Hardrock miners. That's Thompson, a town where many of the underground miners at Vale hail from Newfoundland and Labrador. The Rock. It's the same story in Fort McMurray's oil sands and was until recently in Yellowknife's gold mines. Dreams of jiggs dinner and Ches's Fish and Chips are dreamed in Northern towns such as this.
There is another dream and hunger felt here, too. The hunger for the music of home. Every Newfoundlander feels it to the core of their being no matter how long they've been "away." Thirty-two years at Vale is the ticket back down home.
Arthur O'Brien and Fred Jorgensen, both baritones and half of the four-member Newfoundland band The Navigators, share their traditional Newfoundland and Irish music here tonight, playing acoustic and electric guitars, whistles, mandolins, bazookas, bodhrans and fiddles. So get ready to be on your feet dancing tonight like you're at a Newfoundland kitchen party. You are!
Thompson is on "The Borealis Trail" circuit of Home Routes this year. Performers start their tour in Buena Vista Sask. and then go on to Porcupine Plain Sask., Prince Albert, Carrot River Sask., The Pas, Thompson, Flin Flon, Swan River Valley Rossburn, Onanole, Carman and then end in Winnipeg.
O'Brien is a lead vocalist and plays acoustic and electric guitar. He has sung for audiences as far away as Germany, but is most well known in Newfoundland and the Maritimes. Known as a lively entertainer with plenty of stage presence, he has shown strength as a songwriter with his song "Nancy" appearing in the 2000 production of The Needfire in Toronto.
Fred is another lead vocalist with The Navigators and a veteran player of the tin whistle and bodhran. He was a founding member of the well-known Newfoundland folk group Fine Crowd, recording two the albums Poverty's Arse and Sucker For Good Company.
Admission to the Thompson Public Library's basement Bijou Room tonight for Fred Jorgensen and Arthur O'Brien is $15 at the door. The cost of admission goes to the musicians, while Lisa Evasiuk puts them up or otherwise arranges accommodation while they're in town.
On Oct. 3, rhythm and blues/folk performer Treasa Levasseur, born in Winnipeg, raised in North Bay, and a long-time resident of Toronto, kicked the season off.
Homes Routes is a not-for-profit organization. The chairperson is Derek Black, a 25-year veteran of the Winnipeg Folk Festival, including eight years as its board president. Black plays guitar and sings as well. The executive producer is Mitch Podolak and Tim Osmond is the artistic director.
Other board members include Chris White, artistic director of the Ottawa Folk Festival, who is also a songwriter; Troy Greencorn, artistic director of the Stan Rogers Folk Festival in Canso, Nova Scotia; Manitoban Steve Schellenberg, a songwriter who is the artist representative on the board; Robert Lyons of Regina, an owner of nightclubs and restaurants, who is also described as "a very decent lyricist and guitar player and an old hand at producing house concerts" and Les Siemieniuk, general manager of the Calgary Folk Festival and a long-time broadcaster including producing CBC Radio's Simply Folk.