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Sackville Music Barn marks 10 years

Brian Doncaster opened the doors to the Music Barn 10 years ago in the hopes of hosting a few ‘Saturday night hoe-downs’, but it quickly became one of New Brunswick’s most widely-used music and special event venues.
Brian Doncaster opened the doors to the Music Barn 10 years ago in the hopes of hosting a few ‘Saturday night hoe-downs’, but it quickly became one of New Brunswick’s most widely-used music and special event venues.

SACKVILLE, N.B. – When Brian Doncaster opened the doors of a restored barn in Middle Sackville back in 2007, he never imagined 10 years later the facility would become one of the province’s most unique and widely-used music and special event venues.

“It definitely wasn’t something I planned,” said Doncaster of the unexpected success of the Sackville Music Barn. “But it’s been a whole lot of fun.”

The Sackville Music Barn started out as somewhat of a hobby for Doncaster when he purchased the property a decade ago and began to make improvements to the 160-year-old structure. His daughter Naomi was a fiddler and he soon began imagining the space as a small and intimate concert hall, with the hope of attracting some folks in for a few ‘Saturday night hoe-downs.’

“I thought this would be a nice place for the community to come and listen to some good music,” said Doncaster.

But from its initial opening, the interest has just continued to grow. Not only did the barn become a popular concert space, but it has also grown into one of the region’s busiest wedding venues. With nearly every weekend booked for the next two years, Doncaster said the Sackville Music Barn now hosts about 25 weddings each season.

 “It’s a booming spot,” he said.

Brian Doncaster points to some of the features in the Music Barn, a 160-year-old structure he renovated 10 years ago to serve as a music venue.

Doncaster believes the appeal lies in the rustic charm of the place, saying the younger generation didn’t grow up in the era where the Tantramar Marsh landscape was dotted with barns, so it’s “quite a novelty” for them to have a facility that offers up an old and rustic feel without a lot of decorating required.

And with the much-needed addition of a kitchen and a reception hall several years ago, as well as a new verandah, the barn has also served as a popular venue for family reunions, anniversaries, birthdays, and more.

“You name it, we’ve had it.”

Sunday afternoons are still reserved for live musical entertainment and shows have featured such performers as Stacey Read, Ray Legere, the Spinney Brothers, Ivan and Vivian Hicks, Chasing Blue, Royal Hicks & Friends, Bluegrass Tradition, and many more.

The Sackville Music Barn will celebrate its 10th anniversary in a similar vein, with a Sunday afternoon show on July 2 with the bluegrass legends the Spinney Brothers. From the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, the Spinney Brothers are comprised of Allan Spinney, Rick Spinney, Gary Dalrymple and Terry Poirier.

Doncaster said it’s fitting that the music barn is marking this special anniversary with the Spinney Brothers as they have played at the venue every year since its opening.

The afternoon concert will be followed up by an evening performance featuring local talent the Carter sisters. Fiddlers and step dancers, the Carter sisters have been collectively performing for 17 years. Under the consistent guidance of their teacher Stacey Read, the sisters – Madeline, 14, Marlise, 12, Maizie, 9 (and two-year-old Millie who isn’t yet taking lessons but loves to be on stage) – play with a group out of Amherst, Pick ‘n Grin, who regularly performs at nursing homes, church fundraisers and other special events. Madeline and Marlise are part of a group called the Junior Jills and Maizie is preparing to join a small fiddle group next year with some of Read’s other young fiddlers. They also play various other instruments including the guitar, mandolin and keyboard.

All proceeds will go to the bands, said Doncaster, with tickets available at the door the day of the show.

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