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Posts from the ‘Music in Charlottetown’ Category

Backstage with the May Run Music Festival Family

Hello there! My name is Carolyn Chaisson and I am the assistant to Music PEI’s ED, Rob Oakie. Along with Kate Gracey-Stewart, I am overseeing the marketing and communications of the first-ever Credit Union May Run Music Festival, taking place May 14th – May 17th, as well as the Bell Aliant Canadian Song Conference, May 13th and 14th.

May Run Music Festival Logo FINAL

When I was first asked to be a guest blogger and write about the Festival, I was nervous. I was unsure of how to best share what we’re doing here at Music PEI to bring this new Festival to life, then  realized I was surround by all the inspiration I needed in the form of my May Run family. Who better to share the behind-the-scenes story of the May Run Music Festival, than my co-workers at MusicPEI? Despite their heavy workloads in the lead-up to the Festival, they were all willing to lend me their time (Mike, however, did need assurance there was no need for lawyer accompaniment).

Tian Wigmore, as usual, was efficient and quick to the task – one of his best qualities, which he applies to his position as Special Projects Coordinator and Technical Director for the Festival. Responsible for recruiting many of the cross-Canadian and Island acts, Tian shared his thoughts on the Festival and friendships he’s formed over his years in music.

CAROLYN: How much effort goes into creating a new festival?

TIAN: A ton! Everyone involved needs to wear a closet full of hats to pull it off properly.

C: What act were you most excited to book?

T: From out of town, I was most excited to book The Novaks, who will be playing at the PEI Brewing Company’s House of Rock on Friday, May 15th. They have been my favorite rock band in North America forever. The best part of this job is getting to book local acts for awesome shows, it feels good to see local talent get work.

C: You are close friends with Island favorite Tim Chaisson, true?

T: Very true – he is one of the groomsmen at my wedding. I would say at first we became friends was just because we were young musicians who could play our instruments. But, after touring for 11 years, you get to know each other really well. Sometimes I actually think Tim hangs out with me for the publicity!

Tim Chaisson from PEI

Tim Chaisson, playing at the Closing Songwriters Circle (Delta Prince Edward, May 17th)

Mike Mooney, class clown, was next up on my tour of the office. Along with the rest of the boys, Mike is a musician who spends his time performing alongside his band or his own solo work. Mike is also the Volunteer Coordinator for the May Run Music Festival.

CAROLYN: How important is recruiting volunteers for the May Run Music Festival?

MIKE: The festival can’t happen without the volunteers. Plus, it’s great for my career, which is good for my fans.

C: Throughout this experience, what have you found the most difficult?

M: Knowing how all the tiny pieces fit together.

STARS from Vancouver

STARS, performing at the Closing Pop Show, May 17th at the Delta Prince Edward. 

Dylan Menzie is a regular on several PEI stages and the Ticketing Coordinator of Music PEI. Dylan, though reluctant, took the time to meet with me, proving that persistence pays off!

CAROLYN: Describe the importance of Music PEI in your musical career.

DYLAN: As an artist I’ve always felt like Music PEI was in my corner.  I think I’ve played almost every showcase they’ve had at different conferences in the past 2 years.  They’ve helped me countless times when I’ve needed advice, I’ve gotten funding in the past, and they’re always there when things get tough and I need a shoulder to cry on. Honestly I feel like the music community on PEI is like that as a whole – helpful, friendly, supportive – but Music PEI feels like the whirlpool that pulls new people into the scene and keeps us unified in the process.

C: You’ve worked for East Coast Music Week (ECMW) 2014 as a ticketing coordinator as well. Are you a ticketing master?

D: I did work for the ECMA last year, but I’m far from a ticketing expert. It’s been over a year since I’ve done an event like this, so it’s a bit like being a kid coming back from summer vacation.  You may have felt like an expert on Pythagoras’s theorem in June, but coming back in September it’s a whole other ballgame.

C: That’s quite the analogy. Who are you most excited to see perform?

D: In terms of an artist from away I’m definitely most excited about Plants and Animals, who are in the line-up for the Closing Pop Show on May 17th at the Delta Prince Edward. I distinctly remember being on a school trip to Quebec and our tour guide put on music from Montreal to give us an idea of the culture of the city. It’s not that the music he put on wasn’t good, it just wasn’t the music from Montreal I was familiar with. The music he put on was more francophone. Which made sense because he was French and we were in a French city, but I wanted to show everyone the Montreal I knew – Arcade Fire, Plants and Animals, Sam Roberts – the list goes on, so I just bugged him until he let up and let me put my music on.

Plants and Animals from Montreal

Plants and Animals, performing at the Closing Pop Show, May 17th at the Delta Prince Edward.

Next I checked in with Nathan Gill, a local singer-songwriter and current North Lakes frontman. As conference coordinator, he is responsible for developing the Bell Aliant Canadian Song Conference taking place at the beginning of the week, May 11th-13th. One element of the Conference is the Canadian Songwriter Challenge, which will pair one artist from each of the 5 provinces of Ontario, BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba with 5 artists from PEI. The 5 pairs will collaborate together for 2 days to co-write and record demos of one song each day.

CAROLYN: Which of the five pairs of artists are you most excited to see collaborate?

NATHAN: I think Dan Mangan and Coyote will be very interesting. Both seem to have the ability to take a simple, memorable song into new sonic territory. I think they’ll come out with something very unique. They’re also both performing at the Closing Pop Show on May 17th.

C: Who would you want to collaborate with most and why?

N: Death Valley Driver on a record more obtuse than “Lulu” by Lou Reed and Metallica.

C: Which panel, in your opinion, should draw the biggest crowd at the conference?

N: “Sound and Vision: A Film & TV Masterclass” should be very cool. Island artists will try to place their songs into popular films and TV shows and our panel will discuss what works and what doesn’t.

Coyote from PEI

Coyote, performing at the Closing Pop Show on May 17th at the Delta Prince Edward.

It was time for a visit with Kate Gracey-Stewart, the mother/wife/sister of Music PEI. Kate is arguably one of the most powerful women in the biz.

CAROLYN: Why have you chosen to work for the festival?

