Athabasca Advocate – October 3, 2017

Heartwood Folk Club celebrates 20 years; “190-plus chances to hear great stories, funny jokes and wonderful music,” says club board member

Hanna Lawson

The Heartwood Folk Club celebrated 20 years of “great stories, funny jokes and wonderful music” at the Nancy Appleby Theatre Oct. 1.

Acoustic guitar folk duo J.P. Cormier and Dave Gunning opened up the fall season for the club’s 20th year with evocative tunes and tales from the road with Stompin’Tom Connors that got the crowd of about 200 singing, laughing and clapping along.

After the first half of the show, Heartwood Folk Club Society board member Richard Zwicker gave a brief oral history of the club to the audience. Zwicker described all of the work that artistic director Peter Opryshko does prior to a show.

“Peter did all that behind scenes work to organize over 190 concerts, giving all of us 190-plus chances to hear great stories, funny jokes and wonderful music,” he said. “Peter, we thank you.”

The audience members stood to give an ovation to Opryshko, after which Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater MLA Colin Piquette presented him and the society with a certificate of achievement.

Shirley Stashko, one of the founding members of the Heartwood Folk Club, spoke about where the name for the club came from.

Opryshko and Stashko decided to collaborate in bringing Laura Love to perform in Athabasca – the Heartwood Folk Club’s first show – and when Love’s agent asked Stashko what the society’s name was, it just came to her.

“I’m just thinking on the spot, and it just popped into my head: Heartwood Folk Club,” Stashko said.

At intermission, audience members helped themselves to wine and cheese, while passing by the club’s show posters from the past 20 years, which were displayed on the theatre walls.

Opryshko said in an interview that it was “very special” to have such a good crowd, and that the club has survived. “It’s fantastic,” he said. “It couldn’t have happened without all these good people. They give me more credit than they should, I think.

“Athabasca is lucky that we have this fantastic theatre, and as a club we’re lucky we have so many good loyal supports and so many people willing to help,” he added. “I’ve been the one who has been so lucky, because I have been able to hear all this great music.”

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