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Three strangers, one birthday

Local trio shares more than just friendship
The Three Amigos joined together forever by a shared birthdate. Charlie DeShane, the oldest, Lori Claerhout, the middle, and Mike MacLean, turning 50 and the youngest, are inviting anyone who wants to attend a screening of the Corb Lund movie ‘Guitar Lessons’ to RSVP to Claerhout and show up Jan. 29 at the Nancy Appleby Theatre. As a special guest the director, Arron James, will be attending as well.

ATHABASCA — It is possible to calculate the odds of having three random people sharing the same birthdate, even if it’s not the same year.

The odds, however, are exceedingly low — 0.0015 per cent to 0.6 per cent — depending on how many other people are in the room, but three unrelated people have found each other in Athabasca and this year are celebrating in a unique way.

“Lori (Claerhout), Charlie (DeShane), and I all share Jan. 31 as a birthday,” said Mike MacLean in an e-mail. “This year is my 50th and some random things led to organizing a film screening on Sunday, Jan. 29 at the Nancy Appleby Theatre.”

DeShane said it all started when someone wished him happy birthday in front of MacLean.

“The three of us were randomly at a gathering when someone said happy birthday to me and then Mike said, ‘Oh, when is your birthday?’ Then he said, ‘Mine too.’ Then Lori chimed in,” DeShane said. “Since then, someone has suggested some kind of event to mark the day.”

The event will be a showing of the movie ‘Guitar Lessons’ starring Albertan and country-folk singer Corb Lund and Conway Kootenay.

“Mike was heading up a movie night at the train station back before COVID,” said DeShane. “This year he thought ‘Guitar Lessons’ would be a good one.”

And as everything around this has been through chance comments, it was someone mentioning they were going to a screening of the movie and showing MacLean the trailer, which piqued his interest.

“From the trailer I could tell a bunch of things right away: this is a good story with wide appeal, I know a crowd of people will enjoy this together,” he said. “’Guitar Lessons’ for me is a great story and I think it helps focus our attention on conciliation in a good way, that's the vibe I get. With Ian Tyson's recent passing and the connection to Lund who plays a prominent role in the film, that side of things is kind of timely also.”

It also comes full circle for filmmaker Arron James who performed in the Nancy Appleby Theatre (NAT) 25 years ago.

“We've just heard tonight (Jan. 18) that writer and director of the movie ‘Guitar Lessons’ Aaron James will be in attendance on Sun., Jan. 29 at our viewing at the Nancy Appleby,” Claerhout said in an e-mail. “Have I mentioned that he's been on that stage before? Many years ago, with Keiran Kane and Heartwood Folk Club programming.”

The event is open to anyone but you must RSVP to because of limited seating.

No presents are required but patrons are encouraged to donate to help offset costs and thank James if able.

“Note that we are collecting funds to appropriately honour Aaron James's creative venture and appearance with us and the labour of his filmmaking crew,” said Claerhout. “Pay what you like online (at, or at the door. If that's not within your budget or means, please stop thinking about it right now and plan to get your bum in a seat.”

Claerhout is promoting the event on her webpage and Nathan Loitz, owner of the Back Alley Book Nook and no stranger to acting, is getting the word out to too.

“I've known Lori and Charlie for years though we don't get to hang out as often as I'd like, and just knowing they're there made me more bold with planning this,” said MacLean. “I want to hang out with people and watch a good movie. And there's a surprise for anyone who comes.”

DeShane declined to confirm or deny if the trio have a secret handshake though.

“That would be a secret if there was,” he laughed.

Heather Stocking

About the Author: Heather Stocking

Heather Stocking a reporter at the Athabasca Advocate, a weekly paper in Northern Alberta. Heather covers all aspects of the news in and around Athabasca and Boyle as well as other small communities.
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