KATE: I used to work full time for Music PEI before owning my own business. When the opportunity came up to work with Music PEI again, I knew it wasn’t one I could turn down. The members of Music PEI have, and always will, hold a special place in my heart. I look forward to seeing them shine during Credit Union May Run Music Festival!

C: Which artist are you most excited to see perform and why?

K: I am not as much focused on seeing one particular artist, although The Novaks are definitely one of my favorites. What I am looking forward to most is witnessing the magic and collaboration that will take place on stage when you put all of these talented artists together

The Small Glories

The Small Glories, performing at the Olde Dublin Pub on Saturday, May 16th.

Last but not least, I sit down with the one and only, the brains behind it all, Rob Oakie.

CAROLYN: What act were you most excited to book?

ROB: Being the ED of Music PEI it would probably be unseemly for me to put one PEI artist over another so let’s just stick to the off-Island artists. I am super proud of the line-up we have been able to pull together. I will be giving my age away here, but I can remember when Murray McLauchlan first broke and listening to him on AM radio! I’ve always been a fan. Getting Dan Mangan was a coup for me, I can’t wait to see Jay Semko of the Northern Pikes, but I think I’m most looking forward to seeing The Small Glories from Winnipeg, performing at the Olde Dublin Pub on Saturday, May 16th. The duo is made up of Cara Luft from the Wailin Jennys and JD Edwards. Together with a guitar and banjo they create this huge sound. They will be working with Ashley Condon to co-write as part of the Canadian Song Challenge. She’ll also be performing at The Guild on Saturday, May 16th alongside Jay Semko and Liam Corcoran.

C: Why rebrand PEI Music Week?

R: We had great success with it in January, but we knew it wouldn’t grow much bigger than it was and we really wanted an event that would attract audiences from beyond PEI so we could shine a brighter light on our artists. Moving the date was the first step so it would be at a time of year when, shall we say PEI is more inviting! Bringing in artists and significant names from across Canada will also attract a wider audience, all with the goal of exposing our artists to as many ears as we can.

C: What will you find most rewarding from your May Run experience?

R: Seeing the smiles from the audience when they see a killer show. Some of these lineups for individual showcases and concerts are amazing in their own right, so putting them all together in a 4 day festival is a huge, but rewarding task. I know I will take great joy in seeing that closing number, putting a nice cap on what will be a great and unique event

C: And finally, who is your favorite staff member?

R: Oh… there’s only one safe answer to this one… I love everyone for what they have brought to Music PEI. I can honestly say this is easily one of the best teams I have worked with in my ten plus years of producing Music PEI Weeks. Tian has worked with me for a while now on various events and he is a rock star! Always able to make the best of any situation. Mike is funny, honest, and easy to get along with and has great experience in many areas. Dylan is young, energetic, has great ideas and really efficient. Nathan just seems to put his head down a get things done. His experience in the music industry has been a huge asset putting together the Canadian Song Conference. Kate… well I really don’t know where we would be without Kate. She is my rock. And, of course, I have a deep affection for quirky (meant in the nicest of ways) Carolyn. I am always curious to see what colour the hair will be each morning. She brightens up the place and is way more talented than she gives herself credit for!!

Murray McLauchlan

Murray McLauchlan, performing Friday, May 15th at Harmony House.

And then there is me, Carolyn Chaisson. Though I have no musical credit to my name other than a third grade recorder solo, working in the music industry is one of the most rewarding jobs. I recently tried to explain to someone, I believe my mother (bless her heart), the feeling I get when I fall in love with a song, or a band, or this apple pie crust right here in front of me. I look forward to each and every day I work alongside my May Run Music family and am excited to be a part of what will, no doubt, be an amazing weekend of music in PEI.


Credit Union May Run Music Festival



An Insider’s Guide to Winter in Charlottetown

The best food, shopping, sightseeing, arts & culture, and activities in PEI’s quaint capital

By Ellen Egan

Sure, we all know island summer has been ranked as Mother Nature’s favourite season for the last 1,000 years running, but I’ve come to believe that winter on Prince Edward Island has been severely underrated for far too long—especially if you happen to be staying in our downtown core.

I’ll admit, however, that it took a couple of years living abroad to realize this and truly appreciate the quaint city I’m lucky enough to call home. But after spending the past two winters living in the heart of downtown Charlottetown, I’ve grown to appreciate how the peace and quiet of winter (spontaneous snow day, anyone?) balances off with the town’s arts, food and entertainment scene—keeping locals and visitors alike buzzing from morning ‘til night.

Now, to help you sort through all the action, I’ve compiled a handy-dandy guide to making the most out of your next visit to our beloved capital city.


1. Indulge in local fare

Dining in CharlottetownAs home to some of the finest natural bounty in the world and the celebrated Culinary Institute of Canada, Charlottetown is a foodie haven—no matter what time of the year it happens to be. In fact, many top notch restaurants stay open for lunch and dinner during the winter months. And not to worry, the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market is still the place to be on a Saturday morning.

Since I tend to stay within waddling distance of home when going out to eat, a few personal favourites within the downtown core are Terre Rouge Bistro Marche for its use of fresh, local products and savoury combinations, Sims Corner Steakhouse for its fabulous Island beef program, and Sirenella’s Ristorante definitely takes the cake for some seriously drool-inducing Italian fare. And before we know it, April will soon be here and you know what that means: Burger Love! Oh yes, the month-long campaign that promotes island beef and sees our many chefs competing for the role of reigning champion is just around the corner. My waistband feels tighter already.

2. Discover your favourite watering hole

Charlottetown-local-pubsLike a warm hug, you’ll inevitably want to tuck into the inviting atmosphere of many of our local pubs at various points during your stay. The authentically British pub, Churchill Arms, offers a variety of delicious curries and is where many locals can be found hollering trivia answers over pints of lager on Saturday afternoons. And for those who like a side of live music with their cold brew, you’ll find local musicians playing evening acoustic sets at popular spots like the Gahan House, Marc’s Studio (above The Brickhouse), The Old Triangle and Next Door (beside Merchantman).

3. Bring on the java

I’m especially fond of this next one, particularly on chilly days when I want a cozy place to meet friends, Charlottetown Caferead a book, or get some work done. The newest kid on the café scene happens to be my absolute favourite—Receiver Coffee Company (in the former Cafe Diem location on Victoria Row)—which, in my opinion, is doing a swell job of roasting Third Wave coffee and serving the most tempting breakfast and lunch options in town. For an extra dose of charm, I like to head to Leonard’s Café on University Ave. for a healthy and delicious lunch. Their baked goods are also to die for—just don’t say I didn’t warn you!

