The Sharbot Lake Legion was the scene of what organisers called a “peaceful protest” Sunday.

At least four members of Kingston Creep Watchers, a group who protests against organizations they say support convicted sex offenders, were on hand across the street from the Legion Hall carrying signs. Brooks is listed as one of two administrators on the Kingston Creep Watchers Facebook page.

At issue was the presence of a Sharbot Lake area man who was convicted in 2006 of sexually molesting a minor and in 2010 of breaching a 161 probation order.

The 2006 order, which is in effect for life, prohibits him from public spaces where children may be present. The order was amended, however, in August of 2018, and he is now permitted to be in public spaces as long as he is accompanied by and remains within sight of a supervising adult.

The second clause of the 2006 order, which has not been amended, states that he is prohibited from “seeking, or obtaining, or continuing any employment, whether or not the employment is remunerated, or becoming or being a volunteer in a capacity that involves being in a position of trust or authority towards persons under the age of fourteen years.”

On Sunday, the Legion was hosting what they called “Live Music & Dance.”

The man sang at the end of the event but also ran the sound board for at least some of the event. There were no children under the age of 14 at the event.

Police did attend at the Legion but left without incident.

Legion President June Crawford said that event organisers were aware the protesters were coming.

“We gave them as cordial a reception as possible, even though they didn’t identify themselves when they arrived. We let them on our property and one of them came in. We told her that she’d have to make a donation in order to stay, which she did.

“She sat down, had a beer and even won a door prize,” Crawford said.

Crawford said it was not the Legion who called the police, but when the officers arrived, she spoke with them.

“I told the police that I was aware of the parameters the individual is under and when they asked, I told them my understanding of what his parameters were.

“Everything was copacetic and they left.”

The police did come back a second time, which Brooks mentions on her Facebook page, after being called by a member of her group who alleged one of their members had been assaulted.

The police returned but left shortly after.

The Legion Sgt.-at-Arms then asked the protestors to leave, which they did, moving to the bottom of the hill on public property.


The Slocan Ramblers play bluegrass. And they kinda rock it.

The first time they played The Crossing Pub in Sharbot Lake, they didn’t have any albums out.

Last Saturday night, their fourth Crossing gig, they have three albums and the latest, Queen City Jubilee, promises to be the one that takes them to the next level.

“It’s also on vinyl, the longest, most circular format that you can listen to music on,” said mandolin player Adrian Gross.

“With your first album, it’s pretty much what you have ready,” he said. “With the second, it’s refining and working on things.

“But the third, that’s your statement.

“We feel we’ve grown as songwriters and we feel we’re in a good place.”

Things have been going fairly well for the Slocans. They’re touring, selling merchandise and seem to be having a good time.

“We’re finding lots of places to play,” he said. “And definitely touring is the only way to make a living at this.

“But, our audience isn’t necessarily just bluegrass and so we try to play a range of music in general.

“And, in Canada, there are not that many bluegrass venues so we just play what we like.”

He said they’ll be “hitting the road hard this year” but expect to find time to fit in another Sharbot Lake gig this summer or fall.

“This is a great venue plus the audience here has evolved.”

By the way, the “Slocan” part is from an abandoned silver mine in central B.C. near where bass player Alastair Whitehead is from.

The Slocan Ramblers also played Inverary on Friday night at the Storrington Lion’s Hall

(Editors note – A couple of days after their Frontenac gigs, Queen City Jubilee was nominated for a Juno award in the traditional roots category.)

Next up at The Crossing Feb. 1 is Open Road, country and classic rock featuring Sharbot Lake’s own Dennis Larocque. ($10 cover, show starts at 8pm). And speaking of local boys, Shawn McCullough will be joined on stage Feb. 16 by fiddler extraordinaire Wade Foster ($15 cover, 8pm). Turpin’s Rail is back March 14 ($20 cover, 8pm) followed by The O’Pears March 23 ($25, 8pm), Dave Gunning April 6 (dinner and concert, $55, 6pm) and on Aug. 15, the master of anything with strings on it — J.P. Cormier (dinner and concert, $55, 6pm)..


