vLast Month and Next - Jack Cole
Easter, and its promise of spring, apparently brings people out of the house! We had 35 people make it to the Circle in March, including several Newbies. Things were a wee bit crowded, with folks sitting in the kitchen and the dining room! But it was a good night with wonderful singing.
Two more months with Newbies and we can claim that the circle has been attracting new folks for our entire 10 year history! I think we're good for April - start recruiting Newbies for May! :-)
Songs handed out in March were an eclectic bunch, including the Stanley Brothers "We Shall Meet Someday", "Down Under" by Men At Work, "What Are They Doing in Heaven" by Blind Willie Johnson (with the emphasis not on the "they"), "Pussywillows, Cattails", "The Old Songs Home" by Shelley Posen, and "Give Yourself to Love". Due to the large number of singers, we only made it around twice and went 30 minutes beyond our usual stopping time. I'll crack the whip more next time!
And next time is Saturday, April 23, with the theme of "Houses and Homes". I abandoned themes some time ago as they led to frantic searching through "Rise Up Singing" for any song mentioning the keywords of the night. That's not the intention! The goal behind having a theme is to provide some inspiration to learn a new song or polish up a forgotten one, as well as give a focus to the evening - in this case the 20th anniversary of our home on Chestnut Street. Songs on theme are neither required nor expected; the theme is only a suggestion for people interested in having one.
So please, if you have a song that is distinctly about houses or homes - bring it to the Circle. If you don't - that's just fine too, bring something else. As usual, songs should be practiced ahead of time, so noticing that the word "house" appears in song number 154 of the song book is not reason enough to request it! It's Old Chestnuts as normal. (But with leftover cake - YUM!)
vTenth Anniversary Concert - Jack Cole
Don't you love it when a plan comes together? The Tannahill Weavers (and 10th anniversary bash) came off with hardly a hitch last Saturday. The volunteers were amazing, the music was thrilling, and the whole night jelled, making it one of the best Old Chestnuts concerts ever. "Hurrah" for the Tannahill Weavers!!
And there was cake. Three large cakes, actually. Banana and marble. Decorated. So I'd like to start off by thanking Norris Bakery, The City of Kitchener, and The Central Frederick Neighbourhood Association for making the cake possible. Norris gave us their best price and the city and CFNA chipped in, in recognition of the contribution that the Old Chestnuts have made to our community over the past 10 years. Especially, thanks to Susan Koswan for pitching the idea to all three of them, and brokering the deal. Susan was dedicated, and this wouldn't have happened without her hard work. Nor without the work of the cake deliverers, cutters, and servers. It was a real team effort.
Bottled water was provided by Barbara Waque and Paul Shultz of Re/Max, and the subsequent donations from concert patrons will assist us with future concerts. It was warm in the hall, and over 200 bottles of water were consumed! Thanks to Paul and Barbara (who, due to illness, missed the concert!), and to the people who kept the bottles coming.
The KW Spinners and Weavers decorated the hall, and put on a live spinning exhibition including partial nudity (one bare foot). Their hangings around the Round Room were lovely, and lots of people checked out the display in the hall. Thanks very much to the weavers for coming and starting a theme (to be continued with quilters at the Cathy Miller concert) and I urge everyone to visit them at their bi-annual sale, at the Waterloo Recreation Centre this weekend (the Waterloo potters are there too). Thanks to Janette Kreugel for arranging this part of the concert, helping figure out how to hang delicate weavings from the balconies, and managing everything to do with the venue.
We opened the concert with two songs by as many members of the song circle as were willing to participate, which turned out to be about 25 or 30. We formed a group across the stage and two clumps on either side, and strutted our stuff on two of our favourites (chosen at the Circle last month) - "I'm On My Way" and "The Potter's Wheel". The singing was fantastic with lots of harmonies and energy and I hope/trust that everyone enjoyed themselves. I had lots of good comments from the audience.
Rob Reid, in his review in The Record, pointed out "legend Merrick Jarrett" in the group on stage. Merrick brought his family to this concert and, by all accounts, had a whale of a time swapping stories with Colin, the piper. Great to see you out Merrick!
