Here We Go A-Wassailing

Tonight’s the night to Get Your Wassail On at Heartwood Hall in Owen Sound.  Are you wondering what that means?  For one thing it means an interactive experience rather than just a performance.  It also means a collection of some of the most creative artists in a variety of disciplines from the Owen Sound community.

Keira Mcarthur, artist and cellist, provided some dictionary definitions of the word “wassail” on her Facebook page: 1) A spiced ale or mulled wine drunk during celebrations for Twelfth Night and Christmas Eve; 2) Drink plentiful amounts of alcohol and enjoy oneself with others in a noisy, lively way; and 3) To go from house to house at Christmas singing carols, as in “here we go a-wassailing”.  Given that this is an event at Heartwood, definition #2 seems the most fitting.

It promises to be an energetic celebration.  Song sheets will be passed out so that everyone can join in group singing.  There will be a string ensemble to provide the music.

And there will be a pretty impressive contingent of spoken word (and songwriter) artists that include four of Owen Sound’s poet laureates: Kristan Anderson; Terry Burns and this year’s reigning poet laureate, Larry Andreas Jensen.

Owen Sound’s first poet laureate Elizabeth Zetlin will also be there.  Among her many other accomplishments, she travelled throughout the Grey Bruce area as part of the National Random Acts of Poetry Week, giving away poetry books and giving readings.  In addition to her publications and spoken word performances, she has created poetry videos.  The Limestone Ghazals were exhibited in Canada and Ireland as part of the Limestone Barrens Project and her docu-poem Nightwalk: Boreal Poetry Garden was screened at the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival.

She will be joined by other impressive practitioners of the dramatic arts.  Christopher McGruer directed a short film shot entirely in Owen Sound (with a soundtrack by Larry Jensen) called “According To Valentine” based on playwright Allan Knee’s award winning one act play, The St Valentine’s Day Massacre.

David Sereda has worked extensively in theatre as actor,music director and composer at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, the Theatre Centre and the Tarragon Theatre, where he co-wrote two musicals, Love Jive! and Siren Song with playwright and novelist Don Hannah.  But he is probably best known for his music which is empowering and spiritual.

And of course music will be a big part of the experience tonight.  Larry Jensen is as appreciated as a musician and songwriter as he is a poet.  Tubist J. Scott Irvine performs with True North Brass and is highly respected as a musician, having played regularly with the Canadian Opera Company and the Esprit Orchestra.  His compositions for concert band and brass instruments are performed by bands across North America.  His composition, Aubade, for cornet and band has proved so popular that it has twice been re-issued with string orchestra and organ accompaniments.

Sandra Swanell and Terry Young are accomplished veteran musicians whose virtuosity, on violin and guitar respectively, have won them accolades internationally. For many years they were part of the roots band Tanglefoot and after it dissolved they created a unique duo called My Sweet Patootie, which has been touring constantly since its inception and has won over audiences all over the U.K., Canada and the U.S. with an entertaining blend of old time jazz and folk.

With this wealth of local talent, tonight’s event is truly a Christmas gift for local fans.  Best of all, admission is pay-what-you-can with your donation going either to The Harmony Centre or Standing Rock as you specify.  Everything starts at 7 p.m.

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