With the exception of July and August, there’s country music at the community centre in Sunbury. It’s been going on for 17 years, although it’s really been going strong for the past 10 years or so.

“The lady who started it off was Margaret Smith,” said guitar player John Kott. “They didn’t have too many people back then.”

But about 10 years ago, with the advent of Jack’s Jam in Plevna and the Bedford Jam (nee Piccadilly Jam) as well as a few others, Kott, along with fellow aficionados Wayne Eaves and Elwood Rollins took it over and it’s been a going concern ever since.

“Yeah, we’re the ‘executive,’” said Kott, laughing. “But we usually have 25 to 35 entertainers and play to three-quarters to a packed house.”

Kott, who still plays with Jeff Code’s band, said there’s a lot of reasons he keeps doing it into his ’70s.

“Well, it keeps me practised up,” he said. “I’ll keep doing it for a few more years anyways.

“But it’s a good opportunity for those who are just learning to get up and play in front of an audience.

“We’ve had one lady, Thelma McMacken, who just started at 91.”

He said any money raised goes back to the audience in the form of prizes.

“And it’s good for the mind and body,” he said. “It gets you out of the house.”

Barry and Sheila Calthorpe, who show up at many of the open mikes and jams in the area are regulars here too.

“It’s good to see everybody, it’s like a family,” said Sheila. “And we really like to encourage the newcomers.”

“We’ve encouraged all we can,” said Barry. “Some of them to the point they’re better than us.”


It was a beautiful and warm, sunny day, as people filed into the Maberly Hall this past Sunday, to attend one of the Festival of Small Halls concerts. On the bill was our own Blue Skies Community Fiddle Orchestra (who use this very hall as a rehearsal space), opening for Nova Scotia's sibling duo, Cassie and Maggie.

The anticipation was in the air, especially for the orchestra itself, who are all members of the community at large, and who were thrilled to be a part of this festival.

Conductor Cindy McCall led the orchestra through a set of carefully chosen and arranged tunes, which began with a waltz written by the late Canadian fiddling composer and mentor, Oliver Schroer, and culminated with a rollicking version of some well-played jigs and reels, which picked up speed with each tune and repetition, to the delight of the audience.

After a short break, including complimentary oat cakes and jams made by orchestra members, Cassie and Maggie MacDonald took to the stage. It didn't take long for these two to win the audience over with their charm, wry humour, accomplished playing and beautiful vocal harmonies. Oh, and did I mention that they can step dance? By the time they’d finished their first tune, we knew that we were in for a treat. Maggie played guitar and sang in Gaelic and English, while Cassie played fiddle and then began to step dance. Maggie’s voice is strong, low and clear, with some husky undertones, and her guitar and piano playing is rhythmic and driving. Cassie’s fiddle playing is both precise and grotty, and her vocal harmonies, golden.

They sang at least three songs in Gaelic on Sunday, one of which was a milling song, Buran A Choru, which was sung by groups of women in days of old. The overall effect of the sounds and rhythms coming from their instruments and voices, when they sang in Gaelic, resonated deep in me, and was strangely akin to, and echoed the way I feel when listening to Indigenous throat singing.

These MacDonald siblings complement each other, and together create a sound a little edgier than some of the straight up pure Celtic music some of us are used to hearing. While rooted in their Celtic background, having grown up just beside Cape Breton in Antigonish N.S., the influence of Appalachian and Bluegrass music is creeping into their sound. In their latest, a Juno nominated album, ‘The Willow Collection’, they have chosen songs with the Willow as a common thread that runs through all of it. Most are traditional, some are original, and many they played for us in Maberly on Sunday. ‘Let No Man Steal Your Thyme’, ‘The Sally Garden Set’, ‘Seileach’ and the ‘Hangman’ to name a few.

When they finished playing, the house jumped to its feet to give them a standing ovation, and the MacDonald sisters did not disappoint. They returned to give two encores. For the last one, they invited members of the fiddle orchestra back up on stage to join them in Brenda Stubbert’s Reel by Cape Breton’s late, great composer and fiddler, Jerry Holland. Cassie and Maggie are moving to Toronto this year from Halifax, to further their career. It will be exciting to see what new influences will creep into their music and how their sound will evolve.

