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

$500K richer in lottery win, Surrey mom plans to buy townhouse for family

‘I’m already thinking of new furniture,’ says Lea Turner

Surrey murder victim’s sister pressuring feds during election

Maple Batalia’s sister Roseleen wants politicians to improve lot of victims after killer received compassionate leave from prison

Hat-wearing suspect sought in Guildford-area taxi robbery

Man was picked up in the 15900-block of Fraser Highway then driven to 163rd Street

Surrey RCMP looking for owner of stolen catalytic converters

They were found last Thursday, along with some power tools, in an abandoned rental truck

Surrey Eagles rebound with win Sunday after pair of road losses

South Surrey-based BC Hockey League team defeates Langley Rivermen on home ice

VIDEO: “How dare you?” Greta Thunberg addresses UN climate summit

‘We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and yet all you can talk about is money.’

Pettersson has 4 points as Canucks dump Ottawa 6-4

Vancouver wins NHL pre-season tilt in Abbotsford

British man returns to Yukon to tipple his own toe in long-running tradition

So-called sourtoe cocktail is a shot of whisky with a mummified human toe in it

Poll suggests Canadians concerned about fake news, but struggle to spot it

56 per cent of respondents admitted to reading or sharing inaccurate news

Province announces $3.5 million in funding for community solutions to overdose crisis

Grants up to $50,000 will be available for municipalities working with a regional health authority

Conservatives’ plan to ease mortgage stress-test rules may raise debt and prices

Andrew Scheer vows to loosen rules around stress test and remove it altogether for mortgage renewals

B.C. mom urges patience after rude comments while out with toddlers

People asked to be better and to help each other

U.S. wrestler says viral speeding ticket video was staged

WWE wrestler Lacey Evans says she does not condone disrespecting law enforcement officers

‘Own a piece of history’: Beachcombers location Molly’s Reach up for sale

‘This is one of B.C.’s most photographed buildings’

Most Read