April 2004 * Volume 9, Number 5


* Next Old Chestnuts Song Circle April 24 *

v Last Month and Next - Jack Cole

March came in, not like a lion nor a lamb, but like a Lightfoot. It was a night for celebrating one of the greatest songwriters of our time, and we did a fine job of it. Here is a list of songs that Gord wrote and/or recorded, that were sung at March's Old Chestnuts:

Calls for Canadian Railroad Trilogy and Edmund Fitzgerald were deferred until "Long Song Night" :-). It was great to hear some of those older songs again, some that I had even forgotten about until the first few words brought back the whole thing. Thanks everyone!

There were other songs too. We started the evening with one learned from Rick Fielding - Handful of Songs, an emotional beginning that brought tears to a few eyes. (Rick's memorial concert is being held in Toronto at the Tranzac Club on June 5.) There were songs in French (thanks Jesse) and Hebrew (thanks Charlotte), songs by Nanci Griffith and Kate Wolf and James Gorden, and Trad, and many more - 36 songs in total. The night went a little long, but even after we finished with My Mother's Eyes and Crossing The Water there were still a few folks jamming while the chairs were folded. A good night.

April, come she will. Well, she already did - and what was that hail I saw on Sunday? Rain, snow or shine we'll meet again on April 24, usual time and place. We return to themelessness for this next-to-last Circle of the season. Bring some songs you love to sing and love to share and we will try to top March's list.

If you don't want this to be your next-to-last chance to sing, then please email about joining the circle I'm leading for one of the local churches. This circle starts April 22, and will run for four (or more) Thursday evenings. It's part of the church's music program, and I will be leading it exactly like an Old Chestnuts evening. We'll start at 7:30 and quit about 9:30. Most of the places are reserved for church members, but I can bring a few Old Chestnuts to help seed (or nut?) the circle. Please call or write to find out more, and to make sure there is still room.


v Celtic College 2004 - Jack Cole

The Celtic College happens every year in Goderich during the week following the August long weekend. Four classes per day run from Monday to Thursday, with concerts and sessions every night, and some dances too. Classes run the range from music to Gaelic to cooking to blacksmithing. Then, on Friday, the Celtic Festival starts. It's a wonderful experience that everyone should treat themselves to, at least once. Maybe once per year!! Everyone loves it, and you will too. This is summer school, as it should be! www.celticfestival.ca .

I haven't been able to get the entire lineup for this year yet, but here's what I've learned so far, courtesy of Warren Robinson and the Celtic College.

First, Jean Mills will be returning to teach dulcimer! Jean is the founder of Canada's only mountain dulcimer club, the Grand River Dulcimer Club, and an Old Chestnut as well! As for the rest...

Liz Carroll & John Doyle (U.S. & Ireland). Liz is North Americaís best respected Irish fiddler and a very fine composer in the traditional mode. John was the guitarist with super group Solas and is now the most sought after Irish guitar accompanist on both sides of the Atlantic.

Scotlandís Alasdair Fraser now lives in California and is perhaps the best known Scottish fiddler in the world. He fronts super group Skyedance.

Brian MacNeil (Scotland). Brian is the founder of the famous Battlefield Band and is a noted fiddler, guitarist, singer, concertina and bouzouki player as well as an outstanding composer. He is the Head of Music at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

Trinque l'amourette (Quebec). Lead by composer Claude Methe, the group consists of singer and guitarist Dana Whittle, button accordion player Gilles Garand and step dancer Marie-Soliel Pilette. They perform vigorous reels, achingly beautiful waltzes and call and response songs.

Aoife Clancy Trio (Ireland & U.S). A daughter of Bobby Clancy of the famous Clancy Brothers, Aoife has been lead singer of Cherish The Ladies and has established herself as one of the leading Irish singers today. The Aoife Clancy Band brings together the talented Ms.Clancy with legendary musicians Shannon Heaton on flute and whistle and button accordion and Matt Heaton on guitar and vocals.

Gilles Roy & Stepping Ambassadors (Ottawa Valley). Gilles is the most important step dance teacher of the Ottawa Valley style and was responsible for teaching the Leahy family, Chanda Gibson and numerous others. His group will be performing at the festival and Gilles will be teaching at the Celtic College.

Brian Peters (England). Brian is one of Englandís foremost singers as well as a dynamic player of guitar, concertina and button accordion. Brian was a hit at our fourth festival and we have been looking to have him back ever since. Brian has tremendous energy and commitment to his tradition.

Janet Harbison (Ireland). Janet is the founder of the Belfast Harp Orchestra and one of the most highly regarded teachers of Folk Harp in the world. Her commitment to spreading the gospel of harp playing has lead her to many parts of the world and we are delighted to have her perform and teach at the Celtic College.

Maire Breatnach (Ireland). The original Riverdance fiddler and composer of noted film scores, Maire also is a distinguished singer of sean nos songs. She has a superb touch and her tone and timing are wonderful.

