Close to home
Regent showcases some of the best of local music
Chris Loane’s proudest legacy at the Drake Devonshire is Memphis Tuesdays. The weekly open mic was just supposed to be a way to get locals out to the restaurant on an otherwise slow night.
Instead, Memphis Tuesdays inadvertently turned into a showcase of some extraordinary hidden talent in the County. And word got around about it—soon, Tuesday nights were notoriously full to capacity.
Loane has since left the Drake, and is working for the Regent now, bringing musical talent from across the country to play in the small, rural theatre.
“I absolutely fell in love with the theatre when I saw it, four years ago,” says Loane. “As soon as I saw it I knew the potential and the possibilities.”
He was also excited by the County’s music scene. An experienced music organizer, he saw the potential here.
“I was so impressed, pleasantly, when I got here,” says Loane. “I come from the East Coast, which is a very rich, kitchen-party style, everyone has guitars. I feel that’s out here too, it’s why I’ve gravitated to this area, because I’m from Halifax and I feel this is a really East-Coast, maritime vibe.”
After a year of success bringing in shows, Loane was given a new direction by the board. They wanted to bring the Regent back to its roots, as a theatre for the community.
Jérèmie Albino was a mild, sweet homeschooled kid from Scarborough. In his late teens, he began to build experience by WOOFing (Working on Organic Farms). The work took him around Quebec and Ontario, and led him to a two-week stint at Vicki’s Veggies in Black River.
Albino fell in love with the County. He felt a sense of community here like no other place he’d been. So when an opportunity came up to intern at Vicki’s, and spend a little more time in the County, he took it on without hesitation.
At night, after he finished work, he’d go back to his room and play on his harmonica or his guitar.
Albino, who had taught himself to play using YouTube tutorials and by discovering blues greats—Skip James, Huey Lewis.
“We always had a guitar in the house but I never really got into it until a friend of ours gave us an old guitar,” says Albino.
Albino came from a musical family. Both his parents loved to play. His French-Canadian mother had a long history of music in the family. His father loved guitars. His sister had a stellar voice. To him, music was just an enjoyable way to pass the time.
“On my mum’s side, all her uncles and her aunts and her parents, everyone played music,” says Albino. “So she’s surrounded by that, and she’s got that natural ear.”
Then one day, a friend came to visit, and the two went out looking for a place to spend the evening.
Albino, thinking it would be a quiet place to hang out, brought his friend to the Drake to play some ping pong.
It wasn’t quiet.
All sorts of artists were showing off their chops in the next room. Albino had to join in. He pulled his harmonica out of his pocket, borrowed a guitar, and enchanted the room with his command of the blues. He also caught Loane’s attention.
An instant hit, Albino kept coming back, and started getting requests to do more, to perform at events, to get paid for his music.
He still works at Vicki’s Veggies, but his music career has blossomed, enough that he is reconsidering plans to become a farmer and thinking of focussing instead on his music.
That may mean travelling, but for now at least, Albino would like to keep his connection to the County. Albino, along with his brother and parents, purchased a farmhouse in Bloomfield, a sort of family cottage. That’s where Albino is living. He is setting up roots here.
“Right away, when I moved out here, everyone I met, they were just the most amazing people. It’s such a good community out here,” says Albino. “It’s just a bonus that it’s really beautiful.”
But he’s young, and having fun. At 24, Albino has both time and talent.
This spring, Albino will be releasing his first LP. And on Sunday, he, along with Instant Rivalry, Moon Sugar and 62 South, performed as part of the PEC Concert Series at the Regent, organized by Loane, to drum up support of local musicians.
It was the first of an event Loane want to see occur quarterly. The second concert in the series will happen in May. Working with Dave Ullrich, the event will be held the evening prior to County POP, with inbound musicians welcomed to catch the local tunes before playing at the Crystal Palace the following day.
“People out here, they come out here because they’re passionate about something and they want to dedicate their time to it,” says Loane. “Artists that come out here have nothing but time to dedicate to their craft. They work a day job, but they spend their evenings honing their craft. I feel like that’s why people get so good out here. There’s nothing to do but spend time with what you’re passionate about.”