J.R.REARDON – North Island Gazette
PORT HARDY — Midway through Saturday’s North Island Concert Society show at the Civic Centre, internationally renown guitarist David Sinclair put down his instrument and walked off the stage. Several minutes later, Comox-based songwriter and singer Kent Fiddy put down his guitar and departed.Each time, the audience whooped its approval.Perfecting the art of addition by subtraction, longtime friends and collaborators Fiddy and Sinclair turned a guitar duet concert into a series of shows that featured each performer in solo performances spanning a range of musical styles.
And, going a step further, the pair invited bassist Ron Mollinga of Port McNeill onstage to bolster a pair of songs, including the country rock-tinged The Ice Road, one of two numbers illustrated with a big-screen slide show.
By the time it was over, the crowd was on its feet for an ovation that drew the artists back for an encore of Forever,My B.C.,an ode to B.C. co-written by Fiddy, Sinclair and Gary Fjellgaard. The bulk of the concert featured Fiddy’s singing and storytelling, accented by Sinclair’s work on electric and acoustic guitars and the laudin, an eight-string instrument from the lute/mandolin family.
Fiddy is billed as a storyteller of the people and history of B.C., and he delivered with a series of songs from his 1997 CD Dreams and Destiny, including Cumberland, Keepers of the Light, the moody North Pacific Graveyard and Ripple Rock, on which Fiddy coaxed the audience to count down to an “explosion” that Sinclair delivered with his guitar.
But the duo ranged well beyond the boundaries of the province with adaptations of traditional Scottish songs (the whimsical Bonnie Are the Hurdies and Sinclair’s instrumental The Skyboat Song) the Spanish-influenced Fuimos Amigos and Grant Him La Vida, and the Cape Breton-inspired Farley on a Harley, a humorous song about Fiddy’s spotting a Harley-Davidson rider who looked like famed author Farley Mowatt while on a trip to the Atlantic Provinces.
With the taciturn Sinclair mostly looking on in silence, or occasionally strumming quiet background chords, Fiddy kept up a constant patter between songs, telling stories that introduced the stories within the songs.
After Fiddy’s solo performance of the moody Cape Scott Colony, perhaps his best vocal work of the night, he ceded the stage to Sinclair for a brief but vigorous display of instrumentals that included numbers from his 2007 CD No Words and 2005’s Acoustic Christmas.A virtuoso with three decades of credits as a session player and international touring guitarist, Sinclair showed off an exceptional ability to wring two or three parts simultaneously from his strings, playing the melody over the top of a running bass line and/or chords — even adding his own percussion with slaps and knocks when called for.
He alternated smoothly between gentle plucking, blistering flat and finger-picking and energetic grinding on songs ranging from the funky fusion piece The Hungry Cat to the holiday standard (It Came Upon a) Midnight Clear, in which he inserted a rollicking, percussive middle section between the traditional mellow start and finish.
On this night, North Island music fans got everything they came for. And less. And more.
“Took their audience on a musical adventure during the Lillooet Music Society season opener.Sometimes toe-tapping, sometimes boot-thumping,the duo’s music paid tribute to the values of small town Canada with songs like The Heart of the Country, Ice Road truckers in the NWT,Bob Bartlett in Newfoundland,the funny Farley on a Harley, and the tender Spanish guitar-tinged Fuimos Amigos, the rootsy Storm Warning that built intensity like a summer storm over the Mississippi delta.and other cultures.The audience definitely got their money’s worth in a concert that lasted over two hours.
Neville Hope-Fanny Bay Community Association
This award winning duo put on a fabulous performance ranging in emotion from humor,wistfulness and sorrow.The held the audience in the palm of their hands with their Canadiana songs and stories.Combined with David Sinclair’s extraordinary guitar playing,it was truly a night to remember.