Our friends to the east in Newfoundland and Labrador have some special ways to celebrate the holidays.
There’s mummering, where masked and costumed men and women go door to door, often armed with an accordion or fiddle, to spread some Christmas cheer. They are often invited into the kitchen for a slice of Figgy duff (pudding) or a jam jam (cookie), and maybe a small taste of the hard stuff known as screech.
Then there’s the Jiggs’ dinner, otherwise known as a boiled dinner, consisting of salt beef, turnip, cabbage, potato, carrot, and the aforementioned Figgy duff, traditionally eaten on a Sunday, but also popular over the holidays.
Andrew Mercer, who is originally from Bay Roberts, Nfld., and is now the front man of popular Vernon band Cod Gone Wild, knows all about these traditions and he is about to share some of them with his North Okanagan fans for New Year’s Eve.
“I decided not to make the long trip home to Newfoundland for Christmas this year. Instead, as an attempt to stave off home sickness, I am bringing the tastes and sounds of down home to the North Okanagan,” said Mercer.
Entitled A Newfoundland New Year’s Eve, the event will consist of a formal dinner and a dance at Okanagan College Vernon campus’ Kal View room, overlooking Kalamalka Lake, Dec. 31.
The evening will feature Newfoundland cocktails, a traditional Newfoundland Jiggs’ dinner (this one contains prime rib), catered by Basket Case Picnics, and, of course, music by Vernon’s own East Coast infused band Cod Gone Wild.
The evening will also include various party favours (and perhaps an ugly stick or two), a candy buffet from Anna’s Sweets and Treats and champagne at midnight.
The Cods will also be introducing their newest band member to those attending.
Susan “Sue” Aylard has already performed close to 20 shows on the road with the band since joining in late August. She replaced fiddler Anjuli Otter, who got married and moved to Saskatchewan in the summer.
“Anjuli was with the band for four years, was an amazing addition, and played a large role in the band’s success over that time. Her departure certainly left a void, some uncertainty, and unanswered questions around who was going to fill that void. Then along came Sue,” said Mercer.
Already a member of the band Rough Pearl (formerly The Cats and the Fiddle), Aylard happened to catch a Cod Gone Wild show in Blind Bay at the Shuswap Lake Festival of the Arts this past July. Upon learning that the band was looking for a new fiddle player, she contacted the Cods to set up an audition.
Also a violinist with the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra, joining the Cods was a natural progression for an already accomplished violinist/fiddler, said Mercer.
“Sue nailed the audition and is a true professional in every sense,” he said. “We are delighted to have her on board and we feel quite fortunate to have found someone locally to join us and represent our region as we travel and share our music.”
Aylard started her violin studies before her third birthday at the Vancouver Academy of Music. During her studies throughout western Canada, she placed first in the senior division at the B.C. Festival of the Arts. Her Sabeon Trio twice competed at the National Music Competition.
She has since travelled the world, performing in Sweden, Russia, Denmark, Mexico, the U.S. and Ireland, and in 2009, she received the prestigious Okanagan Arts Award for her contributions to the local music scene.
Locals can catch her and Cod Gone Wild at A Newfoundland New Year’s Eve. Tickets are available at the Ticket Seller box office in the Vernon Performing Arts Centre, online at ticketseller.ca or by phoning 250-549-7469.
Tickets for the dinner and dance are $85 each (only 150 are available) and doors open for cocktails at 6:30 p.m. Tickets for the dance only are $40 each and doors open at 8:30 p.m. (only 40 available). For more information about the show visit www.codgonewild.com or for table reservations, email firstname.lastname@example.org.