Michael Hall is on a mission to energize people’s interest in traditional French music of the Port au Port Peninsula.
© Submitted photo
Michael Hall’s aim is to promote traditional French music found on the Port au Port Peninsula.
Although he grew up in New Brunswick, it was the music of his father and other family members originally from Three Rock Cove that influenced Mr. Hall’s early musical interest.
“A big part of my upbringing was music and our summers were spent in Newfoundland, so I spent a lot of time at the major festivals on the Port au Port Peninsula.”
Mr. Hall learned to play the accordion and the fiddle, as well as piano and guitar, developing his musical skills over the years. In addition to traditional French music, he’s also been influenced by Scottish music found in Cape Breton and has toured across Canada and the United States.
Mr. Hall’s parents moved back to Newfoundland earlier this year and it bothered him to be living far away from them.
It was during a visit to see his family this summer that Mr. Hall found himself yearning for a life in this province.
“I went down for dad’s 50th (birthday) in August and I was only supposed to be there a day and a half, but ended up being there for a week because Marine Atlantic screwed up my reservation going back,” he said. “So I just got talking to one of my uncles, and he asked jokingly, ‘When are you going to move home?’”
That got Mr. Hall thinking and he soon made up his mind to take up residence in Newfoundland.
“I like the old way of life and how people spent time together – had tea together or played cards, or played music together. So, Newfoundland is not home, but I want to be home and it always felt like home, ever since I was a kid.”
Mr. Hall just settled in Stephenville and will begin teaching traditional music lessons in November. In addition to fiddle, he will also be available to give accordion, piano, guitar and mandolin lessons.
Besides teaching music, Mr. Hall is also hoping to further engage people with a sense of traditional French music that involves dancing.
“It’s the spirit of the people that drives this music to be what it is, and that would include the step dancing and the square dancing,” he said. “The authenticity of this culture is the cohesiveness of the people. I think this is the most important aspect of the preservation of the music.”
He credits younger people, such as his cousin Jaden Cormier and Chloe Briand, for their interest in playing traditional music, but says they aren’t necessarily getting the chance to play for groups on a regular basis.
“There are some young players performing, but these kids are not having the opportunity to play for step dancers or square dancers. They’re playing because they love it and that’s great, but there’s still a big element of this culture that’s missing. I think that’s part of my endeavour to try and rally that interest again and to see if we can’t get it back going.”
Mr. Hall plans on teaching music in Stephenville, Mainland and Cape St. George. For more information, he can be contacted by phone at email@example.com.