by Carla DiGiorgio - The Cape Bretoner Magazine

The following is a review of a performance by Duncan & the Apple in a Tree Band at the Savoy Theatre, Glace Bay, Nova Scotia.

I had the distinct pleasure of experiencing a unique concert which I never would have discovered had it not been for the arrival of my children these last five years. In fact, I may have missed the concert this time due to worldly “adult” business which tried to subjugate pleasure to a lower notch on the totem pole of life’s priorities.

Nevertheless, the child in me retaliated and demanded to go. I’m glad I did. You may wonder why an adult is talking lovingly about Duncan Wells as children’s entertainer. Indeed, you may wonder why an adult is reviewing the man’s children’s show at all. Perhaps a child should be doing this. The funny thing about Duncan Wells’ show though, is that it appeals to the adult as well as the child.

Remember the Flintstones and Sesame Street? You liked them as a child, teenager and adult - you may still watch these shows - even when the kids are not around. Why? Because the people who created them were in tune enough with humanity to realize that focusing on one section of society - namely, one age group - is not the way to the truth. And the truth of Duncan Wells’ lyrics and presentation is what captures the hearts of those who love him - big or small.

For instance, Wells decided to Perform “Tell Me That You Love Me” from his TLC album for the first time today. I am not sure why he decided to do this. He introduced the song as a callback to his youth. As a child, Duncan played in the marshes and frequently came home dirty. However, the wild flowers he picked for his mother softened her anger and left both smiling I the end. The song alone is a beautiful testament to love and applies to all ages and relationships.

Tell me that you love me darling. Give me all your kisses and a flower for my hair. When the petals fall we’ll be parting, but I will always love you Daisy dear.

But the clincher in the song’s introduction for me was the fact that rather than dedicating the performance of it to someone like his mother, Duncan dedicated it to us, or me - the audience. Wells actually does this quite shyly and devoid of the painted-on happiness that many children’s entertainers try to exude. Sometimes I wonder if he is happy performing: understandably, preoccupation with the logistics of the concert as a whole must be worrisome. However, his feelings shine through when he says things like this.

A new addition also brightened the stage in the shape of six young girls. The Miracle Sisters were introduced to the audience through the adorable song “Isn’t She Cute”. Wells gave the girls front stage to sing and dance accompaniments to the main numbers. The young performers were particularly adept at relating to the youngsters in the audience. Their faces showed their understanding of the songs, since they were part of the album recordings. The spirit of these females balanced the male foundation of the band, which has been well established for years. The Miracle Sisters filled out the stage beautifully, and lended an extended worldly image to the act. After all, the band is branching out into new frontiers of the Maritimes and even the United States, and finding great response. Duncan Wells is first class entertainment , and a video involving the band and the children might help expose even more people to his songs.

Let me just mention as well that the musical prowess of the band is wonderful. David Burke on piano, mandolin and vocals is incredibly enjoyable to listen to - especially during the instrumental interludes between or within songs. Likewise Bobby Keel on bass and Carl Calder on drums give the percussion highlights to the musical stories. The members of the band obviously enjoy their time together making music and their love for children is evident.

I will conclude by thanking Duncan Wells for finishing this concert as he did my very first Duncan concert almost four years ago, when my second child was only newborn. The first time I saw that mirror ball rotate and send a shower of stars around the room, I felt entranced. Wells’ lyrics describe a child’s peaceful allowance of sleep at the end of the day: In my house, in my room, in my bed, I am singing a tune. Saying good night to the light of the moon. In my house. My room

The wonder of Duncan Wells is his assertion of the dignity and ownership of life in the youngster as well as the elder. His ability to still get into the mindset of a child is priceless. Although I am sure Wells will meet with international success soon, and believe me, we will miss him when he does, I feel he will always be able to grasp the truth wherever he is. Wells’ family support him in person whenever he is in concert. The band comes out to meet their fans after every show. These are aspects of the performance which are intentional and heart-felt, and this soul of music is what the world will latch onto when they hear Duncan in the future. Cape Breton has again produced a treasure.

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