The New Waterford native, who lives in Halifax, is a high school math teacher, musician and magician. He is bringing his singer/guitarist act to the Old Triangle Irish Alehouse in Sydney Friday at 5 p.m. and Saturday at 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., along with musician Gary Chew.
“It’s been 18 years since I performed musically back home,” he said. “It’s been a longtime since I’ve been this excited. My last gig would have been with the Accents. I’m hoping lots of people come down … I’d like to rekindle some old friendships.”
The show is called Storytellers and the audience will be in for a night of music from classic albums featuring The Eagles, Dire Straits, Gordon Lightfoot, John Prine, Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Rod Stewart, Art Garfunkel and James Taylor.
“It’s classic albums, classic artists,” he said. “It literally goes from A-Z through the classic rock genre.”
Drake is also looking forward to working with Chew, a popular local musician who has performed with Flyte, Brandy, The Black Kats, The Accents, Aspen Grove, Kintyre, Clockwork and Half Cut.
“Gary and I have performed together a few times up here in Halifax,” Drake said. “It’s going to be fun.”
He attributes his love of music to the old 8-track player bolted to the dashboard in his father’s car and a big old record player in the family’s front room. Artists from the 1970s, such as Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and Charlie Pride, were always being played.
At age 12, he picked up his brother’s guitar. His brother owned hundreds of records and cord books.
“What made a big difference was any of the songs I wanted to learn, were in the house,” Drake said.
In his early years, Drake had the classic garage band and while attending university in Cape Breton was part of Vendetta, which played the Sydney bar circuit.
In the early 1990s, he met local artist Jennifer Sheppard and others involved in the Glace Bay theatre group Festival by the Sea at the former Stag and Doe in New Waterford.
The group eventually morphed into the Accents and shared the stage with The Beach Boys, Trooper, April Wine, The Rankin Family and Rita MacNeil.
Drake has also taken his magic act around the globe after developing a love for the craft in high school.
He first worked his magic at Don Cherry’s Restaurant in Sydney before moving on to Halifax. He has performed magic at many, many events including the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal, where he entertained more than 5,000 people, and the Wayne Gretzky Celebrity Golf Challenge as well as a gig in the Republic of Singapore.
He’s now working on a children’s musical show for summer festivals and corporate family events.
Although today he is bringing his music to Cape Breton for the first time in 18 years, he has been bringing magic to the island every summer. He has hosted a free magic show at a summer festival in Louisbourg for the past 14 years.
“It’s a small little hall and they fill the hall every year,” he said. “It’s been 14 years I’ve been doing this. It’s almost like an annual tradition.”
The Nova Scotia government is going with private-sector funding for hospital redevelopment in New Waterford and North Sydney.
The buildings will be replaced with new facilities, housing long-term care beds and community health centres.
Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Lloyd Hines said Thursday a private company will pay to build and maintain the new facilities and lease them to the province.
"The P3 process provides certainty for the owner in terms of derisking the operation," he said.
"It sort of guarantees budget and time over process, and the analysis that we've done, extensive analysis over the past couple of years, tells us that there is a better-value-for money proposition."
Hines said the P3 model has been used successfully in building the Cobequid Pass highway, Halifax convention centre and several schools across the province.
The government is using the same P3 model chosen for the $2-billion redevelopment of aging buildings in the QEII hospital complex in Halifax to replace the New Waterford and North Sydney health-care facilities.
"We are following the same path that we're doing with the QEII rebuild and this is simply a re-enactment of that particular process," he said.
In a 2010 report, Nova Scotia auditor general Jacques Lapointe said the province could have saved $52 million over 20 years if it had financed the construction of schools, instead of using the P3 model.
"There's a stack of evidence about this, particularly from auditors general across the country, that has been very definitive and conclusive that this is not the way to go, that in the end it costs you more and it puts you in the situation where your province is not in control of your own health-care facilities," Burrill said.
The province has not yet provided a cost estimate of the work to be done in New Waterford and North Sydney.
A consultant is expected to be hired in the next few weeks to lead the P3 process and prepare for the tender process.
The work is part of a larger plan to redevelop all of the health-care facilities in Cape Breton Regional Municipality.
Hines said no decision has been made yet on whether a planned expansion at the Glace Bay hospital will be paid for directly by government or if that, too, will be financed using the private-sector model.
A new building to expand the Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney is being built and paid for by the province at an estimated cost of $125 million.
Tom Ayers has been a reporter and editor for 33 years. He has spent the last 15 years covering Cape Breton and Nova Scotia stories. You can reach him at [email protected]
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