v Old Chestnuts - Last few months and next - Jack Cole
It's been a busy fall once again, and so no time for Old Chestnuts newsletters. Sorry! Consider this a quick catchup on everything to do with the Song Circle.
We began our 13th season with successful sessions in September, October, and November. Many thanks to Mary and Barry for hosting the October event. Attendance has been pretty steady at about 30 people, and the level of playing and singing just gets better and better! Thanks to everyone for coming out!
The November circle marked a milestone. For the first time in over 12 years and almost 100 meetings we did not have a Newbie in the house. While I knew it would happen someday I still think it's a dirty rotten shame. New people give the circle a certain life and sense of anticipation. So, if you've been thinking of inviting someone out to the Old Chestnuts but haven't done it, please consider it again!
The next circle is this coming Saturday, January 26 but not at the usual location. We decided, in view of recent and approaching illnesses, to move to Mary and Barry's again this month. A couple of months back I suggested that we revisit a theme of songs by musicians that are no longer with us. While those songs are of course always welcome, the songs I've been working on do not qualify! So it's all fair game - come with singable songs! If the songs aren't in one of our songbooks, and the choruses are tough, please come with words to hand out.
We are currently working on booking a short vacation in March, which might mean moving the circle either in time or space. And in April there's a Folk Night concert on our regular Saturday, so we may move the Circle to the second Saturday. Pencil that one in too and watch www.grandriverfolk.org for last minute information! And see you on Saturday night!
v Folk Nights at The Registry - Jack Cole
We're three concerts into our second season of Folk Night at the Registry, and about 12 seasons into our ongoing Old Chestnuts concerts. Every year brings new and exciting folk performers to KW, and the return of some favourites. This year has been a particularly interesting ride!
We began the series in October with a respite from Octoberfest in the presence of Penny Lang, with Dave Clarke (of Steel Rail) accompanying her, and Brad Nelson opening. I've had so many wonderful comments since from people that had never heard, or even heard of, Penny before that. She gave us a memorable night of musical reminiscences, songs from the early days of folk and songs from her latest award-winning album. It was a little silver slice of Canadian folk music history. All three musicians gave e fantastic performances and sent us all home happy. It's such a shame that more people didn't make it out - only 74 people showed up, making this the first concert in our history that lost money.
December brought our first foray into a Christmas concert since the "glory days" of Trilogy (Eileen McGann, David K, Cathy Miller). The Wassail! troop - all 24 of them - made the trip from London by rented bus, loaded with costumes, sets, and props. Their show was a mixture of stories, songs, Morris and sword dancing that recreated an old English pub Christmas. It was fun and fascinating and just the right sort of evening to get me in the mood for Christmas. And thanks to a rush of last minute ticket sales (mostly by the community at large) we were nearly sold out and able to send them back onto their bus with a reasonable cheque.
And then there was "Remembering Stan Rogers", just a couple of weeks ago. Once again the KW community got behind this concert in an unbelievable way! I'm not just saying "unbelievable"...I really mean it! When we started the planning I was hoping to sell 100 to 120 tickets. Well, we were sold out a month ahead, added more chairs, and ended up with 168 in the audience.
The crowd was enthusiastic and ready to celebrate the songs of one of Canada's greatest songwriters. It was an honour for me personally to be part of the show with Paul Mills - Stan's best friend, guitarist, and producer - Brad Nelson, Loretta Fullerton, Dan Patterson, and Glen Soulis, not to mention Stan's 12-string Laskin guitar.
Choosing the songs to perform was but the first of many challenges. In the end we put our best Old Chestnut's singing into 22 songs recorded by Stan: Giant, Mary Ellen Carter, Make & Break Harbour, The Jeannie C, Take it From Day to Day, Northwest Passage, White Squall, Lies, McDonnell On the Heights, Watching the Apples Grow, Song of the Candle, 45 Years From Now, Rolling Down to Old Maui, Harris and the Mare, The Idiot, White Collar Holler, Field Behind the Plow, Tiny Fish for Japan, Fogarty's Cove, Down the Road, Barrett's Privateers, and Acadian Saturday Night. That left unsung some favourites like Fisherman's Wharf, Bluenose, Athens Queen, Flowers of Bermuda, Turnaround, Working Joe, Free in the Harbour, Lock Keeper, Flying, Last Watch, Sailor's Rest, Pharisee, and many more. Fodder for future Circles perhaps.
