PROVIDENCE BAY – While dining outdoors in Mindemoya, enjoying Maja’s Garden Bistro fine food on Wednesday evening (before the music begins there), I am chatting with another guest, and he mentions that Ian Reid will be playing outside on Friday at Huron Island Time in Providence Bay. I recognize Ian’s name from another patio concert that he gave there a few years ago
With the sounds of gently lapping waves behind me, I settle into my lawn chair to begin listening. As soon as Ian begins playing the New Brunswick song from his latest CD, no longer is sitting an option.
The dancer finds a large patch of grass to one side of Ian’s stage—this song has to be received through movement. There are almost 75 children, adults and older adults. Sprawled out across a large expanse of grass, little clumps of people with the prescribed six feet of distance between themselves and their evening neighbours. Some are local beach walkers, just passing by on the boardwalk. Most are in chairs, some (very young ones) are rolling around on the grass, and others are perched on the edges of various sections of the boardwalk.
Ian’s music and stories roll out continuously for almost two hours, matching the rhythms of the waves coming in and out as the sun is making its final farewell into the horizon. The dancer listens to the words and the stories and lets these come through her body as expressions, responses and related movements.
Soon after beginning this solo dance exploration, there appears a shy four-year-old whose eyes are riveted to the dancer. She’s taking it all in visually and wants to try it on too. She watches and watches and after some time has passed, she ventures off of the boardwalk to try out some movements of her own. Her mother steps forward to encourage and take pictures of her daughter in motion.
While there is a pause in the songs, the dancer leans forward, stretching out the muscles in the back of her legs. The little girl does the same. The dancer reaches her arms out and up to the sky. The younger mover also reaches out and up. What a social species we are. Then a five-year-old joins in as well, each moving in her own rhythm and time.
Next an older couple joins in. Soon a choreographed dance of two is happening. This is followed by more free flow movement improv, as the couple melts apart and into individual solo dance expressions, while still obviously enjoying each other’s company.
There are now over 100 human beings stretched out or passing by listening to this fabulous music. Ian tells everyone how happy he is to be playing here again, his only paid gig this summer, he adds. Usually, he explains, he plays over 20 gigs during the summer season. He tells us he did not expect to play for so many this evening. “Almost 100 here,” is shouted out. He replies, “I don’t think I’ve ever played in Prov for 100 people before.”
Now a gentleman with a large camera steps up unto the stage and hands Ian a sheet of paper. He shares that in recent years, this person has heard him play here each summer and has returned for more. Ian then announces that a very special Peruvian Canadian musical group, Elo Sonno Synnott, coming from Montreal, had their debut gracing of this stage the following Friday evening, July 24. “Now their music will be something to dance to.”
Ian is thanking the very capable, young, local sound technician, Isaac, for the support he is providing to create a smooth, clear sound for all to enjoy. “Now,” Ian inquires of his attentive audience, “isn’t this better than doing Facebook?” There is a ripple of clapping and laughter in response.
After the performance, I describe to Ian the song, early in his repertoire, that drew me to the dance floor. “It has a minor sounding melody.” Ian says the song is called ‘New Brunswick.’ He notes that many songs on his most recent CD have this dark flavour. “The songs take you into a deep place,” I suggest. “Yes,” he replies.
He too thanks me for the dance. He says he noticed the dancing while he was playing ‘Harvest Moon.’ He describes how this reminded him of when he played music as a child, and his father would dance to that song. He describes his father as a very strong and supportive human being. “In fact, without all of that input I probably wouldn’t be here today sharing myself on a stage. I feel my father living on through what I now love to do… your dancing reminded me of my father (who died many years ago).”
When I reply to Ian’s inquiry, telling him that I live here year round, he asks what I do. I pause and tell him that I wear many hats. I explain that as your passion is music, one of my own is offering Thai massage and Trager, another kind of dance, hands on massage, with others.
Before leaving, I speak with Lance who has been running this take out restaurant and patio stage operation for over five years. He is so proud. He says that he hopes to keep Prov alive, as a great place for musicians to come and vacationers to share in beautiful musical experiences such as this evening. I also chat with others who are helping him in these endeavours.
The music festivals were called off for the summer of 2020. This venue is one place where live music was still happening, for all to hear, every Friday evening, from 7 to 9 pm.