A Piece of the Rock – Feb. 1 at the Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga
On a snowy Saturday night in the historic village of Port Credit, ON, we had a wonderful evening of Newfoundland music from A Piece of the Rock, performing at the Unitarian congregation’s coffee house folk night.
That night, the band’s usual four-man configuration became five, for a powerful evening of music from the Rock that had just about everyone in the packed hall up on the big dance floor. There were east coast and Irish songs, classic Newfoundland songs, sea shanties, and plenty of traditional Newfoundland accordion and fiddle tunes to keep the feet moving and the toes tapping.
Piece of the Rock is Joe Sexton on accordions and harmonicas; Bruce McDaniel on mandolin and guitars; Chris Murphy on guitar, bouzouki and lead vocals; Chad Wendell on double bass; and special guest Brian Flynn flying fingers on his fiddle.
This band has been together for decades, and it really shows in the tight rhythms and harmonies. They know their stuff cold, and it really warmed the hearts of everyone in the place.
The set list was varied and diverged somewhat from the band’s 2011 live recording, Sweaty Brows and Broken Strings, made within the historic walls of the Kingston area’s Inverary United Church. This is a really lovely recording that really captures what the band is about – bringing the life and lively musical traditions of Newfoundland to the rest of Canada.
We had tunes like “Whiskey In The Jar,” “The Night Pat Murphy Died,” “Sonny’s Dream,” the “Big Bow Wow,” “The Last Thing on My Mind,” “St. Anne’s Reel,” “Fogarty’s Cove,” “Lukey’s Boat,” “Wild Mountain Time,” “Haul Away Joe,” “The Galway Girl,” “Black Velvet Band,” “Song for the Mira,” “Squid Jigging Ground,” and “The Jolly Roving Tar.” It was a great mix of thrilling jigs and reels interspersed with songs of lost love and heartbreak born of seafaring lives and migrations.
We would be completely remiss if we didn’t mention the connection between this band Piece of The Rock and Canada’s hit musical play Come From Away, which has been wowing the crowds in both Toronto and New York City for a couple of years now. The musical tells the story of the excellent Newfie hospitality given to the “plane people” who were stranded in Gander, NL during the 9/11 terror attacks. The music for the play and Piece of the Rock’s tunes draw directly from the common Newfoundland repertoire.
Together, the members of A Piece of the Rock and the cast of Come From Away will perform a fundraiser on April 19 for the Come From Kindness initiative, which arose from the desire of the musical’s cast to give back to their communities. They use the money to perform random acts of kindness benefitting Newfoundland and beyond.
The fundraiser will take place at Grace O’Malley’s pub on Duncan Street in Toronto on April 19 from 5 to 10 p.m.
You can learn more about A Piece of the Rock, its recordings and its upcoming performances on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/apieceoftherock/