Author: Rogalsky, Dave
Date published: March 7, 2011
Wearing strings of beads reminiscent of a New Orleans Mardi Gras, 220 people were transported to the U.S. Gulf Coast in Kitchener's Conrad Centre for the Performing Arts on a cold January evening for John Bergen's eighth annual Epicurean Hootenanny.
At $85 a plate, guests feasted on gumbo, shrimp, spicy sausage and coleslaw, while sipping a glass of wine in the crowded corridors and foyer of the Conrad Centre. But food was only one focus of the evening. Backed by a hot house band, various performers sang southern-inspired songs like Allannah Miles' Black Velvet and Neil Young's Southern Man.
While some acts were serious- bassbaritone Dan Lichti sang "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho"- others, like The Rockways, made up of women from Rockway Mennonite Church conscripted by Bergen, who sang "9 to 5" dressed as Dolly Parton, were there for comic relief. In true hootenanny fashion, all songs were meant to be sung along to, and the crowd did its part, joining in lustily.
While tickets were pricey, $50 from each one was divided between Mennonite Central Committee and Voice for Hearing Impaired Children.
BY DAVE ROGALSKY
Eastern Canada Correspondent