or input into this concert,” she said.

Instead of their usual one night concert, they’ve also extended the show to two nights. With the amount of work they’ve put in, Oliver feels it’s worth doing it twice. The concert has attracted a decent audience in past years and Oliver hopes this doesn’t split their audience in half.

“It’s kind of a family show, there’s one song that’s a little bit more risque but I promise to follow it right up with some fun and bouncy and bubbly Disney. There literally is something for everybody in this whole show.”

Without giving away specific numbers, there will be songs from musicals including 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Cats, Guys and Dolls, Jersey Boys, The Wizard of Oz, Oliver!, Oklahoma!, Wicked, and Bye Bye Birdie. 

“I’m so proud of all members of the choirs because I presented an idea, and there was a little bit of hesitance but you can see now they’re really having fun and enjoying it,” said Oliver.

Oliver has been with the Foothills male chorus since 2011, finishing her eighth season with them this year.

She joined the women’s choir in 2008 as a member, a year after she moved to Hinton. As a trained vocal coach, she was asked to do a few workshops, help out with warm ups, and directing before taking over as director of the women’s choir in 2013.

The concerts are on Jan. 25 and Jan. 26 at 7 pm at the PATH. Tickets are available at The Wild Orchid and the Library, with youth rates available.

T. Buckley bringing new tunes to Hinton

Masha Scheele

Tim Buckley is bringing a slightly new sound to Hinton since his last performance in 2014.

“This time I’m coming out with the big band, which I’m pumped about. There will be six of us on stage, a completely new cast of characters that I’ve been playing with for the past year and a half since my latest record came out,” said Buckley.

They’ll bring the energy of rock alongside stripped down songwriter tunes for a diverse and engaging show, he said.

After releasing his latest record, Miles We Put Behind, Buckley has been busy performing across Western Canada, breaking into the international music market, raising a family, working part time, and still continuing to write music.

While talking to the Voice, he was headed down to Waterton National Park for a few days with his sister and fellow musician, Mariel Buckley, where they planned to put their heads together to write some new hits.

“You kind of get stuck in your way of songwriting or your approach to writing. I think it can be refreshing to have someone you trust with you to bounce things off of and collaborate and try different stuff,” he said.

On the heels of his latest release, Buckley hopes to be recording new material in the spring and releasing a new album in the fall.

“It’s a busy time right now, we have two little kids. Between juggling that, and making music and working part time, there’s a lot of balls in the air but it’s busy in the best way. It’s a lot of fun, and I’m still able to put a lot of time and energy into music, which is really what I love to do,” he said.

After years of creating music with the Calgary group The T. Buckley Trio and performing throughout the Calgary roots and country music scenes, he broke away with Miles We Put Behind.

“I was exclusively doing stuff as the trio with Tim (Leacock) and Derek (Pulliam) and sort of decided to try and go out on my own a bit more,” he said.

The record grew out of his singer-songwriter residency experience at the Banff Centre for the Arts.

“Banff was really sort of the catalyst for the last couple of years and doing the album the way I did,” he said.

He worked with a producer on some demo recording sessions and collaborated with faculties from Nashville, Tennessee and Austin, Texas who helped develop his craft as a songwriter.

“It was a bit of an awakening, I’d been doing things for a certain way for a long time,” he said.

The opportunity influenced his decisions for his latest record as he followed Grammy nominated producer, Howard Bilerman, to Montreal to record the album.

“He’s produced many folks, but he was with Arcade Fire and produced the Funeral record. It was a bit of a switch to kind of go from traditional rootsy stuff I was doing to working with this guy who came from more of an indie background,” said Buckley.

Buckley remembered one particular song written acoustically, which Bilerman decided to throw a drum machine loop on, he then added organ, and some steel and removed guitar.

“I was kind of like I don’t know how that’s going to work but I trusted him and it worked out great. It busted me open to some new directions I could go with what I was doing musically,” he said.

Buckley still tries to get back to the Banff centre as much as he can and describes it as an amazing place to work and focus on his craft. 

“They create an environment with no distractions. You’re given a space to write in, access to a number of peers and talented faculty to bounce things off of,” he said.

With a young family, carving out hours to focus on material can be tough, but Banff gave him that space and time to create Miles We Put Behind.

Hear songs from his latest album at the The Performing Arts Theatre of Hinton (PATH) on Saturday, Jan. 18, doors open at 6:30 pm.

Tickets are available at The Hinton Voice, The Wild Orchid and Hinton Municipal Library.  

For more information about T. Buckley, visit his website at tbuckley.ca.

Hinton performer returns to where it all started

Masha Scheele

Back to where it all started, Mark Guebert performs at The Old Grind in front of his hometown crowd on Dec. 27.

His music is now better known under the stage name Mark Shepard, and since his days in Hinton he has put together his own band, called Shepard, in Victoria, B.C.

As a Harry Collinge High School (HCHS) student, around five years ago, he played a few open mic nights at the Grind and was part of the schools’ rock and pop program. 

Lead by band teacher Jayden Madsen, he formed a school band through this program and practiced twice a week before their big Alberta tour at the end of the year. 

“That gave us the tour experience and [it] promoted the program to other schools,” said Shepard.

He then moved to Victoria to study computer science and music as a combined degree, while at the same time playing shows with his band, Shepard.

“Jayden [Madsen] also went to [University of Victoria] so when I went to Victoria he was telling me about all the spots to go,” he said.

His studies focus on the digital music industry that have created the technology for Spotify, Bandcamp, Shazam, and so on.

While he and one other band member were both studying, they also played gigs almost every weekend over the past two years, he said.

To make their schedules more manageable, they’ve planned to play fewer but bigger shows.