On to the main event, with a rousing set by the Tannahill Weavers. Easily one of the most professional and polished acts I have ever seen, they just moved from driving intrumental to engaging ballad so smoothly it was wonderful to watch. They are amazing musicians, playing guitars, bozouki, bodhran, big pipes, small pipes, whistles, large whistles, flutes, fiddles and keyboards, and singing in three and four part harmonies. They played a few tunes from their latest CD, but mostly drew on their vast repertoire from 16 recordings over more than 30 years. Add in good rapport with the audience, a few jokes, and it was a very good first set. People were seen dancing in the balcony.
At break came the cake. Did I mention that? After lots of CD sales (everything was sold except for one!) we gave out the door prizes. The door prizes were fantastic as usual, and many thanks to Lori Cole Pottery for a vase, Mary Catherine's Linen and Lace for a small quilt, etc! for a stained glass garden lantern, the Mill Race Festival for a t-shirt and Words Worth Books for a book-filled book bag.
Impossible though it seemed, the Tannies were even better in the second half. The energy level was higher, the songs more brilliant, and clapping got started down below, while the dancing continued above. It was great to see some of the young pipers in the audience - the below-20's - sitting in the "Warning - loud pipes" section, taking in every note that Colin played. I should mention the two (non-piping) tricks I noticed - bowing the guitar's bass string to make a cello, and using one hand to tap the fingers of the other on the tin whistle, for effect.
This concert was by far the most work, and with the largest team, of any that we've put on. I want to thank the many volunteers (in addition to those already mentioned), and my apologies if I miss anyone. Sound was provided by Dan with assistance from Michael and Robert, and the sound was terrific, given the volume from those pipes! Once again, Christa did a great job on lights, with help from George and Debbie. Our afternoon crew set up the venue, moved all the sound equipment, organized tables and food and so on: Janette, Robin, John, Jerry, Brad, Nancy, Jeff, and Dan P.. Margaret, Deb, Ellen and Pat worked the door and sales tables, and Ellen also arranged food for the Tannies. Lori fed the band, and made pottery scotch glasses as a thank you present. Many Old Chestnuts sold tickets and put up posters - thank you! Nancy B. and Dan P. contacted all of the local media and really got the word out this time.
Finally, thanks to our old Modabo friend, Jon Weaver, who first proposed this marriage, and persevered through it. A great time!
One more note - a very pleasant one. Lori and I received a beautiful card, signed by many of the Old Chestnuts at the concert, thanking us for ten years of hosting. Inside was a very nice gift - and you all shouldn't have! But thanks very much; the Old Chestnuts are the best! See more about this, below.
vThank you Jack and Lori - Margaret Jackson
Jack and Lori have been the welcoming and faithful hosts of the Old Chestnuts Song Circle for 10 years!! Their home is a place of warmth and encouragement where all ages - newborn babies, teens, 40 somethings or grandparents - can get together to share their love of Folk Music. It doesn’t matter if you’re a first time singer or an accomplished musician - if you lead a song, people will join in with instruments and harmonies - and applaud you heartily when the song is done! Jack and Lori have inspired this supportive and fun loving community.
This is not all, however!! Jack and Lori have also been the organizing dynamos behind high quality concerts like the 10th Anniversary special with the Tannahill Weavers and intimate house concerts and workshops where the lucky few get to sit in their living room and sing along with the likes of David Francey and Eileen McGann!!
There’s still more!!! Along with their neighbours on Chestnut and Pequenaut streets, Jack and Lori have organized an annual mini backyard Music Festival in June - a wonderful inclusive and festive event.
At the Tannies concert, Song Circle members presented Jack and Lori with a card and gift to thank them for their generosity and dedication. We hope that they will treat themselves of a relaxing weekend away, sometime soon - excluding, of course, the fourth weekend of the month!!!
[ Thanks very much to everyone. It's a real pleasure to be a part of this community! - jc ]
vChestnut Seedlings: The Next Generation - Jack Cole
There are some species of tree that require a forest fire every so often in order to create the next generation. As far as I know, the chestnut is not one of them.
Nevertheless, following a recent song circle 'fire', some discussions have lead to a proposal to help the Old Chestnuts.
One of our number was disappointed with their song delivery. After working on the song, recording the song, and doing a fine job at home, some combination of nerves and timing resulted in a singing that that person was not pleased with. Of course, the point with our song circle is that that's okay; it's the song and the community that matters, not the performance. But still, this person was disappointed and wanting to do better. So we talked.
