By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – The 2011 St. Jean Baptiste Festival got off to a solid start Tuesday night with a spirited and spiritual performance by Aboriginal singing group Broken Walls. The three-piece band of Jonathan Maracle, Bill Pagaran and Kris DeLorenzi come from Ontario and Alaska. Two of the bands members are from Ontario. Bassist DeLorenzi is from Thunder Bay and lead singer Maracle from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. Drummer Pagaran hails from Palmer, Alaska.
Together, Broken Walls put on a two-hour performance that was unapologetically Christian yet never seemed a bit preachy or proselytizing. Instead, concert goers of all denominations received an evening of excellent music with a positive message of family and community in a show that blended a variety of indigenous sounds and songs with adeptly performed contemporary faith numbers.
The group began the evening with a traditional Mohawk song titled, I Wish you Peace, and moved on to immediately involving the audience by teaching those who had come to the show to respond in a First Nation’s way, thus making them part of a community. One of the highlights of Broken Walls performance was their ability to get the entire audience on their feet dancing in one communal group, weaving their way through the tables at the Community Cultural Centre.
For Crystal Terhorst of Higher Grounds Coffee Shop, who cosponsored the event with Paul Smith of Smith Music, the decision to bring in Broken Walls was a good one.
“They’ve come here – west – to play their music and to bring a message,” Terhorst said. “A message of hope and a message of community; a message of joining together and forgiveness. And a message of bringing glory to the creator.”
For local business owner Dianne Calverley, Broken Walls was a performance well worth seeing. “I just love the drums and flute, and I just think these guys have done a terrific job,” she said, adding the acoustics in the Community Cultural Centre only added to her enjoyment of the show.
Those who missed Tuesday night’s concert still have another opportunity to see the group in Morinville this week. Broken Walls will be performing at Higher Grounds Friday evening as a benefit concert for Slave Lake. Admission to the performance is by donation. Higher Grounds is located on 100 Avenue next to Don’s Bistro.
Wednesday evening brings comedian Jimmy Flynn to town. Limited tickets will be available at the door.
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