The Emily Smith Band (Scotland). Emily is the 2002 Scottish Young Traditional Musician of the Year and combines a lovely voice with compelling instrumental skills on piano and accordion. Her band consists of Sean OíDonnell, whose punchy rhythmical playing provides the perfect accompaniment to tunes, driving fiddler Jamie McClennan who also plays flute and guitar, and Ross Ainslie, an outstanding player on whistles, both Highland and Small pipes and bouzouki.

Anna Massie (Scotland). Multi-instrumentalist Anna was the 2003 winner of the Scottish Young Traditional Musician of the Year. She plays tunes on guitar, fiddle, mandolin and tenor banjo with equal virtuosity.

Calasaig (Scotland). Piper Keith Easdale and fiddler, banjo player Celine Donoghue were invited this past January to open the United Nations for Kofi Annan. Celine was last yearís Young Tradition Award winner. They are complemented by the rich vocals and viola playing of Kirsten Easdale, and the voices and guitars of Keith Johnstone and Andy Webster.

Gearoid OhAllmhurain & Patrick Ourceau. Author, all Ireland concertina champion Gearoid is also the Chair of Irish Studies at St. Louis, Missouri. He is an expert in music of the west of Ireland and the movement of Irish immigrants in North America. Patrick, though born in France, is one of the most highly regarded fiddlers and teachers of Irish music.

Reid Taheny Band (Ontario). Loretto Reid is an astounding player of tinwhistle, flute, concertina and button accordion. She is also a fine composer as witnessed by her Juno nomination this year. Multi-instrumentalist Brian Taheny plays fiddle, guitar, mandolin, mandola, cittern, bouzouki and is the tenor banjo player in the noted Banjo Special group. He is also a fine recording engineer. They are joined by singer Rowena Taheny and percussionist, Leon Taheny.

v The Woods Music and Dance Camp 2004 - Jack Cole

Ah, The Woods. Total immersion in music, 24 hours a day, for 5 nights and nearly 5 full days. Classes, workshops, concerts, dances, student performances, jams, song circles, canoeing, swimming, community, friends and no sleeping. This is the summer camp you never made it to. This changes your life. August 11-16, Muskoka. www.the-woods.ca.

Dave Clarke  Known as one of Canada’s finest bluegrass pickers for his work with Steel Rail and the legendary Quebec group, White River Bluegrass Band, as well as arranger and sideman for David Francey, Dave’s tasty picking has been featured on everything from bluegrass albums to television soundtracks. He’s also a songwriter and producer…yes folks, he does it all!

Chris Coole  Solid clawhammer banjo, inventive tunes, strong guitar work and soulful singing, make Chris the mainstay of several popular oldtime and bluegrass bands (The Foggy Hogtown Boys, Crazy Strings, the Extra Ordinary Stringband). He joins Erynn Marshall to spike our dances with a soulful blend of bluesy fiddle, mountain banjo and great old time sound.

Erynn Marshall  As an old-time fiddler performing and teaching, Erynn has charmed ears and hearts of music lovers galore. Behind the joyous performer is a devoted scholar of the elder tradition bearers such as MelvinWine, Lester McCumbers, and Leland Hall. With Chris Coole she’s forms a duo with a high energy kick radiating love of old tunes and songs.

Brian Peters  Brian, performs traditional folk music combining a high level of skill on three different instruments (button accordion, anglo concertina, and guitar) with a great voice and an energetic stage presence. A passionate singer, steeped in tradition, his accompaniments blend adventure and sophistication and he’s "One of British folk music's finest ambassadors".

Marian Rose. We had to have her back! Long-time dance caller  with a commitment to spreading the joy of dance, she’s a treat for dance aficionados and new-comers alike. If you have two left feet (or if you don’t) Marian will get them movin’ and groovin’ with a delightful collection of dances and play parties, and lively accordion accompaniment.

Cindy Thompson   A former national stepdance champion and winner of numerous fiddle awards, a teacher dedicated to keeping Ontario fiddle and dance traditions alive, Cindy performs in her own inimitable style, full of  spontaneity, fun and musical excellence.  We loved her at The Woods in 1984 and ‘85 and it’s been far too long without her. Welcome back Cindy!

Nancy White   Canada’s queen of the topical song, award-winning singer-songwriter Nancy is best known for her fifteen years of songs about the news on CBC Radio's Sunday Morning. She plays guitar, banjo, and piano, gets you thinking and rolling in the aisles at the same time, and even sings on key. What more could you want?


v Closing Notes - jc

# Songs to Paddle By. A delightful recording of "canoe songs" has recently been released by Portage Productions, which turns out to be the Mills Family (Paul, Bev, Trevor et al). This is actually a collection of some previously recorded material (by people like Eileen McGann, Bruce Cockburn, Connie Kaldor, Tanglefoot, Jmaes Gorden and more) and two newly recorded songs. And, yes, Land of the Silver Birch is here, done by Fred Penner. The album is wonderful, especially (but not only) if you're a canoehead yourself. Check out the album at www.canoesongs.ca .