Two nights before, the skies were clear and the harvest moon was waxing at the ABC Hall in Bolingbroke. However a couple of hours earlier a tornado had blown through the area and although the hall was un-damaged, it had no power, except for the emergency lights at the exits. Somehow, the audience braved the elements for a decidedly acoustic show by PEI singer-songwriter Maegan Blanchard and her opening act, Grace Lachance. It is a good thing that both performers know their material well and the acoustics in the hall are good, because they both performed not only unplugged but on a darkened stage as well. We missed Grace Lachance unfortunately because what is normally a 20 minute drive took over an hour because of trees down on the roads, but it was worth the effort to get out to see Maegan Blanchard.

Maegan Blanchard sings some very personal songs, including, on this night at least, several that are about overcome personal darkness to strive for the light So not being able to see her on stage except in silhouette was oddly fitting. Among my favourite of her songs was Broken Pieces, which is from her latest release, which was produced by another well-loved performer around here, Jim Bryson.

Other stand out shows in this year’s series included a rollicking evening at the McDonalds Corners Ag Hall with Colter Wall and Perth’s Henry Norwood. Apparently, they “blew the roof off the hall”, figuratively speaking of course.

There are still tickets left for the Slocan Ramblers Show at the Golden Links Hall in Harrowsmith this coming Saturday Night (September 29), although the Sunday afternoon Kelly Prescott show at the Snow Road Hall is sold out. For tickets go to







Published in Lanark County
Wednesday, 01 August 2018 12:38

Fiddlers and Friends Return to Ompah

Fiddlers and Friends return for their yearly concert in Ompah on Thursday, August 9. The band loves to share their joy of music and zany sense of fun. They play a cheerful set of old-time fiddle tunes that has the audience clapping, toe-tapping and singing along. The fiddlers are accompanied by friends playing keyboard, bass, viola, cello, guitar, etc. Lois Webster is an unforgettable crowd favourite with her many homemade instruments and wacky costumes; one never quite knows what she will do next, and even keeps the band guessing.

Fiddlers and Friends are delighted to entertain the Ompah audiences, who readily join in to become a real part of the concert. Folks often comment that it is such a fun concert that it feels like a kitchen party. Audiences are always left wanting more. The Fiddlers and Friends concert on Thursday, August 9 at 7pm is a fundraiser for the Ompah Community Centre. Admission is $10 at the door. Following the concert, musicians and audience can mingle over refreshments. For further information, contact Marily Seitz (613-479-2855).



When the Festival of Small Halls started up in Ontario in the fall of 2014, it consisted of one performer, Nova Scotia’s Old Man Luedecke, and three halls, in Perth, Gananoque and Bloomfield. By the time the fourth edition rolled around, in 2017, there were 34 venues and performers from across the folk-roots spectrum including Ashley MacIsaac, Rose Cousins, Great Lake Swimmers and others.

But there were no venues in Frontenac County. They were close, in Bolingbroke, Maberly and McDonalds Corners, all part of the Frontenac News distribution area in western Lanark County, in Seeley’s Bay, and even in Tamworth, but not InFrontenac.

That is all changing this year. Among the new venues, which will now total over 40, are three in Frontenac County, the Grace Centre in Sydenham, the Golden Links Hall in Harrowsmith, and the Snow Road Community Centre. The festival runs in late September, and dates and performers at all of the halls will be announced in the early summer. The festival tends to provide a venue for local acts to open the evening, followed by national or international acts. It is supported by the company that runs the Ottawa Bluesfest and City Folk and is a not-for-profit venture.

One of the goals of the festival is to bring renowned musicians to smaller communities, and another is to celebrate the enduring charm and function of small halls in rural Ontario.

The festival website puts it this way: “Every small community has one: a treasured building that brings people together for town meetings, community dinners, bingo games, local theatre, book sales—and the list goes on. These buildings have rich cultural histories and countless stories to tell. No two are alike.”

