Ted Simmons
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Ted Simmons

Band Folk Americana


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"A Song To Sing"

A song to sing
Open mikes popular with all ages in clubs and community centres on the Island
The Guardian

By day, Lynn Gallant is employed as a childcare worker at C.H.A.N.C.E.S. Family Centre in Charlottetown.

But in her heart of hearts, she’s really a country singer.

So every Sunday afternoon she walks up to the microphone during open mike at the Royal Canadian Legion in Charlottetown and starts crooning.

“I sing for the joy of it. It’s something that I look forward to each week. And I really love it when my daughter joins me,” says Gallant, after finishing a set that includes Fox on the Run and Country Roads.

She’s one of the people getting their 20 minutes of fame during these mixed music sessions held at countless venues, large and small, across the Island.

Another is Clifford Martin, manager of a muffler shop in Charlottetown. Once a month, he puts his tools away, straps on a guitar and performs during the open mike ceilidhs at Fort Paddy’s Pub in Fort Augustus.

“I like to entertain and have fun. It’s a very social thing,” says Martin after singing a duet, Once More, with his sister, Carmen Halman.

In fact, he’s quite philosophical about it.

“The biggest thing about an open mike is that people want to be recognized. They have something to say and they want to be heard,” says Martin.

And whether they’re being heard in community halls, clubs or bars, these spontaneous shows require four elements to make them work —an audience, a microphone, talent and an emcee.

“We keep them pretty informal,” says Brian Maxwell, who co-hosts the Sunday afternoon event at the Charlottetown Legion with Laura DesPres.

Like a band leader, the multi-instrumentalist sets the mood with a selection of cover tunes by Johnny Cash and John Prine before inviting other musicians to join him on stage.

“Regulars usually come up and tell me they’ve got something to play. And newcomers are always invited to join in,” says Maxwell.

In contrast, there’s an air of professionalism at Babas in Charlottetown where musicians are taking their music to the next level.

The place is a gathering spot for burgeoning songwriters who come to test out their new material.

“Anyone who has just come is invited to come up and sign the performance list,” says host Nick Teter, adjusting microphones for musicians Andrea MacDonald, Ted Simmons, Stephen Pate and a poet simply known as Alan.

As the emcee, he spends the evening mingling with artists, keeping their sound levels and spirits bright.

“If you play, you get a free glass of draft for your 15 minutes of fame,” says Teter, who has a definite knack for making people feel at home.

“It’s important to welcome people, especially if they’re new. If no one comes over to talk, sure, they may get up to play once, but they may never come back.”

The artists like the time that Teter puts into the show.

“Nick encourages everyone and is not afraid to show his appreciation. That’s why I come here — for the camaraderie and a chance to play my own compositions,” says Pate, after testing out his latest song.

For Simmons, the draw is getting to play in front of a live audience.

“I come every week to practise my live stage show. I really enjoy the atmosphere here,” says the singer-songwriter who performs a dynamic version of Bob Dylan’s North Country Blues.

Meanwhile, Teter gives a sigh of relief that all the music slots have been filled.

“My biggest fear is that no one will show up and I’ll have to play a lot of songs.

“While that normally isn’t bad, it’s not my show. It’s about the artists,” says the singer-songwriter.

A few blocks away, the mood is warm and relaxed at Hunter’s Ale House where artists have gathered for another open mike night.

Hosted by Danielle Bowlan, the Monday night gig is the highlight of her week.

“It’s fun, and interesting. We are always getting to hear new music and meet new people,” she says.

During the show, which also includes performances by Jessica Keough, Kassandra Veenhuis and Blake MacIsaac, she and Laura Oakie team up for some tight harmonies on Volcano and Nine Crimes and are rewarded with applause for their efforts.

“We’re constantly singing together. We enjoy coming here,” says Oakie, who is also a member of the Disco Rockin’ Llamas.

After playing together week after week, it feels like home, says Bowlan. “We’re all friends here so no one is afraid to go on.”

After playing together week after week, it feels like home, says Bowlan. “We’re all friends here so no one is afraid to go on.” - The Charlottetown Guardian


Still working on that hot first release.



Ted Simmons was born in St. John's, Newfoundland but hails from all over. He discovered two things in his life that have consumed him ever since, the sound of an Acoustic Guitar and American Folk Music. He has travelled as a vagabond all over Europe and The United States, singing and playing the whole way, and although a song writer for most of his life, he has only recently decided to make it his career.