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Celebrating past and present with Wentworth music afternoons

Vivian Taylor, talented pianist, plays at the monthly music afternoons at the Wentworth Recreation Centre on the last Sunday of each month, except December. - Hope Bridgewater photo
Vivian Taylor, talented pianist, plays at the monthly music afternoons at the Wentworth Recreation Centre on the last Sunday of each month, except December. - Hope Bridgewater photo - Contributed

Wentworth News with Hope Bridgewater

WENTWORTH, N.S.

A previous community centre existed in Wentworth from 1976 to 1987 until a fire destroyed the building.

Wentworth residents began building another centre in 1988 on property owned by the Wentworth Volunteer Fire Department and with local fundraising and grants accomplished building the current recreation centre in 1990 for a cost of $500,000.

An opening ceremony was held on Sept. 21, 1991 with the executive listed as chair Dale Patriquin, vice-chair Winston Patriquin, secretary Peggy Patriquin, and treasurer Arden Little.

One of the active volunteers was Betty Curry as coordinator of special events.

Since 1991, the recreation centre has remained active and now has an executive as follows: chair Robert MacLean, vice-chair Marie Duranceau, secretary Norah Topping and treasurer Gary Jollymore.

The monthly music afternoons, on the last Sunday of each month except December, is done with volunteers from the Wentworth area as well as from other communities.

This Wentworth music afternoon is inclusive and is done in freestyle instead of square dancing format and couples and singles are both welcome for ages able to dance.

The music of folk tunes used originally came from early settlers of Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland, who came to eastern Canada and the United States and later it became an amalgam of tunes from Acadian culture, Mi'kmaq, Cape Breton style, Quebec, Germany, Vermont, Maine, and other New England States.

Now it incorporates polkas, waltzes, reels, jigs, fox-trots, rock, hip-hop and jive. Compositions by today's composers are added to the music such as Sherry's Waltz by Dave Bagnell.

The name for this music afternoon is also called Fiddler's Do as the fiddler usually uses his or her violin to lead the tunes with a band often consisting of a piano, guitar, banjo, drums, and bass. At times a saxophone or singer may lead the dancing.

The audience is asked for a voluntary donation at the door to help with the hall's maintenance as it a large hall with a hardwood floor superb for dancing and also to bring food for a potluck meal prepared by kitchen staff for all at 4 p.m.

Most of the audience dances, but some choose to sit on the seats at the sides to listen to the music.

People are affected by the beauty of this down east style of country music. One person wrote, “I love to come to these afternoon fiddle do's. It is a good time with lots of friends and good old down east music... it is a love of music.” 

Fiddler Robert Taylor says in his book, Beyond the Music: “Above all, learn to play good dance music... music is the lifeblood of all of us... Music is more than just a sound. Music can take you on journeys of the mind. It may be just a few notes, or your favourite jig or reel but the sound will often take you to a world all your own. It is a driving force. It has great healing power. It will and can change your life.”

As Charley Patriquin says of this music when well played: “If that doesn't start your fire, what will?”

Circumstances change and sadness has come to these monthly musical afternoons with the passing of Betty Curry, who since 1988 volunteered her time to make the recreation centre a success, became a director of the Sunday music afternoons and also played as pianist for the selections, while Vivian Taylor in later years shared playing as pianist with Betty for several of the selections.

Another sadness is that David Bagnell, who served as a director alongside Betty Curry, has had to retire as director because of illness.

Also, Charley Patriquin had to retire from actively taking part in his musical skills because of illness. Patriquin played fiddle, guitar and drums and sang with an impressive bass voice. He at times attends the music afternoons as observer and friend.

Vivian Taylor, a talented pianist from Dartmouth, has attended the musical afternoon for several years. She has taken over as pianist from Curry.

This column was a mixture of the past and present, and we are praying that the future will be as fortunate as the past has been.

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