“Slainte” and “Erin Go Bragh” were cheerfully expressed as Celtic music filled the air at the Vegreville Train Station on St. Patrick’s Day! Perogies and Jam presented an evening with Finngael, and local musicians to a delighted audience in memory of the Irish patron saint St. Patrick and all those wishing to be “Irish for a Day.” These two expressions are affectionately translated to mean Good Health and Ireland Forever. Many a green emblem, hat or accessory was displayed in good fun in remembrance of St. Patrick’s legendary use of the shamrock (three leaf clover) in his preaching of Christianity in the early fifth century A.D.
Opening the evening’s entertainment was young Leeland Bachelet of Two Hills who played reels and jigs including Gary Owen and Hangman’s Reel. Leeland has often played and sang at Perogies and Jam events and has attracted a strong following in the Vegreville music community.
Finngael, an Edmonton Celtic band, regularly play Celtic music and established their roots playing medieval and renaissance music, with the Borealis consort. The band consists of Tom Mead (guitar), Nigel Jackman (mandolin and mandola), Tracey Jongerius-Nyhus (harp, whistles, recorder, vocals), Donna Mae Jellard (keyboard, whistles, recorder) and recent addition Greg Mottl on percussion. Each band member brought their own perspective, background, and talents to the group and the evening’s entertainment. Tom’s background in rock bands as well as renaissance and baroque music (he also plays the lute) added a unique touch while Nigel’s experience with Celtic music and Scottish dancing got the music hopping. Donna Mae plays in an early music ensemble and teaches music with the Edmonton Public while Tracey enjoys experimenting with new instruments and tends toward a Celtic folk and traditional flavour. A special thanks to local musician Sue Koziel for introducing Finngael to Perogies and Jam!
The audience was drawn to the captivating and enchanting music including traditional songs and instrumentals with several by the famous Turlough Carolan of Ireland and A. A. Cameron of Scotland. The Irish songs included The Mist Covered Mountain, The Girl I Left Behind Me/Campbell’s Farewell to Red Gap/The Red Haired Boy, Danny Boy, Loftus Jones, Kitty of Coleraine, Road to Listonvarna/The Morris Dance/Drowsy Maggie/The Morning Dew, Sheebeg and Sheemore, and Star of the County Down. Scottish songs included Scotland the Brave, She Moved Through the Fair and Logan Water. English songs included Scarborough Fair, and The Trees They do Grow High.
Also included in the second set was the familiar “What do you do with a Drunken Sailor?” for a crowd pleasing sing-a-long. Irish jokes and a moderate measure of Guinness stout added to the festivities.
After a short break to readjust the musicians equipment, the “Open Mic” session commenced and continued on until after 10:30 pm. Included were local musicians Ralph Lange – singer/guitarist, Rob Hughes (drums), Michael Freeman (flute, keyboard), Randy Kereliuk (singer/guitarist), Sue Koziel (flute), and Piper Stoyko (singer/guitarist). The audience was also treated to the music of Terry Jordan (vocals/keyboard) of Sherwood Park, Shelley McDonald (shuttle pipes) of Vermilion, and LaLayne Martel (singer/guitarist) of Big River, Saskatchewan. It was terrific to have the music flowing all evening long. Members of the Vermilion Folk Club were also on hand to join in the fun and celebrations.
Beannachtai Na Feile Padraig Oraibh! (translated for those unfamiliar with Gaelic, this means St. Patrick’s Day Blessing Upon You!)