Entertaining among the eagles 

Who: Barney Bentall and Babe Gurr

Where: The Brackendale Art Gallery

When: Saturday, Jan. 11

There’s more than just eagles to spot at the seventh annual Brackendale Winter Eagles Festival. There’s also two of Canada’s most talented musicians on the same stage in an intimate and magical setting.

The Brackendale Art Gallery is the hub for this season long festival featuring concerts, art exhibits, slide shows, eagle walking tours and the annual eagle count, which set a world record for a single day sighting of 3,769 eagles a few years back.

An estimated 10,000 eagles arrive every winter to feed on spawning salmon, attracting hundreds of nature enthusiasts from around the world and some amazing musicians to entertain when the sun goes down.

Barney Bentall needs no introduction for most Canadians, but for those not from around these parts, think of a man with close to Bruce Springsteen’s status and flavour, and add a nature-loving edge. Bentall turned his back on rock ’n’ roll fame and fortune in the early ’90s to raise four kids on a ranch in the Cariboo. He still plays the occasional gig, serving up his familiar hits and a few new originals with a healthy dose of retrospection and melody that only an acoustic performance can provide.

Bentall considers himself a "real outdoors person" but tries to play enough concerts to keep himself in tune with his past profession.

"I hate worrying about a gig, which happens if I don’t play too often, so I keep up about 25 gigs a year. It’s not such a nightmare when I go out there then," said Bentall.

Does he ever wish to be back in the spotlight?

"Not really because I don’t feel it was ever taken from me. I walked away myself because other opportunities presented themselves," he said.

"To be honest, one of the most traumatic things that can ever happen to you is having a hit song. Everything changes. It’s a massive upheaval in your life. I had young kids to think about back then and everything else was insane in my life, I just had to get out. It wasn’t a negative choice though, I really felt like as one life was fading, another one was coming in."

Which sounds like the perfect lead-in to Babe Gurr. Her album, titled Fade to Bright, could ironically be applied to Bentall’s metamorphosis.

The Vancouver-based indie pop singer-songwriter, will be Bentall’s special guest at the Winter Eagle evening. Gurr might not be a household name just yet but her voice sure has crossed the Canadian airwaves many times over. She remained on the HMV Top 10 charts for over 20 weeks and has shared the stage with some of the biggest names in the business, including Celine Dion, Amanda Marshall, Bryan Adams and Jann Arden.

This classically trained musician learned guitar at age 18 but chose a "real job" as a dental assistant to keep her parents happy.

"I moonlighted in cover bands for 15 years before taking the professional plunge in 1996. You could say I had an epiphany of sorts to finally follow my heart," she said.

This sensitive singer has never looked back since. The album title, Fade To Bright, applies to her too.

Bentall and Gurr have toured on several occasions together and Gurr laughs when people think they may be joined at the hip.

"We both draw the same demographics and all the people we work with get along really well, so it’s a good pairing in that respect."

Catch this talented twosome at the Brackendale Art Gallery Saturday night. Tickets are $15; show starts at 8 p.m.

For more information, go to www.brackendaleartgallery.com of call 604-898-3333.

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