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NACC bringing big names north
Community favourites return alongside international stars

April Hudson
Northern News Services
Thursday, August 18, 2016

Over the years, the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre (NACC) has brought some big-name shows to Fort Simpson.

NNSL photo/graphic

Vancouver-based bluesman Jim Byrnes will be the first performer to visit Hay River this year in a series of shows by the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre. - photo courtesy of Northern Arts and Cultural Centre

That tradition continues this year with the release of the centre's new season line-up, which includes the return of community favourites, such as the Gryphon Trio, as well as newly-minted NACC performers.

Marking the fifth year since NACC started bringing musicians, actors and performers to Fort Simpson, the organization has four events planned for the village, including three shows and one festival.

No one is more excited for the upcoming shows than Marie Coderre, executive director of NACC.

The season kicks off Sept. 12 with an evening of blues music courtesy of Jim Byrnes and the Sojourners, a gospel ensemble.

"(Byrnes) is a blues legend in Canada. We're very, very lucky to have him," Coderre said.

"I saw him play at the Yukon Arts Centre in 2014 and my jaw dropped. I (said), 'You've gotta come at some point.'"

The organization's October show for Fort Simpson is the Ko K'e Storytelling Festival, which is becoming a staple for the community.

This year, the festival will include performances from Quantum Tangle - Greyson Gritt and Tiffany Ayalik - as well as Natasha Duchene and Mary Caroline, among others.

On Nov. 21, NACC will be bringing Call Mr. Robeson to the Fort Simpson stage, a one-man play performed by Nigerian-born Tayo Aluko.

That play, Coderre said, is a look at racial issues in the early 20th century.

Based on the life of Paul Robeson, an actor, singer and civil rights campaigner, that play will explore his struggle to pursue a career as a black musician.

"It shows how it affected his career and how he was prevented from going on the international scene. It's a very powerful play," Coderre said.

"It's a solo play with a musician and pianist - it's part musical and part theatre."

The final instalment of this year's NACC line-up will be the Broken Hearts and Madmen Project, coming to Fort Simpson Dec. 12.

That show, based on an album of the same name, features the Gryphon Trio as well as Patricia O'Callaghan.

"That's going to be singing, music, piano, cello and violin - and it's definitely going to be a mix of classical root, jazz and Latin root," said Coderre.

The Gryphon Trio is a well-known name in the territory, as the band behind the 2014 project Listen Up! which brought youth from Fort Simpson to Yellowknife for a series of focused lessons into different aspects of music.

"They're definitely really attached to the Northwest Territories and it's a real treat to have them back, but in a different format this time," Coderre said.

Season passes are being sold as of Aug. 19, and will be open until Sept. 12.

"Our season pass has a discounted rate as opposed to if you buy a single ticket," Coderre said.

"You can also buy the season pass at the door."

NACC will also have tickets available in the next few weeks at the Open Sky Gallery, she said.

As for the season, Coderre said she expects a good turnout this year, given the diversity of the shows.

"We've been coming on a regular basis to Fort Simpson, and now it's our fifth year so that's really important that the tradition is now in place. People are expecting us," she said.

But when asked whether the organization is building on the shows that were most successful last year, Coderre gives an unequivocal "No."

"It's the beauty of that - we work on offering something brand new every year," she said.

"It's very exciting, actually, to see what works and what doesn't work . but it's also good to bring acts in that we don't know, where it's something new."

All shows will be held at Bompas Elementary School.

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