4. Learn the art of beer making (and drinking)

PEI-Brewing-Company-in-CharlottetownIf you’re looking to find out where a lot of the tasty craft beer comes from that’s served at many of our restaurants, look no further than the PEI Brewing Company at 96 Kensington Road. Here, you can actually tour the facility for yourself and find out how the raw ingredients eventually end up as the refreshing pint you’ll be dying to try after the tour. The brewery is also home to a large event space, which sees many events roll through, like Art Battle, a live, competitive painting competition taking place monthly and drawing huge crowds.


5. Embrace the great outdoors

Charlottetown-Outdoor-RinkWe’re really lucky that island winters still stay bright and sunny, seeing approximately 22 days of sunshine during the colder months, even in January and February. So outdoor activities are totally doable, and a simple walk does wonder for the mind and body. Just beyond the quaint streets of Charlottetown are two popular walking trails: the Confederation Trail and Victoria Park boardwalk. And for a little ice skating action, head south towards the harbour at lower Prince Street where you’ll find the Founder’s Hall rink—a favourite ice skating spot for locals and visitors alike. For those with the kiddies in tow, the annual Jack Frost Festival takes place February 27th to March 1st, and offers a selection of both indoor and outdoor activities for the whole family.

6. Walk back in time

John A Walk back in timeLiving just a couple of blocks from Great George Street, I find it’s easy to take the many historic sites (and sights) for granted. But one structure that continues to amaze me is Saint Dunstan’s Basilica—from steeples to steps, the 100+ year old building just reeks of history and old world glory. Closer to Victoria Park and overlooking Rochford Square is All Soul’s Chapel on All Soul’s Lane. Built in 1888 of Prince Edward Island sandstone in the High Victorian Gothic style of architecture, it was design by architect William Critchlow Harris and its interior walls feature paintings by his brother, Robert Harris. Not far from there on the corner of Kent and West street is Beaconsfield Historic House, which brings back plenty of nostalgia from my days spent visiting it as a child. It’s a fine example of Victorian architecture open year-round with many original features intact and a fascinating story to tell.

7. Get your sweat on!

Yoga in Charlottetown PEIFor those planning an extended trip, you may be interested in a bit of exercise at some point during your stay—especially after all of that eating and drinking you’ll have been doing, right? To cure what ails you, drop into a hot yoga class at Moksha Yoga near Founder’s Hall or hop on a spin bike at Dynamic Fitness on Queen Street. If exercise isn’t quite what you had in mind, you can get your sweat on via the dance floor at any one of our live music venues. I’m particularly fond of Hunter’s Ale House on Kent and Baba’s Lounge on University for their steady stream of talented East Coast musicians.


8. Release your inner art enthusiast

Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown PEIBy the time you’ve finished hiking our trails and sampling our local fare, you might be ready to admire the handiwork of some of Canada’s prolific artists. I suggest checking out some of our art galleries in the downtown core. Home to the largest Robert Harris Collection in the world, the Confederation Centre Art Gallery proudly displays the work of Canadian historical, modern and contemporary artists. I especially look forward to PEI painter Heather Millar’s solo exhibition, Heather Millar: Second Chances, which opens on February 7th. And just across the street on the corner of Queen and Richmond, it’s worth popping into the Gallery at The Guild (lower level), which displays self-curated exhibitions by many talented artists from all disciplines.

9. When in doubt, catch a show

Confederation Centre of the Arts Charlottetown PEIAnother great option for when the weather is truly miserable is catching a flick at either one of our two theatre options. Appealing to your artistic side, City Cinema is right in the heart of downtown and offers a variety of independent films that don’t always hit the big screen. Cineplex Charlottetown is the larger cinema in town, just a five-minute drive from downtown, and features a handful of Hollywood blockbusters. For live entertainment, Confederation Centre of the Arts’ winter programming, Live at the Centre, offers live music, theatre, and comedy on PEI’s finest stages from October until May. The Guild, on the other hand, offers a more intimate experience and remains a hub of activity for various styles of performances.


10. Find that special token

Charlottetown's Green Eye DesignThere’s nothing I love more than finding a unique treasure from a new place to keep the memories fresh when I return back home. Added bonuses go to those with killer back stories—like an artisan I met in Santorini, Greece, who custom-made a beautiful bracelet for me in less than 20 minutes. Those are the sorts of memories that really stick with you. And Charlottetown happens to be full of charming boutiques—yes, even in the winter—that have the best characters waiting to welcome you and swap stories. A few shops I can’t resist include: Moonsnail (the best soaps and treasures), Cordelia’s Artisan Boutique (such beautiful pottery), Overman Jewellery & Art (crazy unique pieces…now moved to a new location at 54 University Avenue), and ColourBlind (Cutest. Dresses. Ever).

And if all else direction fails, don’t be shy to ask a local for assistance. Trust me, they’ll be more than willing to help. You never know, it could even be yours truly you run in to…

Have fun!


Ellen Egan is a freelance writer, editor and curator who was born and raised in Charlottetown, PEI, and is happy to have returned just in time to see it blossom and thrive before her very eyes. You can see more samples of her work at


The Art of Patioing

By Katie Smith

When I was asked to write a piece about “patioing”, I immediately thought I had to write about how to build a deck. I was a little hesitant, as deck building isn’t on my list of specialized skills. Upon further explanation, however, I learned that patioing has a whole different meaning and is a trend that continues to grow around Charlottetown each summer.

The art of patioing is socializing with friends and loved ones on the patio of a restaurant or pub. Yet it can be so much more. No matter where you walk in downtown Charlottetown, it seems there’s a patio filled with Islanders and visitors. And if you are right downtown, you will enter a live, upbeat sphere of music, conversation and great food and drinks called Victoria Row.

Located on Richmond Street, “the Row,” as it’s known to Islanders, is home to a variety of shops, restaurants with indoor/outdoor dining and most importantly, atmosphere. In the warm summer months, the street is bumping. Whether it’s live music you crave, delicious Island fare to taste or if you are simply looking for somewhere nice to sit outside and have a few pops with friends, look no further than Victoria Row.

