January 2003 * Volume 8, Number 4



v Last Month and Next - Jack Cole

November was Rogers Night at the Old Chestnuts, and brought out an enthusiastic group, but smaller than we had anticipated. There were 26 people, including some new folks and some (older) friendly faces. It was nice to welcome back George Linton and his smooth guitar playing!

Rogers songs that were sung:
By or recorded by Stan:

By or recorded by Sally: By or recorded by Garnet: Others:

There were many other great songs as well, (as they say) from the sublime to the ridiculous. Thanks everyone for coming and sharing.


v The New SC - Changes to the Circle - jc

The Old Chestnuts Song Circle is in its eighth season, and (as I've boasted very often) every month has brought new folks out to the circle. Some come just once, some become occasional visitors, and every once in a while we totally hook somebody on what we're doing.

New folks are great and most welcome, but along the way we just don't see enough of some of the fine performers who used to come regularly. The energy in the circle seems to be lower than it was, and certainly (and I am as guilty as anyone of this) the preparation to lead songs doesn't seem to be there all the time.

So I am taking my lead from the local TV stations, and proposing some changes to "The New SC". I'd like to try these in January, and see how we do. To be very honest, if we can't restore the Circle to the energy it had, I will be looking to pass the reins to someone else before the end of the season.

First, the issue of themes. I know lots of people like them, and some don't. I believe they help people who have trouble focusing, but discourage those with polished songs in their guitar cases. So there won't be a theme in January, and they will be less prevalent than before. Come with whatever songs move you.

Second, preparation. It is important that people prepare the songs they want to lead. Songs should be confident, and polished. An opportunity to lead is just one step down from giving a performance, and should be prepared for accordingly. Give a brief introduction (we want to know about the song), and sing with feeling! That doesn't mean that songs should be over-rehearsed and dead serious - just entertaining. In January, let's try to make the first round sparkle; if you don't feel you have a well-prepared song, pass in round 1.

Third, I would like to relax the circle after the break. I am proposing 2 things. The first is to relax the "singalong" rule; after the break, performances without participation will be welcome (although participation songs are still encouraged). I would also like to turn the second half into a more open exchange, so rather than going around the room to every person, the leader will divide the room in 2 or 3 sections and alternate between sections. People in each section offer a song when they have one ready.

This last change will, I hope, encourage the participation of people with large repertoires and a knack for performing. These folks will get to do an extra song or two, which I think will increase the enjoyment of everyone. But it will only work if we have a few folks of that ilk present, so we'll have to see what January brings.

Come on out, to The New SC.

[Late Note: Last minute plans may send me overseas that day, in which case the Circle may move. Check the Web site or call 578-6298 for an update.]


v Chances to Sing! - jc

"Sing! at Eaglewood" is a new venture that sounds like an awful lot of fun, happening January 31 and February 1.

Arrive at the Wilfrid United Church and Community Hall at 6 PM on Friday night, register, and then launch into a 3 hour workshop with Tom Leighton and Carol Hanson Hasek. The next day another 3 hour workshop, lunch and a 4 hour workshop, followed by a ham supper and a showcase of the participant's talents, the latter two events open to family and friends.

Tom, of course, is one half of Haines and Leighton and well known to most of you. He just rocks. Carol is a member of the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir, and does vocal coaching for the Wexford School for the Performing Arts (where Tom is a teacher). Between them, they will make a choir out of the 40 lucky participants. At The Woods one year, Tom Leighton turned 75 of us into a four part choir in 90 minutes. It was magical, and I can only imagine what they will accomplish in 10 hours!

The cost of this "weekend of community in song - sharing and singing an eclectic range of traditional and contemporary material" is $65, with additional tickets for the dinner and showcase ranging from $3 to $12. Contact Margaret Almack for more information - m_almack@yahoo.ca, 705.437.1331.

Note that accommodation is not included, and that Wilfrid is 1 mile east of Pefferlaw, which is a couple of minutes south of Lake Simcoe.

Next up is the Winter Songfest 2003, March 13-16. I've reported on this weekend in the past (see February 2000 newsletter), but this year there's even more! For those who can make it, the weekend starts on Thursday evening! That's right - a 3 day weekend in March! Just what the doctor ordered for the Winter blahs, and, since this is March break week (I think), it provides a Very Valid Excuse for the adults to escape the house for a bit of fun.

The Winter Songfest happens at the Five Oaks Centre just outside of Paris, Ontario, on 100 acres of (potentially) snow covered, wooded, and hilly terrain beside the river. There isn't a formal program, except for mammoth Song Circles after supper, and usually a called dance.

