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Pemberton launches arts series this weekend

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Behrens brings A Fine and Pleasant Misery to St. David’s

I retired from the Arts Council this year after eight years of booking the performance series. Although the children are older, I find just as much time is required around the family and, with my volunteer activities, I just didn't have enough of me to "go around."

During this year's negotiations, however, one or two opportunities arose to present performers in Pemberton as well as Whistler. This gives the performer another date and Pemberton a new opportunity.

Last year we offered a house concert with folk singer Lowry Olafson, which was very successful, and consequently invited the bass baritone, Henri Loiselle to perform at St. David's Church. This evening was most enjoyable and very well attended.

When, therefore, the opportunity to present in Pemberton arose, the Church most generously offered the space and, as we have no "presenting body" here in Pemberton, the performers agreed to come for a split of the door.

This is in one way excellent, but in another, alarming. The performers are all of an extremely high calibre and it is really important that we have a full house to be able to pay them a satisfactory fee. There are only 125 seats, but I am in a high state of anxiety that we fill them.

Pemberton Valley Vineyard and Inn are most kindly providing the accommodation while the performers are in Pemberton and several volunteers are rallying around with suppers for the artists. Whistler Players are lending their lights for the first performance, but future performers are booked on the "there-is-nothing-there – no sound, no lights – can-you-handle-that?" basis.

Two of the presentations before Christmas are also appearing in Whistler, but I do not anticipate this being the norm. I am looking to keep up a few contacts with old friends in the agencies and if they have performers in the area who could use an extra night as a "filler" on our limited terms(!), and I think they are someone that the Pemberton audience would enjoy, we will see if we can come to a mutually satisfactory arrangement.

The first will be A Fine and Pleasant Misery by well known outdoorsman and author Pat McManus. This is the first in a series of plays – the McManus Comedies – performed by veteran actor extraordinaire, Tim Behrens. He is in Whistler Oct. 26, at Millennium Place, and in Pemberton Oct. 27.

The pieces could have been tailor made for Behren and... for our locale. The series of characters he brings to life will remind us all of some of the folks we have met "along the way." His stories of growing up in the backwoods will also strike a chord with those of us who live in the mountains and valleys with their amusing, but potentially dangerous, past-times for children. His stories are hilarious and have a grinding inevitability which grip you until their final, disastrous, moments.

SwingSoniq is a trio from Winnipeg who play contemporary swing-jazz. Greg Leskiw's (formerly of the Guess Who) gritty voice reminds me of the bourbonish Louisiana, zydeco sound, but their style is quite different. Joined by Greg Lowe on lead guitar and Daniel Koulack on the upright bass they celebrate the sounds of the ’30s and ’40s along with their own compositions. SwingSoniq draws their inspiration from the Hot Club of France and gypsy guitar players with a vibrant and charming result. Their at St. David’s Sunday, Nov. 18.

The Juggernaut Jug Band... where to be begin? There is almost too much to say about this crazy bunch. Well, they really are a jug band and they come from Kentucky. They sport crazy names – the Amazing Mr. Fish, Big Daddy, World Wide Webb and Roscoe Goose – they play crazy instruments – the running nose flute, the walking and washtub bass, mandolin, banjo, fiddle, didly'bo, washboard, trumpet, cans, blues harp etc. Remember Lydia the Tattooed Lady and Minnie the Mooch – classics that everyone should know? I'd never heard anyone but Groucho Marx singing the former, although Minnie the Mooch appears on the occasional jazz album, and was thrilled to find a group who still knew songs from that era. Great fun for the family for a bit of a hair let down before Christmas. In Pemberton on Dec. 8 and Whistler Dec. 9 at Millennium Place.

Should you bring the children? Well the last one is more of a family occasion, although I wouldn't recommend them for the very young. If you have children who really enjoy music that would be fine for SwingSoniq, but it is not aimed specifically at a younger age group. The same applies to the play. If you have children who listen to more sophisticated comedy, like reading and stories and are over 8 or 9 this may appeal to them.

Will this affect the Whistler Arts Council? I don't think so. A small core of die hard culturevultures used to trip down from Pemberton to Whistler and I am sure they will continue to do so for the rest of the arts council's very exciting winter season.

I will be trying to arrange performances that are complementary to Whistler rather than the self same piece, but, I imagine, every now and again we may run into the same performer, but the intent is to complement. As some Whistler friends said to me the other day, "We love to go to the arts council performances. We always see people we haven't seen for ages and it is as much a fun social event as it is a good performance."

We will hope to see a few Whistler bodies up here for the odd performance too – we are only 25 minutes away from each other so this could be a new and beautiful partnership.

Tickets are $10 and available from the Pemberton Trading Co. and the Pemberton Public Library. Call Tamsin Miller at 604-894-5189 for more information.

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