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"Searching for Abegweit" returns to Harbourfront Theatre in Summerside, P.E.I.
“Searching for Abegweit: The Island Songs and Stories of Lennie Gallant” has been described as a P.E.I. love letter starring the artist himself.
In the show, which premiered for the first time in June 2014, Gallant shared his Island songs, stories and humour, backed up by a five-piece band.
Simultaneously, images by Karen Gallant provided an ever-moving backdrop, mirroring the lyrics of the songs.
However, after dozens of Island performances and a successful Maritime tour, Gallant put the show on ice in the fall of 2017.
“I thought, ‘Let’s put it to rest while we’re still flying high’,” he said.
But fans wouldn’t hear of it resting.
After the final performance at the Souris Show Hall, Gallant started getting requests.
“People were asking us when we were doing it again because they wanted to bring friends and family. Other people (who had put off seeing it) told me they didn’t realize they going to miss it.”
Still others were asking where they could get copies of the two-disc album.
So after toying with the idea of re-mounting the show for a month or two, he ran it past Kieran Keller at the Harbourfront Theatre and was thrilled when the executive director said he’d love to have “Searching for Abegweit” back.
“I think the show works for a number of reasons. It’s like wrapping yourself up in blanket of P.E.I. It celebrates, it soothes, it makes us laugh. It also shows a side of Lennie Gallant that the public does not always get a chance to see with a traditional concert,” says Keller.
So, Gallant decided to do the show for another summer.
Need to know
What: Searching for Abegweit: The Island Songs and Stories of Lennie Gallant”.
When and where: July 23, 24, Aug. 13, 14, 27 and 28, 7:30 p.m., at Harbourfront Theatre, Summerside.
Tickets: Call 902-888-2500 or toll free 1-888-311-9090 or go to the website, http://www.harbourfronttheatre.com.
“It certainly has legs and it’s fun being able to do it again,” says the P.E.I. award-winning singer-songwriter. His show plays July 23, 24, Aug. 13, 14, 27 and 28 at 7:30 p.m. at the Harbourfront Theatre in Summerside.
Directed by Jac Gautreau, there’s something old and something new in this year’s production. Gallant has the old musicians back – Lawrence Gallant on vocal and percussion, Jeremy Gallant on piano as well as Sean Kemp on fiddle and Patricia Richard, mandolin, bodhran and vocals.
“I can’t say enough about the players. The band puts the same amount of energy into it as they did the first night. We’ve done over 165 shows now, and it still feels fresh,” says Gallant who provides lead vocals and plays guitar and bodhran.
As for the new elements, the production has updated the song list and added some fresh images from Karen, his sister.
“We’ve added about 30 new paintings throughout the show and, particularly, for the song “Selkie”, which has been added.”
The song appears on his new album, “Time Travel”. “Selkie”, refers to a Celtic myth and was a perfect fit in the section of the musical where he sings “Lord Selkirk’s Land” and talks about the Scottish pioneers who brought their stories and traditions to the new land.
However, adding it to the show created some challenges.
“That one song took us two days with a videographer and a lot of planning. It’s not simple to co-ordinate the paintings with the lyrics and make it all work with the technology.”
Keller likes that the care that Gallant puts into the production.
“Lennie, being the consummate professional, continues to refine the show, finding new stories, updating a song or two and, of course, incorporating some of his sister, Karen Gallant’s wonderful paintings. I notice something new each time I see the show.”
What: Rendezvous Rustico, an important tradition for Lennie Gallant. For over two decades, the multiple ECMA award-winner has been a mainstay at the festival.
When: Gallant will play on Sunday, July 28, 8 p.m., at St. Augustine’s Church, Rustico.
Deep roots: The annual concert is something he looks forward to. “My family has been in Rustico since the mid 1700’s so our roots and feeling for the place run pretty deep,” says Gallant.
Hometown pride: “It has a wonderful sense of community spirit that is pretty special and yet exists in so many Island villages. I love the fact that I still have that touchstone in my life. The rendezvous gives us a chance to celebrate that and, for me personally, I get a chance to show off the talents of other family members who are extraordinary musicians,” he says.
For information: The 25th edition of Rendez-Vous Rustico is July 27-28. For a detailed program of the festival go to https://www.rendezvousrustico.com/ or Facebook.