February 2003 * Volume 8, Number 5



v Last Month and Next - Jack Cole

The paper - taped up beside the piano, a page ripped from a recent London Free Press - proclaimed: "Today ... the Chestnut Revival".

It was. And at times it sounded like a true revival meeting, as 30-voice heavenly choruses roared through the house: "Land on the Shore", "Down in the River to Pray", "Will the Circle be Unbroken", to name just a few.

The evening kicked off, appropriately, with Pete Seegerís "Arrange and Re-Arrange and Re-Arrange"ł and those who believe that change is "a good thing" will be glad to know that the new guidelines for the circle seemed to work. It was a very good night indeed.

For the first round, people were asked to only share songs that they had prepared ahead. It didnít matter what level of expertise - the important thing was that songs were ready and practiced. Not only was the song quality excellent, but with a clear plan we got around the circle fairly quickly. Most people offered songs.

The second round was open to whatever people wanted to do, but the high standard from the first round carried on. This round took longer - right through the break and until about 11. After that, we opened the floor up for more informal song jamming, which also worked really well. The room was divided into halves, and we alternated songs between ends.

The Old Chestnuts is a great excuse to expand ones repertoire, and Iíve always made a priority to bring new (for me) songs to the Circle. James pointed out something to me, though, which has stuck in my increasingly-leaky brain. He observed that it would be wonderful for us to develop more of "our own culture". The Toronto song circle, for example, has a set of songs that they sing often. They have developed harmony parts, can share the lead around, sing all the words without paper, throw in a nice instr umental, and so on. These are songs that they know well, that might or might not be widely known outside their circle.

The idea has me "re-arranging". Maybe itís okay - maybe itís even better - to repeat good songs to the point where people smile and nod at the first few notes, sit back, and easily join in. Songs that become "our songs", that people request, that inspire that "comfortable, old shoe" feeling. Iíve seen it at The Woods and Winter Songfest, and itís good. I know Iíll do a more "oldies" now.

For February 22 we will once again be theme-less (which is really good, considering how late this newsletter is!). Just bring a few timeless tunes, and weíll see if we can revive a little Chestnut culture.


v Upcoming Folk Books - Merrick Jarrett

[This is the first of two parts about upcoming Canadian folk music books. Merrickís article will conclude next month. ]

Last year Gary Cristall from Vancouver dropped by to talk about a book he is writing. Gary, if you donít know him, has been involved in the Vancouver Folk Festival for some twenty years in various capacities; as organizer, director, festival programmer, etc. as well as working for the Canada Council in the Arts, and generally being immersed in folk music. He knows his way around the folk scene.

Now, Gary is, as he says " Ötrying to make sense of it all", and he is in the throes of putting together a comprehensive history of folk music in Canada.

This is a large project, and probably wonít see the light of day for another year or two; looking over the amount of material he has collected, and the various chapter headings and what they cover, I was awed by the coverage he has given to the subject.

There isnít much, if anything, he has missed. He ranges from the invention of folk music (invention??) through the first Mariposa Festival in 1961 (which intrigued me, since I was one of the performers at that Festival), the golden age of Canadian folk music between 1946-1962, the revival, the boom, the songwriters, the surge in popularity of folk music for children in childrenís recordings, looking backward at all the preceding years, and looking forward to what will happen Ö and these are just some of t he chapters out of 36 altogether.

This will be a seminal book that will be fascinating to anyone who is in involved in any facet of folk, be it traditional or contemporary. Garyís writing is witty, educational and informative, and this book will be a major addition to the literature; valuable for the "folkie" just learning how to play his guitar and to the professional musician or singer-songwriter; and in the educational field will be a comprehensive and valuable teaching aid.

It is with a great deal of anticipation that I am looking forward to this book. All sorts of material is available on the various facets of folk music, but I believe this is the first time anyone has tried to pull it all together into a cohesive and comprehensive account.

Go to his website for more information: //folkmusichistory.com/outline.shtml .


v Francey Sightings - jc

David Francey returns to the region in February! We were fortunate to host Davidís first concert in the area, and it is disappointing that we canít be bringing him back (we had planned a March concert with him). However, I have been assured that Davidís future plans include another visit to the Old Chestnuts, maybe later this year.

Meanwhile, he is playing the Arkell Schoolhouse (near Guelph) on Friday, February 21. This is especially interesting, since the Arkell concert series had been put on hold and was revived for this one special concert.

The next night, Angie and Paul Stock are hosting David for a house concert in their country home near Tavistock. Alas, that concert was quickly sold out.

According to his agent, David will likely be performing in Waterloo early in June. More about that when I know details.


v The Woods 2003 - jc

The Woods Music and Dance Camp takes place over 5 magical days on an equally magical site beside Lake Rosseau in Muskoka. Itís one continuous musical smorgasbord and highly recommended. Find out more (and register) at www.the-woods.ca .

The organizers have recently announced the staff for the 2003 Woods, and once again they have put together an inspiring group.

Heather Bishop. Folk festival regular and Juno-nominated singer / songwriter, Heather has toured the world and performed with most major symphony orchestras in Canada. The energy, warmth, and passion of her singing and a fearless dedication to music as a tool for social change make her an inspired and inspirational performer and teacher.

