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Wicked altogether

Dear Editor: Wicked Altogether was recently put off at the Arts And Culture Centre here in Gander, involving the trio of three of Newfoundland and Labrador's most famous: Snook, Fergus O'Byrne and Jim Payne. The names say it all. Clearly, this was to be a show mixed with humour and traditional music. Now, given that I try to play drums, and therefore have a bias against music that either has no drum set or even worse, actually uses a drum machine -a technique that is unfortunately ubiquitous in Newfoundland and Labrador. I was initially skeptical about going to see Wicked Altogether.

Fergus O'Byrne (left) and Jim Payne, together with Pete Soucy (not pictured), who is better known as his alter ego Snook, will be performing together across the province as Wicked Altogether.

A fast-talking comedian from the heart of St. John's on stage with two of the province's best-loved troubadours promises to be a feast of feel-good entertainment found in kitchens across the province.

Fergus O'Byrne, Jim Payne and Pete Soucy (a.k.a. Snook) are coming to the Gordon Pinsent Centre for the Arts Saturday, Feb. 23 as part of a provincial tour.

The three are veterans of the province's music and arts scene.

Ireland native Fergus O'Byrne is legendary as a former member of Ryan's Fancy in addition to performing solo at numerous concerts and festivals. As an educator he has shared his love and experience of traditional music with children and youth in the province's schools.

He received the lifetime achievement award at the East Coast Music Awards in 2004. As well, he has had multiple ECMA and Music NL nominations and accolades.

Pete Soucy, a Gander native who has made St. John's his home, easily adapted the culture and street life of the capital city to his Snook alter ego. He has entertained on stage, radio and TV for two decades and also has home-video releases, Christ-mas and kids' CDs, and some classic DVDs to his credit.

He also initiated the annual St. John's Comedy Festival in 2007.

Jim Payne, with a Crowd of Bold Sharemen, has a long list of hit recording credits and owns and operates his own label, SingSong Inc. He's no stranger to comedy either, performing regularly with Rising Tide Theatre's Revue series. He adds his talent on guitar, accordion, mandolin, tin whistle and violin, as well as storytelling, acting and step dancing to the mix.

"The show is melded together," said Mr. O'Byrne. "It's not a Snook, then Jim Payne and Fergus O'Byrne idea. It happens that Pete does his own thing, then Jim and Pete do stuff together, then myself and Jim perform together, then the three of us do stuff together.

"Pete's a great singer. He really adds a third voice to a lot of the shanty-type core songs that we do."

Mr. O'Byrne says the end result is a fantastic blend of voices.

He added that the show also features musical comedy routines written by Mr. Payne, as well as musical skits where Mr. Payne and Snook are interacting.

Mr. O'Byrne and Mr. Payne are no strangers to performing together, having played together for years, but explained that the comedic addition of Mr. Soucy originated from convention organizers who wanted to see all three on stage together.

"Over the years, we kind of integrated some stuff together," he said. "It worked really well."

The Wicked Altogether gang even took their show to Alberta last year, where they played to packed houses in communities such as Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, and Fort MacMurray.

Not surprisingly, the audiences included a large number of Newfoundland expatriates.

"It was kind of an exploratory tour but it went really well," said Mr. O'Byrne. "We're planning another tour in the fall and we're looking at Ontario as well."

Mr. O'Byrne said all three members of Wicked Altogeth-er are looking forward to hitting the stage in Grand Falls-Windsor.

Tickets can be purchased at the box office at the Gordon Pinsent Centre for the Arts.

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