Portage was kind enough to send me a few copies, and so I have 5 available at the Circle and upcoming events for $20. If you like to paddle, or know someone who does, drop me a line. These will only be available for a couple of months - after that I send them back to Portage, and you will have to order from them (and pay shipping).

# Speaking of recordings and Eileen McGann, she is presently in the studio working on a new release of her own. Tentatively entitled "Reach For The Light", it will be a themed album, made up of songs of hope and healing. It will include many songs chosen from her previous recordings as well as some new songs written just for this project. The recording is sponsored by the Sequana Initiative, a healers group based in Calgary, who have been using Eileen's music in their work. The CD will be released at a special concert in Calgary on June 12, 2004. The album should be available from The Old Chestnuts about the same time.

# Song Finder needed again! Can you help find a song? One of the mailing list subscribers wrote the following.

"I'm looking for a particular song and I felt that you ... might know of it. I'm researching my family tree and came across an event called "The Castleton Tragedy". It happened in 1877 where a young woman, named Victoria Alberta Wade (Alberta or "Bert") who was a young schoolteacher became pregnant. Her lover and his uncle found an abortionist, named David Smith, to relieve her of her "burden". She died during the procedure and the two men buried her body in the woods. Her body was discovered and everything went to trial.

I have just found out that there was a song that was written about this event and that it was sung around southern Ontario at that time. The only song I can think of is the one "Alberta let your hair hang down... (I don't know the proper name for that song). Have you come across anything that might be this song? Know anyone else I could ask if you haven't heard of any song like this?"

So, Merrick, Beverlie and the rest of you collectors of great songs - do you know any that sound like a match?

# As I mentioned last time, the Dandelion Festival takes place on Sunday, May 2, 2004 in Waterloo Park. GreenWood (Jean Mills, James Morgan and myself) will be performing from 3 - 4 pm, and I hope that lots of you can come out to sing along! This will be followed by an open stage from 4 - 6, but people are requested to register in advance. If you are interested please contact Susan Koswan at dandelion@gto.net .

And don't forget The Chequegnat Festival 04 on June 5, weather permitting! This year's lineup incudes Allison Lupton, Shannon Lyon, Matt Osborne, Paul MacLeod, several Old Chestnuts, and more. Music starts at 2, with supper about 5:30 and closing song at about 8:30. Community building happens all day long, with tent and sound setup beginning in the morning. Help is always appreciated! This is a chance to give a big thank you back to Chestnut Street, for putting up with our music and cars all year, so please come out and celebrate. I'll put more details in next month's newsletter.

# WE NEED YOU! The Grand Gathering, a meeting of all Ontario arts organizations, takes place on May 13-16. The Mill Race Festival has purchased table space in the conference hall, and has invited other members of the Grand River Folk Community to put people and brochures in the booth, to advertise the things we do. Many thanks to Brad and the Mill Race for extending the invitation; now we need people to staff the table.

Here's why you should email me right back to volunteer a couple of hours in the booth. First, this is one cool conference. Check it out at http://www.artsonline.ca/ . Just being there, you can meet artists, musicians and presenters from across the province and get to be a part of the excitement. Second, by telling people about our Song Circle and other events, we can encourage people in other cities and towns to start their own, and that can only be good for folk music. Third, we can learn things from them. Fourth, if you're a musician, you may make good contacts for the future. And fifth, there will be lots of local, arts-friendly people there who don't yet know about the Old Chestnuts, but would very likely be good members of the Circle. You can help keep the Old Chestnuts (and the other fine events like the Mill Race and Blank Walnut) vital and well attended.

Brad McEwen, Jean Mills, Robert Reid and myself are hosting a discussion on folk music on the Friday at 11:15. The hour will include some performance time. So if you're thinking of going (it does cost money to attend the conference, but not to volunteer in the booth), think about coming on Friday to hear the noise! (I'd like to say that Friday volunteers would be able to listen to that workshop at no charge, but I can't. You never know, though....)

# If you are looking for something to do before the Old Chestnuts on the 24th, get on down to Muses Cafe, 10 King St. E in Kitchener where, from 2 - 4:30 Trevor Mills, Jack Cooper, Greg Upshaw and Mary Anne Epp will be performing. What a great lineup! There's live music every Saturday afternoon and Friday evening at Muses, all hosted by Mary Anne.


v About this newsletter..... Itís emailed. Itís on the Web at http://www.mgl.ca/~jhcole and available at Circles. Call 578- 6298 or write jhcole@mgl.ca for more information. It looks like a great year to be a fiddler at both Celtic College and The Woods. As always it will be very difficult to decide. So - catch your breath for 2 days and go to both! :-) I also received word of a new camp up north - more on that next month I hope. School's out!!! Anyone going to Sing2?


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