In Praise of Michael Pendergast

Oliver and I went out to Avonlea for the afternoon yesterday. Careful readers will recall that I was involved in the very early stages of this project, my prime claim to fame involving the purchase of the Belmont School House from a man in Lot 16 who was using it to store his boat.

Avonlea has evolved over the years (if you had to pick the thing that Scott Linkletter is best at, it’s evolving ideas). It started off as a very commerical sort of “ye olde mall” the first year; now almost all of the commercial activity is gone, save the chocolate and cordial stores and the Anne of Green Gables Store and what’s left is a very pleasant, well constructed historical theme village, with a rich collection of actors, musicians, farm animals and other distractions that can keep a pair like Oliver and I busy for several hours.

The highlight for Oliver and I was Michael Pendergast. Which surprises me, as if you had told be five years ago that I would write a sentence like that, I would have laughed at you. Children’s entertainers are a hard bunch for adults to like: the exaggeration and necessary general goofiness turns them into sort of anti-adults, and thus while they entertain and delight children, they make adults (or at least this adult) feel uncomfortable. But Michael Pendergast, who roams the grounds of Avonlea playing a show hear, strumming his guitar there (in what must be a musician’s dream job), has the right mix of humour, style, musical abilities (which are considerable) all without too much “old timey-ness” or saccharine. He’s a consumate entertainer.

On the way out of Avonlea, we stopped by the barn to visit the pigs and the chickens; over in the corner were Michael and his fiddler quietly playing Will You Go Lassie?. The effect was magical.


Christy's picture
Christy on September 24, 2007 - 18:56 Permalink

I recently had the pleasure of hearing and meeting Michael on a Conference in PEI…what an amazing person? His musical talent is only surpassed by his charming personality..he is one of the most “genuine” people I have ever had the pleasure to meet.

Shirlee LaCour's picture
Shirlee LaCour on August 13, 2008 - 04:00 Permalink

We were just recently visiting the Maritimes and went to Avonlea in Cavendish, PEI. We took in a concert while at Avonlea headed by Michael Pendergast. He is a great performer and seemed to be a genuine person!! Everyone in our group loved the song he sang called Three Sailors. The whole band were excellent, a great shindig had by all!!

Christine Picard's picture
Christine Picard on June 22, 2009 - 15:30 Permalink

I completely concur with the messages above. I had recently had the great opportunity to enjoy Mike’s talents and charm during a weekend conference at Brackly Beach.

He is a genuine, truly caring person- often seeking to get a smile or chuckly out of a young child, and authentically taking delight in it. Not only is he extremely talented musically, but his personality and charm add to his appeal. He and his band were very pleasant, flexible and easy to deal with. The show was the highlight of the conference, and his band had even the most reluctant of audience members clapping their hands, playing the spoon, or joining in a square dance. All agreed that the performance was high energy fun!

Hats off to this great example of the true nature of the Island folk, and here is to a continually bright (and busy) future ahead!

Tim, Toni and Kevin Chardavoyn's picture
Tim, Toni and K... on July 13, 2009 - 10:21 Permalink

We recently visited Avonlea. We were pleasantly surprised, ended up spending 2 days and it became the highlight of our PEI vacation. On our second day we were lucky to see Mike Pendergast and Leon Gallant play. What an experience. Our 10 year old son who had been hesitant to go to “the children’s music show” was so overwhelmed he spoke of nothing else for over a week. We bought one of Mike’s CDs — wish we had gotten more as it played continuously during the remainder of our vacation and it’s been playing since we got home. What a pleasant and talented performer. Keep up the good work.

Robert's picture
Robert on July 14, 2009 - 13:19 Permalink

I moved home to P.E.I. six years ago. Though my life is filled up with loads of food adventures, Michael encouraged me to carry on playing music. I suppose there is a special sense of adventure and willingness to try new things attached to being the second of “three sailors”: I am just a bit over 40 years old, yet I am teaching myself to play the fiddle, I try to remain connected to the arts and culture scene- as I carry on with my “real” profession. I have learned that the two worlds necessarily co-exist.
Seeing and hearing Michael at work, often as his cohort on stage, is part of what makes our life here on the island a little bit more unique and rewarding.