“For our big release show in September, we had an intro track that we came out to and our set was mapped out to a tee. We were given a strict time limit at the bar we were playing and they will cut you off if you go over. We rehearsed it and made sure all the transitions were down,” said Shepard.

His band released their EP called Once When I Was Young in September with four songs.

He added that he’ll likely perform all but one of those songs at the Old Grind, as one is hard to perform acoustically. Hinton can expect to hear a couple of sad songs, a couple of happy songs, but also a couple of songs about Hinton and Victoria.

His main music influence is Dallas Green from City and Colour and Alexis on Fire, he said.

“Both vocally as in technique and lyrically, he’s a massive inspiration. A lot of my first songs were very similar to his music because I didn’t have a ton of other influences at that time,” he said.

Other influences are Dan Mangan and Max Kerman, the frontman of the Arkells.

Currently, Shepard is looking for a new bassist, which has slowed them down a bit but was also one of the reasons why Shepard booked his solo tour.

“The local crowd has seen me play at the open mics but they haven’t really seen me play since I’ve taken music a little bit more seriously. I think I’ll be able to show a lot of people that I’ve been working really hard on this for the last five years,” he said.

Since being back in Hinton he also performed at the HCHS christmas concert together with Jayden Madsen and brother, Jared Madsen, who is also a teacher at HCHS.

“It’ll be cool to talk to the kids that are in the program right now and say this is a great program and this is what I’m doing with it. This is what I did with the experience I got,” said Shepard before his performance.

“There’s a lot of really talented young kids in high school, it’s really cool to see.”

When asked where the stage name Shepard came from, he explained that it was actually given to him by his older brother. Before he was born, his parents asked his brothers what middle name their new brother should have, and they liked Shepard. Despite his parents choosing another name, Shepard is now a big part of his identity and eventually became his band name.

He even re-released his 2015 EP under the stage name, including new artwork featuring the name. Mark Shepard sounded too much like a solo musician, which is why they shortened it for the band.

“We didn’t want to be labelled as a solo artist. We talked about Shepard Collective or Shepard and the blank… We knew Shepard was going to be a part of it, and we ended up just settling for Shepard as it is, it’s simple and to the point and it works nicely on a poster,” he said.

Mark Shepard performs at the Old Grind on Dec. 27, following special guest and fellow local musician Sydney Waddell.

Doors open at 7 pm, and tickets are available at the door or a link through their Facebook page, Shepard Music.

Maggie gets married in January

Steven McHugh as Tom Duncan and Leanne Weik as Cass Duncan, parents of the Duncan family rehearse for the dinner theatre.
Submitted Photo

Masha Scheele

Step into the kitchen of the Duncan family home and their compelling family dynamic during Hinton’s Break-A-Leg (BAL) dinner theatre show in January. 

During the comedy show called Maggie’s Getting Married, the family is just returning from the youngest daughters’ wedding rehearsal.

The story primarily features Maggie and her older sister Wanda but there are glimpses into the lives of their parents, as well as those of Maggie’s fiancé and Wanda’s boyfriend. 

“The comedy aspect comes primarily from the storyline which is that Wanda is home from out west, the story takes place in Toronto and Wanda has left the house and is living in Calgary, she discovers that she may already know Maggie’s fiancé,” said the director of the play, Melissa Pattinson.

This is Pattinson’s fourth time directing a play in Hinton, and her first one written by Norm Foster. 

“I love Norm Foster plays in general. The first play I ever acted in, in Hinton, was a Norm Foster play. He kind of has a special place in my heart,” said Pattinson.

Pattinson worked in stage management for BAL when director Steven Mchugh asked her to read opposite actors during auditions for the Norm Foster play called The Melville Boys.

After the auditions, he asked Pattinson which sister she would like to play, and that became her first acting role.

She followed up that play by acting in Drinking Alone by Norm Foster, also directed by McHugh, which lead her to her own directorial debut of a one-act called Driver’s Test. Her first full feature directing gig was Motherhood Out Loud in March of 2018, and her last was the kids production of Christmas Tree in December of 2018.

Driver’s Test won the BAL playapalooza, where audiences voted for best one act plays, and she continued on to the regional competition. 

Maggie’s Getting Married being a dinner theatre performance has posed some completely new challenges for Pattinson.

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Terri McHugh as Maggie Duncan and Miranda Wulf as Maggie’s older sister Wanda Duncan working on their comedic timing for the dinner theatre comedy show.

Most of the audience is sitting lower than the stage and the actors, and staging each character to avoid interfering with their viewing experience can be tricky.

“Making sure actors aren’t’ constantly standing behind things. We have to keep all of that in mind,” said Pattinson.

Not only do they have to keep this in mind, but they also haven’t been able to rehearse on the stage where they will be performing. Every space they’ve rehearsed in is different, as are the dimensions of the stage.

Despite these challenges, the actors have done well and are now working on their comedic timing, said Pattinson.

“Because it’s a comedy, timing is a big aspect of it. So learning the lines early to work on timing and blocking [is] important,” she added.

“They’re all facing the challenge head on and doing great things with it, so I expect great things.”

A few of the actors have been part of a dinner theatre before, but one of the actors is brand new to the stage.

“This cast has quite a range, one actor, it’s his acting debut. Then there’s a couple of actors who have done this for years and years. So we have the old pros and the brand new,” said Pattinson.

The dinner shows will run each night from Jan. 9 to 11 with doors opening at 6 pm at the Performing Arts Theatre in Hinton (PATH).

To make the performance more affordable and accessible, the final performance is a matinee show without the dinner portion, and doors open at 1:15 pm. 

“I think it’s a great thing BAL is doing to make this more accessible. Sometimes the dinner theatre costs are a little too much for families especially right around the holidays. Hopefully this will get some additional people out to enjoy the show,” said Pattinson.