The Old Triangle Irish Alehouse

The Old Triangle Irish Alehouse

If you are looking for a pub to have a few pints but still want to enjoy the sunshine, The Old Triangle Irish Ale House has a large deck that fills up fairly quickly during the sunny weekend afternoons where you’re sure to have a laugh and take in some live traditional Irish tunes. Enjoy a thunder mug of beer on the patios at Hunter’s Ale House. This venue, both day and night, is filled with happy people having a great time. Often when I’ll walk by Hunter’s someone will yell my name and invite me in for a beer and conversation. Naturally, I oblige. I wouldn’t want to be rude, after all!

Perhaps what you’re looking for is somewhere to take a date, somewhere a little more fine dining, Sim’s Steakhouse has a nice patio and ambiance with comfortable seating and a top-of-the-line menu.

Sims Patio Queen Street Charlottetown PEISims Patio Queen Street Charlottetown PEI

Sim’s Steakhouse

One of the newest patios is Brakish! (it’s what water is called when fresh water meets ocean water-I looked it up). Brakish! is tucked away behind the Delta at Peake’s Wharf and offers yet another great place to take a breather and taste some local brew.



With more and more patios going up around Charlottetown, the art of “patioing” has become an increasingly popular way to socialize in the summer. Perhaps this is because we get through the cold winter months by looking forward to a warm breeze and sunny day. So once the snow melts and the patios are out in full swing, you will see many happy faces laughing and enjoying life.

Give patioing a try; it might just become your new favourite summer activity. I know it’s mine. Cheers!



Katie Smith was born and raised in Charlottetown where she currently lives doing media sales and writing part-time. She loves driving around and taking all the beautiful sights and sounds. Facebook: Katie Smith


A Weekend Stay-cation in Charlottetown, PEI

Summer on Prince Edward Island is definitely the most relaxing time of year for my husband and I. Don’t get me wrong – there are benefits to skiing, tobogganing and other outdoor activities throughout the winter months but winter is often just, so, very, long! So when the weather begins to warm up and we decide we want a break from work and school, a weekend stay-cation in Charlottetown is the perfect way to unwind.

Weekend accommodation is best spent at The Great George Hotel. Situated comfortably on a quiet street downtown, the hotel is a peaceful retreat appropriate for couples looking for a luxurious get-away. Its convenient location also places you close to Charlottetown’s historical sites, the beautiful waterfront, cafés, pubs, and many restaurants.

Receiver Coffee Co

Receiver Coffee Co

For a delicious cappuccino or espresso, you should check out Receiver Coffee on Victoria Row. The service is excellent and is one of the newest cafes in Charlottetown.

Another benefit is that the café is located a stone’s throw away from the Art Gallery at the Confederation Centre of the Arts. Historical and contemporary exhibits by Canadian artists are always pleasing at the Art Gallery. You can take in many different mediums including painting, sculptures, photography and more. In particular, be sure to check out the work of the iconic Islander Robert Harris.

In addition to admiring some of Charlottetown’s art collection, a stroll by the waterfront is a favourite activity for my husband and I. Peake’s Wharf is an exciting place to be on weekends. Often the area is buzzing with tourists, and there are a number of shops to explore. On really busy days you will find 1, 2, or even 3 large cruise ships docked nearby! You can grab an ice cream from the infamous COWS, check out some cool finds at the How Bazaar store, and then take in live music playing in the main square. Indeed there is a lot to see and do at Peake’s Wharf.

Peake's Wharf

Peake’s Wharf

Finally as your day is coming to an end, a quiet dinner at Sim’s Corner Steakhouse and Oysterbar is a must. Serving the best steak in Charlottetown with the most delicious red wine, you will not be disappointed by the restaurant’s signature menu and charming ambience. For larger groups there is even the option of booking out a private dining room for your enjoyment. In fact, last year my husband and I used Sims’ private dining room and bar area to tie-the-knot in front of a large group of family and friends.

Our Wedding at Sims

Our Wedding at Sims

Without a doubt Charlottetown has a lot to offer couples of any age, type, and background. This friendly city is guaranteed to make you feel welcome and accepted as you spend your time exploring. My husband and I invite you to come and see how wonderful our city is!
Bobby Cameron is a policy analyst in Charlottetown. Him and his husband Lucas enjoy taking advantage of everything the city has to offer. Twitter: @btrcameron Blog: htp://


So. Much. Music.

Can we take a minute to talk about how excited I am for summer in Charlottetown?

So. Much. Music.

Charlottetown starts the summer with a series of free outdoor concerts in Victoria Park for the Charlottetown 1864 Anniversary Celebrations June 10th – 15th. I discovered that a lot of my favourite people will be hitting up the stage. Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys (June 10), Rose Cousins (June 11), Nudie (June 12), Coyote (June 13), More Soul (June 14) and Paper Lions (June 15) are just the tip of this musical iceberg.

Festival of Small Halls returns in June with shows across the Island, including the Late Nights Festival Club at The Old Triangle in downtown Charlottetown. The Late Nights Festival Club starts at 10pm: June 13, 14, 20 and 21. The lineup for Late Nights is usually kept secret, but trust me when I tell you, the surprise is totally worth it.

A couple of weeks later, starting June 28th, Big Red Fest kicks off the first of two weekends at the Charlottetown Event Grounds. You can find all of the ticket and full lineup info on their website. I can’t decide who I am more excited to see that first weekend: Marianas Trench, Lights, Sam Roberts Band or Hey Rosetta.

Canada Day in Charlottetown is going to be jam-packed. In addition to the 10,000 free access passes that have already been reserved there will be 5,000 more available (first come, first served) on July 1st at the Charlottetown Event Grounds. The Concert for Canada features: David Myles, Classified, Roch Voisine, George Canyon, Tegan and Sara and Barenaked Ladies. Did I mention that all of this is free? Don’t forget about the fireworks on the waterfront too!

