You can get 30 per cent off tickets for the 2020 version of the Cowichan Valley Bluegrass Festival right now, just in time for Christmas gift giving. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen file)

Lexi Bainas column: Specially priced tickets, sending a karaoke Xmas carol to far away friends on tap this week

And how about ‘a toilet paper gathering’? It’s all here for you

I just realized this morning that Christmas is really creeping up on us.

How can it creep up, I hear you all crying, when it’s been blasted at us from every store window and media outlet for weeks? Not to mention the three months of Hallmark holiday weeper movies we’ve all been enjoying.

I don’t know how it is, but I can drown out all that extraneous noise until the first week or so of December, when I put up my tree. I’ve been on vacation for a couple of weeks, too, and putting up my decorations launched the season for me.

Of course, we have been able to enjoy a feast of great local Christmas entertainment, and it’s not over yet by any means.

Here’s a few notes from my email inbox.

***

I returned to find Sheila Johnson had sent me a note to say that the Sharing the Joy concert her choirs are giving this weekend is SOLD OUT!!!

Wow, great news for her and the gang, but if any of you have been holding off getting your tickets, you’re too late now, I’m afraid.

***

Also, Joy Ann Bannerman, who not only provides all the information for our Young Musician of the Week but also acts as publicist for the Cowichan Consort & Orchestra, has sent in the following note.

“On behalf of the Cowichan Consort Board, I would like to thank everyone who came out to support our recent Fundraiser for Cowichan Hospice House. The Christmas Carol Sing-Along was well attended and we will be presenting a cheque to the Hospice House this week. Thanks to Heather Robinson who typed and operated the essential slides for all the verses of each song or carol. She was a huge help keeping us all singing the correct words.

“We also wish to thank the Christian Reformed Church for the venue, their generous donation, and especially to John Duifuis for his technical assistance. Special call outs to Yvonne Gillespie accompanist, Sue Doughty, choir director, Judit Kabath, musical arrangements, and all the orchestral musicians who came out to play. Thanks to Dr. Valorie Masuda who gave a moving speech about the Hospice House, making us aware of this important essential need in our Valley.”

***

In another note from the Consort, Alice Sinclair, chair of the Cowichan Consort Concerto Competition for 2020, wishes to announce there are three winners this year.

These youthful musicians will all perform with the orchestra in March 2020.

The senior level winner is Ayari Kasukawa, alto saxophone, the intermediate winner is Mai Ikemura, viola, and the junior winner is Keisha McKay, piano.

“This year’s panel was very excited with the high level of the performances by all candidates. The competition was open to music of any composer for any solo instrument or voice with orchestra,” Sinclair said, adding, “Thank you to all teachers who entered students. The annual competition is for 26-years-and-under young musicians.”

***

Just in time for Christmas, Cowichan Valley Bluegrass Festival organizers are offering 30 per cent off weekend passes for their summer event.

The lineup for June 19-21, 2020 includes: Pharis and Jason Romero, The Lonesome Ace Stringband, Greg Blake and Real Country, Simon Chrisman and Wes Corbett, Sarah Jane Scouten, Old Paint Stringband, and the signature Saturday Night Square Dance.

Check out https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4453520.

***

On Sunday, Dec. 15 from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Duncan Showroom on Station Street in downtown Duncan, it’s time for The Gathering of the Toilet Paper 2019.

Organizer Longevity John Falkner says, “Toilet paper is a necessity too often overlooked in the overall scheme of thangs. This is the second year where we have asked the general public to consider donating toilet paper for the empty shelves at the food bank, not only during our musical telethon but right up to the new year. We can help people to feel like possibly they do have their ‘shit’ together going into 2020. Valley musicians will gather to entertain. Those committed to performing are Eugene Smith, Andy McCormick, Amanda Nixon, James Meyer, Jared Popma, the Porter Brothers, Kelly Roxanne Gervan, Bill Levity, Scott McGill, Steve McKinnon, Randy and friends, Malakai, Hardware Girls, Louis Morten, and more. Entry is by donation.”

So bring along some TP and enjoy a great show.

***

And a unique pre-Christmas goodie from the Showroom is: Xmas Karaoke on Wednesday, Dec. 18.

“Travis Peterson brings his karaoke show to a sober location, where the evening’s stage performances are broadcast to YouTube. Yes, you can say hi to friends and family far away with your favourite Christmas songs,” Long John says.

I told you it was a unique idea.

Entry is $10 at the door, or $8 if you sing, and includes one complimentary beverage.

Get the gang together and share some holiday fun with shut-ins or friends far away.

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