Peter Menzies likes to think of all the music going on in Dawson City these days as pieces of a puzzle.
Menzies acts as emcee for most of the open mic/coffee house events at the Odd Fellows Hall and also for the various Home Routes house concerts that take place during the year. And nary an event goes by without his patented mid-concert community notes.
The latest update occurred on Jan. 5, in the middle of the monthly open mic “KIAC Saturday Night” (there’s’ actually a song to celebrate our coffee houses) and since it concerned a batch of things that are either ongoing or will be happening here during the next several weeks, it seems appropriate to highlight his comments here.
Coming right up is a fiddle workshop with Amelia Rose Slobogean, who is visiting Dawson for the second time in three years on Jan. 13. The fiddle group gets together every Sunday afternoon in the music room at the Robert Service School (RSS) and some of them are regular performers at the open mic evenings.
Menzies is a lead player in this as well, taking online lessons via Skype and passing on what he has learned to the others. One of his instructors has been Zavallennahh Huscroft, better known as Zav RT, who hails from Victoria. You can read a detailed account of her work in our April 12, 2012 online archive of What’s Up Yukon.
In addition to lessons, the fiddlers are honing their chops by providing some of the music for the contra-dancing group that will be meeting during the winter.
Nathan Tinkham recently completed recording sessions with a number of local performers and the CD sampler that came out of those sessions should appear in Dawson before spring. A previous sampler disc was produced about a year ago is always available at the open mics.
The music program at the RSS includes a junior and senior rock band, two choirs and classes working with both recorders and ukuleles. All of these groups have made stage appearances over the last month, either at the open mics, the school’s Christmas concert or the Christmas Music Extravaganza in the hall just before the holidays.
Some of the students in the school’s junior choir are also working with former RSS choir leader Betty Davidson in a new kid’s choir that meets at the Richard Martin Chapel weekly.
January will see an emphasis on ukulele in the Klondike, including both school kids and others within the community who are interested. Hélène Beaulieu visits from Whitehorse to help with this program.
Then there are the remainder of the house concerts that I profiled in the fall, at least one of which – Qristina & Quinn Bachand – will feature a workshop for local musicians interested in Celtic music.
“It promises to be a busy winter,” Menzies concluded, “and these monthly coffee houses are very much a part of it all.”