Pelletier Family concert a potpourri of musical genres

Matt
Matt Gardner
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Whether you’re a fan of country, jazz, gospel, swing, polka, flamenco or old-time rock ‘n’ roll, there’s something for you at a Pelletier Family show.

Left to right: Guitarist Freddie Pelletier, his son Clint and wife Shelia play their unique blend of old time acoustic music. The Pelletier Family will be performing with Clint’s girlfriend Thea Neumann at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Sunday, Sept. 23.

The group, whose members include Freddie Pelletier, his partner Sheila and his son Clint, will be joined by Clint’s girlfriend Thea Neumann on Sunday, Sept. 23 for an evening of virtuoso instrumentals, singing and humour at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre.

“Freddie’s pretty rooted in the old country stuff, and so am I really,” singer and rhythm guitarist Sheila Pelletier said. “But Clint is more of a progressive player, plays lots of jazz and gypsy jazz, which is a … unique form of jazz where it’s kind of fast and furious and really quite an infectious style. His girlfriend Thea sings a lot of jazz standards.

“So it’s going to be a real mixed bag, and if people possibly don’t care for something that we’re playing, just sit for a few minutes because it’s going to change, and hopefully we’ll hit a style that everybody in the crowd is excited about.”

Freddie has been playing professionally since 1969. Inspired by country guitar legends like Chet Atkins and Jerry Reid, he formed the band Northwest Rebellion and has had a long and diverse career.

His wife Sheila was a registered nurse and award-winning musician before forming a personal and professional relationship with Freddie. A dance band they founded in 1994 modified its sound when Freddie’s son Clint brought his fleet-fingered talents on board. The group soon dropped its bass and drums for an all-acoustic style.

A typical Pelletier Family set comprises equal amounts of instrumental and vocal numbers. Sheila’s rhythm provides the bass notes while Freddie and Clint play twin lead guitar.

“If Freddie’s playing the melody, most likely Clint is going to be playing the harmony,” Sheila said. “The guys will never play the same thing ever … It’s really something to see onstage because of course it’s father and son, and because Freddie taught Clint a lot of what he knows, they’ve got that bond and that chemistry where they kind of know what each other is going to do before they actually do it.”

It’s going to be a real mixed bag, and if people possibly don’t care for something that we’re playing, just sit for a few minutes because it’s going to change, and hopefully we’ll hit a style that everybody in the crowd is excited about. Sheila Pelletier

Clint’s girlfriend Thea is a jazz singer and pianist strongly influenced by classic performers such as Ella Fitzgerald. Her addition to the group at the Prince Albert concert adds further diversity to the Pelletiers’ already genre-straddling setlist.

The Pelletier Family last played P.A. about two years ago at a special concert to raise money for the Victoria Hospital Foundation to purchase hospital equipment.

“We play a lot around Western Canada and then in the States, but it’s been a long time since we’ve been in P.A.,” Sheila said. “So it’s exciting to go there, especially with the Rawlinson Centre. It’s such a beautiful place.”

Besides touring, the Pelletiers also run a guitar and music camp near Birch Hills. They recently wrapped up their 11th annual three-week camp, which saw a record number of participants.

But it is their live performances that are the most visible manifestation of the Pelletiers’ talents. The group’s two 45-minute sets at the Rawlinson Centre will feature selections from their recent tribute album Songs of Les Paul and Mary Ford, plenty of between-song banter, and some classic rock ‘n’ roll instrumentals that are a consistent crowd-pleaser.

“It’s just going to be a lot of fun,” Sheila said. “We do a lot of playing to the 50+ crowd, and we’ve kind of figured out that people just want to laugh and have a good time and remember songs from their past, and that’s what we’re going to give them.”

Organizations: Rawlinson Centre, Prince Albert, Victoria Hospital Foundation

Geographic location: Northwest Rebellion, Western Canada, Birch Hills

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