For a review of the concert please see Jay Moore's article at http://www.kwnow.ca . And as a disappointing side note - the London audience out-sang the (bigger) Kitchener one! What's up with that?
So that's the first half of the Folk Night Season! Thanks for the support so far, especially from the volunteers working the shows. We've got the best crew!
Which brings me to the next concert, coming up in just a couple of weeks on February 9. Allison Lupton (www.allisonlupton.com) has been a prominent part of the local Celtic music scene, performing as a singer/flute player for over 20 years. Her interest in music began in Embro, Ontario, where she sang in church choirs. She went on to study music in university and later released two recordings as part of the group "Killiecrankie". She has also been a member of "The Murphy Family" and "Rathlin", and has volunteered her time and talent at Chequegnat festivals. Allison has also performed on CBC radio's "The Vinyl Café" hosted by Stuart McLean, who said "Allison has a beautiful, clear singing voice, an eclectic capability and sensibility and the ability to tell a story with her flute. She is a wonderful musician and a lovely person."
Allison and band mates Ian Bell, Denis Rondeau, Geoff Somers and Jay Weiler captivate listeners with their beautiful renditions of traditional and original songs and tunes. The band features exquisite, three-part vocal harmonies and captivating arrangements highlighting flute, fiddle, guitar, accordion, mandolin and acoustic bass.
As a special treat we have arranged for Paul Mills to return with his singing partner Joanne Crabtree for an extended opening set. Paul and Joanne are both pioneers of Canadian roots music, and have released one album together, "Flight of Fancy".
Tickets for this concert are only $16 in advance, from me, Centre in the Square, or Twelfth Night Music. Come to the concert, bring your friends, and let's see if we can't sell another 168 seats! It would be really nice to see more Old Chestnuts at these concerts; we're in danger of losing our reputation as the "best singing audience" on the tour! Check www.folknight.ca for more information.
Coming up in the next few months are concerts by Quebec's (incredible) Genticorum, Canada's bluegrass originals The Dixie Flyers, and (in October, to launch our third season) Scotland's legendary Archie Fisher who has recorded 9 albums solo and with family and friends (including Garnet Rogers), and who penned several songs recorded by Stan Rogers. Archie will be a week short of celebrating his 70th birthday on what may be his final North American tour. Watch for details (and special offers) about the 2008-2009 series soon!
v The Woods 2008 - Jack Cole
The Woods Music and Dance Camp announced their lineup reently and it is, as always, an exciting opportunity for a true "summer camp" experience. From August 20-25, 2008, be at The Woods to enjoy the music with Si Kahn, James Hill & Anne Davison, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, Adrian Dolan (of the Bills), Linda Morrison, and Vikki Armstrong. Information can be found at www.the-woods.ca .
Closing Notes - jc
# This Saturday's "alternate to Song Circle" event - Enoch Kent at Cafe 13 in Cambridge - has run into a scheduling problem. It has been postponed to become an "alternate to Folk Night" event on April 26.
# The above mentioned Trilogy got together in December for a one-time one-night concert on Vancouver Island. Wish I could have been there!! Especially since they introduced a new song, "Frozen In Front of the Bay"!
# This Friday (the 25th) there's a Robbie Burns supper, concert and ceilidh at the Newfoundland Club in Cambridge. The whole evening is $30, but just the concert and ceilidh (featuring Andy Webster's HAWP) costs only $10.
# A new Wednesday night Celtic session has started at the Pennywhistle Pub in Guelph, at 7:30 PM.
About this newsletter..... It's on the Web at http://www.mgl.ca/~jhcole and available at Circles. Call 519-578- 6298 or write firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. The year is going very, very fast. But how about that winter, eh? Writing this from my sickbed - lousy winter cold and flu, but at least it waited until the Stan concert was over!