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Barn concert a big hit

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The first barn concert of the season at Cornell Farms in La Vallee was held Monday evening.

More than 200 people were on hand to enjoy the music, celebrate the family barn’s centennial year, and also support the Fort Frances “Community Chest.”

Activities began at 6:30 p.m. with a barbecue and various games outside the barn to raise money for the local charity.

An hour later, Jim Mulveney and Denis Lauzon of Windsor, Ont. opened the show with a short set of earthy folk songs.

Headliner Brent Newman, with local band Rough Cut Pine, then took the stage and played a mix of covers with songs of his own.

An auction was held at intermission to raise additional funds for the “Community Chest.”

Rozanne Flatt, attending a barn concert for the first time, said she was happy she went.

“I think this is a great thing,” she remarked. “We’re raising money for the community.

“I absolutely loved the auction≤” she added. “I just wish I brought more money.”

But Flatt said her favourite part of the evening was the music.

“Brent is an absolutely amazing musician,” she noted. “He’s got so much talent.

“He’s got a little bit of rock and classic rock with a great blend of ballads,” Flatt lauded.

“The only thing missing was a dance floor.”

Newman, who spent his childhood years in the Fort Frances area, now lives in England making a living in the music business.

But he told the audience during the show that he’s always wanted to play in the Cornell barn.

“I’ve played in a lot of places but this one takes the cake,” he remarked.

“This has been a dream of mine to play here so thank you to Pat and Kim for having me.

“The acoustics in here are fantastic,” Newman added.

“It kind of just naturally projects. You don’t really need to belt it out.”

Newman said he first heard about the barn when he visited family here during a summer vacation about five years ago.

“I fell in love with the place and I always kind of hoped they would ask me to play,” he noted.

“Then when I arrived [here] last summer, they said, ‘It’s our 100th anniversary of the barn’ and told me that they were going to run some concerts for that,” Newman recalled.

“And then asked me if I would do their first show of the season.

“It’s really cool,” he enthused.

Kim Cornell acted as emcee for the evening. He also helped plan the event with his wife, Pat, and said he was happy with how everything turned out.

“We made $4,800 so it was a pretty good night,” he said of the money raised for the “Community Chest.”

Cornell added he enjoyed having Newman as a musical guest.

“After you sit and watch that guy for a while, you realize that he knows what he’s doing,” he remarked.

“Especially those songs that he wrote . . . I mean, he’s just an all-around talented guy.”

The Cornells will continue the celebration of their 100-year-old barn with two more concerts this summer.

The dates are set for Aug. 9 and Aug. 24, with more details to be released as they draw closer.

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