Byline update: Maisonneuve

I wrote about the Screech-in for Maisonneuve. For those of you who don’t know, it is a kind of initiation ritual we do here in Newfoundland for visitors and newcomers. I explore its history, controversy, and role in Newfoundland identity politics. Here is a sample:

IT’S A FRIDAY NIGHT at Christian’s Pub in downtown St. John’s, Newfoundland. The bar is packed for a February. As 11 pm approaches, the crowd is eagerly waiting for Keith Vokey to arrive and perform his famous Screech-In ceremony. The tiny top floor—reserved for Screechers and their guests—fills quickly. The space heats up as everyone orders their pints, still bundled up in their winter coats because there are no more hooks left to hang them on. Rihanna’s “Work” plays on a jukebox in the corner. The tables and chairs have been pushed against the walls to create space in the middle of the room, where about a dozen tourists wait attentively in groups of threes and fours, their friends watching from the sidelines.

Fifteen minutes later, Vokey, dressed in green oilskins, bursts out from a door at the back of the bar, clapping his hand against a wooden oar. His long, curly hair has been tied into a ponytail and tucked into a green fisherman’s hat called a sou’wester, which is proportioned like a mullet—short in the front, long in the back. Small droplets of sweat are already beading in his salt-and-pepper beard. After the jukebox has been turned off, Vokey opens the night with the first verse of the “The Islander” by local favourites Shanneyganock. “I’m a Newfoundlander born and bred and I’ll be one ’til I die,” he sings. “I’m proud to be an islander and here’s the reason why; I’m free as the winds and the waves that wash the sand; there’s no place I’d rather be than here in Newfoundland.” Vokey is a capable singer in his own right—he’s played in a few groups, including a tribute band called The Beach B’ys—but his performance tonight is mostly about volume and theatrics.

Check out the full article here: https://maisonneuve.org/article/2017/01/17/hook-line-and-screecher/

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~ by braddunne on May 23, 2017.

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