EMERALD – Prince Edward Island’s “red headed fiddler,” Courtney Hogan, will be hosting her final ceilidh of the season in Emerald this Friday evening at the Community Centre. The full summer schedule enlisted some of the Island’s finest entertainers including Fiddlers’ Sons, Richard Wood, Gordon Belsher, and Dino Dunsford, and her final show will be no different as she welcomes her good friends Johnny Ross and Peggy Clinton.
At the age of 24, Hogan has seemingly been able to take her strong work ethic and turn it into a long list of achievements including three P.E.I.-Music-Award-nominated CDs, a now sold-out ceilidh cookbook, the host of two ceilidhs (New Dominion and Emerald), and the mainstay fiddler with popular P.E.I. band Fiddlers’ Sons. And if that wasn’t enough, she’s also been able to find a balance between evening fiddle performances and making it to Atlantic Veterinary College’s Dean’s List as a fourth-year veterinary student.
Despite so many early successes, Hogan says opening the doors to a new ceilidh was a nervous adventure.
“I remember looking at my husband two hours before my first show this year and just crossing my fingers somebody would show up,” admits Hogan. “But we have had an amazing summer in Emerald with visitors from every province, just about every U.S. state and even as far away as Australia and Austria.”
However, as one of the small community’s newest members, Hogan credits most of the ceilidh’s success to the strong community support.
“We’ve had a lot of people from the community who have been to just about every show this summer, and it’s an amazing feeling to look out in the audience and see so many friends, neighbours and Islanders.”
But Hogan believes in the old adage that you’re only as good as the company you keep, which is why she keeps in fine company with musical talents like Johnny Ross and Peggy Clinton. Clinton started singing at the age of five, tagging along with her father Alphy Perry during his shows in St. Edwards. Now married with four children of her own, she has been part of several popular Island groups including The Wild Flowers and Landslide.
After taking a break from music to spend time with her family, Clinton has re-joined the music scene in a big way with her contagious laugh and high stage energy that is sure to bring smiles and laughter to her toe-tapping tunes.
Clinton will be joined by her friend Ross on the piano. A member of popular band The Ross Family, Johnny would be well known for playing tunes with a strong blend of Acadian and Scottish influences, but when he hits the stage you can expect anything from “The Music Box Dancer”, to his entertaining rendition of Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire”.
“A ceilidh is basically a big kitchen party and we just all take turns singing songs or playing tunes,” says Hogan. “Everything’s completely unrehearsed and when you glance over and see Johnny on top of the keyboard, playing perfectly in tune with his feet on the keys, you just know it’s going to be a wild, fun night.”
And a kitchen party is nothing without a dancer, (or two) and the musicians will be bringing along two of the finest young step dancers on P.E.I. The Dalziel Girls, consisting of Shelby and Alanna, studied under the direction of Jennifer Carson with the Reel Talent Dance Company. They have won several titles including Crapuad’s Rising Star, Eastern Canadian Championships, first runner up in P.E.I. Youth Talent and have appeared in the Festival of Small Halls and “Highland Storm”.
The last time this trio got together was a sold-out performance and the season finale is expecting to be the same. The final night of fiddling, singing and dancing will take place Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the air-conditioned and licensed Emerald Boxcar Pub & Grill. The newly renovated Community Centre is primarily operated by volunteers from the small rural community and doors open for food and drinks at 6 p.m. Admission is $10 at the door.