When Lennie Gallant created “Searching for Abegweit”, his goal was to share his Island songs and stories with audiences on Prince Edward Island.
Over the past four summers, the runaway theatrical hit has done just that.
First at The Mack, then at the P.E.I. Brewing Company and finally at the Harbourfront Theatre in Summerside, Gallant has presented his musical love letter to P.E.I., delighting audiences with songs like “Peter’s Dream”, “Tales of the Phantom Ship” and “Island Clay”.
Now that the show is touring the Maritimes, P.E.I.’s best-kept secret is out for others to enjoy.
“At first, I was concerned because the show is very much Island-centric. And we always had great reactions on P.E.I., but you wouldn’t believe the reaction the show received in Wolfville. The energy was amazing. It was a surprise,” says Gallant, during a telephone interview.
Receiving reactions from people from Georgia and other U.S. states who had planned their vacation around seeing the show also moved him.
“I’ve always felt humbled and surprised at the reaction and lengths that people go to in order to take it in.
“I think anyone can relate to it from any part of the country, especially anyone who grew up in a small town or rural community,” says Gallant, of the show that returns to P.E.I. on Sunday, Oct. 22, for one performance only at the Souris Show Hall at 7:30 p.m.
“Searching for Abegweit” showcases the artist himself and presents his folk, roots and rock music, alongside comedic stories, Island legends and poignant tales in a multimedia format that uses film and hundreds of paintings from his sister, well-known P.E.I. visual artist Karen Gallant.
Sharing the stage with Gallant are nephews Lawrence Gallant on vocals and percussion and Jeremy Gallant on piano, as well as Sean Kemp on fiddle and Patricia Richard, a multi-instrumentalist, on vocals.
However, the upcoming P.E.I. show comes with a bittersweet note.
“It might possibly be the last show. I’ve done 132 performances and even though it hasn’t lost any energy…. There’s a part of me that thinks, ‘let’s put it to rest while we’re flying high.
“And, at this point, I don’t have any plans to do it again, although that might change somewhere down the road. So Saturday’s show might be the last chance for Islanders to see it.”
As to why the Island-themed show is being well received in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Gallant is “surprised and humbled.
“(I now realize) anyone can relate to it from any part of the country, especially anyone who grew up in a small town or rural community. It seems to have that kind of universal appeal.”
5 Things about Lennie Gallant
1 - Much of the Island themed music in the show was gathered from the span of Lennie Gallant’s career, along with a number of compositions written specifically for the show.
2 - A native of Rustico, Gallant has recorded eleven albums (nine in English and two in French), which have won him a host of awards and nominations from the JUNOs, the East Coast Music Awards, and Les Prix Eloizes.
3 - Some people have returned to see the show five and six times.
4 - He was awarded the Order Of Canada for his contribution to Canadian culture, and has shared the stage with symphony orchestras and artists such as Jimmy Buffett, Patti Griffin, Chris Isaak, and Lucinda Wlliams.
5 - The show touches on many things connected to the Island including the history, culture, the present day and what are the hopes for the future.
Need to know
- What: “Searching For Abegweit: The Island Songs & Stories of Lennie Gallant”
- When and where: Sunday, Oct. 22, 7:30 p.m., Souris Show Hall, Souris, P.E.I.
- Tickets: Available from https://www.eventbrite.ca
- Artist website: Go to http://lenniegallant.com