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Carlton Munroe remembered at songwriter’s circle

A songwriters circle was held Saturday as part of the New Glasgow Riverfront Jubilee. From left are: Ryan MacDonald, Carmen Townsend, Steven Auld and Karol Brown.
A songwriters circle was held Saturday as part of the New Glasgow Riverfront Jubilee. From left are: Ryan MacDonald, Carmen Townsend, Steven Auld and Karol Brown. - Kevin Adshade

NEW GLASGOW – The air was red-hot outside the Trinity United Church on Saturday afternoon.

Inside the New Glasgow church, the songs flowed and Carlton Munroe’s memory seemed everywhere.

Alert the Medic frontman Ryan MacDonald, Steven Auld (of Grooveback), veteran solo artist Carmen Townsend and Little Harbour’s Karol Brown were the performers at this year’s songwriter’s circle, a Riverfront Jubilee event that is now named in Munroe’s memory. Munroe, the former musical director of the Riverfront Jubilee, died after a year-long battle with brain cancer on Nov. 22, 2018.

“It was just an honour, you know? No words can express how honored I am to play this,” MacDonald would say afterward.
“I think Carlton would have loved it. I think he was here, looking down and smiling the whole time. And that made it easier.”

Midway through the two-hour event, MacDonald broke out with Fiddler’s Green, a classic from the Tragically Hip, who Munroe was a big fan of. It was also a song Alert the Medic played Friday night during their Jubilee appearance.

“I knew he would have loved it,” MacDonald said. “It kind of broke the singer-songwriter’s circle rules, but rules are made to be broken, I guess.”

Brown, a 15-year Little Harbour resident, played her own compositions, one of them a haunting song called Promise You’re Listening from her CD “Made My Way”.

“It was pretty fun,” she said of the songwriter’s circle experience.

“I didn’t have a chance to meet Mr. Munroe, but to play with everybody who did know him, I felt honoured.”

Auld, from Salt Springs, remembered playing a solo gig at a local bar when he ran into Munroe between sets. When he got back on stage that night, he started playing Last Kiss (a 1960s classic covered in the early 2000s by Pearl Jam) and noticed Munroe singing along.

“He was having a great old time. That was the memory I had of Carlton when I was up there on stage. It reminded me of him, so I figured I’d break that out and play it.”

Like Townsend and Auld, MacDonald had known Munroe for years and was grateful for the opportunity to play at the songwriter’s circle.

“It was great to be a part of it,” he said. “We miss him and I’m glad we got to do this. Hopefully it can be bigger and better next year and we can help keep his legacy going.”

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