The Kimberley Daily Bulletin
August 8, 2008
By Carolyn Grant
According to The Men of the Deeps Musical Director, John (Jack) O’Donnell, having a good voice is the second requirement one must have in order to be a member of this world-renowned choir. The first requirement is that you must have been a coal miner, or at least have worked underground.
And it is the spirit of the underground miner that The Men of the Deeps bring to their beautiful, gently homourous, deeply moving concerts.
They were singing to those who know on Wednesday night at McKim Theatre in Kimberley. A sold out crowd was full of former miners of the Sullivan, and it was evident they deeply appreciated the music. Lyrics such as ‘this town ain’t a mining town no more’ obviously hold great meaning in a town like Kimberley.
With an effective entrance through a darkened theatre, lit only by the lamps on their helmets The Men of the Deeps evoke many emotions during their two and a half hour show–laughter at their down home Cape Breton humour; delight as the choir’s oldest member, 78 year-old ‘Young Johnny McLeod’, jumps into a jig; tears as their final set of songs commemorates the Westray Mine disaster where 26 coal miners lost their lives (‘In the darkness of the mine, their lights will shine’)’ and cheers as they launch into their signature piece ‘A Working Man I Am’.
And while being a miner may be a top requirement for entrance into the choir, make no mistake about it — these Cape Breton men can sing.
Many different soloists, each with a distinctive voice, led the choir through songs celebrating family and tradition and most of all, the miner’s life.
Coal miners, old and young, dirty and dusty overalls
Silver lunch can in hand
Going down the rake, father and son
Carrying on that age old tradition
You see they are working men
It’s a working man I am and I’ve been down underground
And I swear by God if I ever see the sun
Over any length of time, I can hold it in my mind
Then I will never again go down underground.
The Men of the Deeps expressed great appreciation for the warm reception from the crowd.
“How come we didn’t know about Kimberley?” O’Donnell asked.
Shaould they ever decide to return, and we hope they do, make every effort to get a ticket. The Men of the Deeps offer more than just value for the ticket price. They offer honest emotion, good fun, beautiful voices and an unforgetable evening.