Musician Lennie Gallant celebrates home in ‘Searching for Abegweit’

PORT HAWKESBURY: On October 28, well-known singer-songwriter Lennie Gallant will bring the sounds, stories, and images of Prince Edward Island to the SAERC Auditorium.

“I realized that I had written quite a few songs about PEI over the years and I always had a dream of gathering them under one umbrella and putting on a show that would celebrate the place,” said Gallant.

“Searching for Abegweit” is a personal one for the musician, who will be performing his own original songs and stories against a projected back-drop of PEI-inspired paintings by his sister and acclaimed visual artist, Karen Gallant.

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“For years, she has been creating incredible images of this part of the world through her artwork. We’ve always dreamed about doing something together, and so this show is kind of a culmination of that,” said Gallant.

“I gathered up a bunch of different songs I’d written that touched on East Coast and island themes and put them together. It just seems to work really well along with the images and stories. It’s very high energy. There’s a lot of laughter, a lot of funny stories, and a lot of poignant stories.”

In his show, Gallant shares his experience of living on PEI. His stories touch on the island’s culture and its people, as well as some of his own family history. Some topics will be familiar to locals, such as the well-known Abegweit Ferry, which connected PEI to the mainland when Gallant was growing up. Although the show was inspired by Prince Edward Island, Gallant believes that Port Hawkesbury audiences will feel a special connection to the performance.

“The story of PEI is not all that removed from the story of Cape Breton. A lot of the island is populated by Scottish people because of the highland clearances, and we talk about that in our show, and about the Acadian experience,” said Gallant.

“The fact that we’re both on islands, I think that resonates. Cape Bretoners and Prince Edward Islanders have always had a strong connection.”

“Searching for Abegweit” made its original debut in PEI and has been filling venues for four years with over 135 performances. Gallant and his sister have also worked together on the book Peter’s Dream, a compilation of 52 of Gallant’s songs combined with his sister’s paintings. The book recently sold out of its second printing.

Taking the stage with Gallant will be Sean Kemp on violin, Patricia Richard on vocals and instrumentals, and Gallant’s nephews Jonathan and Jeremy, who are both up-and-coming musicians in their own right.

“I’m so pleased to have all of these people as part of my band. We get along great and the energy is every bit as strong as it was for the very first show,” said Gallant

To learn more about Lennie Gallant’s music and to get a glimpse of images from the show, visit his Web site: lenniegallant.com. For information on the paintings of Karen Gallant, visit: karengallant.com. Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. performance in the SAERC Auditorium can be purchased at: phcivic.com.