Cenotaph music crew moves indoors for the winter

LITTLE CURRENT—George Williamson and his musical friends became an instant summer Friday night tradition when they began playing at Soldier Park in Little Current a couple of years ago, but the onset of fall weather would herald the end of the popular diversion. Now, thanks to the Little Current United Church and Pastor Paul Allard, the entertainment is moving indoors for the winter with a bi-monthly evening of eclectic entertainment.

“Paul talked to me just as we were finishing up in the fall,” said Mr. Williamson. “He asked if we would be interested in setting something up in the church hall maybe once or twice a month.”

The idea intrigued Mr. Williamson, particularly as a number of the Friday night regulars would be staying in country for the winter.

“I felt that we have a reasonably good-sized hall at the church that we really don’t utilize all that much,” said Pastor Allard. “So I thought here is a good opportunity to bring out some local entertainment and do some creative outreach to the community. We have made a verbal agreement with George Williamson for a coffee house style evening on the second and fourth Friday of the month.”

Mr. Williamson toured the Little Current United Church hall and agreed that it would be serviceable for the purpose and put the word out to his regular crew. “There does seem to be some interest already,” he said. 

The indoor venue will be a little different from the Friday night summer offerings in the scope of what will be offered, more in keeping with a “coffee house” atmosphere.

“It will be open to entertainers of all sorts,” said Mr. Williamson. “We might have poetry readings where someone can read some of their poetry, perhaps a dancer, it is always nice to see different things.”

There is also Bluetooth access at the church hall, which expands the possibilities quite a bit.

“If someone has an instrumental on their smartphone they could play the music and sing karaoke-style,” said Mr. Williamson. But the key is to get local people up and showcasing their talents. “There is nothing like getting up in front of people and performing, but for a lot of people it can be very intimidating the first time. This is an opportunity to get up in front of people where it is a small and friendly crowd, very low key. Hopefully, that will encourage people to try it out.”

It also provides an opportunity for people to get out of the house and chase away some of the deep winter doldrums.

“January and February seem to be the time when there is less to do, especially since it is so cold outside,” said Pastor Allard.

The coffee house will follow much the same process as the summer Friday night entertainment. Mr. Williamson’s wife Linda usually organizes the entertainer’s schedule.

“Linda will be there mostly and we usually limit everyone to one song so that it isn’t the same person going on,” said Mr. Williamson. “We will try to do a better job of everything.” Mr. Williamson’s regular crew will act as backup as necessary, but he notes that hopefully most of the musical entertainers will stick to the three-chord jam standard to make it easier for them to follow along. “It’s all about taking turns so everybody has a chance,” he said. “We might make an exception if someone has a lot of stuff to set up and we can step back as needed.”

“We also try and encourage people to get up and sing,” he said. “Every now and then we will ask if anyone wants to sing a song because people sometimes are a bit shy to come forward.”

The coffee houses will start this Friday, January 11 at 6:30 pm. The evening is free, but donations to Manitoulin Family Resources Help Centre food bank are heartily encouraged.

“We will have tea and coffee, and maybe some snacks,” said Pastor Allard. “There will be tables set up and if people want to sit and play cards while they listen, well that’s fine too.”