The 2014 Celebration Zone opens on Canada Day on the waterfront at Confederation Landing  and will keep everyone busy this summer with a series of free concerts. You can reserve your free passes starting mid-June. If you’re a fan of Natalie MacMaster and/or The Barra MacNeils you will want to be there that first night (July 4). Keep an eye out for Serena Ryder (July 11), Paul Brandt (July 18), Burton Cummings (July 24), Matthew Good (August 8), Buffy Sainte-Marie (August 13), 1755 (August 15), Matt Andersen (August 16) and The Sheepdogs (August 23). There’s more: Music PEI has put together a killer lineup of local talent. Seriously. There are a lot of insanely talented musicians who just happen to call PEI home and you should definitely be checking out these shows this summer!

The Killers

The Killers

On July 12, I’ll definitely be heading back over to the Charlottetown Event Grounds for the 2nd weekend of Big Red Fest. When this lineup was pulled together it was like the organizers were reading my diary. Death Cab for Cutie, Bahamas, Matt Mays, The Killers, Town Heroes and July Talk are all on my must-see list. If you’re looking for me, I’ll be the girl down front swooning over some of my favourites.

From August 7-16 the Civic Centre will play host to everyone’s favourite summer event – Old Home Week. Every year the organizers put together a roster of top-notch musical entertainment and 2014 is no different. There are so many great artists, you just need to check out their website for the full lineup.

Ron Sexsmith

Ron Sexsmith

The TD Jazz & Blues Festival lineup this year is pretty incredible, let’s be honest it always is. I can’t believe I have never been! There are a few big changes happening with the festival this year, including moving to the PEI Brewing Company. Sherman Downey & The Ambiguous Case with The Chronos Band(August 21), Joel Plaskett Emergency with Mo Kenney (August 22), The Legendary Downchild Blues Band with The F-Holes (August 23) will all be hitting up the main stage and John Campbelljohn (August 23) will be on the late night. St. Paul’s Church is the home of the audience favourite church series, which includes Ron Sexsmith and Dylan Menzie (August 22). I also highly recommend checking out Ben Caplan (August 23) at Fishbones.

One of the last big concerts that will be happening this summer is probably the one that everyone has been waiting for the longest. Canadian country music icon, Shania Twain, will be a part of Founder’s Week 2014 celebrations on August 30th. Did you know that this will be the first time that Shania Twain has ever performed on the Island AND it’s her first concert in the Atlantic Provinces in 15 years?  True story.

One last thing. Confederation Centre of the Arts is doing something pretty cool this summer. They have created the concert series ‘Spotlight PEI’. Starting July 12th with Meaghan Blanchard, each week will see a different Island artist taking over The Mack. This concert series could easily be renamed ‘Shannon’s Favourite Island Musicians’. Ten Strings and a Goat Skin (July 19), Ashley Condon (July 26), The Meds (August 2), The First Waltz (August 9), Dennis Ellsworth and Haunted Hearts (August 16), Paper Lions (August 23) and Catherine MacLellan (August 30) round out the roster of amazing artists playing this concert series.

Shannon Pratt

Shannon Pratt

I honestly don’t know how I am going to narrow down my summer concert wish list. I might need to clone myself . I think everyone can agree that there is no better place to be in the summer than Prince Edward Island. Seriously. If you add all of these amazing concerts into the mix, what could possibly be better?


Shannon Pratt, a self-proclaimed music junkie, has been working in the arts (film, television, event production and music) for close to 15 years. When she isn’t out at shows she can be found in her garden playing with her pups. Twitter @ShannonPratt // @luckproductions  ShannonPratt on Instagram


It’s a Big Year for Theatre in Charlottetown

The sun is starting to shine and the snow is starting to melt. The feel of Spring is finally in the air! With the early signs of Spring approaching, that can only mean one thing- the beginning of the summer theatre season. I may be a little biased as I am three of the shows I am about to chat about, but I really think that this is going to be the summer to see theatre on PEI. With so much to offer and so many different stories to share, you’re not going to want to miss any of them. Let’s get started.

Charlie Brown

Kicking off the theatre season is “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” taking place at The Guild May 2-4 and 8-10. Presented by newly formed company Head First

Productions, this show is sure to please a crowd of all ages. Telling the story of a day in the life of Charlie Brown, this bright and colorful musical follows Charlie’s constant mishaps and misfortunes through classic songs and dance numbers made famous by the Schulz comic strip, Peanuts.

Banquet (Nir Arieli photo)

P.E.I. native, Mark Sampson is leading a new interpretation-in-dance collaboration entitled Banquet. (L-R) Sampson, Cleo Person, Zoe McNeil, and Daniel Ching (Nir Arieli photo.)

If art and dance is up your alley, I highly recommend checking out “Banquet” at the Confederation Centre Arts Gallery May 31 to June 7. Choreographed by Mark Sampson and orchestrated by Christina Bouey, this mixture of movement and music explores the idea of immigrants coming together to try and build a cohesive community, fighting through feelings of alienation, homesickness, loss and ultimately, harmony.

1864: The Tall Hat Chronicles

1864: The Tall Hat Chronicles

2014 marks a big year for PEI due its strong place in history in the year 1864- the year of the Charlottetown Conference and the Meeting of the Fathers of Confederation. To celebrate that union of men, “1864: The Tall Hat Chronicles” will take a comical and satirical look at the Island’s history as it relates to the wider history of Canada and the world from July 1st until October 14th.

Jenn Rider-Shaw and Gabe Antonacci in Canada ROCKS! (Dwayne Brown Studio photo)

Jenn Rider-Shaw and Gabe Antonacci in Canada ROCKS! (Dwayne Brown Studio photo)

Nothing celebrates our nation more than The Charlottetown Festival’s first show to hit the main stage, “Canada ROCKS” June 19 to September 27. Coming back for its third incarnation, this show is sure to be a crowd pleaser of any Canadian music fan in any genre. Along with classic Canadian artists like Celine Dion, Tom Cochrane and Bryan Adams, the show will also feature new tunes from artists such as Metric, Arcade Fire, Justin Bieber and more. Make sure you snag tickets to this toe-tapper.

