It’s amazing to begin this column with the realization that in the midst of COVID-19 distress and unrest around the world, we can say Flin Flon and area performers are again performing, the Trout Festival committee is planning a parade and a fishing derby and another public visual art exhibition is about to happen. Incredible.
Please don’t misunderstand - we know we are only just in phase two of reopening in Manitoba and we feel very strongly that all public health restrictions must continue to be followed (in fact, we would proceed much more slowly than the provincial government seems comfortable with lest the second wave comes sooner than anticipated), but we have much to celebrate in Flin Flon, Creighton and Denare Beach.
Mark Kolt is the primary mover and shaker (not literally) behind the Blueberry Jam COVID-19 Resistance Playlist on YouTube. You just need to enter the title in your search bar to find it. He is the musical director and main accompanist on the recordings though there are other instruments that can be heard in the later recordings. The latest offering by press time was the incomparable Kim Jones singing "Unstoppable", a song originally released by Sia. It sounds as if it follows the format set by Angela Ishaka with Jones providing all of the backup vocals as well. It is beautiful and Jones gives a master class in vocal technique.
Ishaka was the first entry in the playlist, performing all of the voices in a gorgeous rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". It must be heard to be appreciated with such technically difficult harmonies weaving in and out of the melody. She is such a talent. Then, there was a song from veteran performer CC Trubiak who put his own inimitable spin on a fantastic Elton John tune, "Border Song". This is an old song given fresh new life by our very own troubadour and he is remarkable.
Next up was a song from a relative newcomer to the music scene though a long-time resident of Flin Flon, Jillian Longmore. She sings a stellar version of Norah Jones’ “Come Away With Me”. She has a very sweet voice and was just beginning to hone her performing chops when we went into lockdown. We look forward to much more. Then we were treated to a Lennon and McCartney plum, "Yesterday", performed by the astonishing Courtney Lycan. It is such a well-known song and needs nothing more than the honesty and heart Lycan brought.
The final entry to talk about (in this column) is the Quarantine Quartet playing Vivaldi. That’s correct - Vivaldi! Mark Kolt and Marcel Hapel (guest performer) on violins, Emily Sparling playing viola and Crystal Kolt on cello, with three of the four instruments made by local luthier Alastair Callegari, play a segment of "The Seasons". All of these fine musicians playing lovely instruments with loving hands is phenomenal. Bravo to all involved. We will be waiting for the next installments.
Local artists Karen Clark and Noelle Drimmie have received many submissions for Quarantine Gallery North and are now in the process of readying the show for exhibition in The Reminder and on Main Street (and other selected spots), hopefully in conjunction with the Trout Festival Canada Day parade. If the posters arrive in time, our little Main Street will look glorious July 1, decked out with parade floats, art symbolizing COVID-19 lockdown, Drag Queen Mermaid Bijou" and a great big fish! What a town we live in.