Surrey-based musician Pat Chessell with a copy of new “The Minstrel Boy” CD. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

Songs about soldiers from Surrey musician, for Remembrance Day

Pat Chessell’s new ‘The Minstrel Boy’ collection raises money for veterans’ charities

Pat Chessell is no stranger to playing for crowds in sing-along settings, so The Minstrel Boy is something of a departure for the Surrey-based musician.

Relatively quiet songs about soldiers fill Chessell’s new CD of music, in a release timed with Remembrance Day and devoted to raising money for veterans’ charities.

The disc’s 11 tunes are all sung by Chessell with just guitar accompaniment, in a project that has special meaning for the history buff.

Usually, he can be heard and seen rocking Celtic-folk sounds, solo and with his band, at venues across Metro Vancouver, as one of the hardest working musicians in town.

“It’s a bit of a different thing for me,” Chessell said of The Minstrel Boy, “but not entirely because even the fast, rowdy stuff I do, it’s mostly all story songs I play, so this is just kind of a different style.”

• RELATED STORY: St. Patrick’s Day means a month of busy nights (and days) for Surrey’s Pat Chessell and band, from 2017.

Before he recorded for a day at VR Sound in Maple Ridge, with the help of Renaud brothers Tim (as producer) and Vince (engineer), Chessell had to chop his original list of “30 or 40 songs” he’d shortlisted for the CD.

“There were so many songs that could be on here,” he said, “and you have to kind of think of stuff that fits together, too, right. There might have been a better one here or there, but it might not have gone with the theme of the rest of the album.”

In conversation at the hockey rink in Fleetwood earlier this week, Chessell talked about how he chose some of the songs.

“I’m a big John Prine fan, he’s one of my favourite writers, so I did ‘Sam Stone,’ one of his classics, about a Vietnam vet who comes back and turns into an addict and didn’t really get a good welcome home, basically.

“Some of the songs I’ve known since I was a little kid,” he continued. “I’m a big Pogues fan, too, so there’s ‘A Pair of Brown Eyes,’ which sounds like it’s about a guy sitting in a bar talking about a pair of brown eyes he hasn’t seen forever, and most people would assume it’s about an ex-girlfriend or ex-wife or something, but he’s talking about his buddy he went through the war with.”

Also of note, Stompin’ Tom Connors’ “The Blue Berets” is on there, too.

“I picked that one because I heard a cool story when they aired Stompin’ Tom’s funeral,” Chessell explained. “Adrienne Clarkson was giving a speech about how when Roméo Dallaire was with the UN troops in Rawanda, with the Canadians, that when their spirits were getting kind of low, he would play that song to boost them up again and make them feel proud of what they were doing.”

Online and at his many gigs, Chessell is selling copies of the CD for $10 each, with all profits destined for charities including Wounded Warriors and also McDermott House Canada, a palliative-care facility for veterans and first responders in Toronto. The latter organization was founded by singer John McDermott, Chessell noted.

On Remembrance Day this year, Chessell’s weekly Sunday-afternoon showcase at The Dublin Crossing in Clayton will, appropriately, be sprinkled with songs from The Minstrel Boy, from 2 to 5 p.m.

Beyond that, he’ll be back to playing with a band at Sawbucks Pub in South Surrey on Nov. 17, and at the opening night of the Glow attraction in Langley on Nov. 22, among other local performances.

His new collection of songs opens with the title track.

“It’s a traditional Irish tune that I liked because it’s about a young man who goes to war – he’s just a musician, so he brings his harp with him and he’s got his father’s sword, and he goes off to battle,” Chessell said. “For me, my dad was in the army, my grandfather was in the army, my great-grandfather was in the army, and two of them served overseas and here I am just playing music, you know. Like, is there anything I can do? They made their sacrifices for guys like me.”

An old “Buy Victory Bonds” ad-campaign photo graces the front of the CD, and the back sleeve features an image of Robert Joseph Hazelton.

“That’s my great-grandfather,” Chessell explained. “He was in the Highlanders and that’s an old picture I found of him, in 1915 or whenever, when he was going off to fight there, in Europe.

“He made it back (from the First World War),” he continued. “He was from Toronto and he lived out his days in Windsor, Ontario, as a city worker there. That’s some history there.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Just Posted

Woman found dead in Okanagan Lake identified as Surrey resident

Police ‘do not believe criminality was involved’ in the death of 29-year-old Caitlin Bradley

Sharks, Beavers advance in men’s rugby playoffs

Bayside’s Div. 1 women’s team loses quarter-final game to Cowichan

Students run blood, stem cell donor drive at Surrey’s Vaisakhi Parade

Volunteer youth group One Blood for Life aims to create a more ethnically diverse stem cell registry

‘I feel ready for it’: On a BMX, Surrey man is ‘Cycling for Sobriety’ across Canada

Mat Fee will depart Halifax on May 1 to raise money and awareness for John Volken Academy

Homeless activists outside Notre Dame demand ‘a roof too’

Wealthy people have donated millions to effort to rebuild cathedral after devastating fire

Anti-SOGI activist slams ban on B.C. dad speaking out about transgender son’s case

A judge has told the father to stop publicly objecting to his son’s gender

PHOTOS: Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says ‘I do’ on Earth Day

May and John Kidder got married Monday morning in Victoria

Victims injured in Lower Mainland deck collapse ranged from 15 to 83 years old

Victim Services staff have reached out to those hurt and their families

‘Ghost restaurants’ cooked up by Joseph Richard Group to meet demand of delivered food

The new Meal Ticket Brands venture aims to ‘disrupt’ the local restaurant industry

Sri Lanka invokes war-time military powers after nearly 300 killed in Easter bombings

Sri Lanka’s minister of tourism says 39 foreign tourists were killed in the Easter Sunday attacks

Torched SUV linked to Vancouver’s fourth homicide

Manoj Kumar, 30, was found dead from gunshot wounds in the Kitsilano neighbourhood

Multiple sailing waits as BC Ferries deals with Easter Monday traffic

89 extra sailings had been added to the long weekend schedule

Ex-mayor of northern village claims its drivers are overpaying ICBC $1,800 a year

Darcy Repen says data shows Telkwa households are being ripped off for car insurance

Most Read

l -->