McDougall United Church ends the millennium’s first decade with an event they hope turns into an annual tradition.
The Edmonton based church is hosting First Night at McDougall Church, a three-hour family concert of acoustic blues, bluegrass, country, reggae and folk. Admission is a non-perishable food item or cash donation to the Edmonton Food Bank.
“It’s a pre-evening event to take out 2009 and you can still go somewhere else to bring in 2010. It starts early — at 7:30 p.m. And it’s so affordable. This year everything was so expensive and much tighter for families. Just a can of soup will get you in,” says concert co-ordinator Penny Malmberg. The St. Albert resident is lead vocalist for Back Porch Swing, one of 11 acts on the evening’s roster.
In addition to Back Porch Swing’s bluegrass/western swing stylings, Malmberg has pulled together an acoustic line-up that ranges from The Proper Charlies string band and Crawdad Cantera’s bluesy folk to Low Flying Planes’ gypsy styled instrumentation, and Scott Cook and the Long Weekends spot-on reggae/folk.
Also on tap are the Bix Mix Boys bluegrass/folk licks, Laurel McClure’s’ haunting folk melodies, Marshall Lawrence (Dr. of the Blues) high-energy acoustic blues, Brian Gregg’s showy rock blues and Jesse Dee and Jacquie B’s blended roots vocals.
“It’s going to be a wonderful evening of great music. The church is going to be decorated and very welcoming the way it’s lit up. There will be face painting and balloon clowns. We’ll be serving decadent desserts and although there are pews in the church, people can dance in the aisles.”
McDougall United opted to host the festivities after it received a donation to stage a family centred First Night event. Since Back Porch Swing had performed at the church several times, Malmberg was invited to scout the talent.
The church’s exquisite acoustics lend themselves to a “living room style evening. The sound is absolutely beautiful and so pure. You can hear a pin drop. You don’t need a lot of electronics,” she added, explaining only one condensed microphone will be hooked up to create an old-fashioned feel.
The concert is a trial run and organizers hope to attract up to 1,000 people with its fluid line-up where visitors can drift in and out. “And when the concert ends, you can go to Winston Churchill Square for the midnight fireworks.”
First Night at McDougall Church
With Back Porch Swing, Bix Mix Boys, Willy James and Crawdad Cantera, Low Flying Planes, Laurel MacClure, Marshall Lawrence "Dr. of the Blues," Brian Gregg, The Proper Charlies, Erin Krushniruk, Jesse Dee & Jacquie B, Scott Cook & the Long Weekends
Thursday, Dec. 31 from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.
McDougall United Church
10025 – 101 Street
Admission: Non-perishable food or cash donation to Edmonton Food Bank