Newfoundland folklorists will perform on Celtic tour


 LEWISTON — The Newfoundland duo Jim Payne and Fergus O’Byrne will perform Tuesday, April 20, at the Franco-American Heritage Center. The two will also take the stage Wednesday, April 21, at Skye Theatre Performing Arts Center in Carthage; and Thursday, April 22, at Unity College Center for the Performing Arts.

Curtain is at 7 p.m. at the FAHC and Skye; and at 7:30 pm in Unity. There will be a preshow jam session 45 minutes prior to curtain at all three venues.

Payne has been a professional performing artist and writer for more than 20 years. Long known as a leading performer and collector of Newfoundland traditional music, he is also one of the province’s most prolific songwriters. He has directed, composed and performed music for some of the most popular theater productions of the past two decades, as well as created soundtracks for plays, documentaries and videos. He has performed on radio and television in Canada and abroad, and has toured throughout Canada, the United States, Europe, Japan and Australia.

Payne plays guitar, accordion, mandolin, tin whistle and violin; and is a singer, storyteller, actor, writer, step dancer and teacher of traditional Newfoundland set and square dances.

Born in Dublin, Ireland, O’Byrne emigrated to Canada in 1967. While living in Toronto, he became a founding member of the Irish folk band Ryan’s Fancy. In 1971, the group moved to St. John’s, Newfoundland. During the next 14 years, he toured throughout North America and Ireland as part of the trio.

As a member of Ryan’s Fancy, O’Byrne has been featured on many television shows, including the CBC series “Ryan’s Fancy,” which ran as a national series for five years. Since pursuing a solo career, he has continued to appear on both television and radio. He is featured in the CBC TV production of “The Last Run,” which is part of the Newfoundland curriculum for Music (Exploring Music) at the intermediate level. In 1987, he graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland with a degree in education. Since then, he has had a concentrated interest in promoting folk music to children both as a classroom teacher and a performer.

Payne and O’Byrne are in Maine to be honored by the Maine Maritime Academy for their 2009 tour with the schooner “Bowdion” on its celebration cruise of Newfoundland and Labrador, marking the 100th anniversary of Admiral Robert Peary’s expedition to the top of the world. The tour stopped at 12 ports withPayne and O’Byrne performing songs and stories of traditional maritime lore. Both men are noted for their ability as songsmiths as well as storytellers.

Tickets are $12 at FAHC; and $10 at Skye and Unity. For tickets, call FAHC at 689-2000, Skye Theatre at 562-4445 or UCCPA at 948-7469. 

The FAHC is at 46 Cedar St. Skye Theater is at 2 Highland Drive in South Carthage. UCCPA is at 42 Depot St., Unity.