Date Night in Wallaceburg

We were delighted that we’d be living in Wallaceburg by the time an art and music event was scheduled to take place at the town’s museum.  

A Music’n Arts Collide’s Christmas with Paul Murray & Sarah Smith is one of several such shows in various Ontario towns. Sarah is a super talented singer-songwriter-rocker and a pal of Derek’s about whom I’ve written before.

Paul Murray is a renowned artist from this part of the province. From his website:

“In pencil and in paint, Paul Murray records the everyday lives of a few who remain hidden from this world. The Southern Appalachian mountain folk and the rural Canadian farmer, whose recluse or pioneer lifestyle, are detailed in Murray’s timeless faces.”

Lil Miss by Paul Murray 

But Murray, known for taking his time and being shy and private, has turned his work into performance art. The musicians performed while in the background, Paul speed painted. By the time the music was over, he created an original work that was then bid on and sold with proceeds to Ronald McDonald House and Make-A-Wish. 

And it was incredible. He painted a perfect likeness of Ray Charles while blindfolded. But to add to the mystery, he painted it in glue so we couldn’t tell what it was until he threw gold glitter at the canvas. You can see a bit of it behind the leaning guitar, and Einstein up on the wall – also done in a few minutes. 

Musicians on stage while the artist paints in the background. Visible are a Ray Charles portrait and one of Einstein.

We decided to go “VIP” and that gave us some time with the musicians including Sarah, Wendell Ferguson and legendary “Good Brother” Brian Good, as well as Brian’s wife Susie. Wendell is one of this country’s best guitarists, a musician’s musician, and we knew each other a bit many years ago. He’s also one of the funniest people you’ll ever meet. He played my request – his own song about touring northern Ontario titled Rocks and Trees.He also sang an original tune about how Christmas songs have too many chords – hilarious!

Brian is tied for eldest Good. He and Bruce are twins! (Younger brother Larry completes the trio.) On Saturday, it was just Bruce and Susie, while Wendell plucked and Sarah’s drummer Bobby pounded on the drum box. Brian is warm and friendly. Before the show, he told me and Derek how the Goods got started. Their first big gig: opening for Grand Funk Railroad at Maple Leaf Gardens.

Sarah and her band played the entire second half of the night, spectacularly as always. She mixed in some of her hits, and some Christmas classics (she has a Christmas CD out btw!) and had us all singing along. Sarah’s sometimes gritty, sometimes sweet, always beautiful voice compels you to listen. And she has a magnetic and fun presence on stage.

The woman sitting next to me had just moved to Wallaceburg from Kitchener “to be on a riverfront”.  The water drew us here too. The Wallaceburg and District Museum is a three-minute drive from our house and – we’re told  – the home of all sorts of events and productions throughout the year.  Saturday night was a pretty stellar introduction to it. 

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