The Wheat in the Barley

On October 18th, to help celebrate the full harvest moon, the Gate House Theatre in Port McNeill is showcasing one of western Canada’s hottest instrumental groups, in a community concert that will be the highlight of a Thanksgiving tour through most of the schools on the north end of Vancouver Island.
The Wheat in the Barley first turned heads with an exotic brew of high-energy instrumentals drawing on traditions mainly from the fertile ground of Celtic and Slavic cultures. Years of intense musical creativity through hundreds of sizzling shows have since forged them into a hot Canadian roots fusion band, building their uniquely Canadian sound on a rich multi-cultural foundation.
Now, they are giving students educational concerts sampling music of the many cultures that have made up the Canadian mosaic over the years.
They’ve created fresh and daring interpretations of French Canadian fiddle tunes and Maritimes songs, original songs written by guitarist Steve Gidora and fiddler Nicole Scoffield, and rollicking instrumentals written by accordionist Victor Smith. Wind specialist Mark Dowding on flute, whistles, harmonica and saxes adds a jazzy edge and energy to everything they do. Together, they light a roaring fire under a multi-cultural cauldron of folk music, funky rhythms and fun for all.
“What do you have to do to follow an act like that? Set your beard on fire??” said Valdy, getting on stage after they dazzled the Panorama Music Festival in Invermere recently.
A special treat is the return of a native Vancouver Island girl to her own roots, in the person of their brilliant violinist, Nicole. She was born and raised in Port Alberni, where she learned to play violin from the tender age of 4. She later obtained her music degree at the University of Victoria before moving to the mainland where she now teaches music, as does Mark.
Various members of the “Wheaties” have played with, or opened for, legendary folk artists such as Stan Rogers, Valdy, Ann Mortifee, Odetta and Figgy Duff, and the group recently opened for The Chieftains at Fusion Fest in Surrey.
Years of classical training, seasoned by decades of collective touring experience, have produced a solid, professional troupe who have developed their own funky brand of folk-jazz-dance fusion that gets people of all ages up onto their feet in a hurry. In fact, just about everyone who hears them is blown away by the musical magic which comes from years of concert touring and festival experience that each member brings to this band.
Tickets will be available at the theatre at 7:00 pm on Friday, with special youths’ and seniors’ prices for those under 16 or over 65, and a family group rate of only $25. The music will start at 7:30 pm.  More about the musicians, with photos and multimedia, is available on their website:www.wheatinthebarley.com.
GateHouseTheater_Oct.19’13
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