The Frontenac County Halls that were chosen certainly fit that bill. The Grace Centre seemed doomed when the Grace United Church was closing, but thanks to the vision of the late Joan Cameron, the Southern Frontenac Community Services Board of Directors and Executive Director David Townsend, the church has been converted into a seniors’ centre and the chapel has become an arts and music venue, The Grace Centre. The Golden Links Hall in Harrowsmith actually burnt to the ground in 1972, and through the efforts of the local Oddfellows and Rebekah’s a new hall was built. And when it came time to hold a commemorative ball for Frontenac Counties 150th anniversary, it was hosted at the Golden Links Hall. The Snow Road Hall was under threat of closure a few years ago, when the late Mayor Bud Clayton mused about closing the lesser used halls and building a central hall for the township. The local community rallied around their hall, and haven’t looked back. It is now one of the busiest halls in the entire region, and has been upgraded several times, and has been hosting intimate concerts on a semi-regular basis.

It is this kind of history, and the enthusiasm of the people who use and foster these halls, that drew the Festival of Small Halls to them.

Stay tuned for more details about the 2018 concert series in a local hall near you.

Wednesday, 01 November 2017 16:26

Sweet Alibi shows off sweet harmonies

Sometimes, it all just works.

Such is the case with Jess Rae Ayre, Amber Rose and Michelle Anderson, aka Sweet Alibi, who brought their brand of harmonies to The Crossing Pub in Sharbot Lake last Saturday night.
Ayre and Anderson met in high school in Winnepeg. Rose is originally from small town Ontario near Collingwood but has lived in Winnipeg for 20 years.

“I met Jess and Michelle through music,” Rose said.
Specifically, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, she said.
“We all just loved harmonies.”

And harmonies is what this band is all about. Older fans will probably hear a lot of America going on there, but Rose was at a loss as to who those guys were.

“I grew up listening to Carole King, Fleetwood Mac and Joni Mitchell,” she said. “But I think we all like Feist.”
She said a lot of their original material comes from experimenting around campfires and such.
“One of us will do something and then another will say ‘what were you doing there, I liked that,’” she said.
Ayre, who grew up with Neil Young (“Harvest was a big influence), Tina Turner and The Beatles, said things have just naturally come together for the band.
“You can’t overthink it,” she said.

And so they don’t.

They’re back on the road after taking “42 days off after six years of touring” with a western swing coming up and then a trip to Germany in January.
This was their first time in Sharbot Lake and highlights included their original I’ll Wait, a cover of Bob Dylan’s Serve Somebody and the revelation that Ayre has three boyfriends and 278 pairs of earrings.



Local rockers Reckless 4’s new single and EP album, Hell Bent, is set for digital release (iTunes, Spotify, etc) Oct. 1, following a ‘battle of the bands’ concert at Mavericks in Ottawa Sept. 30.
Local rock fans will recognize the faces as H. D. Supply but this is a new evolution said lead singer/guitarist Jordan Lowery.

“Jay Mills is still the drummer and Hailie Mills is back on bass,” Lowery said. “But Colin (Hamilton) decided to focus on his (diesel) apprenticeship so we added busker Curtis Nolan Escott, who brings a jazzy influence to our hard rock.”
Lowery said the band has hooked up with producer Glen Robinson, who’s worked with AC/DC, Steve Miller, April Wine, David Bowie, Tea Party, The Ramones who “has showed us some pretty cool stuff that has improved our newer music.
“But he’s also managed to capture our true live sound and he’s the one who suggested Night Train should be the last song on the album.”
Reckless 4’s single, Hell Bent, has been getting some airplay in the U.S. and Australia and Lowery hopes for some similar treatment here at home.
After all, this is where the band got its start and Lowery isn’t about to forget that.

“When I first heard that we were getting a world digital release, the first person I thought of was Miss Schall,” he said.
‘Miss Schall’ is Julia Schall, a fine musician in her own right but also the founder of a School of Rock when she taught at Hinchinbrooke Public School.
“I’d like to thank her for the opportunity she gave us,” he said. “She gave us the things we use today and I owe her.
“She can just jump in on any instrument and is the musician I want to be.”


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