Katie Kerr and PEI’s Jessica Gallant as kindred Spirits Anne and Diana in Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™ (Charlottetown Festival, Louise Vessey photo)

Katie Kerr and PEI’s Jessica Gallant as kindred Spirits Anne and Diana in Anne of Green Gables—The Musical™ (Charlottetown Festival, Louise Vessey photo)

The Festival’s second and most famous (and now record-breaking) show is of course, the class tale of “Anne of Green Gables”. Celebrating its 50th year, “Anne of Green Gables- The Musical” is sure warm the heart for all ages and lovers of the novels and non-readers alike from July 1 to September 24. Chalk full of great songs, dance numbers and the return of Katie Kerr in the title role with Islander Jessica Gallant by her side as Diana Berry, you won’t want to miss this.

Anne & Gilbert The Musical

Anne & Gilbert The Musical

After you’ve seen the original, head across the street to The Guild. There, you will find the continuing story of Anne with “Anne & Gilbert- The Musical” June 17- October 12. Toted as the story of “Anne in love”, you will follow her remarkable journey through amazing Island tunes and some great stepping. Returning once again in the lead roles are Patrick Cook as Gilbert and Ellen Denny as Anne. You’ll be lucky if you don’t have “Island Through and Through” stuck in your head for days afterwards.

Lennie Gallant in Searching for Abegweit – the Island Songs & Stories of Lennie Gallant (Louise Vessey photo)

Lennie Gallant in Searching for Abegweit – the Island Songs & Stories of Lennie Gallant (Louise Vessey photo)

Rounding out the Charlottetown Festival’s season is “Searching for Abegweit”, debuting June 26 until August 29. Island legends, folklore and poignant tales are woven into the beautiful folk, blues and pop music of Lennie Gallant. The show also features multimedia that utilizes film, and visual works from well-known painter Karen Gallant.

Like I mentioned earlier, this is the summer to see shows in Charlottetown so make sure you get your tickets and book your trip to the Island. I look forward to seeing you in Charlottetown this summer.

Tyrell Witherspoon

Tyrell Witherspoon


Tyrell Witherspoon is appearing as Snoopy in “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” at The Guild on May 2-4, 8-10 and will also appear on the Charlottetown Festival stage in both Anne of Green Gables and Canada Rocks. For more on Tyrell, follow on Twitter: @tlwither.



Kinley Dowling- My Game Plan for ECMW in Charlottetown

ECMW is the best party in Atlantic Canada. I’m really excited to see my favorite performers in my hometown Charlottetown, where everything is within walking distance.

I’m looking forward to seeing PEI’s own Catherine MacLellan, as well as Death Valley Driver-two extremes of the Island’s rich musical landscape. I’m also thrilled to see my pal from Nova Scotia, Jenn Grant. Her music is like a colorful painting and she is always entertaining. I am a huge fan of Wendy MacIsaac’s playing so I’ll definitely be going to see Mary-Jane Lamond and Wendy perform.

Catherine MacLellan

Catherine MacLellan

I am positive that up and comer Steve Maloney and the Wandering Kind will be your new favorite. Steve’s rich classically trained voice and his natural folk instinct make him the one to listen for this ECMW.

Are you here on Wednesday, the first night of ECMW? Try Churchill Arms’ amazing 2 for 1 British curry. Why not enjoy a pint while you wait in line? There WILL be a line.

Kinley Dowling

Kinley Dowling enjoying a Falafel at Cedar’s Eatery.


Best food? Cedar’s Eatery, a Lebanese restaurant that has been around since 1979.

Late night? Pizza and Poutine Company has got you covered. Celebrate ECMW with a Stompin’ Tom pizza (potato, jalapeno bacon, pulled pork and onions).

Need some great coffee after a late night? Kettle Black and Row 142 are the places to go. Row 142 roasts the beans for both cafes. Kettle Black also has some of the best fresh local food around, cooked by Chef Robert Pendergast AND it’s just a skip and a hop from the Delta hotel!

The Kettle Black

The Kettle Black on Water St

If I could stay anywhere in Charlottetown for ECMW I would choose the Delta Prince Edward Hotel because that’s where a lot of the shows and most of the after parties take place. But if you’re a musician you’re probably staying on someone’s couch. All of my couches are currently booked up for ECMW musicians. Can’t wait!


Kinley Dowling, a sweetheart in the Maritime music scene, regularly tours with Hey Rosetta and currently calls Charlottetown home.


Twitter @KinleyDowling Instagram: KinleyDowling  Website:

Insider’s Guide to the East Coast Music Week in Charlottetown

Well, it’s early March and I think everybody is ready for winter to end. Good news is it’s going to heat up sooner than Environment Canada predicts… it’s time for East Coast Music Week 2014 (ECMW), and thanks to the PEI 2014 Sesquicentennial Celebrations (I can’t even say that word), it’s back in Charlottetown earlier than scheduled!

I want to get one thing out of the way right off the top, you often hear people say “Charlottetown is the best ECMA” and as somebody who’s in the music industry and was part of making two Charlottetown ECMWs happen… it really is the best! I’ve been to ECMW’s in Moncton, Fredericton, and Halifax, and I can tell you first-hand that Charlottetown can’t be matched in what it offers.

Why? Well, that’s a bit harder to explain. The fact that many of the top-notch venues are within an 8-block radius in the downtown core, meaning you can walk from show to show in as long as it takes two bands to change over their gear. The geographical benefit isn’t the only reason. It’s the atmosphere of Charlottetown. We have some of the best music fans, they go out and support shows of all levels, they party like rock stars and they make the ECMW experience top notch.

Now, down to the business of ECMW, taking in shows and seeing artists!

Paper Lions at the PEI Brewing Company Photo by Al Douglas

Paper Lions at the PEI Brewing Company Photo by Al Douglas

I’m often asked the question “What are you planning to see or do?” and the answer is simple, during ECMW I want to see as much as I can – new artists, up-and-coming artists, established artists and marquee acts. This is also one of the only times each year I get to see friends and associates, meaning this week can be a bit busy for me. I encourage you to take in as much as you are able to, push yourself outside your comfort zone a bit, stay out later than you planned, end up at a late night party, you never know who’s going to be there playing some tunes…

I set out on my mission for ECMW party dominance with a plan (I have found that you need it), which can be a bit intense as ECMW is five jam-packed days…

Here are some points that will help:

  • Cross off the things you’re just not that into, but double check the list of artist at each show so you don’t miss anybody of interest (this is a common mistake).
  • Grab a copy of The Buzz (Local Event Publication) & ECMW Gig Guide as soon as you can. They will give a set time breakdown, allowing you to create a map of where you need to be when…
  • Ask strong music fans and industry folk, they can give you some insider perspective. Pat Deighan at Back Alley Music is one of the guys I recommend stopping in to see.
The Kettle Black, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

The Kettle Black

I was asked to come up with a must-see list. I struggle with this one as when I read through the list of showcasing artists, they’re all really great in their genres. I will say I am biased and feel that you all need to check out our amazing Island artists. We have everything from up-and-comers, like Jordan Cameron and Dylan Menzie to more established artists, as the North Lakes, Gordie MacKeeman and His Rhythm Boys, Meaghan Blanchard to Dennis Ellsworth, Catherine MacLellan and Tim Chaisson. Then, there’s my favourite PEI band Paper Lions, who are up for 6 well-deserved ECMA Awards this year.

