We have written previously about how much we enjoy seeing our local Susquehanna Folk Music Society finding ways to bring at least one Canadian act to the PA mid-state each year. Just last fall we enjoyed a local evening with Le Vent Du Nord, and shortly afterwards we smiled once more when learning that The East Pointers would be making a stop in Harrisburg, PA this April. Having seen this trio in Toronto last summer (just prior to the release of their latest “What We Leave Behind” album), we knew that our paths would cross again, but never envisioned this taking place just a short 4 mile drive from my office.
Arriving at the “Fort Hunter Centennial Barn” on a pleasant Thursday night, we took time to admire this former dairy barn (built 1876), that has since been renovated as a multi-purpose venue for weddings, meetings, and of course, live music. The room may not have been the largest space for the band, but the folk society certainly filled the room with music fans craving some wonderful entertainment, and brought plenty of enthusiasm for The East Pointers all night.
Hailing from PEI, the trio of Tim Chaisson (violin/percussion/guitar/vocals), Koady Chaisson (banjo/bass pedals/vocals) and Jake Charron (guitar/keyboards/vocals) probably felt a little bit at home having driven through some rural parts of central PA to arrive in Harrisburg. A completely different experience from their last 24 hours, that saw them having to navigate the craziness that is New York City. Indeed, Tim offered up tales about trying to park and getting lost in the city; even driving through the same toll booth twice, and being unable to use the “but we’re Canadian” charm to avoid having to pay once more.
Known for their modern interpretation of traditional music, The East Pointers delighted the room with two sets of music, and a finely balanced mixture of instrumentals and vocal tracks. Those familiar with Tim Chaisson would have no doubts of his ability to handle the lead vocal duties with ease, having made his name with his solo endeavors prior to the formation of The East Pointers. With a great selection of vocal material to share, the trio treated us all to “Two Weeks” and “Miner’s Dream” from the new release. And let’s not overlook those instrumental pieces, where all three musicians demonstrated their talents and abilities to both transition and change tempo within a particular track. Playing to a dedicated folk music society, the audience reveled in everything that The East Pointers would deliver.
Being cousins, both Tim and Koady have a natural chemistry both during and in-between tracks. As a long time friend and companion, Jake has an uncanny ability to inject some humor or observations at just the right time. One such moment occurred during “No Bridge Too Far,” in which Tim engaged in a short burst of traditional dance (to the delight of the crowd). As the song came to an end, Jake dryly stated, “There’s Tim, taking all the attention during Koady’s ONLY banjo solo; the ONLY time Koady gets a solo and Tim takes his limelight!” “Yeah, thanks for that Tim,” added Koady. All in good humor – the guys clearly love keeping each other in check (cue several hockey related one-liners) and bounced off each other all night.
Conversations revolved around the theme of PEI natives often having extended families everywhere they travel. A cousin of Koady’s was actually in attendance at this show. This theme offered several moments for light-hearted humor. Just prior to performing “Party Wave,” Koady shared a tale of how a young lady approached him in New York and said that she planned to visit PEI. Hoping to strike up further conversation with the young lady, he was taken aback when she informed him that she was only interested in seeing Anne of Green Gables, to which Koady joked, “We didn’t get along much after that!” Returning to this theme once more later in the show, Tim discussed how this extended family of cousins had a habit of always turning up to shows, stating, “Koady even married an Australian; someone as far away from PEI as you can get.” Koady would continue the string, “We were playing is Tasmania when this girl came up to me and said ‘I’m your cousin’,” pausing for the punchline, “And then I married her!” The crowd roared with laughter as Koady attempted to backtrack, and convince everybody that she wasn’t a first cousin and that everything was on the up and up (telling this tale on the outskirts of Amish country, after all).
With both great music and great conversations, time seemed to pass so quickly as the trio performed their fourteen track set list. Bidding the appreciative room farewell, the folks at The Susquehanna Folk Society kept cheering until Tim, Koady, and Jake returned to the stage. Incredibly grateful for the applause and appreciation bestowed upon them, Tim asked if there were any David Bowie fans in the room. The positive response was certainly enough to earn a phenomenal cover version (done in a traditional PEI style) of “Heroes,” eliciting some crowd participation along the way. Closing with a final instrumental piece, the evening of fine music came to a end.
It was wonderful to have the opportunity to chat with all three gentlemen after the show, and following up from a conversation we struck up with Tim last summer about their trip to the Shrewsbury Folk Festival last August (my old stompin’ grounds). We also learned of Jake’s very recent marriage, and want to congratulate him again on his new marital status. The East Pointers took a regular ‘work day’ and turned it into a wonderful evening of music and conversation; offering not only some amazing musicianship, but plenty of feel-good humor to wash the work day blues away. We wish them luck on their remaining US dates, and encourage anybody who missed them this time around to catch them again soon when they are back in the USA (check out the Canada Day festivities in NYC this summer for more information).
- Places You’ll Go
- Two Weeks
- Meals By Maurice
- 82 Fires
- What We Leave Behind
- “Idle Jig”
- Party Wave
- The Drift
- Miner’s Dream
- No Bridge Too Far
- Blainies (sic)
- John Wallace
- ***Unknown Track***
- Heroes (David Bowie Cover)
- ***Unknown Track***