vLast Month and Next - Jack Cole and Jean Mills
Double the fun! Two circles to report on this month, as I didn't manage a newsletter last month, and the February circle took place after all. First up - January.
As cancellations drifted in and eight oíclock approached, Lori started a pool on how many Old Chestnuts would make it through the treacherous roads, the blowing snow, and the numbingly cold temperatures. Guesses ranged from 10 to 14. Itís worth noting that two of those guesses came from people who had just made it here from London!
Well, we were all pessimistic. Nineteen brave singers started 2005 off right, beginning with "There Will Be Music" and ending with "Auld Lang Syne", "Song for the New Year", and "Won't Somebody Sing Me a Lullaby". In between we had beautiful piano playing on Murray McLauchlanís "No Change in Me"; two Brian Pickell tunes; "Lassie Wií The Lint-White Locks" to celebrate Robbie Burns Day and the upcoming Tannahill Weavers concert; and many more. It was a good night, with lots of turns to go 'round.
February's circle was going to be cancelled because a number of the regulars were attending the Paris Winter Songfest. However, a week before, our white knight appeared and the Song Circle went ahead. Thanks very much to Mary and Barry, Robin and Jean, and the other 20 or so who came out.
Here is Jean's report.
"Without our fearless leader (that would be you, Jack), it looked as if the circle wasn't going to happen, but at the urging of Robin Jones and thanks to the hospitality of the Baldasaros, we gathered at Mary and Barry's house, filling the living room quite cozily.
Rise Up Singing got a big workout throughout the evening, as many of the songs were chosen from its pages. There were also some Newfoundland songs, show tunes, some gospel and a few originals as well. Guitars abounded and I seem to recall a whole lot of shakin' goin' on at one point too. Unfortunately we also had lots of coughing and sneezing, so after the break we decided to do One More Round and call it a night. There were many enthusiastic song leaders and just a few passers during the evening, which meant lots of variety in choices and voices. A great evening!"
Which brings us to March and an unusual circle date between Good Friday and Easter. I know that this is a big travelling weekend for many people, but I hope that some of you will be in town and able to come out. There's no theme, but one of the main orders of business this month is to do final preparations for the 10th Anniversary concert - see more about that, and our part in it, in the article on the Tannahill Weavers.
Lori reminded me today that we moved into our home on Chestnut Street on April 30, 1985. That means that April's circle, on the 23rd, is exactly one week shy of twenty years. So April will have a theme - songs about houses and homes. We haven't had a theme for a while so here's how it works. The theme is to inspire you when you're thinking about songs to bring to the circle. Songs do not have to be on theme - all songs are still welcome. But if you have a song about houses or homes that you would like to bring to the circle - April is a good time!
And this is as good a time as any for my annual reminder to please prepare songs before you come to the circle. That doesn't mean they have to be all polished up and perfect, just that you are confident to sing them out and lead them, especially if they are likely to be unfamiliar to the rest of us. And if you have practiced them without accompaniment it is perfectly fine (in fact, often better) to sing them that way at the circle too! Just say so.
And with that little bit of advice out of the way - see you on March 26!
vNow We Are Ten - Jack Cole
Itís not possible to look back at a block of ten years without getting that feeling in your gut. That feeling that says way too much has passed under the bridge. Donít get me wrong. Most of what has passed has been very, very good. But ten whole years is a bit hard to fathom. Let me recap with a few choice reminders.
That first September night, wondering if anyone would come. So many kids that they made their own inner circle. Eeples and Beneenies. Forty-six people - sitting everywhere - to sing and then listen to Robin Laing. September of this year, singing Will The Circle be Unbroken for Mary. Keeping the Porch Light On. Song Circle mugs. Another Jackís Dem Bones. Bonnie Susie. Merrickís Australian Good Night to Amanda. Trifle! Harmony workshops where both groups accidentally learned the same part! Scavenged chairs. Our own songbooks and new chairs. Newbies. Spanish, French, German and Gaelic in one night! Rogers night. The list of Best Folksongs. "Around the house I know that fall is near" - I still want to learn that, Sue. 4 year olds; 80 year olds; singing together! Rising when the sun she rises. The Singing Kettle. Rising up Singing!
