October 24 to 27 the 5th International Ukulele Ceilidh (pronounced “caylee”) was held in Liverpool, Nova Scotia. Several members of DUH attended this year, and some with their pets and family members. Peter, Lisa, and Jenny all flew out to Halifax, while Cat drove out with Jeff and her family, and Mandy and Ian drove the week before on vacation with their tow-trailor. Mandy and Ian had taken their retriever along, and after the Ceilidh they took Jenny with them for the drive back to Ontario. Cat’s daughter’s Sam and Holly had a great time exploring White Point Beach Resort, where the workshops for the Ceilidh took place, enjoying the heated indoor pool, the games room and feeding the bunnies that populate the resort.
On both Friday and Saturday night concerts were held at the Astor Theatre in the town of Liverpool. Each concert showcased some of the professional ukulele players who taught the workshops and make their living as performers and recording artists. Following each concert, jam sessions were held back at the White Point Resort with James Hill, Ralph Shaw, Chalmers Doane and some of his family members, Lil’ Rev, and Ukulele Bartt. The MC of the entire Ceilidh was a great guy named Dan Scanlan (who made a brief appearance in the movie, the Mighty Uke). Dan also organized and lead the open mic sessions that were held each day from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Ukulele performers who have paid the Dover Uke Heads a visit for workshops and performances were also there: Manitoba Hal Brolund, and Ralph Shaw. *Mandy and Ralph got to sing a song together at one of the jam sessions held after the concerts.
Also this year, Peter has commented to us that he noticed that a lot more ukulele players from other Uke groups in Ontario were in attendance. For example, Norm and Elaine Ruplen were there to occupy tables in the vendors room, selling ukes and books, and a number of players from their group String Along attended. We also met a couple of very friendly folks from Germany and a lady named Kathleen from Toronto, who played a great version of Squeeze Box at Dan’s open mic.
The open mic sessions are different from the concerts. This is where any one who wants to play and sing a song for the group of people there can put their name on the list for Dan to announce, get called up to the mic and do their thing. You get to hear songs from all kinds of genres from Country to Rock to Instrumental. A young 10-year old boy attended from Halifax to meet his ukulele idol James Hill, and performed instrumental pieces on his uke (the Uke March and the theme song to Super Mario Brothers). He might be the next ukulele virtuoso sensation!
Another highlight of the weekend was the concert put on by the uke group, The University of Maine at Machias, in the pub at Lane’s Privateer Inn in the town of Liverpool on Saturday afternoon from 4 til 6 p.m. This is one of the most eclectic uke groups you will ever see perform. Leader Gene Nichol is a music professor at the University campus, and shares his great knowledge of musical lore in his workshops and performances. His group boasts a repertoire of 1400 tunes in a massive binder performed on all types and sizes of ukuleles, a bass guitar, standing bass, percussion/drums, electric uke and of course, Gene’s forte, the saw. This all takes place in the cozy pub of the historic Lane’s Privateer Inn, where we also enjoyed the East Coast fare of scallops, clam chowder and local wine and beer.
A Note from Cat: The weather that weekend was cool and sunny, but we all had a chance to enjoy the beach, trails and beautiful scenery at the White Point Beach Resort. The main lodge was rebuilt in 2012 and boasts state of the art facilities, including a 5-star dining hall. Everyone there was pleasant and accommodating, and I’m very much looking forward to attending the next Ceilidh in 2015. I took my next hubby Jeff, who took 1000 pictures on his digital camera and filled up the memory card! Jeff is so friendly and curious that he befriended many of the participants and the locals where ever we went. Due to his friend-making skills I got to know Dan Scanlon’s wife Joanne, and her best friend Peggy. We spent 2 hours out on the patio drinking some drafts and having “smoke break” with them (I do not smoke), and heard some wonderful stories about Dan, ukulele functions, the Ukulele Ceilidh organizers and lots of other stuff. Peggy is one of those East Coasters that people like me, from Ontario, call “salt of the earth.” She was who she was, and if you didn’t like her or what she had to say, to heck with ya! That, combined with a heart of gold made her my favorite person there, hands down. It is Peggy’s design that you see on the bags, t-shirts, sweat-shirts and the letterhead for the International Ukulele Ceilidh. That is her logo. Another credit to Jeff is the visit we paid to the town of Liverpool on Saturday afternoon. He took us strait to the Visitor’s Information Center and chatted up the lady behind the counter there (who hails from England) and found out that we could visit 2 light houses, Moose Harbour, and the famous Brooklyn Seaside Cemetary, within a 12 km loop from the town, and that the town museum was holding a “Spook Walk” that evening for youths brave enough to enter. Since we were travelling with 2 youths who could only take so much ukulele-ing, this was the perfect event for Sam and Holly. They loved it. And just so you know, they were the 6th and 7th people to enter, but the 1st two to make it out without bailing – it was that scary!!! My last comment on this year’s trip regards the length of time to drive there: I don’t recommend it unless you are willing to stop and see some parks and historical points of interest along the way. It is a long and sometimes boring 20 hour drive.
Enjoy the slide show!