March/April 2001

v Last Month and This - Jack Cole

February really was "Hearts" month. From the winter doldrums of January, the Old Chestnuts rose again to produce one of the best circles ever!

Of course, how can you go wrong with love songs? The eclectic list of handouts included "Sweet Nancy", "Cotton Mill Song", "White Cockade", "Easy and Slow", "Yarmouth Town", "What Was I Supposed to Do", "Rose of Allendale", "Heart of Gold", "Deportee", "If I Should Fall Behind", "Heart's Arrow", "When Two Heart's Combine" and "In The Shape of a Heart".

It really made a difference that a lot of strong leaders came out, and I have to say that it's night and day between low-leader months and high-leader months! The energy is higher, and so is the song quality, as we don't run around the circle so fast. I hope to see lots of the leaders (as well as followers!) out on April 28, when there is no theme to constrain (or guide) your imagination! Just bring your favourites to sing and share.

Only one more circle after that this season, and it promises to be a very special night. No more details for a bit. That will also be the night to reserve tickets for Robin Laing, coming in September!

Unfortunately, Bill Gallaher has had to cancel his fall tour. I know how much we were all looking forward to Bill and Harmony Road, and he promises to re-schedule for the spring. But do not despair - next month I will have some news about Bill's soon-to-be published book.

And also in the unfortunate department....Trilogy has decided to skip touring this year, so the December 8 concert is (as of tonight) also cancelled. Looks like a relaxing December for Christmas shopping - worse luck!

v Pied Pumkin Review- Rose Bontje

Wednesday January 31, 2001. I've been doing this folk music fan thing for over 20 years but I'd never heard of this group called Pied Pumkin. "Not to be missed" according to my friend of reliable taste in music. I knew of Shari Ulrich with her lovely voice and awesome viola. Rick Scott's children's music was familiar to me. But I had not heard of Joe Mock or Pied Pumkin.

Fortunately, the folk festival-free barren times of winter had me eager to experience what I was assured would be an excellent concert.

My friend's reputation for good taste remains intact. Pied Pumkin rocked (folked?)

The stars were in alignment. An excellent performance space, good sound, an adoring audience and three performers who were obviously enjoying the opportunity to play together again. It was an exciting prospect for the audience, three musicians who were so good together a few decades ago had gone their separate ways to grow in their music had reunited to share their expanded talents.

The group was so compatible, so together, so well rehearsed - even the patter. More than one would expect for the first performance together in a year - a testament to their individual abilities and stage presence.

The music was a treat. The variety of instruments all well played. It's not often you can hear so much dulcimer (sometimes two!) And Shari with her flawless bow (sigh) and with a voice so suited to her instrument. Some of the harmonies were downright magical. I could see that at times the performers themselves were wowed. And of course, mention was made of the glorious time in the past, and what has transpired in the intervening years.

I especially appreciated their sincere thanks to Jack and Lori and all those who volunteer their time to keep folk music and culture alive in Canada. Such is the folk music scene that performers must depend on a myriad of volunteers to help throughout the land in order to play and make their livings.

What a night. I was sorely tempted to follow the group as it headed east in the following 4 days!

[ I've just learned that Pied Pumkin will be making an early return to Ontario in August!!! Plans put them at 2-3 festivals, including one mentioned in another article! - Jack ]

v David Francey Review- Donna MacLeod

When I heard that David Francey was playing at Jack and Lori's house in Kitchener, I leapt at the chance to attend! Unfortunately, so did a great many other people! I was put on the waiting list and to my astonishment, someone actually canceled tickets!

The evening started with a short set by Linda Dale and Brad McEwan, regular members of the Old Chestnuts Song Circle. The pair's original compositions ended all too soon.

Excitement ran through the crowd as the evening's main performers emerged. David was accompanied by multi- instrumentalist Geoff Sommers, and by guitar player Dave Clarke from Steel Rail. The combination was magical.

David held the audience spellbound with his funny and often poignant stories about working, not working, living and loving. The man's gentle charm and insight are completely engaging. As a story-teller, he makes you laugh, he makes you cry, he makes you care. As a songwriter, he captures you with his finely crafted images. As a singer, his sensitivity, gentleness and remarkable strength -- combined with his superb musicianship -- compel you to listen.

Performing songs from his first CD, Torn Screen Door, as well as from his soon-to-be-released and as-yet-unnamed second CD, the trio's relaxed banter and sometimes thrilling harmonies left the audience feeling that they were having as much fun as we were.

One of the delightful aspects of the evening was seeing that David is still surprised and delighted when presented with an audience who knows and loves his music. When invited to join in, this audience of song-circle veterans rang out the choruses lustily and in harmony. David was obviously moved, and everyone in the room was treated to one of those rare evenings where the communication goes both ways and the circle is complete.