Jennifer Kelly's picture
Jennifer Kelly on January 25, 2010 - 02:32 Permalink

I went to PEI this summer past with our Girl Guides and we had the honor of being entertained by Michael pendergast at the Avonlea village. He is an amazing performer and a great entertainer. The songs that he sang really touched my heart. Myself and all the other leaders would love to get a copy of his music. I see from another comment that we has a cd out. I was wondering if you would be able to let me know where I can get one. I haven’t been able to get his songs and talent out of my head. He is very blessed to be able to do what he does. I plan on returning to PEI in the next year or so and I certainly hope to see and hear him again. Keep up the good work Michael, you bless each and every person who hears any of your songs, they really touch the heart!

Carol Sarro's picture
Carol Sarro on July 4, 2010 - 00:31 Permalink

I recently visited Canada and was lucky enough to be entertained by Michael Pendergast while enjoying dinner at the Prince Edward Island Preserve Co. I bought one of his CDs and was wondering how I could obtain more. I have played the CD over and over since I returned. Not only do I thoroughly enjoy his voice, but I love the lyrics to his songs. And, aside from bring a good singer, he’s a great entertainer with a good sense of humor. Very talented young man.

Andrew Scott's picture
Andrew Scott on August 3, 2010 - 00:34 Permalink

Mike and Leon (and the other two very talented fellas), put on an absolutely fantastic show at Avonlea. My family and I, ranging in ages from 8-71, loved every second of it. I’d highly recommend it to anybody who has the good fortune to spend a bit of time on that slice of heaven known as PEI.

My only issue with those guys is that they don’t have a blasted website! I didn’t get a chance to pick up a CD at the time and I’ve been totally unable to find anything official about them online.


Maureen Rich's picture
Maureen Rich on August 5, 2010 - 20:20 Permalink

CD’s by Michael Pendergast and Leon Gallant both individual albums by each performer and a joint album called “Between the Jigs and Reels” with favorites from both artists are for sale at the General Store in the village of Avonlea and at the Prince Edward Island Preserve Co. Both of these places have websites and perhaps you can order CD’s through one of them.

Carolyn's picture
Carolyn on August 16, 2010 - 13:01 Permalink

We’ve just returned home from another glorious visit to PEI. A visit would not complete without a return trip to Avonlea — the highlight of the trip for me! We were thrilled to find Mike Pendergast and his musical co-horts again on the stage. What fun! I would also take some comfort in knowing that I was not the only one wiping tears during his “wee” gospel concert — such sincere emotion about important things! Wish I could find some of those songs on cd as well!

Projuggler's picture
Projuggler on July 7, 2011 - 03:02 Permalink

I love Mike Pendergast. I enjoyed his shows at PEI when I was the kid (at 36 years old). When I returned with my own daughter 3 years later, I remembered HIM. Not just the singing people, but him. He made quite an impression. I saw him a few more years at Avonlea and then at the Hall in Malpeque, I believe it was. Tonight, my daughter was on the stage helping with the Lester the Lobster song, and I was Mr. Pendergast’s square dance partner. I had the best time! I just wish he had a CD for sale, with just him and his songs for adults and kids alike.

Donna M. Denette's picture
Donna M. Denette on July 18, 2011 - 01:19 Permalink

So happy to see Michael getting so much good said about him here. Mike performed at my parents’ 50th (which we celebrated in PEI despite being from Massachusetts!!). Just got home from another visit and heard him with Cynthia MacLeod at her Brackley ceilidh and then again at Avonlea Village. Like most Islanders, he doesn’t seem to naturally think about ways to promote himself!! I had to ask him to get CD’s to sell after his shows!! I now own 2 — Between the Jigs and Reels (Mike and Leon Gallant) and Songs From the Shanty (Mike and Leon as well as Remi Arsenault and Brendan Peters). Mike’s “Three Sailors” is a very powerful song. I’m trying to get him to post a YouTube video of his rendition of The Grumbling Old Man and The Growling Old Woman.” It’s hilarious!!

rob's picture
rob on May 25, 2016 - 22:15 Permalink

do you know where i can get a copy of "jigs and reels"?

Charles's picture
Charles on April 15, 2012 - 02:28 Permalink

Saw mike in malpeque many times during the summer. Really enjoyed the sing a longs. Lost his cd but I loved singing along to the 3 sailors. Plan on retiring this year from Florida. What is the last show of the season in malpeque. Where are the lyrics to the 3sailors listed on line. Charles Sullivan

Guy Cappuccino's picture
Guy Cappuccino on July 30, 2018 - 14:32 Permalink

My wife and I traveled from New Jersey to the Maritimes for a vacation when newly married in 2004. We saw Mike perform and instantly fell in love with "Three Sailors". Fast forward and we now have four children, and 3 boys. The song has never stopped resonating in my memory. I wish there was a youtube video of it. Thanks Mike!