Fending off the Blues with Gusto!

Last Friday’s edition (August 7) of  KPTZ’s “Crackin’ the Vault” hosted by Peter McCracken, featured Mexican violin virtuoso and composer, the “Paganini of the Hotlands” Don Juan Reynoso, who first came to teach and perform at Fiddle Tunes in 1997 at the age of 85.  Mesmerizing and impossible to sit still to, Don Juan’s passion, energy with his double stopping and constantly changing time signatures makes for eventful listening!

This clip below was recorded at Fiddle Tunes in 2000 with Don Juan’s son, Neyo and friend Castulo and there is a whole lot more to listen to on Peter’s archived show incase you missed it and be sure to listen in to Crackin’ the Vault each Friday at 4pm.

With the first week of August behind us, I’m reminded of an early experience during Blues week as Volunteer Coordinator.  A socially distant position – even before Covid popularized that phrase – which required only minimal time in the office to pick up volunteer badges, Gold Fish and other event essentials, doesn’t lend itself to getting-to-know you type activities such as chatting around a staff room coffee machine.  It’s been a slow process and one in which I haven’t been proactive (my own fault) to get to know my colleagues and learn about their many hidden talents and lives outside the Centrum one we have in common. In fact it wasn’t until a couple of years in, when I stumbled upon a weekly staff meeting, that I realized that 2 of my colleagues were married to each other.  Note to self: attend more staff meetings.

It was a blisteringly hot afternoon, part way through Blues Festival, and I was beginning to wilt in the August heat, staring blankly at the McCurdy Pavilion stage,  now in full acoustic blues swing. Thoughts jumbling between “time to switch out abandoned gate keepers at far- flung outpost patiently waiting to be relieved” and “what’s the worst that could happen if I approach that burly fence hopper” and “what a great perk of the job, all you can stand, live Blues all day long.”

It was about then, a kind bar tender approached with a refreshing, ice-chilled glass of Chardonnay, observing an apparent need.

So there I was, standing mid-Littlefield Green, surrounded by a sea of listeners reclining in low down lawn chairs, trapped in my Scottish handcuffs – a chilled, slippery glass of wine in one hand & persistently squelching radio in the other. Is this drinking on the job? Likely not if I’m care-taking said glass for A.N. Other or if I’m “on a break”. Oh, wait, this is one of those 3 “break-free” 14 hour days of the season. To my alarm I recognize that I’m towering over a program manager * who’s relaxing in a lawn chair, making like a patron rather than an authority on the event, toe tapping enthusiastically. Seems way too relaxed to fire me for drinking on the job. Now I am approaching pre-first-sip-drool stage but haven’t yet contravened any prehistoric, primitive quaffing rule per se in my exposed and increasingly uncomfortable state.

Time for some nervous conversation which has a 50/50 chance of improving matters or digging myself further into a hole, ironically giving the impression (to me at least) of being an obtrusive 10 foot tall giant in a sea of reclined listeners.

“So what’s your involvement with the Blues Festival?”  Very important Centrum person looked up and responded “What’s my involvement? I only started it 25 years ago.”**

There was never a better moment to pursue burly gate-crashers.

*Name withheld to protect identity of the innocent

** Cover blown

Local activities on and off line for everyone

This week at the Marine Science Center – Scavenger hunt, PTMSC Trivia evening and low-tide walk

Check the schedule to sign up for movement classes

Check the website for youth and adult online classes and workshops


You’ve got just 8 short weeks to get involved with the
Centrum Scholarship Crowdfunding Campaign

Make your contribution now – check Campaign website for details.

September 1
Registration opens for Northern Lights.
Admission is free; a locally-sourced Gala-in-a-Box can be yours for purchase.
Here’s your first chance to preview auction items online!

October 1
Deadline for purchasing your Gala-in-a Box to enjoy with your livestreamed Northern Lights experience.

Let the silent auction begin! We’re opening the online silent auction for Northern Lightsearly for your bidding pleasure. Pandemic-approved items include trips within driving distance, fine wine, jewellery and works by regional artists.

Centrum Scholarship Crowdfunding Campaign closes.
Didn’t get a chance to contribute? Be sure to participate in the Northern Lights Fund-a-Dream paddle-raise–details to come!

October 17
Northern Lights livestreamed Gala and Auction,
with special guests to be announced soon!

Check our Facebook Page website for frequent Gala upates

Thanks for listening and stay safe

See you through the fence again soon!

Claire Africa
Volunteer Coordinator

If you have any comments or questions please don’t hesitate to email


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