The Stars align for Memphis Tuesdays

Posted by Lynn Sullivan, November 21, 2017
Torquil Campbell

Torquil Campbell performs at Memphis Tuesday

Memphis Tuesdays is Drake Devonshire's version of open mic night. Once a week, locals and visitors of Prince Edward County gather in the Pavillion and the stage forms to give way to the best (or simply bravest) of PEC talent. The invitation to perform is extended to visitors to the County and lucky for us, the County draws some fantastic company. Read the recap of one special night as Lyn Sullivan of Rosehall Run remembers it!

The crisp October evening was a welcome respite to the townsfolk of Prince Edward County’s Wellington, Ontario, marking the end of another crazy summer tourism season. Nestled in the warm and cozy Pavilion of Drake Devonshire was a small group dedicated to the weekly sharing of craft and camaraderie known as Memphis Tuesday. Singers and players, old and young, clutched guitars in one hand and drinks in the other, respectfully waiting for their turn to share.

Local County radio personality Craig Foster smoothly guided the proceedings as the Drake’s beloved ‘House Band’ Norris & Jones warmed up the audience with a rousing set that included a cover of part-time County resident Justin Rutledge’s, "A Penny for the Band". Next up was producer, recording engineer and vocalist Annelise Noronha. Armed with a baby Martin guitar, Annelise performed a touching tribute to Tom Petty with "Wildflowers".

Rumours had been percolating that a special guest was in town and might play a tune or two. Torquil Campbell, co-lead singer and songwriter for the Montreal-based indie rock band Stars, was in town to perform his one-man show, True Crime, across the street in the newly christened Festival Players theatre. A small group shuffled in and took a table to the side. Torquil was joined by Graham Abbey, the film, television and stage actor who is assuming the role of Artistic Director of The Festival Players of Prince Edward County. The two men, buddies for years, quietly chatted while the open mic performers continued to impress the room.

Ringleader Foster introduced the evening’s special guest, Torquil Campbell. Julian Brown, composer for Torquil’s stage show and guitarist extraordinaire, began to set up. But where was Torq? “Oh, he’s in the next room, chatting with Jim Cuddy,” Graham Abbey said. “He’ll be in presently.” As Torquil stepped up to the microphone he explained to the small crowd, “I usually perform with a beautiful woman…Imagine she is here.” As Julian effortlessly strummed, Torquil performed three numbers. The mood was casual as Torquil momentarily forgot a lyric. “Damned indie music,” he muttered. Resuming his set, the small crowd applauded appreciatively as he finished his set.

Jim Cuddy

Jim Cuddy performs at Memphis Tuesday

Presently, Canada’s beloved singer-songwriter, Jim Cuddy casually walked up to the mic. “What is going on here in Wellington?!”, he demanded. Sharing with the crowd, his personal connection to Prince Edward County, he remarked that he was overwhelmed with the creative renaissance of the sleepy town he had known all his life. As he began to sing and play, he urged Julian to join him. Cuddy’s performance was soon punctuated by a riveting guitar solo spontaneously realized by Julian. Momentarily forgetting a lyric, Torquil Campbell ribbed Jim Cuddy in solidarity from the back of the room. Cuddy cheerfully completed his song to the delight of all in attendance.

Following an enthusiastic round of applause, Craig Foster returned to his hosting duties, “OK”, he teased, “Who wants to follow Jim Cuddy?” Buoyed by the crowd, a young Picton man stepped up with his guitar. Craig continued, “It seems only right that we listen to one of our own…local rocker Chris Bonham-Carter.” Undaunted by the task at hand, Chris performed a stripped-down set including a soulful cover of The Pixies’ angst anthem, "Where is My Mind?".

The evening continued with blues guitar veteran Robert Keyes, and ended with the father-daughter duo of Bill Wood and Mary Margaret Wood, who had been doing double duty as one of the Drake’s serving staff. “Let me finish this set,” she said, “and then you can all settle up your tabs.”

Drop in on open mic night and be witness to this town's talent, every Tuesday @ 8PM_FREE!

Posted in: Drake Devonshire

Tags: drake devonshire  jim cuddy  memphis tuesday  music