And out of that is born - The Chestnut Seedlings! This will be a smaller song circle, probably on a week-night through the summer, for people wanting to practice their song delivery, work on a new instrument, improve on an old instrument, try out songs that they aren't sure will work in the circle, sing for a smaller group, sing for the first time, get over nervousness, play instruments with sweaty palms - all those good things. We still need to work out details, but Lori and I will probably host, and, for my part, I'll try to lead songs while playing the mandolin or the fiddle!
Old Chestnut rules will apply, except that slow jams might be added for people learning to play, continual passing will not be expected, attendance will be limited to 8 or 10 in total and you must be doing something that stretches your comfort zone.
If you would like to join the the CS, please email me and let me know what evenings would work for you. This should be fun, and a good way to encourage more people to take part.
vCeltic College 2005 - Jack Cole
I am very pleased to give you a preview of the lineup for Goderich's Celtic College, which begins on the Monday of the Civic Holiday weekend. This information is hot off the press, thanks to Warren Robinson. The entire timetable, organized by instrument, and including the crafts, can be found at www.celticfestival.ca.
This year's lineup is once again stellar, and features the return of Nancy Kerr and James Fagan, Sean Keane, Smith and Hewson, and Crucible - all not to be missed! Also, unofficially and not on the schedule - watch for the return of a certain Wailin' trio on the Wednesday and Thursday.
From Ireland: Sean Keane (song, whistle/flute), Virginia Keane (Irish Gaelic, history of Irish music), Janet Harbison (harp), Mixolydia: Kirsten Allstaff (flute/whistle), Ditte Fromesier (Irish & Danish fiddle), Eoin Coughlan (bodhran, song)
From Scotland: Brian McNeill (fiddle, bouzouki, song), Anna Massie (fiddle, mandolin, guitar), Emily Smith (song, piano accordion), Jamie McClellan (fiddle, whistle), Steve Byrne (song, bouzouki) Stuart Cassells (pipes, whistle). This includes three winners of the Scottish Young Tradition Award - Emily 2002, Anna 2003, Stuart 2005.
From Wales: Robin Huw Bowen, harp
From England: Nancy Kerr & James Fagan (harmony, fiddle, bouzouki), Crucible (dance, harmony, fiddle, melodeon)
From US: bohola, Jimmy Keane (piano accordion), Sean Clelland (fiddle), Pat Boarders (Song) & whole band for group playing, Patrick Ourceau (fiddle), Shannon Heaton (flute/whistle), Matt Heaton (guitar) and Matt & Shannon for group playing
From East Coast: Kendra, Troy, & Sabra MacGillivray (fiddle, piano, dance); Christina Smith (fiddle); Jean Hewson (guitar, song)
From the West: The McDades (fiddle, whistle/flute)
From Quebec: Genticorum (fiddle, flute/whistle, harmony & rcall & response singing and group playing).
From Ontario: Anne Lindsay (fiddle), David Woodhead (bass), Loretto Reid (flute whistle), Brian Taheny (mandolin, banjo), Leon Taheny (bodhran) Frank Edgely (anglo concertina), Matt Heumann (English concertina), Jean Mills (lap dulcimer, song), Maureen Mulvey (dance), Gilles Roy (dance), Niamh Myers (dance) Andy Webster (song, guitar), David James (hammered dulcimer), Janice Waldrun (flute/whistle), Heather Dale (song & Arthurian legend)
Warren reports that this is the largest staff ever. Flyers and registration forms should be available soon.
vThe Woods Music and Dance Camp 2005 - Jack Cole
As most of you know, The Woods was the inspiration for The Old Chestnuts and is still the place to go if you want to feel like you're at summer camp again. This is a more intensive experience than Celtic College, with fewer students, on-campus accommodation and meals, and total musical immersion.
The Woods team has put together an amazing lineup, with something for everyone. For more information visit the-woods.ca, where this bio information came from. The Woods happens August 10-15.
Dave Clarke and Lucinda Chodan. Best 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 Clarke’s tasty picking has been featured on everything from bluegrass albums to television soundtracks. His songwriting is done in tandem with partner Lucinda Chodan (Steel Rail’s unseen, secret member) and this year Dave and Lucinda offer a joint songwriting class, a Woods first.