When asked to write this blog I didn’t think I’d have anything to say, I think I’ve proven myself wrong, seems like I can’t shut up. I want to leave you with some points I’ve learned about how to make it through the weekend, other than pure determination and willpower.

Coffee is a must and frequent necessity of the weekend. We have two great coffee shops near the venues, Row 142 on Victoria Row & The Kettle Black on Water Street.

Terra Rouge Charlottetown PEITerra Rouge Charlottetown PEI

Terra Rouge

For early evening drinks and a bite to eat, I recommend a few places close to the venues – Water St Fish & Chips, Gahan House, and The Brickhouse, the newly renovated Globe (which is just open for the weekend), and Water’s Edge, the Delta’s new restaurant. Terre Rouge and Sims Corner offer cultured dinner options close to the action. If you’re feeling a little like getting out of the downtown, you must check out the PEI Brewing Company (they have a show that weekend too). They are making some amazing craft beer.

For a late-night bite to eat, stop into the Pizza & Poutine Co. on Kent Street for a slice, awesome poutine or a pulled pork sandwich. The Orange Lunchbox is also a great option for your late-night fix.

Breakfast can be a much needed and Casa Mia on Queen Street has you covered. The Factory also does a great breakfast on certain days, check them out.

Mark Fisher Photo

I encourage everybody to come to Charlottetown and experience the best week of music on the East Coast, as it won’t be back in Charlottetown for 5 years… Also check out for details on events this summer across PEI.

Mark Fisher is a project manager and event producer based out of Charlottetown. With more then 15 years in the industry, starting in the cycling, snowboard & ski world, It’s music (especially East Coast) that catches his focus these days, he is focused on building the best event experiences for fans and artist.

Follow along for the ride:  Twitter – @peifisher  |  Instagram  |  Linkedin


Charlottetown gets festive!

With the first light snowfall blanketing Charlottetown this week, blowing away the last of the golden leaves; city workers up on ladders decorating the eaves of businesses all over town with strings of Christmas lights, and the official Christmas tree lighting ceremony happening this evening at Province House, we think it’s safe to say that the festive season on Charlottetown has officially begun!

This year’s festivities begin tonight with the official launch of Charlottetown’s annual Wintertide Holiday Festival from November 22, 2013 to January 5, 2014. The Festival opens with a public lighting of the Christmas tree at 6:15 p.m. at Province House. Participants will receive a candle for the Candlelight Walk to the Confederation Centre Upper Plaza for the Christmas tree lighting at 6:30 p.m. The evening will be livened up by a special visit from Santa and live music performed by the Confederation Centre Youth Choir.

There are many exciting events to look forward to in Charlottetown over the next few weeks. If you are hunting for some fun Christmas gifts, stop by Colonel Gray this weekend for their Christmas Craft Fair. The Charlottetown Farmer’s Market and our many shops selling locally made food and crafts are also terrific places to find some unique presents that you won’t find anywhere else.

On November 30th, the Confederation Court Mall is hosting Pre-Parade Family Fun, complete with cookies and hot chocolate. It’s a great way to get revved up for the annual Charlottetown Christmas Parade that will wind down the streets of Charlottetown.

Charlottetown is home to some exciting music performances happening this season. On Sunday, December 1st the Confederation Singers and guest soloists will be performing Handel’s Messiah at the Confederation Centre of the Arts at 2.30pm.

On December 7th at 9am, Santa’s elves invite you to join them for their annual Wake Up Santa party. Once you have managed to rouse him from his deep slumber, the elves are pretty sure that the jolly man in red will join you to join him for a home-cooked pancake breakfast!  For ticket information click here.

Wake up Santa at the Confederation Court Mall

Wake up Santa at the Confederation Court Mall

If you aren’t awake for the morning celebrations with Santa, you’ll be excited to know that the Barra MacNeils are performing an East Coast Christmas performance at the Confederation Centre of the Arts on December 7th at 7.30pm. These wildly talented siblings are often called one of the greatest live acts in the Celtic world, and the show is a rockin’ good way to get the whole family into the holiday spirit.

The Barra MacNeils will be performing at the Confederation Centre of the Arts on December 7th, 2013

The Barra MacNeils will be performing at the Confederation Centre of the Arts on December 7th, 2013

History buffs will not want to miss the opportunity to step back in time at one of Hedgerow’s Christmas performances at Beaconsfield Historic House between December 8th and 15th. Storyteller Alan Buchanan, singer-songwriter Allan Rankin and musicians Brad Fremlin and Perry Williams have created a performance that weaves together a rich tapestry of Christmas stories and songs that they will be performing against the rustic charm of Beaconsfield’s Carriage House.

Charles Dicken’s fans are going to love Mavor Moore’s 1988 adaptation of the classic A Christmas Carol that will be playing at the Confederation Centre of the Arts from December 13th-21st. On December 15th come join the Confederation Centre Youth Chorus as they perform classical and contemporary Christmas carols with guest artist Joey Kitson at the Confederation Centre of the Arts.

