One thing which is never heard here in the Flin Flon area is the complaint that there is nothing to do. January is no different. There are Bomber hockey games, Nordic skiing, snowmobile riding on beautiful trails and of course, fishing - of the ice variety, but profitable nonetheless. Do the kids still practice snowboarding jumps at Waly Heights? That was a big deal 10 years ago.
The arts and cultural community is not hibernating either.
We have already seen Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre’s amazing production of “The New Canadian Curling Club” by Mark Crawford and a Living Room Live classical show. We will have Doc Walker in concert (Jan. 24, tickets $35 at Northern Rainbow’s End), a Loaded Mic night featuring Lane Laderoute, Courtney Lycan and Chris Lengyel, Syd Tippett, Emily Sparkling, Imrieanna Jones and Ishakapella with host Trevor Gordon Sytnick (Jan. 25, tickets $20 at Orange Toad) and an Arts Council cabaret with the Saskatoon Celtic band The Residuals (Feb. 1, tickets $30 at Northern Rainbow’s End) to round out the month of performances.
We were also treated to an opening at NorVA Centre of “Driving Around”, a glorious show of new works by area painter Catherine Joa. The show is astonishing in its beauty and is must-see for local patrons (NorVA Centre Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., free admission).
With all of this happening, it was challenging to sort out what to feature in this column. We have chosen to talk about Rugged Little Thing, a bluegrass-old-timey musical duo from rural Saskatchewan via Saskatoon coming to Flin Flon through Home Routes/Chemin Chez Nous. Regular readers of this column will know that Home Routes offers six house concerts per year of folk-roots music in small towns right across the country. They might also recall that Flin Flon, Man. is the only one of those small towns to offer two nights of concerts, because our audiences were too large for “one night and one night only”. We worked hard to achieve that kind of stellar reputation and though we still have better than the national average audience numbers, we can now easily fit them into one night. Next year, we may go back to just one performance from each of the six artists, though they are not yet chosen.
But back to Rugged Little Thing. They are Jille and Ryan Shotton, a now married couple who met at the Northern Lights Bluegrass Festival at Ness Creek, Sask. in 2014 and became a couple after Jille proposed to Ryan on stage. They have released two albums, Black-eyed Suzie in 2015 andFare Thee Well in 2018 (we think it will be available in Flin Flon when they play here) and now make Saskatoon their home base while touring across Canada. When they are home, Jille hosts a bluegrass brunch every Sunday around Saskatoon.
One reviewer, Eleni Armenakis, said, “...they blend together a perfect cocktail of bluegrass, old-time and folk music...pulling from Canada’s own legacy of campfires and kitchen parties...a fine mixed drink.”
This will be a really fine show, but it will happen on a really busy weekend. The shows are Friday, Jan. 31 at 183 Murton Blvd. (email firstname.lastname@example.org for seats) and Sunday, Feb. 2 (we know, it’s Super Bowl Sunday) at 19 Hemlock Drive (email email@example.com).
Doors open at 7 p.m. and music starts at 7:30 p.m. at both venues. Guests can bring treats and drinks if they wish. The cost is still only $20 and the door all goes to the musicians.