Fiddlesong Trio. With a powerful voice and a fiddle that sizzles, Anne Lederman is joined by the finesse and flair of Debashis Sinha on percussion, and the legendary energy and enthusiasm of Tom Leighton on accordion and piano to create new Canadian music, born of the songs and tunes of the many peoples who call Canada home. Roots music that swings, cries, burns and jumps for joy.

Raymond McLain. From old-time music festivals and Grand Ole Opry, Raymond's fiddle and banjo music has traveled the 50 United States and 62 foreign countries. He is assistant director of the Bluegrass and Country Music Program at East Tennessee State University. A gentleman, a scholar, and half of a hot duo with Mike Stevens.

Paul Mills/Curly Boy Stubbs. Paul Mills records Canada's top folk musicians, and produced outstanding CBC Radio shows such as Touch the Earth. As Curly Boy Stubbs, he has played up a guitar storm for 35 years of concerts, festivals and recordings.

Marian Rose. Imitating dancing at weddings and playing with her family's band at rural dances, kick-started Marian's career as a dance caller. A varied repertoire, clear, friendly presentation, and a commitment to spreading the joy of dance make her a treat for dance aficionados and new-comers alike.

Mike Stevens. The other half of the duo, famous for groundbreaking bluegrass work at the Opry, Mike's aggressive soulful approach to the harmonica takes audiences on an incredible journey through blues, rock, and Middle-Eastern rhythms. He founded ArtsCan Circle to bring music and hope to Native Canadian youth at risk.


v Closing Notes - jc

<> Due to some really unfortunate booking circumstances, we find ourselves with three events on the same night of April 12. The Old Chestnuts are bringing Eve Goldberg back for a CD release house concert, the Mill Race Festival is holding a fund-raising ceili, and the Waterloo Community Arts Centre is hosting Bob McLean at the Button Factory. Splitting the folk music audience is always a scary thing. So my plea to everyone - mark that Saturday night on your calendar and support one of these fine events! And take your friends! Theyíll thank you!

<> Thereís an interesting benefit concert happening in Barrie on Feb. 28th. For $20 you can hear over 14 well known musicians in one energy- packed concert. The money benefits a very worthwhile cause - the work that Mike Stevens is doing to introduce music to the kids in isolated communities in the North. Performers include Curly Boy Stubbs, Trevor Mills, Brent & Liam Titcomb, Don Bray, Nonie Crete & Eugene Rea, Katherine Wheatley, Wendell Ferguson, and Vox Violins. For additional information go to www.barriefolk.com.

<> The 8TH Annual CFMU Freewheeling Folk Benefit Concert takes place Saturday March 1st at 222 Queenston Road in Hamilton. Tickets are $15. Performers include Laura Bird, David Bradstreet, Aengus Finnan, Ron Nigrini, Hard Ryde. Proceeds help keep this community station and program alive.

<> Unfortunately, "Sing! at Eaglewood" (described here last month) didnít happen due to inadequate response. Not to be discouraged, the organizers have agreed to give it one more try. So, they've set aside May 2 and 3..."lots of notice and no snow"! They are also considering offering accommodation and camping on site, which will make it easier for out-of-towners. Details should be coming in March, from m_almack@yahoo.ca, 705.437.1331.

<> I recently heard from Bill Gallaher out in Victoria. After a time off, he and Jake Galbraithe are performing again, and have a few new songs in the act. Of course I will be encouraging Bill and Jake to bring themselves our way! Bill also says that he is switching from 12 to 6 strings, and that his Yamaha 12 string is for sale. I have the details, if anyone is interested in a chance to own a songwriterís instrument!


v Some Events in The Area (as space permits!) Check out the Grand River Folk Community site for more.

Feb 21 Black Walnut Folk Club, Mill-Courtland Centre. $3. Open mic. with host Don MacIntyre. Also Mar. 21. Part 1 of Big Three Weekend!
Feb 22 Old Chestnuts Song Circle. 578-6298! 8 pm. Themeless! (Part 2)
Feb 23 Mill Race Trad Sessions, Cambridge, Golden Kiwi, 4:30. (Part 3) Also Mar. 9
Feb 28 Beverlie Robertson & Poor Charlie at the Raintree. 10 pm
Mar 1 Mill Race singaround at Ernies, Cambridge.
Mar 6 Grand River Dulcimer Club, Folkway Music, Guelph. $3
Mar 8 Mill Race Spring Preview! Cambridge Arts Theatre.

v About this newsletter..... Itís emailed. Itís on the Web at http://www.mgl.ca/~jhcole and available at Circles. Also available by regular mail, but for that I request a few stamped envelopes or a contribution to postage. Call 578- 6298 or write jhcole@mgl.ca for more information. If you are getting this by mail and have eMail, please let me know! Thanks to everyone who came out to support the Old Chestnuts last month. It was nice to hear you all again!! Especially, welcome back to Linda who blew the roof off a couple of times. The house likes it when that happens. Have you ever seen what 2 inches of snow does in England? Total chaos. Oh what fun. jc


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