Trilogy; often but not often enough. Haines and Layton - WOW. Aengus Finnan. Paddy Tutty. Pied Pumkin at last and forever! Valdy. Eve Goldberg. Katherine Weatley and Wendall. Modabo, in the living room, Modabo in the hall, Modabo double headers, Modabo - love Ďem all! Jamminí with David Francey. Fink and Marxer - there was the chorus. Cathy Miller and Duncanís Cove. "Eileenfest 96" - concert, workshop and burgers! Eileen again, and again. Rick Fielding; we miss you. Bill Gallaher and Harmony Road, my oh my. Come back Bill! Chequegnat numbers 1-4. Matt. Merrickís tribute concert - what a day that was!
I could go on and on. There have been many new friends along the way, and too many lost ones. But no one can deny that the singing and the concerts have made some very wonderful memories.
On April 16 we will celebrate 10 years of The Old Chestnuts with a concert by the Tannahill Weavers. The Tannies are, according to the Globe and Mail, "the finest purveyors of Scottish music in the kingdom". Their 16 albums over nearly 30 years are testament to their musicianship. If you enjoy Scottish music (and I mean bagpipes!) you need to be there. This will be a memorable night. One knowledgeable reviewer has already predicted that this will be the concert of the next decade. Contact me to reserve tickets, as there are only a handful left.
The Old Chestnuts really must play a musical part in this concert, and here is my proposal. I would like us to sing a song at the beginning of each set - two of our old favourites, with as much heart and as many harmonies as we can muster. The stage will be full of Tannies equipment and not really accessible to a group of people. But I think this would work with a couple of song leaders on stage and the Old Chestnuts in the audience standing and singing. What do you think?
Iíd like to figure this out at the March Circle and choose the songs and the song leaders. So please think about two essential songs that we all know and can sing well, and bring the ideas along in March. We will rehearse and decide.
Thanks in advance to everyone that is working so hard on this concert, from Dan on sound to another Dan on water. I could still really use someone to finesse a very large birthday cake, so if any of you have contacts in that area please let me know. I'll be contacting all of the volunteers over the next few days.
vThe Singing Quilter: Please read! - Jack Cole
Cathy Miller is bringing her quilting songs and stories to a concert at Zion United on May 22. Now, I know that few of you are into quilting songs but Iíve heard all three of Cathyís quilt albums and they are very, very special and enjoyable. From humourous to heart-breaking, these songs fundamentally tell peopleís stories. And, as most of you know, Cathy is an excellent entertainer with an amazing voice. I personally guarantee that any Old Chestnut attending will enjoy this evening, or I will refund their ticket afterwards.
Okay, so youíre still not into quilts. I bet you know someone who is. Pick up a pair of tickets for your mom or your uncle or your neighbour. Spread the word. Tickets are only $10 - a real steal for this concert. And if you can get together a group of 20 they are even less.
I want to clarify our involvement in this concert. First Cathy is taking on most of the finanacial risk herself. Second, Cathy has been a long-time supported of our Circle, performing several concerts alone or as part of Trilogy, and volunteering her time and talent for the Hopespring fundraiser. Cathy requested help in making this night happen, so I am happily returning the favour and doing as much as I can to help make the evening successful. I hope that some of you can assist us too.