Dave's unusual cross-picking guitar style complemented Geoff's guitar, fiddle and banjo playing. The three talented men, playing off each other and the audience, delivered a fresh and dynamic performance. As an added treat, Kate Murphy joined them with some sparse and tasteful clawhammer banjo.

You can catch David at the Acoustic Harvest in Toronto on June 2 (416-264-2235). He will also take part in the Woodhall concert series in Caledon (June 16). Later on in the season, he will perform at Summerfolk in Owen Sound (August 17-19) and at the Vital Spark folk club in Whitby (October 20).

For complete concert listings, visit David's web page You will also find reviews, lyrics to many of his songs, and photographs by his lovely wife Beth. More importantly, you can order Torn Screen Door if you don't already have it. His second, eagerly anticipated, CD will be available in April (we hope!!!).

[ I have 3 copies of Torn Screen Door for sale & may be able to get a bulk order of the new CD. Interested? - Jack ]

v The Woods 2001 - jc

I received a small packet of Woods brochures the other day, and was pleased to find the faces of two Old Chestnuts in the photograph! Johanna looks like she is intensely focused on her drumming. I look like I'm being told how to hold a tipper for the first time! Well, not too far from the truth, actually!!

The following information on the 2001 staff is reprinted from the Woods flyer. It is also available on the Web site, linked from the Old Chestnuts site listed in the footer.

Eldon Cooper. Eldon's enthusiasm and humour, graceful dance style, and clear calling appeals to experienced dancers and first- timers alike. Experienced dancers can catch him at his regular gig with the Norfolk Country Dancers. But for those with two left feet, he'll show you how to use both of them on the road to a lifetime of dancing happiness!

Steve Gillette. This legendary songwriter wrote the "bible" for songwriters of contemporary folk (as well as songs for the Winnie- the-Poo movie). But Steve is also a fine performer, renowned for his impressive mastery of guitar technique, warm voice, and solid musicianship. He and Cindy Mangsen form one of the most respected folk duos on the continent.

Haines & Leighton. With their energetic yet polished musical genius, their inimitable sense of humour, and their joyful teamwork, this duo has been known to drive crowds "insane with pleasure!" Multi-instrumentalists (fiddle, vocals, accordion, keyboard, guitar, mandolin, percussion), kind and generous teachers, marvelous musical friends, Tom and Mark will become permanent fixtures in your musical life.

Lizzie Mahashe. With her soaring voice, high energy, and bubbling personality, Lizzie's music has charmed multitudes and won many awards. As a dedicated teacher she has turned scores of Torontonians, young and old, into gumboot dancers and singers of polyphonic music. This summer Muskoka discovers South Africa!

Cindy Mangsen. Here is a "rare voice that radiates smoke and crystal," singing material ranging from haunting traditional ballads to the best of contemporary folk. Whether accompanying herself on guitar, banjo, English concertina, or mountain dulcimer, Cindy brings a radiant spark of understanding to everything musical . including her duo work with Steve Gillette!

Debby McClatchy. Full of life, love, and energy ... that's Debby, an indefatigable collector and interpreter of American traditional music. A veteran performer and teacher, she brings us mountain fiddling, freestyle Appalachian stepping, old-time banjo, and glorious singing, along with a warm engaging teaching style. A combination that's hard to beat!

Tuition for the Woods 2001 ranges from $510 to $695, and includes 5 days accommodation and meals.

v Some Events in The Area (as space permits!)

Apr 20 Black Walnut Folk Club, Mill-Courtland Centre. $3. Open mic. With host.
Apr 28 Old Chestnuts Song Circle. 111 Chestnut Street. Themeless!.
May 5 Mill Race Folk Club, Ernie's Roadhouse, Cambridge. 1st Saturday of each month.
Coming.... In September, Robin Laing. In October, Eileen McGann for her new CD release.

v About this newsletter..... It's emailed if I have your address. It's on the Web at and available at OCSC and BWFC get togethers. Also available by regular mail, but for that I request a few stamped envelopes or a contribution to postage. Call 578-6298 for more information. A couple of really fantastic concerts this month from David and Katherine, both followed by an impromptu jam until the wee hours of the morning! One could get addicted to this, until one burns out. A beautiful spring day as I write this - 21 degrees!! Almost enough to get me out on the porch singing - except I'd have to face the wreck of a yard! Much thanks to Donna and Rose for their wonderful reviews!! Folks - I am seriously running out of ideas for the newsletter. If you have anything that you can submit for next month / year, I am all ears!!

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