THE NEWS FROM BRUNER’S BROOD
TUESDAY, AUGUST 22, 2023
THE CANADIAN GRAND MASTERS SENDOFF TWO
FROM CANWOOD, SASKATCHEWAN:
MORE MEMORIES AND COMMUNITY TIES
August 2023 has once again turned into Canadian fiddle mode after returning to Canada August 17th and arriving in Saskatchewan August 18th. The first part of this trip was again for a short family visit and to play for a fiddle show and dance in the Canwood Elks Community Centre Monday, August 21st. This served as a warmup for Saskatchewan participants attending the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Competition in Truro, Nova Scotia later that week. This article is released for my Facebook pages and www.trentbruner.com.
Since last year at this time, the themes of the Canwood evening were the same again: Bring a local community together, bring together a musical community of musicians and fans, and share traditional music in rural Saskatchewan for a live audience. Thanks to the help of the Canwood Public Library Board under chairperson Bev Wyatt, Austin Castle (Swift Current) and Booker Blakely (Saskatoon) arrived in Canwood for a fiddle show and family dance to prepare for the 33rd ever Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Competition in Truro, Nova Scotia. Waiting for them were youth fiddlers Becky Wilson and Elisha Johnson of Canwood, while Lucas Welsh of Meadow Lake came with guitar and fiddle in hand to contribute to the evening. Yours Truly accompanied on piano, called two square dances and was the evening’s Master of Ceremonies.
Approximately 200 people of all ages were in attendance from the Canwood area as well as Debden, Big River, Shellbrook, Parkside, Blaine Lake, Spiritwood, Leoville, Prince Albert, Saskatoon and Raymore for a two hour show that was well received. A canteen with snacks was in operation for those who wanted to buy food and drink. Door prizes for the event were contributed by local artists and other businesses in the Canwood area region.
For Lucas Welsh and me, it was another trip down Memory Lane. While taking a break from guitar, Lucas played a set of his own original fiddle tunes to honour the times he was a contestant on the Saskatchewan fiddle contest circuit. For me, I again found the old dress shirt that my late father, Howard Bruner, wore each year when the fiddle contest happened at home. That shirt was the same colour as the Parkland Fiddlers shirts, but with a piano embroidered on the left side. I was again able to share my father’s memory for all to see last night.
Booker was warmly welcomed by the rookie square dancers while they were learning their “allemande lefts” and “right hand to your partner”. When Austin competes in Truro this weekend, he is again part of the 30 fiddlers from Saskatchewan who have competed in the Canadian Grand Masters since its beginnings in 1990. Booker and Austin coordinated their tunes with Becky and Elisha before show time for the finale and helped them to play along for the dance afterwards.
For 16 year old Becky Wilson and 12 year old Elisha Johnson of Canwood, they are active fiddle students with Shellbrook fiddle teacher Kerri English. They have performed often in the Canwood area in their young careers, and it was a chance for Elisha to open the evening performance this year. Becky, who was accepted by the Canadian Grand Masters’ contest subcommittee in 2022 to become the seventh Saskatchewan fiddler to ever perform as part of the Junior Showcase for the Saturday Night finals at the 2022 competition, followed Elisha to the stage. It was also an opportunity for both of them to broaden their fiddle repertoire, expand their fiddle network and play for an old time dance with a sample group of Saskatchewan’s top fiddlers and accompanists.
As of this article, 35 fiddlers from across Canada have been confirmed to compete for a first prize at $3,500.00, which ties the record number of contestants. Kimberley Holmes leads the Nova Scotia organizing committee who have put in many hours of work and dedication, as well as showed much patience during the corona pandemic. Jeremy Rusu (Brockville, Ontario), Melika Lemelin (Sudbury, Ontario) and Yours truly will again be the three house accompanists for this competition. Calvin Vollrath (St. Paul, Alberta), Julie Fitzgerald (Toronto, Ontario) and Troy MacGillivray (Lanark, Nova Scotia) will be the contest judges while Ivan Hicks (Upper Cloverdale, New Brunswick) will be the contest Master of Ceremonies. My next article will come from the 2023 Canadian Grand Masters Fiddling Competition in Truro, Nova Scotia. Check the CGM events calendar at https://www.canadiangrandmasters.ca, https://www.cgmnovascotia2023.com and their related Facebook pages. Until next time, see you somewhere down the musical trail!
Musically yours, Trent