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Wentworth Recreation Centre hosts music afternoon

Dave Bagnell plays his fiddle at a Sunday Music Afternoon at the Wentworth Recreation Centre.
Dave Bagnell plays his fiddle at a Sunday Music Afternoon at the Wentworth Recreation Centre. - Submitted

Wentworth News with Hope Bridgewater

WENTWORTH – Another excellent Sunday Music Afternoon recently happened in Wentworth.

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

Wentworth residents decided to rebuild beginning in 1988 and ending in October 1990 for a cost of $500,000, on property owned by the Wentworth Volunteer Fire Department.

The grand opening ceremony was on Sept. 21, 1991, with the following executive in place: chair Dale Patriquin, vice-chair Winston Patriquin, secretary Peggy Patriquin, treasurer Arden Little.

One of the active volunteers in 1991 was Betty Curry as coordinator of special events.

From 1991 to 2018, the recreation centre has remained active due to hours of work by volunteer community residents.

The current 2018 executive is chair: Bob MacLean, vice-chair Marie Duranceau, secretary Norah Topping, treasurer Gary Jollymore.

One of the best activities for cultural, social and individual reasons is the monthly Sunday Music Afternoon which is based on downeast country dance music and which is a combination of different styles formed into a melodious amalgam of tunes from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, England, Germany, Cape Breton, Acadian, Mi'kmaq, Quebec, Vermont, Maine, other New England States.

In Wentworth downeast style is usually played with a Don Messer influence for polkas, hop-polkas, reels, jigs, waltzes, and fox-trots.

The centre has a hardwood floor which is best for dancing, a large hall, a stage, seating on the sides for those who come to listen or to play, and a kitchen for a lunch at 4 p.m. Those attending are asked to bring a lunch with them which becomes part of the potluck lunch, and to make a voluntary donation at the incoming door as such a donation helps with the hall maintenance.

Among the musical instruments played are the fiddle (usually in the lead), piano, guitar, banjo, drums, bass, saxophone, and spoons.

The dancing is inclusive and mostly done in free style instead of square dancing format.

As well as couples attending, singles are invited to come and find partners at the site. Y

ou are likely to hear traditional favourite tunes such as Orange Blossom Festival, Big John McNeil, St. Anne's Reel, Maple Sugar, Mason's Apron, High Level Hornpipe, Shingle the Roof, Squirrel in the Tree  and so on.

You may hear compositions by today's composers such as Sherry's Waltz by Dave Bagnell. Musicians at this event know how to play good dance music so you will enjoy coming.

The health benefits of dancing are verified by psychological, psychiatric, and scientific studies.

Music and dancing can help heal mental health issues such as depression, can help physical health through joyful exercise, and create happiness and well-being. Music has a spiritual and emotional appeal which lifts one soul and make one glad to be alive.

As fiddler Charles Patriquin has said about such music, “If that doesn't start your fire, what will?” 

As fiddler and author Robert Taylor writes: “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 can, and will, change your life.”

What is amazing about these dance musicians is that there was no rehearsal ahead of time. These volunteer musicians arrive often from different locations, volunteering their time, talents, and expenses, and put on great shows based on their skills and knowledge.

At this recent event, everyone present was happy to see Dave Bagnell's return after his illness.

He was missed for his musical talent and knowledge, and as active stage manager and coordinator. Bagnell grew up in Truro, began playing the violin at five years of age, during school years performed at many music festivals and events, studied violin at Acadia University, and over the years has performed as fiddler and saxophonist at many Down East music groups.

Bagnell can also play Cape Breton Celtic as well. Bagnell also composes music and is an author having published a book of sheet music called Downeast Fiddle Tunes From Both Sides Of The Cobequid Mountain Range.

In this book are eight of Bagnell's compositions: Sherry's Waltz, Don Isnor's Party, Happy Birthday Waltz, Fiddling Dave's Reel, Curt and Winnie's Polka, Christmas Polka, Captain Smith's Polka, A Very Pretty Waltz.

Bagnell also listed for most of the book tunes from the well known late fiddler Lloyd Tattrie. In the title of the book, From Both Sides of the Cobequid Mountain Range, can be explained by the fact that Lloyd Tattrie lived in Tatamagouche and Dave Bagnell lived in Truro.

The two of them kept in touch by telephone. Tattrie would play a tune on the telephone, Bagnell would record the tune and transcribe it using a software program. Their motive was to make sure that certain traditional tunes were not being lost and could be passed down to future generations.

An example: Lloyd Tattrie heard Dave Langille of Brule play a tune about 80 years ago (Lloyd Tattrie lived to be 102 years of age) and the tune was still played by Tattrie under the name David Langille's March, and in this way the tune was saved.

The introduction to Bagnell's book is very interesting. For instance he tells us that when Lloyd Tattrie need rosin and, when times were difficult, he would go to the woods to find a piece of hard spruce gum that he would use to rosin his fiddle bow

Bagnell's beautiful composition Sherry's Waltz was composed in 1952 in celebration of the birth of his daughter Sherry, and Don Messer of the TV show Don Messer's Jubilee asked Bagnell's permission to use Sherry's Waltz on Apex Records and as a result this waltz has played all over Canada and the USA.

On one of  Dave Bagnell's last appearances before he became ill, I interviewed him and he sent me a list of the tunes he played with the band from 4:30 to closing time, and he wrote.

“These are the tunes we played Sunday. I hope these will help with your article.”  Dave,

I will use them again now. Dave, I hope you will be back next Music Afternoon with all your talent and great personality. The tunes: |West Branch Waltz, Give Me Your Heart, Plaza Polka, Rainbow Two Step, Dear Heart, San Antonia Rose, Lamp Lighting Time In The Valley,  Kerry Mills Barn Dance.

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