Otherwise, it's a weekend of jamming, meditating, walking, relaxing and singing. The cost is $210, or $150 if you come on Friday night instead of Thursday. This includes accommodation in dorm-style rooms and all meals and snacks. Attendance is limited, so register early to Matthew Shuster, mshuster@rogers.com, 416-446- 6080.


v Eve Goldberg Returns - jc

Eve Goldberg is a Toronto singer / songwriter / guitarist, who is no stranger to the Old Chestnuts Song Circle. On April 12, she returns for her fourth appearance with us.

Eve first performed for us at a coffeehouse (in St. Jacobs, way back when), and has been featured at two concerts in the Central Frederick neighbourhood. Her first house concert was in celebration of her well received debut recording, "Ever Brightening Day", which includes "Watermelon Sorbet", the theme song for CBC Radio's "Richardson's Roundup". Her second concert, with local trio GreenWood, was a benefit for the KW branch of Amnesty International.

In February, Eve will release her second album, "Crossing the Water", her first on Canada's premier folk music label, Borealis. The recording features a host of fine musicians, and classic blues, bluegrass, old-time Appalachian, swing, gospel, and contemporary folk styles.

We are pleased to be part of the album's release tour, by hosting a house concert on Saturday, April 12. The concert venue will be Mary and Barry Baldasaro's home on Frederick Street. If you haven't experienced the intimacy of a house concert before, now's your chance! Give Jack a call at 578-6298, or Mary at 745-6838, to reserve a ticket.

If you would like to know more about Eve, or view the video of her performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, check out her Web site at http://www.evegoldberg.com/ .


v Closing Notes - jc

<> It's delightful when an Old Chestnut or friend is nominated for a major award. In 2002 Merrick Jarrett, Eileen McGann and David Francey were all up for honours - KW Arts Awards and Junos. Aengus Finnan won a major songwriting honour at the Kerrville Folk Festival. Before that, Modabo had a couple of ECMA nominations.

And it was as thrilling this week to see Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer nominated for THREE Grammy awards, in the Traditional Folk and Children's recordings categories for their own albums (Postcards and Pocket Full of Stardust), and again in the Children's catagory as producers of Tom Paxton's album! Cathy and Marcy, as many of you will vividly recall, played a very rare house concert for us in September. This brings their total Grammy nominations over the years to an amazing 8. They produce their own albums, including the two nominated this year.

<> And that's not the end of them! Mark Haines and Tom Leighton have just been nominated for the East Coast Music Award in the Roots and Traditional Group category. Their concert for us in January 2001 remains one of the most talked about. And I will be trying to get them back again sometime soon.

<> Check out the Tim Harrison concert on Friday, January 24th. Tim is a very fine Ontario singer/songwriter, who has been on my list to bring to town for a long time. I haven't managed it, but fortunately the Waterloo Community Arts Centre has acted, and it should be a great night.

Tim was a founder and Artistic Director of the Summerfolk Festival for many years, and he's done amazing things for folk music in Ontario.

<> Unfortunately, I won't be able to catch Tim that night, as another event has recruited GreenWood to anchor a night of local performers in support of Fair Trade coffee. The "Just for Coffee" annual coffee house takes place at First Unitarian Congregation of Waterloo, 96 Dunbar Road South, Waterloo, 7:30 to 10:30. Admission is free, but refreshments and articles for sale support the cause.


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

Jan 17 Black Walnut Folk Club, Mill-Courtland Centre. $3. Open mic. with host Denis O'Regan. Also Feb. 21.
Jan 24 Tim Harrison, the Button Factory. $12/$15 (see above)
Jan 24 Just for Coffee Coffeehouse (see above)
Jan 25 Old Chestnuts Song Circle. 578-6298! 8 pm. The New SC!
Jan 26 Mill Race Trad Sessions, Cambridge, Golden Kiwi, 4:30. Also Feb 9
Jan 25 Ceili, Walper Terrace Hotel, Kitchener. 8:30pm
Feb 1 Mill Race singaround at Ernies, Cambridge.
Feb 6 Grand River Dulcimer Club, Folkway Music, Guelph. $3

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! Hey, not working (formally at least) has its advantages! Like getting to all 3 days of the Winter Songfest, or heading to Pefferlaw at my leisure (except I may be just getting home from England instead). Or taking FIDDLE lessons, or giving guitar lessons, or hanging at Paddy's on Fridays. Watch for news of the Woods and Celtic College next month (I hope!). And possible concerts with Francey and McGann later this year. If we continue...? jc


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