PORT HARDY—With a fiddling clan, a cousin and a couple on the schedule, the North Island Concert Society seems to have hit on a family theme for its 2013-14 season.
During the recent Mount Waddington Regional Fall Fair, the society announced a widely varied lineup of five acts for its 16th season of bringing live entertainment to the North Island.
Since wrapping up its last season in April, NICS has built a new, custom-made stage in the Civic Centre through a grant and additional funding assistance from the District of Port Hardy.
The new stage, which replaces the previous sectional panel stage, arrives just in time for the opening act of the new season. Everything Fitz, a fiddling step-dance combo made up of four Fitzgerald siblings with backing from mom and dad on keyboards and bass guitar, takes the stage Oct. 19. The youngsters, ranging from 20-25 years in age, are well versed not only on fiddles but on mandolin, banjo, drums and more. Expect a mix of styles and a few surprises thrown in when they arrive during a five-stop tour of B.C.
Next up is a familiar face to North Island concert patrons. Vancouver-based guitarist and songwriter Paul Pigat, last seen here backing the gospel vocal trio The Sojourners, returns Nov. 16 in the guise of Cousin Harley, a high-octane, rockabilly troubadour at the wheel of a three-man combo. This show won’t be for the faint of heart — if you’ve been subject in the past to toe-tapping, knee slappin’ or jumping from your seat to hit the dance floor, these guys are likely to trigger a relapse.
After an extended break, the 2013-14 season resumes in the new year with one of the original members of the Canadian Tenors, Ken Lavigne, Feb. 22. Backed by his touring band, Lavigne will unveil a blend of pop and classical hits and showtunes in his touring concert, The Road to Carnegie Hall. It is as much a musical theatre performance as a concert, featuring songs and stories to recount his personal campaign to sing at Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops orchestra. Fittingly, Lavigne’s performance takes place as part of the concert society’s annual dinner show.
March brings something completely different to the new Civic Centre stage, in the form of the Wolak-Donnelly Duo. Juno-nominated Canadian pianist and Polish-born clarinetist Kornel Wolak unveil their virtuosity and improvisational skills across a range of classical and jazz genres, both in duets and as soloists. Leavened with plenty of humour, this show has something for just about everybody. Not into classical piano? No problem … just wait until you see Donnelly work the spoons.
The season closes April 12 with a North Island Concert Society staple — pure, unadulterated Canadiana from award-winning singer-songwriter John Wort Hannam and friends. Following in the tradition of recent NICS standouts Murray McLaughlin (Lunch at Allen’s), Roy Forbes, David Francey and James Keelaghan, the Juno-nominated Hannam brings an uncanny ability to tell vivid and evocative stories through songs built around memorable melodies and chord structures.
Season tickets are $130, or $110 for students and seniors, and are available at Port Hardy Museum and Cafe Guido in Port Hardy, at The Flower Shoppe in Port McNeill, and in Port Alice by calling Gail Neely at 250-284-3927.
Additional info is available at www.niconcert.ca.