Three generations of Earles rock Shea Heights Folk Festival

Everton McLean
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Music

Nicholas Earle sits among the crowd at the ballfield in Shea Heights Saturday, listening intently as his grandfather, James Earle, strums his guitar and sings an old song at the annual Shea Heights Folk Festival.

He calls his grandfather an inspiration. But for the rest of his family, it's Nicholas who's the inspiration.

The family that plays together stays together. - Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

Nicholas Earle sits among the crowd at the ballfield in Shea Heights Saturday, listening intently as his grandfather, James Earle, strums his guitar and sings an old song at the annual Shea Heights Folk Festival.

He calls his grandfather an inspiration. But for the rest of his family, it's Nicholas who's the inspiration.

Nicholas's father, Darren Earle, says there are three generations of Earles who can play music, and Nicholas, 9, is the most gifted member.

But his son is shy about it. "I play guitar and piano," he said, sheepishly. "And I will pick up the harmonica and accordion."

He said his musical family, which includes his grandfather on his maternal side and his singer mother, Margaret, has helped him hone the skills he hopes to turn into a career one day.

"My dad taught me a lot of the chords on guitar and my mom was just telling me 'Good job' and supporting me."

He said he was proud of being part of a musical lineage, and he pointed to his grandfather as a role model.

But James Earle is more effuse in his praise of his son and grandson. Glowing after he leaves the stage from his set, Earle watches as Nicholas, Darren and Margaret take the stage. He tries, but can't wipe a smile off his face as Margaret sings, Darren plays acoustic guitar and Nicholas starts bending strings.

He remembers how it all started, when he developed complications due to appendicitis.

"At the age of 16, I was in the General Hospital to try to straighten up," he said "This man was there playing the guitar and singing. 'Come over,' he said 'and sing a song.'"

When the man heard Earle carry a tune, his eyes went wide.

"He said, 'Get a guitar and learn how to play. You can carry a note.' I went home and made one," Earle said.

Over the past 60 years, Earle has played for people aboard Navy ships, in Halifax theaters, and at the opening of every Shea Heights folk festival.

He said it's a source of pride to know his son and grandson followed in his footsteps.

"It's a blessing and a gift from the man above," he said.

Darren Earle agrees. "It's a great, great treat," he said, of having all three generations playing the festival.

"To see my dad start off, and I was 13 or 14 when I started to play, and Nick has been playing (piano) since he was two and a half, three, and he's been playing the guitar for the past year now, and he's after passing us all.

"I've often heard tell of each generation getting better, but I didn't expect this. Dad looks at him and he glows."

Nicholas's talent fits well with the community, which finished it's Come Home Year this past weekend.

"That talent that's been up here ... we don't have to step outside the community for talent," he said.

He said everyone, family and friends included, enjoyed getting together this year. "It's a good thing to have everyone here together for Come Home Year," he said, "because, you know something, you don't know how long you have with one another."

emclean@thetelegram.com

Organizations: General Hospital

Geographic location: Halifax

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  • James
    July 02, 2010 - 13:26

    The Earle's are a talented family I have know them for a while. Nicholas for his age is very talented I think as the article is saying it has a lot to do with the attention he gets from his parents and grandparents. they are an inspiration to family life and I wish them lots of fun in the future.

  • Cory
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    Thats my family for ya!!!

  • James
    July 01, 2010 - 20:13

    The Earle's are a talented family I have know them for a while. Nicholas for his age is very talented I think as the article is saying it has a lot to do with the attention he gets from his parents and grandparents. they are an inspiration to family life and I wish them lots of fun in the future.

  • Cory
    July 01, 2010 - 20:11

    Thats my family for ya!!!