January 2004 * Volume 9, Number 3

Old Chestnuts Song Circle January 24 * BWFC 10th Anniversary / Valdy Concert January 31 * No Circle in February

v Last Month and Next - Jack Cole

November turned out to be a popular month, with a capacity crowd that settled in at about 35. It was nice to see some familiar faces back again, as well as a contingent of new ones. We had some Christmas Songs, some Remembrance Day songs and a whole lot of good singing.

January traditionally comes with a small turnout, so this is the month for all you folks that have been lurking and waiting for a good opportunity to join us. The date is January 24th, at 111 Chestnut St. Singing begins at 8 pm.

Lori and I will be seeking some warm weather on the fourth Saturday of February so we won't be able to host a Song Circle. That weekend is also the Paris Winter Songfest, and a James Gordon concert (see below) falls on the Song Circle night. So, with lots of things happening that night, I am unofficially cancelling February's circle. If someone wants to organize a circle for February 28 please go ahead, tell me where, and I will let everyone know.

We havenít had a themed circle in over a year, the reason being that the theme seemed to be interfering peopleís enthusiasm for the circle - when it was supposed to do the opposite! But in March Iíd like to try a small theme again. With the release of the Beautiful CD and some Gordon Lightfoot tribute concerts happening, Iíve been hearing a lot of Gordís old songs again. And theyíre wonderful, in so many ways. So Iíd like to encourage people to prepare and bring a Lightfoot song to Marchís Song Circle. Since his most popular songs are likely to be - well - popular, Iíd especially like people to bring some of Gordís less well known tunes. "Ribbon of Darkness", "Steel Rail Blues", "Home From The Forest", "Old Danís Records", "Cotton Jenny" - there are hundreds of great songs to choose from. Letís have a round or two for Gordon.

Please note that this does not mean that you shouldn't come unless you can sing a Lightfoot song. Come and bring anything that we can sing along with!

v Play Me a Valdy Song - Jack Cole

If you havenít purchased your Valdy tickets yet, now would be the time. There are only a handful of Canadian musicians - in any genre - that have done as much for the countryís musical identity as Valdy. His hits have included "Rock and Roll Song", "Peter & Lou", "A Good Song", "Yes I Can", "Sonnyís Dream", and "Renaissance". Heís been a regular on The Beachcombers" and a panelist on "Front Page Challenge". Heís been a Canadian "Songwriter of the Year", has multiple Juno nominations and awards, and was the subject of a CBC TV and radio special. MacLeanís Magazine has called him "the most public performer in Canada today, and the most loved".

Valdy has been tirelessly criss-crossing the country and the globe, spreading his brand of heartfelt Canadian folk music in clubs, bars and festivals for more than 30 years. Heís released childrenís albums, close-to-pop albums (with The Hometown Band) and close-to-country albums (with Gary Fjellgaard). In his quiet and unassuming way (despite his trademark red sneakers and bold shirts), Valdy has put out 14 recordings, 22 singles and earned 4 gold records. Yet, go to a folk festival where heís performing, and youíll find him hanging out in the audience, enjoying the music, and talking with anyone who stops by his picnic table.

But he hasnít hung out in Kitchener-Waterloo in a long, long time. Fortunately, the Black Walnut Folk Club folks saw fit to remedy that, and are bringing Valdy to Zion United Church on Saturday, January 31. This is a 10th anniversary party for the Black Walnuts, complete with door prizes and an opening set by Black Walnut co-founder Jack Cooper. The concert is being co-presented by the Old Chestnuts Song Circle.

Tickets are still available from Words Worth Books in Waterloo or The KW Bookstore in Kitchener. You can also get them from me, or from Jakki Ridley or Cam Kemp of the BWFC. They are $18 in advance and $20 at the door.

v Chestnuts and Canada's Independent Music Awards - Jack Cole

Former Breslau resident, Chequegnat Festival performer, and Old Chestnut Song Circle member Debbie Carroll has just been nominated for a 2004 Canadian Independent Music award - popularly called an Indie - for her debut album Up And Over The Moon!. The album, produced by Ken Whitely and released by Merriweather Records, features 26 original and traditional songs targeted at pre-school children, but received very, very well by adult ears too. Chatter With The Angels, a harp and dobro hilight of the album, has even made it to the Old Chestnuts.

Debbie will be among many other independent recording hopefuls at the Canadian Independent Music Awards on Wednesday, March 3, at the Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto. The event, now in its fourth year, launches Canadian Music Week (CMW) festivities.

Debbie is in some great company. Other nominees in her category are last yearís winner Etienne, Jack Grunsky, Norm Hacking & Kirk Elliott (for their Orange Cats album) and Rick Scott & Harry Wong! Kirk played on Debbie's album, and Rick is (of course) a member of Pied Pumkin and another friend of the Old Chestnuts. Nominees in other categories include Bruce Cockburn, Gord Downie, Broken Social Scene, Ani DeFranco, Be Good Tanyas, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Oh Susanna, Sum 41, Amy Sky and Holly Cole. Should be quite the party.

