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Kenmare the coldest stop for Holiday Train

People may have turned out to see one of the biggest names in modern rock ‘n’ roll and blues music, they may have been there to see a rising country music star, or perhaps it was a commitment to the Kenmare Food Pantry.

12/20/16 (Tue)

Blues legend... Colin James performs aboard the Canadian Pacific Railway's Holiday Train Dec. 17 in Kenmare. James played his bass guitar alongside country star Kelly Prescott who sang and played tambourine. Kenmare was the coldest of 75 stops for the train. It was 11 below zero when the half-hour show started.

By Marvin Baker

People may have turned out to see one of the biggest names in modern rock ‘n’ roll and blues music, they may have been there to see a rising country music star, or perhaps it was a commitment to the Kenmare Food Pantry.

There’s always a percentage of people who turn out just to see the dazzling display of thousands of colored lights.

Whatever the reason, approximately 100 people braved a below-zero temperature Wednesday night to see and hear a half-hour concert by the Holiday Train band with blues legend Colin James and country star Kelly Prescott fronting the show.

The special, lit up Canadian Pacific train, was 50 minutes behind its scheduled stop, the last of six in North Dakota.

 While the community waited, many were seen placing bags of non-perishable food items into the back of the vehicle of Jane Kalmbach who operates the Kenmare Food Pantry.

When it finally arrived, people started gathering at the Central Avenue rail crossing for the final U.S. performance on the Holiday Train route.

A bundled-up Kenmare Mayor Dwight Flygare was introduced and welcomed the crowd to the event. His “speech” was short, but rightfully so as everyone was anxious to hear the music.

Then, CP Rail representatives presented Kalmbach with a ceremonial check for $4,500 to go toward the Kenmare Food Pantry. CP Rail donates money to local food pantries in each of its stops, which number approximately 150 in the United States and Canada.

It encourages people to make donations to their local food pantry in exchange for the holiday performance in each community the train stops.

Finally, the master of ceremonies, in a heavy French accent, introduced the Holiday Train band and the concert got under way with an air temperature of 11 below zero when Prescott sang the first Christmas tune.

At the conclusion, Prescott apologized for the train being late and talked about the cold and clear night.

“We’re Canadian, we’re supposed to be tough,” she said. “But I’m not going to lie, it’s cold.”

She added Kenmare was the coldest stop on the tour this year that started in Montreal in late November.

Ironically, the band’s performance was flawless and many in the audience marveled at how two completely different styles of artists could come together and play Christmas music as well as they did. Many were dancing, or perhaps just trying to keep from freezing.

There’s no doubt, Prescott’s vocals had a country flavor, while James’ incredible guitar licks added a bit of blues to the Christmas carols they performed.

At one point, James stepped forward of his microphone and did some heavy jamming reminiscent of Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits or Elvis Presley.

Prescott, who used a tambourine during part of the act, and a guitar during other numbers, made her best attempt to counter James who has the energy of Chuck Berry and the finesse of George Benson.

It was clear the two professional musicians were having fun despite a slight breeze that dropped the wind chill into the 20-below range.

Between numbers, while Prescott was telling the crowd how proud she is of CP Rail for continuing the Holiday Train and its cause for the past 18 years, James was clowning around, juggling what appeared to be three frozen oranges.

“I’ve been juggling two careers,” he said as the audience chuckled.

“The multi-talented Colin James, ladies and gentlemen,” Prescott added.

Before their final song, Prescott asked James, who comes around every Christmas?

“Is it the Christmas chicken,” James responded? “It’s the Christmas chicken who comes and makes all the children very happy.”

Then Prescott asked the handful of children in the audience who they see every Christmas.

Of course, they answered Santa Claus at which time Prescott began “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

The door to the converted box car quickly rolled up, the crowd quickly dispersed and the train was on its way to Saskatchewan where the final performance was held in Weyburn Thursday night where the temperature was a balmy zero Fahrenheit... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!