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Stephanie Conn

writer, researcher, producer

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transitions

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St. Ann’s bay, looking towards River Bennett

Cape Breton looks different in every season. In summer it is dark green and blue and smells of salt and pine; the fire- and churchhalls are bursting with dancers and spilling over with fiddle music. In the winter it is quiet, the snowy hills carved like stone, every social visit celebrated and wrung out for all it can be. But here is Cape Breton in the Fall, all contradictions: soft yellow marsh grass, bays as still as a millpond one day and as wild as the North Atlantic can be the next. Cafes closing for the season, and the Celtic Colours festival club pressing on into the wee hours. Continue reading “transitions”

Prince Edward County, vanishing cultures

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I was recently in Prince Edward County, wine-tasting and relaxing. It was lovely, but I was most intrigued by the many, weathered graveyards that I passed on the side roads. Who were these people and where did they and their culture go?

Prince Edward County is a vibrant hub of agriculture, overflowing with produce and home to acclaimed vineyards and cheesemakers.  But there’s little evidence of the Scottish or Irish communities that must once have thrived there. Carleys, Bairds, Simmonds and Farrells once lived here, and likely still do, but I didn’t see any listings for Irish or Scottish ceilidhs or dances. Prince Edward County’s culture seems to have moved on, to emphasize different things. Perhaps its proximity to Ottawa and Toronto and Montreal, or its location along the St Lawrence Seaway and the CN train lines, contributed to its cultural assimilation. Continue reading “Prince Edward County, vanishing cultures”

Largo-old-sign

Hold me. My favourite little music club in the world is closing. Let me explain, though– it’s not really closing, it’s moving to a new location. Why the panic, then?

Anyone who’s ever been to Largo raves about the magical experience. But they also know that this magic is created by the musicians and audiences who congregate there, and orchestrated/facilitated by Flanagan, the owner and booker. We should all trust Flanny’s good taste, and feel safe in the knowledge that he will be at the helm of the new Largo-at-the-Coronet.

I look forward to the ease of booking tickets (tickets! imagine that) online; not waiting in endless queues outside the door;  not being forced to eat sometimes mediocre food or pick random strangers from the line to fill out my table for four, as amusing though that could be. I know there will be more than one toilet, and it might even be in good working order. And I feel secure that I will be able to find all of my favourite artists (Jon Brion, Fiona Apple, The Eels, Aimee Mann, Nickel Creek, Zach Galifianakis) on the new stage.

But how odd that there will even be an actual stage. The new Largo will be a concert hall, not a cozy spot with the feel of  private club. Will I still be close enough to reach out and touch Jon (not that I would)? Will we still feel like he is looking at us while singing, like the “pursuant eye’ of old portraits? Will the doorman remember me? Will I make as many friends as I did at the old place?

We have no choice: let’s all take a deep breath, and jump. I’m confident that Largo will catch us.

News, clips, etc from the documentary/performance film about Largo

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