Folk duo traveling to Lewiston library for family fun


LEWISTON — A lively program of songs and dance tunes from Ireland, Newfoundland and beyond will be presented by the folk duo O’Byrne and Payne at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 21, at the Lewiston Public Library, 200 Lisbon St. Admission is free to the hour-long event, which will take place in Callahan Hall, located on the library’s third floor.

“These two gifted musicians have a special knack with young audiences so we’re very fortunate to have been able to get them here during school vacation week,” said Cindy Larock, coordinator of cultural programs for the library. “We’re hoping to attract families with kids of all ages, plus grandparents and other ‘mature’ adults who likely will be familiar with some of these beloved old-time tunes from Canada.”

The pair is on tour from Newfoundland with their collection of folk instruments, including accordion, fiddle, banjo, guitar, tin whistle, mandolin, bodhran and concertina.

Jim Payne has been a professional performing artist for two decades. Long known as a leading performer and collector of Newfoundland traditional music, he is also one of the province’s most prolific songwriters, working in several genres. In addition, Payne is a practiced storyteller, actor, step dancer and teacher of traditional Newfoundland set and square dances.

Born in Dublin, Ireland, Fergus O’Byrne emigrated to Canada in 1967. While living in Toronto he became a founding member of the Irish folk band Ryan’s Fancy, and in 1971 he moved with the group to St. John’s, Newfoundland.

During the next 14 years, O’Byrne toured extensively throughout North America and Ireland as part of the trio. In 1987 he graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland with a degree in education, and since then he has had a concentrated interest in promoting folk music to children both as a classroom teacher and a performer.

The library’s Children’s Department will also offer a gardening class, “Playing with Food,” for kids age 6 to 11 during vacation week.

The two-part program will provide an opportunity for participants to decorate a pot and plant a seed in it to take home. In the process, they will learn which vegetables are started inside, how to take care of a growing plant and how to know when it’s time to move a seedling into the garden.

The class, facilitated by staff from Lots to Gardens, will meet from 11 a.m. to noon Tuesday and Thursday, April 20 and 22; children must be available to attend both sessions in order to sign up. Preregistration is requested as space is limited. Those interested should call the Children’s Room at 513-3133 to register.

Other youth activities happening at the library during vacation week include story time sessions for children, age 2 ½ to 5 years of age, at 10 a.m. Tuesday, and for babies and toddlers up to age 2 ½ at 10 a.m. Friday.