Riverview Arts Centre Hosts “From The Heart”

Some jobs you seek out, others just seem to fall into your lap.

The latter seems to be the case for Gary Morris, the man responsible for bringing From The Heart, an evening of music and humour, to the Riverview Arts Centre tomorrow night.

The show gets under way at 7:30 p.m.

“In the Sussex area quite some time ago, we had an annual community event… only it had no entertainment,” Morris says. “So in 1983 or thereabouts, I was asked to put a show together, which I hesitantly agreed to.”

Since that show almost 30 years ago, Gary has taken his Valley Jamboree to theatres across New Brunswick.

He says that he typically organizes 10 jamborees in the run of a year, featuring everything from gospel music whistlers to full bands playing country, bluegrass and more.

“We have gotten to the point where there is a rhythm to these shows, that people can expect to see them every three to four months. I would eventually like to see the shows become seasonal to help have the continuity to them.

“The shows are fun to do even though there is a lot to putting them together.”

If there is one lesson that Gary has learned over the course of the past two decades, it is to not sweat the small stuff, or the big stuff, for that matter. Of course sometimes it is easier said than done.

He recalls a past jamboree in an unnamed locale. Leading up to the show, they had sold only 36 advance tickets.

“I got that ticket count the night before the show and since I tend to take full ownership of the success or failure of any given show, I had told the performers that I was thinking of pulling the plug on that specific performance,” Gary recalls.

“We ended up pushing ahead with the show anyway, setting the auditorium, taking the tickets, etc., and by the end of the night, we had 225 people out to the show. That tends to be the way things go in the Maritimes sometimes.”

While the talent featured in Gary’s jamborees tends to vary from city to city, he says that they keep a certain standard to their shows so audiences know what to expect.

“We are always keen to involve as many new faces as we can every show. This could be said for all the performers that we deal with, but I really feel it is hard to find better talent than what people will see in the run of one of our shows.

“On almost any given night, you have excellent entertainers like Ivan and Vivian Hicks, Jack McAffee and Mavis O’Donnell on our stage.

“But one of the bigger challenges we seem to be encountering is finding younger performers to come on stage.

“Whether they can sing or play an instrument, we are very interested in trying to give them a spot in our show.

“For those who might not necessarily have the performance experience, I feel it helps bring them to another level and also helps to increase their confidence,” Gary says.

Any budding musicians interested in becoming a part of future jamborees are encouraged to e-mail Morris directly at gary@morrismusicltd.com.

Given the logistics and time put into organizing these shows each year, Gary quips that all too often, he neglects to think of the positives coming from each of his Valley Jamborees.

He says that five minutes before the curtain rises, he will find himself wondering why he continues to put himself through the paces of organizing these shows.

“But then five minutes after the curtain opens and we have had the chance to hear the audience’s response, all thoughts of putting an end to these shows quickly disappears.

“There is nothing like the immediate audience response you get from performing live. We meet such nice people along the way, we have indeed been very blessed to be able to continue putting on these shows.”

Article published in February 11, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript