DORCHESTER, N.B. – Derrick Beardsworth has always been a huge music fan. And for the past eight years he has been able to share that passion with others.
Beardsworth has been leading the way in New Brunswick in helping to establish and promote public performance spaces for musicians, such as the up-and-coming Parkindale Hall.
Having moved to Parkindale, a tiny rural community east of Elgin, from Moncton about 10 years ago, Beardsworth said he soon noticed a lack of musical events happening in smaller communities like his and wanted to do something about it. He had been involved in the New Brunswick music scene for a long time and knew his contacts could help him bring bands to these smaller places.
“I thought, there’s no reason why we can’t bring some of those traveling musicians here,” he said.
Beardsworth then met up with Gary Leaman, caretaker of Parkindale Hall, a “community gathering place” nestled along the quiet backroads of Albert County. The two have since turned the 115-year-old hall into a music venue that attracts music-lovers in every couple weeks for the unique atmosphere and the great music. Just last year, in fact, Parkindale Hall was named ‘venue of the year’ by Music New Brunswick.
Beardsworth said the music scene seems to be undergoing a transition and people are seeking out live music performances in venues such as Parkindale Hall rather than the noisy confines of a nightclub.
“The music scene is changing and the way we view shows is changing.”
– Derrick Beardsworth
He said the intimacy of the setting provides listeners with more of a personal connection to the musicians, which makes the concert more appealing to them than in a larger or louder environment.
“Everyone is there for the same reason.”
With Parkindale Hall becoming such a success, Beardsworth and his wife Ashton decided to establish Parkindale Productions – making their music promoting business a bit more official.
“We thought the time had come to do this,” said Beardsworth. “We’ve been dealing with bands and managers and now we’re going into our eighth year doing this . . . we thought this might be a way to bring out some bigger-known acts as well.”
To expand, however, the Beardsworths knew they would need to find a bigger venue than Parkindale Hall. Although now an extremely popular music hall, the venue was too small to bring in some of the bigger acts they hope to draw into New Brunswick. So they began looking at other options.
“We were looking to do something similar with the same kind of feel,” he said. “Our shows were packed so we needed something a little bigger.”
That’s when they came across Shepody House. A historic-church-turned-music-venue in the small rural community of Dorchester, Shepody House was up for sale by owner Randy Geddes, who had purchased the building and renovated it to convert it into a performance space for local and visiting musicians.
“Randy has done such great work in getting it up and running,” said Beardsworth. “And they wanted to sell it to someone who would continue doing what they had started. So it was kind of a perfect fit.”
Shepody House re-opened under Parkindale Productions this past November and Beardsworth said their shows have so far drawn in large crowds. He said having two venues in close proximity to each other can only help to draw in more East Coast musicians, who are looking to perform in these intimate spaces with outstanding acoustics.
Beardsworth said he also wants the community to feel ownership in Shepody House, pointing out that he hopes to establish the hall not only as a music venue but as a “creative space” for local artists and musicians.
“We’re here and we’re open to anything,” said Beardsworth, noting people can feel free to ask about using the facility for band rehearsals, art exhibits, jam nights, karaoke and other such events. “We just really want to connect it with the local community. We really want to see what we can do. We love it, we love New Brunswick, we really love Dorchester and we see a lot of potential there.”
Multi award-winning bluegrass/folk music artist J.P. Cormier is the next performer to take the stage at Shepody House. The show is set for Sunday, Jan. 28 and tickets can be purchased at Kraken Ink on York Street in Sackville or via email transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org