FREX

Katherine and Chris at FREX

This was my second year playing at the FREX.  Last year I received a call asking if I would accompany the Bonnie Kilburn Dancers during the stage shows.  I had a lot of fun and was delighted to get the call again this year.  

Bonnie Kilburn Dancers, Tom and Katherine

During the week we did 11 shows in 6 days.  Last year I was asked several times whether I got bored of doing the same show.  I don’t.  I actually really enjoy doing the same show many times.  Really, they are never the same.  There are always things that go differently, some times well, some times poorly, but it makes it interesting.  It is also interesting to see the show change as the week goes on.I enjoy being at the FREX and end up spending quite a bit of time in between the stage shows taking everything in.  

Alpaca

One of my great delights was the day that the alpacas arrived.  I love to knit and love alapaca yarn.  It is very expensive, but very luxurious!  I didn’t buy any this year, but certainly enjoyed looking around.  

Wheel of Destiny

Last year I became fascinated with watching the aerial act outside.  I had not really expected to like watching them, but became interested in watching their faces.  I recognized the looks that sometimes come across the faces of performers.  This year the outdoor show was put on by the Fearless Flores Family.  Their acts included “The Wheel of Destiny”, “The Sway Pole” and “The Globe of Death”.  The Wheelof Destiny was a pretty neat contraption where he could walk around on the inside or outside of the white cage and control the speed of the rotation of the whole thing.  

Sway Pole

Their sway pole had a unique feature which was that it was a break-away sway pole.  She climbed up the top and then started swinging it “to the breaking point” at which point the top of the pole would swing down towards the ground.  

Globe of Death

Their final act was “The Globe of Death” in which they rode motor bikes inside a metal globe.  At first there was just one person on a motor, then one person on a motor bike and one person standing in the middle, and then the grand finale was both of them riding motor bikes in this 14 foot globe.  It was impressive to see.

Pole Act

The stage show, with which I became quite familiar, included 4 acts.  It opened with a Romanian family who did a pole act.   This was a very acrobatic act.  We were the next ones up with fiddle music and step dancing.  

Claude, Mustang Jr., and his dogs

After us was Claude and his trained horses and dogs.  It was nice to watch the relationship he had with his animals.  Finally, the Romanian family came back to do a quick change act. I had never seen one before and was really impressed with how interesting the act could be.  I did not take any photos as really it would just look like people wearing different clothes.  It is the kind of act that you would need to video.  

I did not go on any of the rides or try any of the games, but I did enjoy my time watching the shows, visiting the alpacas and enjoying the food.  Another good week!

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My father’s memorial

Music stand, music, Dad as santa and rugs for his tubas.

Dad’s memorial concert was amazing!  When Mom and I first returned from Maine we had decided that we didn’t want to do any sort of memorial service and that holding TubaFest in May would be our memorial to Dad.  Well, after having spoken to many people in the community, it became obvious that we needed to hold an event much sooner than May, not for ourselves, but to provide closure to all those in the local community who had known Dad.  We needed to give them a chance to pay their last respects to him.  So, the planning began.

We decided that a concert would be the best way to remember my father.  He had become quite central to the musical community in Fredericton and at UNB.  As an undergraduate advisor, he often asked students if they played instruments and encouraged them to join local groups. 

We had initially wanted the venue to be Memorial Hall on the UNB campus as that is where Dad spent many an hour, rehearsing with the Fredericton Chamber Orchestra, performing with the Fredericton Concert and Marching Band, rehearsing and performing with the UNB Concert Band, and also planning and holding the Fredericton International TubaFest.  Unfortunately, Mem Hall was not available, so we looked for other venues.  We ended up holding the concert at the Christ Church Cathedral, which was also an appropriate venue.  Dad played with the Brass Menagerie, a brass quintet that rehearsed at the Christ Church Cathedral in return for performing at some of the services through the year. 

Photos of Dad and family through the years.

Mom’s sister had come to visit from Arkansas and was a great help as we had decided not only to hold a concert, but also to have a display of photos from different times in Dad’s life.  Mom’s sister also had the idea of brining various items that had belonged to dad to display as well.  The mother of a friend had offered to bake, so Kim and I took charge of having a reception after the concert.

A patch I made for Dad, posters from various events and a Christmas ornament.