I have tickets and flyers. Please consider posting one at your church or business and passing some along to your quilting acquaintances, as the word really needs to be spread. If you might be able to help with the concert please let me know. Thank you.
vThe 17th KW Arts Awards - Jack Cole
Congratulations to the many friends of Old Chestnuts who are nominated for KW Arts Awards this year. The chosen winners in each category will be announced at the Walper, at the Moveable Feast on April 9. But all nominees are already winners, as the nomination indicates that their peers in the community recognize the contributions they have made. Nominees that have been involved with our Circle, or the Chequegnat Festival or Grand River Folk Community are: Shannon Lyon, Paul MacLeod, Scott Wicken, the late Matt Osborne (all past Chequegnat performers), Sher DiCiccio (of the Button Factory), and Mary Ann Epp (song circle, Chequegnat). Unfortunately these folks are competing with each other in a total of three categories, but I wish them all well, and that they savour the experience!
Closing Notes - jc
# Sing! at Eaglewood 2005 As some of you know, Tom Leighton and Carol Hanson Hasek come to the site of the Eaglewood Folk Festival every spring (this will be their third) and lead a "A weekend of community in song-sharing and singing an eclectic range of traditional and contemporary material". Choral experience is an asset, but not a necessity. Fee: $75.00 per person includes workshop, music, juice/water, lunch and dinner. There is dorm-style accommodation and camping on site and B&Bs, motels etc. within a short drive. This year's dates are April 8 & 9. The Eaglewood Folk Festival takes place in Pefferlaw, ON, an hour or so north-east of Toronto.
For more information, please email
or phone margaret at 705.437.1331.
# The annual CFMU Benefit concert. Saturday April 2nd is the date for the 10th Freewheeling Folk Benefit concert at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Hamilton. The concert runs from 7 to 11pm, and the cost is only $20. I say only, because here's the lineup: Tanglefoot, Heather Dale, Jory Nash, Rob Ritchie, and General Store. Talk about an amazing lineup! 1-800-957-2963 for tickets. Proceeds from this concert help keep community radio station CFMU on the air.
# Allison Lupton returns to the Button Factory on Friday, April 8. Allison is a longtime friend, who has appeared at a couple of Chequegnat festivals. She is a wonderful flute player and singer, who performs both traditional and comtemporary tunes and songs. This time out Allison's will be accompanied by the multi-talented Ian Bell, Anne Lederman and Dennis Rondeau.
Her concerts are always a treat, so try to make it out to the Waterloo Community Arts Centre on April 8. Tickets are $15, and are available at Words Worth Books or from 886-4577.
# The award winning Chequegnat Festival will be happening again this June! The city is plotting to tear up both streets which lend their names to the festival this summer - but from July to November. So we are all clear for Chequegnat number 5!
We are still working on the date, but it will be either June 4 or 11. Since this festival is a project of the 5 neighbours bordering "Chequegnat Common" we have to find a date that works for all of us, and that is still under discussion. So for now mark down both dates and I'll try to let you know by next month.
If you are a past performer at the Festival and would like to participate again this year, please let me know. If you haven't but feel that you should, please let me know as well!
# This year's Songwriter's Circle at the Centre in the Square has been announced. This concert, part of their On Stage series, is always a treat. The idea is that the house is reversed, with the audience seated cafe-style on the stage facing the performers at the edge.
Performers, always in groups of three, have included Shari Ulrich, Garnet Rogers, Aengus Finnan, David Francey, Connie Kaldor and more of the finest songwriters in the country.
This year, the Centre has decided to feature some local talent by including (former Chequegnat performer) Nonie Crete in the lineup. With Nonie will be Pamela Morgan, former lead singer of Figgy Duff, and Manitoba's Heather Bishop. Heather was on the Woods staff a couple of years ago, and is a very powerful songwriter and an amazing vocalist.
Tickets are $25 and $29 dollars.
About this newsletter..... Itís emailed. Itís on the Web at http://www.mgl.ca/~jhcole and available at Circles. Call 578- 6298 or write firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Sorry, sorry, sorry. I just can't seem to get these out any sooner. Bittersweet reflections on 10 years. I hope you've enjoyed 'em! If you have your own special moments please send them along. That's the beauty of a Web-based newsletter - I can add to it!