By Chris Marchand
The spirit of togetherness was again rekindled on the stage of The Centre over the holidays as the eighth annual Come Together concert took to the stage, Dec. 27.
Featuring over 30 local musicians in a dozen acts throughout the evening, producer Carl Bleich says staging the lineup for the annual fundraiser for the Dryden High School (DHS) Music Association is a difficult to achieve balance of newcomers, old standbys and interesting collaborations.
Bleich says the show’s ethic of family, togetherness and collaboration plays a big role in the tough decisions around choosing a lineup from a long list of capable performers.
“The Carters, the Cortens and the Kellars — the families up there. To me that’s the heart of Come Together,” says Bleich.
While the stage show may serve as the pinnacle of the experience, he says the performers themselves find a much deeper experience in the preparation for the show.
“It gets people together to practice,” he said. “I know that Kelsey (Fenwick), Michelle (Carter) and Jessie (Penner) got together once a week for about five weeks. I could see them gelling not only as musicians, but as friends. That’s what it’s about.”
Notable highlights included a collaboration between Paul Hampton and vocalist Shannyn Peters. His last stage appearance before making a move back to Winnipeg, Hampton pulled off a memorable version of Pink Floyd’s ‘Mother’ with some help from Peters before a standing ovation led to a performance of Elton John’s ‘Candle In The Wind’ — a local fan favourite.
Hampton returned to the stage later with local songwriter and funnyman Byron O’Donnell.
The very musical Cortens family — consisting of father Michael; sons Andrew, Tommy and daughter Laura; were joined by Dustin Heritz for a 60’s inspired set.
To cap off the second set, the evening’s emcees, The Kellar Family, took to the stage themselves.
The crowd immediately noticed some pizzazz on the Come Together stage. A giant guitar lit with LED lights served as a spectacular and festive backdrop to the event. The prop, built by members of the local hospital maintenance staff, could be recognized from the Dryden Regional Health Centre’s recent float for the Santa Claus Parade. With some help from Kevin Lapointe, Bleich says the unit was transferred via tow-truck to the venue for the show.
After the event, Bleich says the giant guitar has since become a permanent fixture in the DHS music room and will be used for future events at the school.
“The big guitar kind of represents the growth of the concert,” said Bleich. “It somehow made it a little more spectacular. Our numbers were up a little bit from last year.”
Bleich says between ticket buyers, musicians and some 15 volunteers, total attendance was 377.
For more images from the event check out www.tdob.ca, or the event’s own site at www.cometogetherdryden.com.