The Valley on the Home Routes Circuit

Submitted by:
Micheline Carstairs | On Tuesday December 6, the Harley House proved to be a perfect setting for the sounds of old-time and bluegrass music performed by musicians, Chris Coole & John Showman of the Foggy Hogtown Boys from Toronto.
Click any of the pictures for a larger version.

These performers are part of the Home Routes House Concerts. Swan River/Minitonas have been part of this tour for 4 years and this concert was the 3rd concert of the 4th year. The concerts will resume on February 15 with a group called “The Once” from Newfoundland. Some time at the beginning of February there will also be a Classical concert with Soprano singer, Sarah Kirsch and piano accompanist, Chris Kayler. More details will be provided about these concerts as the time approaches.

The Home Routes shows in the Valley can be credited to Nancy McLennan.
After attending one in another community, Nancy’s passion for music and entertaining convinced her that this would be a great thing for our community. The first year, Nancy hosted most of the concerts, but now that we have a bigger group, we try to share the responsibility of hosting. Nancy is still the one who does most of the promotional work for the upcoming shows.

Nancy introduces our performers John & Chris to the audience.

This show had an audience of approximately 45 people and this included some of our communities’ own aspiring artists.

The sounds of bluegrass and oldtime music brought back memories for many and the walls of the Harley House as a backdrop was truly fitting.

With 12 years of experience as a full-time performing fiddle player, John Showman kept the audience well entertained. Chris Coole got his first banjo at the age of 17. His passion for playing this instrument is obvious by the wear & tear on his banjo.

John Showman showed everyone that he is indeed a true showman when he played 2 fiddles at once.

Chris Coole loves the Banjo but the song he performed on this guitar called “Old Dog” touched many from the audience.
The inspiration for this song came to him when he found himself overcome with emotion at the realization that the old dogs he’d come to love would not be by his side for much longer, an emotion that anyone who has a beloved pet can associate with.

Maureen Bowles was asked to come and help with this next number where she would have to play the music box. In the first picture, John Showman is explaining how the music box works. Next, John Showman shows the strip of paper that is slowly cranked through this music box. This strip of paper has many small holes, all of which were meticulously placed there by John Showman himself with a small tool that was shown to the audience.


Maureen smiles as Chris Coole explains how when John slows down on the fiddle, it is important for her to not slow down and keep the same momentum while cranking the music box. Finally, after all the explanations, the musical performance!