I had hoped to take photos of the various performers, but the light was not that great, so I did not manage.  We started the show with the Fredericton Fiddle Orchestra.  This is a group that I founded in 2005.  Dad joined the group, mostly, I think to support me and to spend time with my mother, who was excited about the group, and definitely wanted to join!  My dad was great help as he would run the rehearsals any time I had to be away.  We picked three pieces to perform:  The Log Driver’s Waltz, John Roy Lyall and Loggieville Two-Step.  John Roy Lyall was picked specifically for Dad as he would have the group work on this piece every time I left.  It is in three flats which is a harder key for violins, and the group would always groan every time we would play it.  Dad took delight in torturing them, but also loved the piece as it is really pretty and has two harmony parts.

Next up in the concert was the Brass Menagerie.  As previously mentioned, this is a brass quintet.  I believe this is one of the few small ensembles with which Dad performed that he actually was not active in forming.  My dad was constantly calling up musicians trying to get them to play music with him!  In a very touching move, the Brass Menagerie placed an empty chair to represent Dad.

TubaFest

I performed fiddle music next and was joined by Tom Richards.  We played some Irish jigs because Dad had been so happy when I got to go to Ireland back in 2001-2002.  He went out and immediately bought a bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey to celebrate.  We then performed “Gateway to Paradise”, a tune that I composed about our land down by the Bay of Fundy.  This was a favourite place of mine and of my father’s.  Our final tune was “Draggin’ the Bow” which was simply a fiddle tune that Tom and I like a whole lot!

Tuba cleaning material, photos, hat, and that piece of metal... Dad just liked the sound of it!

The Antique Brass were our next performers.  This is a tuba quartet that Dad formed a few years back.  Dad had been going to tuba conferences for a while and we had all fallen in love with the rich sound of a tuba quartet, usually formed of two tubas and two euphoniums.  Thankfully a past member of the quartet stepped in and took Dad’s place for this concert so we could have the full four parts in the performance.

Kim, my husband, and I are in a band called Different Folk.  Mom and Dad rarely missed a performance of this group, or any group that I was in for that matter.  We performed “Proud Mary” as Dad was always a big Credence Clearwater Revival fan, “Sam Hall” (a traditional Irish song that we sang a cappella) and “One More Chorus” which is our signature song.

Dad's Australian bush hat, cowbells, rocks from the Bay of Fundy and magazines. Dad had become obsessed with buying cowbells on a recent trip to the US. This is only a small part of the collection.

My dad’s siblings traveled up from the US to be with us for this event, which was very nice.  My aunt (my father’s sister-in-law) is an excellent singer, and she graced us all with an a cappella version of “Amazing Grace”.

Next up I was joined by Dianne Roxborough Brown (piano) and we performed “Czardas”.  Dianne and I have performed this piece many times through the years.

Finally, we were down to the immediate family.  My brother and one of his daughters performed “Kumbaya” which was very sweet!  Dad and I used to play duets together all the time, so it was really nice seeing my brother and his daughter play.  Next Mom, Timothy (my brother) and I played a piece from a suite called “Smokey Joe”.  This was in the tradition of family fun.  We used to play music together as a family every Sunday evening after dinner.  We did have to rearrange the music a little though since we were missing Dad’s part. 

The grand finale for the concert was a sing-along of Australian drinking songs.  While traveling in New Zealand, Dad had found a book of Australian Digger Songs, which were songs sung during either WWI or WWII…  Dad arranged a medley of these songs for us, and they became a staple in both our private music making and our performances.  This seemed to us to be the only appropriate way to end the concert.

More photos, a tuba tie, cones and a pencil tin.

Kim was our master of ceremonies through the evening and did an excellent job of both announcing the groups and telling stories about Dad.  It was a great evening with both music and stories of meeting Dad, growing up with Dad (provided by me and my brother) and being surrounded by people who knew Dad through music, through work, through biology… 

The evening ended with a great reception.  We had asked the various performers if they would be willing to bring a snack of some sort, and we ended up with quite a spread! 

One of my favourite pictures from the display... Me and my Dad from a long time ago...

All in all, I would say this was a great success.  It was really well attended with likely around 250 people in the audience, and I really think that everyone enjoyed themselves.  It was the kind of evening that my father would have loved!