Fresh pie & folk music: symbols of togetherness
With a very cold, mid-February wind blowing off the lake in small town Port Hope, Ontario, I was warmed by the music, generosity, and freshly baked pies at singer-songwriter Catherine MacLellan’s Pie-Off.
Catherine has been hosting her yearly Pie-Off, a benefit to various community initiatives, for several years in Toronto. The event was originally held at the legendary Cameron House on Queen St. West. Legend says the competition got started when Catherine challenged a fellow musician’s pie baking skills: “Justin Rutledge sent me a text message saying he could bake me under the table”.
They agreed to let their friends and fans decide whose pie was best, while making a night of it.
Though the location was different this year, the premise was the same: great music, friendly competition, and all the pie one could eat, while raising funds for Green Wood Coalition, a grassroots initiative addressing poverty in Port Hope.
On this chilly Tuesday evening over one hundred pie bakers and pie lovers descended on St. Mark’s Parish Hall, to enjoy some Canadian folk music, to eat and to judge thirty-three pies (at roughly one third of a pie per person, that’s a LOT of pie).
“To me pie has become a symbol for togetherness,” Catherine said. “These events have turned into true community builders and I’ve been able to bring a little east coast, down home goodness to my growing group of friends in Ontario. Pie is something you never make without plans of sharing it.”
The evening was also the kick-off for an Ontario and East Coast tour for Catherine and her guitar-playing sideman Chris Gauthier, along with fellow songbird Jadea Kelly. Songwriter, musician and producer David Baxter (who co-produced Catherine’s latest, Silhouette) opened the night. As the audience enjoyed a smorgasbord of sweet and savoury pies, each of these talented artists very candidly shared their music with us — doubling the pleasure.
Later that night as we headed home down the 401, I couldn’t contain my joy at what a simple night in a clapboard church hall can do for one’s soul.
Catherine MacLellan and Jadea Kelly close their tour tomorrow night, February 25, at Marc’s Room in Charlottetown, PEI.