There’s something for everyone in Charlottetown this holiday season! For a complete list of upcoming events visit our website at


Postcards from Charlottetown

A postcard is a distillation of experience in a single shot: Storefronts saturated in warm, late afternoon sunlight; a maple tree aflame with a collage of crimson leaves against a baby blue sky; steam rising out of the delicate contours of a hand-painted teacup sitting atop a hand-smoothed wooden table top, a journal opened to a half written entry, pen lying in wait in the crease between pages; church steeples piercing an endless rush of inky storm clouds. The key to choosing the perfect postcard is finding one that captures the tactile experience of place in the spot where the shot was snapped, so that a friend or family member back home is given the gift of momentarily discovering a sense of place in a destination that they may not have visited yet. Below are six postcards that capture some of the things we love about Charlottetown in the fall:



PEI Porktoberfest at Terre Rouge Bistro Marche

October on Prince Edward Island needs an extra day. For 31 days solid, restaurants all across the Island are serving pulled pork sandwiches – 32 of them to be exact. The pork is all local, and perusing the list of the sandwich ingredients is guaranteed to make you drool. The month-long festival—aptly named Porktoberfest—is a terrific way to celebrate the local hog industry and the perfect excuse (if you needed one!) to enjoy a cold pint of Island-brewed blueberry or pumpkin ale!  If you prefer a home-cooked meal, a number of local markets like Riverview Country Market have an extra supply of PEI pork this month so that you can put your creative juices to the test and create your very own Porktoberfest sandwich at home! This is the second annual Porktoberfest Festival, and there are 24 options in Charlottetown alone, so you need not even venture out of town! For a full list of restaurants taking part visit

Fall Foliage


© Discover Charlottetown, PEI

Charlottetown’s parks and streets in October transform themselves into a natural festival of colour: sunlight streams through canopies of brilliant crimson, pumpkin orange, canary yellow leaves, turning them into a breathtaking, constantly evolving collage against the wide open sky. Elms, lindens, maples and oaks blush brilliant hues and then slowly drop their fall blossoms like confetti, turning sidewalks, lawns and walkways into thick carpets of colour. Not to be outdone by the trees, residents decorate porches with pumpkins and scarecrows, and hang wreaths of dried flowers and crab apples on their front doors.  If you are on PEI for the last weekend of October, Charlottetown also boasts the best small town Trick-or-Treating in Atlantic Canada. Don’t take our word for it—come see for yourself!

Eclectic Shopping

Green Eye Designs, Charlottetown

Green Eye Designs, Charlottetown, PEI

If you know where to look, Charlottetown is an excellent place to find those one-of-a-kind, “where on earth did you find that?” purchases. From vintage clothes and antiques, to hand-made lace scarves, jewelry, pottery, home decor, music and soaps; olive oil and cheese to chocolates, the number and diversity of shops is surprising for a town the size of Charlottetown. Refreshingly, many of the most unique shops are located within easy walking distance of each other in the heart of the downtown core, which gives shopping in Charlottetown a distinctly European flavour.

Charlottetown Farmers' Market, PEI

Charlottetown Farmers’ Market, PEI. © Discover Charlottetown

Fall is also the perfect time to spend a morning at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market. Open Saturdays from 9-2pm you can mill around outside, enjoy a cup of hot apple cider and browse hand made clothes, home-baked cookies and fresh produce while listening to live music, or take the plunge and immerse yourself in the surge of shoppers inside. The market serves Island-roasted coffee, a flavourful array of teas and tea lattes; freshly baked bread; pastries and handcrafted chocolates; vegetables; Island wine and beer; fresh and cured meats, cheese, fish, and ethnic food from Africa, Mexico, the Middle East and China. Once your belly is full be sure to check out the jewelry, soap made using island seaweed, hand-dipped candles, pottery, hand-woven sweaters, scarves, hats, mittens and slippers, fresh flowers and door wreaths.

Vibrant Art/Music Scene


Live music at the Guild in Charlottetown, Saturday, November 16th, 2013

With all the colour outside, it is hard to want to go indoors. Save it for a rainy day, but don’t miss the Confederation Centre of the Arts Art Gallery, a beautiful exhibition space whose curator, a graduate of Yale’s art history program, brings a wonderful diversity of nationally acclaimed art together with lectures and literary events. This fall the gallery has three ongoing exhibits: Quotation: an exhibition focused on works of art that quote masterpieces from art history; Hilda Woolnough: A Retrospective, which includes drawings, prints, paintings and quilts created by one of PEI’s most influential artists of the past fifty years; Ni’n na L’nu: The Mi’kmaq of Prince Edward Island, which uses Wigwam-inspired structures to tell stories and interpret Mi’kmaq history; and Tactile Desires: The Work of Jack Sures, an exhibit of pots, sculptural forms and large-scale murals that explore the artist’s own roots, recent history and traditions of ceramics and pottery. A full list of upcoming workshops, lectures and readings can be found here. The Guild, across the street from the Confederation Centre of the Arts, also runs an interesting mix of art shows, dramatic performances and concerts.

There is so much happening in the Charlottetown music scene that it is hard to choose what live music performance to head out to every evening. From the lively, foot-stomping traditional Acadian fiddle tunes to jazz, blues or rock, Charlottetown’s nightlife is alive and thriving. A few upcoming performances you won’t want to miss at the Guild, The Mack and The Confederation Centre of the Arts are Stuart McLean and the Vinyl Café; Billy McGuigan’s Rock Legends; John McDermott; The PEI Symphony and Lennie Gallant; Dennis Ellsworth & The Dwellers and Jessica Rhaye; Rose Cousins, and the Cecilia String Quartet. For a full, updated list on everything happening around town, visit The Buzz or our website.

A Place to Rest Your Head

Fairholm Inn, Charlottetown

Fairholm Inn, Charlottetown. © Discover Charlottetown

Charlottetown’s hotels, motels, B & Bs and Inns are charming, cozy, centrally located, and often downright luxurious. Whether you’re a budget traveler looking for accommodations that provide just the basic necessities, a business traveler searching for meeting facilities, or a couple looking for a private romantic retreat, you are guaranteed to find accommodations that will fit the bill. Many of our downtown hotels, B & Bs and Inns are located in historic buildings that combine old world class with modern conveniences. Large windows that look out onto tree-lined streets, the occasional clatter of a passing horse-pulled carriage, colourful, beds covered with hand-made quilts, claw foot bathtubs and crackling fireplaces for warming up next to with a hot cup of tea or coffee after a stroll along the coastal boardwalk provide the old-fashioned comforts of a slower way of life in the heart of Charlottetown. To see a full list of our accommodations and book an island escape visit our website.