Review: Tellers and Tunes

An evening of Island music and storytelling

Review | by Chris McGarry

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On Monday, June 24, a near-capacity crowd gathered at the Kings Playhouse in Georgetown for an exciting, hilarious evening of rich Island storytelling and heartfelt songs.

Tellers and Tunes, hosted by well-known PEI personality and Four Tellers alumni member Gary Evans,  and multi award-winning songwriter Rachel Beck, also brought to the stage legendary Island storyteller Margie Carmichael and musical guests Meaghan Blanchard and Amy Beck, who throughout the show performed a number of songs with her sister.

Evans had the audience laughing with his customary brand of Island humor (dry wit, as he refers to it). He told tales about his life growing up in Morell, especially the longstanding divide between Liberals and Tories in his home community, as well as the customary patronage and cronyism, was part and parcel of that bygone era on PEI. Evans also shared yarns and anecdotes about other classic aspects of Island life such as bootlegging, religion and the old Borden Ferry.

For those visiting our beautiful province as well as Islanders wanting to experience a genuine slice of PEI talent and culture, there isn’t a better summer show than Tellers and Tunes. The interesting and side-splitting narratives finely articulated by Evans and Carmichael were interspersed by the equally amazing songs from Blanchard and the Beck sisters.

Blanchard, who has become a household name across PEI, took her unique style of country and folk to the stage of the King’s Playhouse, performing her hilarious song ‘Hang Your Clothes on the Line’ as well as a well-written tune about her grandmother, who for years had been a nurse at the old Montague Hospital. Rachel and Amy Beck were correspondingly brilliant as they performed some of their well-known songs, including Rachel’s “Hearts on Fire.”

Tellers and Tunes, which runs until September 9, will showcase some of the best talents the Cradle of Confederation has to offer the world. While Evans and Beck along with their musical guests put on a remarkable presentation, it was iconic Island storyteller and comedian Margie Carmichael (who has appeared on the CBC as well as the BBC) who stole the show.

It was all laughs and cheers as Carmichael recalled her childhood and youth growing up in Eastern PEI in a large Catholic home which at that time had no running water or electricity. Store-bought toilet paper was a real novelty back in those simpler times and one always looked forward to the yearly packages they received from well-off relatives from Boston. As always, Carmichael had an extremely comical take on events that have occurred throughout her life. One of the funniest moments of the show was when she shared memories of meeting Leonard Cohen as well as her brother, Urban Carmichael, a legendary PEI songwriter, comic and storyteller who sadly passed away in 2006.

With Tellers and Tales, Evans and Beck have collaborated to create a masterpiece of Island talent that never has a dull moment. If you can only take in one show this summer, this is the one to see.

Chris McGarryreview