By Ewa Chwojko-Srawley

Where to catch world-class Canadian musicians? Look no further than Virginia!

Matt Large, a bluegrass musician and music presenter, launched the Cedar Hedge Concert Series at Virginia United Church in November, with six concerts planned. As we hit the halfway mark, the series is in full swing.

Last Saturday, the Allison Lupton Trio captivated the audience with a blend of Canadian folk and Celtic music, drawing such a crowd that additional chairs had to be brought in to accommodate the overflowing church.

The atmosphere was cozy, with musicians introducing each piece, cracking jokes, and sharing personal anecdotes.

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Lupton, an award-winning folk singer and flutist raised on a dairy farm in Ontario, was thrilled to play in such an intimate venue.

“Performing here is special; the area reminds me of my childhood. I adore the warm reception from the audience; it feels like we’re all friends making music together,” she said.

The audience especially appreciated her songs telling stories she heard from her grandfather and others of his generation, songs which recall early days of hardship after settling in the new land, and moments of joy and laughter.

In her melodies, we hear Celtic influences – an essential part of the Canadian immigrant story – with a Canadian twist that had the crowd tapping their feet and clapping along.

Shane Cook, a Canadian and US national fiddle champion, made a quick stop in Georgina between his globetrotting escapades and dazzled the audience with brilliant fiddle playing.

Lupton couldn’t resist a jest, claiming that Shane’s playing was so rapid-fire that only a cheetah would have a chance at catching every note.

Kyle Waymouth impressed us not just with his guitar prowess but also with his mesmerizing step dancing. Witnessing a five-time Canadian Open Step Dance Champion in action is a rare treat.

Kyle Waymouth, Allison Lupton, Matt Large & Shane Cook

All the stars came to our small town because Matt Large befriended many of Canada’s finest performers during his music career and invited them here. We are so lucky.

Margaret Almack, who lives just around the corner from the Virginia church, is a big music fan.

“I attend many music festivals in Ontario, so I’m thrilled that I don’t have to go far to enjoy amazing Canadian performers this time,” she said. “Having this series right here makes me happy. The more art, the better.”

During the break, there is an added perk – we get to hang out and chat with the musicians while enjoying some drinks and snacks. The atmosphere is relaxed and informal, perfectly aligning with Matt Large’s aspiration of, in his own words, “building a community through music.”

The Cedar Hedge Concert Series takes place once a month. All concerts begin at 7 p.m. Tickets can be reserved by emailing mattlargepresents@gmail.com, or online through the Facebook page at “Matt Large Presents,” or by calling Deirdre Range (514) 916-9225.
The next concert is Showman & Coole of the Lonesome Ace Stringband on March 30.

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