A Celtic and Ceilidh Farewell

Canadian Celtic Celebration Celebrates Final Year

By Alex Kruse

On June 23 and 24, Pierre Schryer is hosting his final Canadian Celtic Celebration in Thunder Bay. Eighteen years ago, Schryer and his wife, Merrie Klazek, set out to bring an authentic, world-class festival to northern Ontario. “Pierre wanted to create a special project that would both benefit the community by introducing world class Celtic and Traditional music, as well as provide for himself an opportunity to play once a year with some of the fantastic musicians that he has met throughout his travels. So he started the Canadian Celtic Celebration,” says Klazek, who herself is an accomplished musician. The Celebration initially toured the North Shore, with performances in Sault Ste. Marie, Marathon, Sudbury, and Parry Sound, but found its permanent home in Thunder Bay in 2009.

With this change, the performance was expanded into a weekend festival, including a variety of workshops, jam sessions, the main concert, and a Ceilidh dance. The Ceilidh dance is a unique event in Thunder Bay, but a long-time tradition in Celtic communities, including those in Quebec and on the East Coast. Attendees will follow the caller (this year it’s Klazek), who announces dance steps and leads the crowd. Live musicians add to the energy and, combined with the dancing, make for an incredibly fun atmosphere. And the best part? No experience required!

Klazek also laid out the stellar lineup that audiences can expect: “Many people know that Pierre is a triplet but haven’t had the chance to hear the famous Schryer Triplets [pictured above] together. Well now they can!” All three will be part of this year’s festival accompanied by Tom Power, the CBC radio host and guitarist who will also play with his partner in music, fiddler Emilia Bartellas. “We have a strong Irish representation with a fantastic uilleann piper Joey Abarta, Irish dancer Niamh Webster, and one of Ireland’s very top female singers, Eimear Arkins,” Klazek says. “The feature concert lands on St. Jean-Baptiste Day so we have French Canadian accordionist Jean-Marie Brousseau who will, along with the rest of us, join forces with Pierre to provide a wonderful mix of high energy reels, haunting airs, and lively jigs!”

The Canadian Celtic Celebration takes place at the Polish Legion Branch #219 and TBCA on June 23 and 24. Shows start at 7 pm.