Spring into BlueGrass – a Fisher Peak Performing Artists Presentation


This is the third event that the Fisher Peak Performing Artists (FPPA) have presented at The Royal Alexandra Hall. The kick off concert late last year featured the Little Jazz Orchestra and the roots group Joshua Burning. The second event was a St. Valentine’s Day Dance with the rock band The Testers. For this third event the focus was on the BlueGrass and Old Timey music of RedGirl and The Rosie Brown Band.

 Red Girl

As described by FPPF’s President James Neve:   “RedGirl is a lighter shade of bluegrass with some visible folk roots showing. Bringing original and traditional tunes to a canvas colored with clawhammer banjo & mandolin, liberal strokes of guitar, and framed in a rich tapestry of harmony. RedGirl is one of several great local groups to grow from the ashes of the much-loved Kootenay band As The Crow Flies. Fronted by the clear and fearless vocals of Anie Hepher, RedGirl’s music is built around her  pure and unfettered voice, rhythmic banjo, and occasionally, a sassy ukulele. Michael Hepher (married to the girl) chimes in on mandolin and backing vocals, bringing a balance in harmony, humor and musical creativity to the songs and stories of the band. Rounding out the sound is Cranbrook’s very own Keith Larsen on guitar and dobro; a gravelly edge with magical licks, dancing around the edges of the songs, playing counterpoint to Michael’s moody mandolin. Swooping in from Creston, Karl Sommerfeldt’s fiddle is the glue that binds it all together, wraps it up for you and sends you home with a shiny new smile on your face.”. Also Steve Jones is back in town to give the band’s bottom that solid foundation that everybody appreciates. “More than just the music, RedGirl brings decades of experience to their stage-craft with a lively, off-the-cuff banter that tells the stories of small town living and heartfelt true-life joys and sorrows. Their sound is more than just the sound of tunes from your grandpa’s kitchen, it’s the sound of the Kootenay hills and rivers and hearts all beating in one harmonious song.” http://www.redgirlmusic.com/    Here are some images from RedGirl’s performance:

466. Red Girl    Keith Larsen   Steve Jones    Mike Hepher Karl Sommerfeldt   Karl and KeithAnie HepherKeith Larsen    Karl Sommerfeldt   Keith Larsen  Steve Jones Anie Hepher     Anie Hepher    Anie Hepher   Keith LarsenKarl, Keith and AnieguitarsAlso described by FPPF’ President James Neve: “The Rosie Brown Band is a unique, fun and rewarding listen This is a five piece Bluegrass/Folk ensemble featuring Paige Lennox, (Banjo, Vocals, occasional Bass)  Cosima Wells, (Guitar, Vocals ) Janice Nicoli,(Upright Bass, Vocals) Shawna Plant  (Mandolin, Vocals) and Heather Gemmell (Dobro, Guitar, Vocals), with a wonderful blend of five charming voices featuring classic old timey music, BlueGrass and original tunes. Recently they were showcased at the Calgary Stampede and this performance at the Royal Alexandra Hall will see the official release of their first album.” Here are some images from the show:

 Rosie Brown Band Paige Lennox     Janice Nicoli   Cosima WellsShauna Plant     Heather Gemmell    Janice NicoliPaige Lennox Cosima Wells  Paige Lennox   Shauna Plant Heather GemmellJanice Nicoli  Cosima Wells  Paige Lennox Cosima WellsShauna Plant     Janice Nicoli     Paige LennoxHeather GemmellCosima Wells    Heather Gemmell   Shauna PlantShauna Plant

This was a great concert and we should all thank the FPPA society Board of Directors  – Jamie Neve, Ferdy Belland, Louie Cupello, Randy Tapp, Janice Sommerfeld; and all the volunteers including: Allan and Jackie Kimmel, Bill and Lori Renwick, Dave and Trudy Prinn, Murray and May Andrich (“The M&Ms”), Hellen Boon, Jean Neve, Beverlee Bullough, Tom Bungay and Rod Wilson (photography).


Octagon at the Royal Alexandra Hall

Octagon poster

When I go to a jazz performance the thought that always crosses my mind is “How do they do that?”. Apart from their instruments the only thing they seem to have on hand is maybe a memorized melody and a lead sheet with some indication of the chord progression. When I go to a chamber music concert a different thought crosses my mind  … “I know how they do it but how do they do it with such control and ellegant precision?”. Of course they have the composer’s score with lots of detail about the notes to be played, when to played and even symbols on how to be played. Of course there is more to it than that.  Still, somewhat like my response to a jazz performance a chamber music performance  leaves me with a sense of awe. It’s some form of magic and the musicians are the magicians.


The magic was very much in evidence at  Octagon’s performance at the Royal Alexandra Hall on Wednesday night. The musicians were the magicians and the hall added an element that would be difficult to find in another venue. It was perfect match. A world class chamber music ensemble, the music of Ludwig van Beethoven (Septet, Opus 20), the music of Franz Schubert (Octet, Opus 166) and a performance venue that probably had a lot in common with the original venues in Austria when the music was composed in the early 1800’s. From pin drop soft to boisterous bellowing every nuance of the music was there to be savored. My only complaints, and they are very, very minor are that the lighting in the hall is very poor, rather gloomy, one would say and a slightly raised performance area would have improved the sight lines. Because of the nature of the music and the available light it was not appropriate to take photos during the performance. However, during the sound check and the brief rehearsal I managed to document some of the action.

 Mark Fewer and Rivka Golani      Rachel Mercer and Joe Phillips Mark Fewer  Keith, Kathleen and James     Kenneth MacDonald Joe Phillips    Rachel Mercer     Joe Phillips Martin Beaver, Mark Fewer and Rivka Golani   James Campbell

The members of OCTAGON are:

  • Mark Fewer – Violin
  • Martin Beaver – Violin
  • James Campbell – clarinet
  • Joseph Phillips – Bass
  • Rivka Golani – Viola
  • Kenneth MacDonald – French Horn
  • Kathleen McLean – Bassoon
  • Rachel Mercer – Cello

 Mark Fewer


Here is a little YouTube video treat of a performance of two movements of the Beethoven Septet by The New Israel ensemble. It is not OCTAGON but we can’t have everything.