SUMMERSIDE – Eddy Quinn and Billy MacInnis had the Summerside Legion hopping Saturday afternoon, at the weekly Kitchen Party.
Quinn is an award-winning performer well known for his roles with the Urban Outlaws, the Johnny Ross Band, Old Habits and Fiddlers Sons, while MacInnis toured with Stompin’ Tom Connors for a decade and more recently with country performer Tom Hus.
Normally, the Kitchen Party invites one of four special guests as the featured musician for the week, but Quinn and MacInnis kindly agreed to bring their caliber of play to the Legion as a treat for the loyal audience when the intended performers couldn’t make it.
Organizer Rhéal Arsenault, who is also a musician, has been organizing the event for four years, after responding to a request form the Legion to start an afternoon event of fun and music.
“I got a bunch of guys together, and we started, and things worked out,” the musician outlined, noting that the talent is plentiful in the region.
“We’re still packing the place,” he said in testament to the performers’ efforts.
He considers that the middle-age-and-older crowd enjoys the focus on fiddle music and older country music that is not often played in contemporary bars and clubs.
Arsenault expects that the choice of tunes, that people know all the words to and can sing along with from years of familiarity, are the draw to the event.
“It’s a different crowd. It’s drawing a crowd that normally wouldn’t have a place to go,” he assessed.
The Kitchen Party is held every Saturday afternoon, from 3 – 6 p.m. It was originally free to attend, but the response became so hectic that Arsenault had to start charging an admission fee, which is currently four dollars. The fee is divided between the Legion, which staffs the door and the bar, and the performers.
There are three sets played during the afternoon, with the second set including an open mic opportunity for anyone who wants to sing, backed by the band.
The Kitchen Party has continued as a weekly event through most of the year, taking a hiatus in the summer months. This year, Arsenault is going to see if events would work in July and August, planning on two each month.
“I’m lucky I have a good bunch of guys working with me,” Arsenault admits of the organizational demand.
He credits the help from his son, Rémi Arsenault, who is a drummer, and guitarist Andy Paynter, who never seems to miss a week, as well as others who have regularly contributed, for the success and longevity of the Kitchen Party.
“If things keep going the way they are, I have no intentions of ever stopping this,” Arsenault vowed, figuring it as one of the biggest activities the Legion has and expecting that the support would continue from both the venue and the audience.