|Lennie Gallant |
(photo by Louise Vessey)
Lennie Gallant says PEI always feels like home.
Searching for Abegweit: The Island Songs & Stories of Lennie Gallant made its world premiere on Saturday night at The Charlottetown Festival. Since it runs at the Mack until August 29th, Gallant is excited to be spending the entire summer on the Island.
“It’s been since I was 18 or 19 I’d be off doing festivals across Canada, the States or wherever during the summers,” shares the Rustico native. “I really wanted to spend the summer here for a change and this show is a way to do it.”
The 16-time ECMA winner and Juno nominee says Searching for Abegweit is also a way to celebrate his connection to his home province. “I was inspired because I’ve recorded 10 albums now and over the course of those 10 albums and various other projects I’ve written a lot of songs about PEI and I thought wouldn’t it be cool to do a project where I gather these songs all together,” he says. “I thought about this for years and this year being a big celebration year for PEI—the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference—I thought this would be a great time to do it.”
Abegweit is the Mi’kmaq name for Prince Edward Island, Gallant shares, and the legend of the Great Spirit Glooscap is symbolic, possibly explains, the Island’s deep beauty and source of creativity. “The Great Spirit Glooscap often considered Nova Scotia his bed and Prince Edward Island his pillow and it was here that he would lay his head to sleep and it was here where he would release his dreams to the world,” he says. “I think that’s why we have so many creative people on this Island—so many, novelists, painters, storytellers, craftsmen, and songwriters—because we’re just channeling these dreams. So who knows maybe that’s part of the case.”
As songwriter and storyteller, Gallant is also thrilled that Searching for Abegweit features talents of fellow musicians who Gallant describes as “all fabulous players and interesting artists in their own right”: accordion player and singer Caroline Bernard, fiddler Sean Kemp and his nephews Jeremy (on keys) and Jonathan Gallant (vocals and percussion).
Gallant’s sister, Karen Gallant’s creativity is also showcased. “It’s a multi-media show and we’ve got a huge screen that can be broken up into 12 small screens or one big screen or any number of combinations,” shares Gallant. “We use a lot of film and photographs, but the main thing we are showing on the screen is Karen’s artwork. She is a very unique and well known artist in Prince Edward Island and she’s taken all the most beautiful colours of PEI and put them onto her canvasses. We present her paintings on screen along with my songs and manipulate the paintings in many ways and sometimes we even have someone dancing in the paintings. So it’s really fantastic. ”
Gallant is thrilled with the positive response so far from sold-out crowds. One treat was a very warm reception from Don Harron, the lyricist and book writer behind Anne of Green Gables, The Musical. “He was so excited about it and coming from a guy who is such a great writer and who has such great comic timing, to have him go on and on about the show was really exciting for me,” beams Gallant. “That meant a ton!”
Gallant has not only been enjoying his evenings, Monday to Friday, performing at the Mack. He’s also loved walking and swimming at Rustico Beach during the days and looks forward to exploring the Island with his daughter all summer. Many weekends Gallant will also be performing numerous festivals across PEI. You can check out his website and Facebook page to learn more about tour dates.
Tickets are going fast for Gallant’s Charlottetown Festival show, so nab yours before they sell out!
Searching for Abegweit: The Island Songs & Stories of Lennie Gallant
The Charlottetown Festival
Monday-Friday at The Mack until August 29thwww.charlottetownfestival.com/en/187-Searching-for-Abegweit-The-Island-Songs-Stories-of-Lennie-Gallant