And I know that Debbie will want to invite us all, because we can help her win! This year the fans will decide on the winners by voting online at www.cmw.net, from January 26 to February 15. So get your fingers on the mice, and let's bring an Indie to the Old Chestnuts.

The album has already won a Parent's Choice award and a Children's Web Music award. You can purchase "Up And Over The Moon!" from me, or from Debbie's excellent Web site at www.debbiecarroll.com.

Rick Scottís album (available from his Web site www.rickscott.ca) is another very interesting one. I spoke with Rick (and album producer Val Hennel) in the spring, as they were polishing up the mix for The 5 Elements, a recording made with Hong Kong musician and magician Harry Wong. Harry became a fan of Rickís music (and his chosen instrument - the dulcimer) at a childrenís festival. This led to Rick shipping a bunch of dulcimers to Harry to start a (very successful) program, and to Harry re-crafting some of Rickís songs in Cantonese.

Eventually Harry (with the principal violinist from the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra in hand) flew to Vancouver to record the album with Rick and Val - in the middle of the SARS crisis. "The 5 Elements" is the resulting quarantine-lengthened, trans-Pacific collaboration, with 13 songs in English and Cantonese and a 16 page booklet of lyrics. To quote the Web site: "Each song represents one of Oriental philosophy's 5 essential elements - earth, metal, wood, water and fire. Jester meets trickster as Rick and Harry explore ways of communicating and understanding their differences." The album features vocals from both Harry and Rick, as well as dulcimer, flute, violin, pipa (Chinese 4 stringed lute), and more.

And there is more - "The 5 Elements" is also an hour long stage play that makes its Canadian debut at the Vancouver Childrenís Festival in May, and then comes to Ontario in June. "This lively concert in English and Cantonese sees Little Harry and his unlikely Guardian Angel (Rick) learning to juggle lifeís 5 essential elements in a sparkling and unexpected alchemy." Watch for the show in London and (hopefully) Kitchener, about the time of this yearís Chequegnat Festival.

Last year we had Chestnut friends Eileen McGann and David Francey nominated against each other at the Junoís. This year itís Debbie and Rick at the Indies (with Juno announcements still to come), and Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer nominated for another Grammy award. This just gets better every year!

v Closing Notes - jc

# I guess no one was interested in playing the "Walk of Fame Game", since no one replied with folk musicians that they would nominate. So much for my plan. I was thinking of starting my own "walk of Fame" in the driveway, and then lobbying the city to keep it shovelled as a tourist attraction.

# Jackie Washington (with Ken Whiteley) represents a generation of folk, blues, jazz and swing music - Jackie is the reigning "grand master" of Ontario folk music, having appeared at every one of the 30 Home County Folk Festivals (and many more). Jackie and Ken are kicking off a new music series in Burford, Ontario, organized by the Paris Plains Church on Friday, January 23. Tickets are $15, and you can find out all about the concert at 519-442-0652, or from charlesc@sentex.net. This will be a great, intimate evening.

# Mary Anne Epp's Saturday afternoon sessions at Muses Cafe - a vegetarian spot on King Street in downtown Kitchener - have morphed into interesting songwriter and performer opportunitues. The rotating series (you can check out the details at the GRFC site) offer an open stage one week, a Songwriter's Club the next, a Songwriter's Circle the next, and a rhythm (drumming) circle the next. The sessions start at 2 pm, and sound really intriguing.

# The Mill Race Folk Society has announced some more music from Cambridge. First of all, their Spring Preview fundraiser for the August Mill Race Festival will take place on March 13. Performers include Enoch Kent, Jeremy Moyer Ensemble, and Rukanas, with more to be announced.

The Mill Race is also adding a second singaround each month at Ernie's in Cambridge. The "first Saturday" singarounds have been so popular that The Pit will be reserved on the third Saturday as well. So you have 2 opportunites each month to participate in the singing and quaffing!

# "Give Me a Break" with James Gordon and friends at Zion United Church on February 28, is being presented by the Waterloo Region Healthy Communities Coalition. This is more than just a concert - there will be stories too, and a big emphasis on meeting and greeting people who want to make KW a better place to live. James will be performing excerpts from his play Hardscrabble Road, which was a great success at the River Run Centre in the fall. If you missed that, don't miss this! Cost is a pay-what-you-can - suggested $10. More information can be found via the GRFC site.

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! Another very late newsletter. Sorry - this teaching thing is a killer. I ought to be marking my 90 programming projects right now, but instead I think I better practice some Rick Speyer songs! Away away . . . jc

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