Kim and Reggie Harris. With talent, creativity, idealism, and 25 years of experience in performing, recording and teaching, Kim and Reggie are the consummate modern folk musicians whose powerful vocal harmonies inspire and move their audiences. Whether entrancing folk festival crowds with their own material or dramatizing underground railroad songs for schoolchildren in classroom workshops, the duo carry on the folk tradition of preserving important songs from the past and adding meaningful new compositions that reflect the world around them.
David Kaynor. The caller and primary organizer of contra dances at the Guiding Star Grange Hall in Greenfield, Massachusetts since the fall of 1980, David is also the leader of a top-notch dance band. When appropriate (and sometimes at other times as well), he calls and plays fiddle at the same time, much like the "dancing masters" of the nineteenth century. Get a taste of old-time dance history this summer and dance with David.
Penny Lang. Powerful interpretations and originals in folk, blues, country and gospel styles have gained her a large and devoted following; Deeply respected by musicians and music-lovers alike, Penny's reputation as "first lady of Canadian folk," is a-well deserved tribute to a woman who has paid her dues.
Tom Leighton. With legendary energy and enthusiasm on accordion and piano, and an inimitable sense of humour, Tom is a kind and generous teacher, and a marvelous musical friend. He made us "insane with pleasure" the last time he was at the Woods; We couldn't resist bringing him back!
Kate Murphy. Long time step dancer, banjo player, and pianist, the eminently versatile Kate is one of our favourite staffers. She was at the very first Woods and we keep bringing her back. She hasn’t protested yet so here she is again!
Geoff Sommers.Though best known as one of David Francey’s perennial sidemen, Geoff’s work on fiddle, guitar, and mandolin has been described as "technically polished, rhythmically sharp, and oozing creativity." A veteran of 17 years in a bluegrass band and three with a symphony orchestra, Geoff survived one summer at The Woods and begged for another. How could we resist?
Closing Notes - jc
# AlgomaTrad 2005 The Algoma Traditional Music and Dance Family Camp (AlgomaTrad 2005) will take place from August 21 to August 28, 2005. Check out www.algomatrad.ca.
Julie Schryer and Pat O'Gorman, founders and administrators of AlgomaTrad, welcome back workshop leaders from last year: Shane Cook, fiddle; Charlie Cares, song, bodhran and bones; Dan Gorno, dance and percussion; Judy Greenhill, children's workshops; Anny Hubbard, arts and crafts; Brian Pickell, guitar and composition; James Stephens, fiddle, guitar and mandolin; Rick Avery, camp/special events coordinator; and Julie on piano and Pat on whistle and flute. In addition, we welcome another Children's Workshop Leader, Kathy Reid-Naiman, a full-time children's performer, and founder of Merriweather Records.
AlgomaTrad 2005 will be held at the site of the Algoma Music Camp on beautiful St. Joseph Island, about 50 kilometers east of Sault Ste Marie, Ontario. It is approximately 7 hours from Toronto, 6 hours from Detroit, or 9 hours from Ottawa.
# Chequegnat 5 will happen on Saturday, June 4, usual place and time. We have many returning and new performers lined up. More than that I will not say, since this newsletter is publicly available. But all Old Chestnuts are invited - write me for more information.
# Congratulations to Sher Diciccio and Mary Anne Epp for winning KW Arts Awards. An award was also given to Matt Osborne, whose tragic death was one year ago. A memorial concert for Matt is being held on Saturday, April 23. See the GRFC site for details.
# Cathy Miller is still coming to Zion United on May 22, and I am still guaranteeing that every Old Chestnut in attendance will enjoy the evening. There are plenty of tickets available, so please spread the word to quilters, crafters and anyone who appreciates good stories and songs. And I hope many of you decide to come and enjoy this excellent singer and songwriter.
About this newsletter..... It’s emailed. It’s on the Web at http://www.mgl.ca/~jhcole and available at Circles. Call 578- 6298 or write firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Mill Race lineup will beprinted next month, although it's already on the Web site! Looks great, too. A difficult and busy month, with not enough music, despite the Tannies concert, and a very nice evening at the Button Factory with Alison! And 21 at the Dulcimer Club! Okay - maybe there WAS lots of music after all. I just am focused on taxes at the moment. :-(