When Everyone’s Name Rhymes with Allan

Perry and Susan Williams were kind enough to invite us out to their place in St. Catherine’s this evening for what Perry termed a “combination house party and commercial shoot.”

Perry is one of the rungs in the wheel that is Hedgerow, a new Island singing and storytelling supergroup, the others of which are Allan Rankin, Alan Buchanan and Brad Fremlin.

Hedgerow will be performing at the Nils Ling Centre for the Performing Arts in Stanley Bridge this summer, and because they’re fresh out of the gate, they needed footage of enthusiastic followers to paste into a television commercial.

Allan, whose praises I have sung here before, is a superb singer-songwriter whose songs about the Island perhaps best capture both its specialness and its fragility. And Alan, who has sometimes appeared across a great gulf from me (but who is no doubt a better man than any corporation would ever allow him to be) is a consumate storyteller. Perry and Brad work their musical magic into the background in a way that seems effortless and casual even as you know that it’s demanding and highly skilled.

While what we saw tonight was something of an unpolished gem, it was good stuff, and once it gels, it will be great stuff.

A friend of mine — a new Islander — remarked last week at the irony that many of the projects that Island tourismocrats engage in to attract people to PEI in fact work to erode that about the Island that is special and interesting and attractive to visitors in the first place, as if being outselves wasn’t simply interesting enough. Projects like Hedgerow — “distilled” Island culture served live — while not quite as unvarnished as a midwinter night at he BIS, are about as far from Nickelback-on-the-Water as you can get. What Perry and Allan and Alan and Brad are saying is, in essence, “this is an interesting place: let us tell you something about it.” That’s a laudable activity, and worthy of support and encouragement.

By the way, any event at the Williams Compound is bound to be a learning experience about their extended family, of which there was much evidence this evening. New information I gleaned tonight: Alan Baker (who I worked with briefly on a Rob Paterson-led hullabaloo several years ago) is married to Perry’s sister Lily. Who knew? I also met Bonnie MacEachern’s neighbour, and we reminisced about the Goodwill Ave. pesticide tussle related here.

Oliver was left in the able hands of Ann’s daughter Cassady. Who was named after Neil.

Enough information for one day. Off to bed to prepare for Day Two of the “experiencing a small slice of what life is like every day for Catherine tour.” Catherine, by the way, spent the day experiencing the joys of Little Italy in New York. She and Joy are off to the theatre tomorrow night and, before that, to this. I am appropriately jealous.


Nils's picture
Nils on May 16, 2004 - 20:10 Permalink

Whoa .. dude! People might think you’re serious! Allan and I have partnered this summer to lease what used to be “The Carmody Comedy Barn” in Stanley Bridge. We’re calling it “The Barn Theatre in Stanley Bridge”.

I have enough problems with people thinking I have a massive ego — let’s not go telling folks I’ve named a Performing Arts Centre after myself.

Besides … I’m holding out till they’re looking for a new name for the Confed Centre …