May 2005 * Volume 10, Number 6


* Next Old Chestnuts Song Circle May 28 * Cathy Miller May 22


v Last Month and Next - Jack Cole

One more newbie in May, that's all we need. We had three in April - including two from the Toronto Circle. So just one newbie on May 28, and we will have ten full years of experiential diversity.

In April, amid the remains of the 10th anniversary cake and a whole lot more food, we had a return to themes with "houses and homes". This was a pretty easy theme, and we had a host of fine songs on topic - although I don't think "Our House" was one of them! Attendance was fairly low at about 25, with the "100 day cold" claiming a few bodies, meaning that we managed three whole turns each!

We started the night with Eileen McGann's "Bless This House", then moved on to the Beatles, "House of the Rising Sun", Brian Pickell, Woody Guthrie (in a minor key), and many more. I should've taken notes! Thanks to everyone who came out, and it's encouraging to know that themes still work. More of them next year.

Hope to see lots of you on May 28, to wrap up our tenth year. No theme, but it might be nice to sing a bunch of old favourites, give our songbook a workout, and think about songs to add for September.

And Song Circle will be followed a week later by the fifth Chequegnat Festival! It's hard believe, but the lineup this year is every bit as fantastic as the first four. On the bill are (subject to change): members of the Old Chestnuts Song Circle, GreenWood, Paul Shultz, Robin and John, Brian and Sharon Crozier, Kettle's On, Debbie Carroll, Dave MacPherson, Greg Fowler, Cindy Clasper with Adrian Jones, Glen Soulis, The Clydesdales, Ken Brown, Scott Wicken, Jack Cooper and Debbie Bataglia, Mike Alviano with Jeff Cowell, Alison Lupton, Mary Anne Epp, Shannon Lyon, Nonie Crete with Eugene Rea, Paul MacLeod and......well, that's a pretty full lineup!

Music will start at 1:30 and continue until about 9:00. There will be a half hour break for supper about 6. As before, the neighbours are supplying burgers and drinks and the rest is pot luck, so please bring desserts, salads and munchies. And lawn chairs and plates and cutlery. We will gladly accept - yea, verify, solicit - donations to cover expenses, with any excess being donated to the Matt Osborne Musicians Trust Fund, which is a really good way to help support live music in our city.

Remember - this only happens if the weather is nice. If in doubt - call. And this is an invitation-only affair; please don't spread the word, as we can't afford Chequegnat to get any more successful! See you on June 4th - you know where!


v Cathy Miller: Why you should be there! - Jack Cole

What: Cathy Miller Quilting Concert
When: Sunday, May 22, 7:30
Where: Zion United Church
How: Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door
Why: See below

It's that "why" part that I want to address.

You should come to this concert if you are a quilter, close to a quilter, or interested in quilters. You should come to this concert to learn history as it has been recorded in quilts, mainly by women, from a woman's perspective. You should be there to view works of quilted art, as several quilts will be on display courtesy of Cathy and Elmira quilter Deb Beirnes. You should come to laugh, to cry, and to sing along. You should come to hear stories of courage, love, humour, desperation, and redemption. You should come because you will have a good time.

You should come to this concert if you love great singing and great songwriting. After all, it's Cathy Miller we're talking about. Cathy, who wrote "Duncan's Cove", "Dance Beneath the Moon", "A Million Miles", "Waiting For The Stars", "A Quilter's Embrace", "Superwoman". Cathy, who, as part of Trilogy, entertained us for those fantastic Christmas shows. Cathy, who released five albums of folk music before her three recent albums of quilting songs. She knows how to write, sing, and put on a show. This is a concert with a theme, an education - not a quilting exhibition with some music!

This show is a bargain at $10, and I hope a few of you will come out and enjoy yourselves. I know that this isn't everyone's cup of tea, and that's just fine. For those of you in doubt my offer still stands; for any Old Chestnut that doesn't feel they got their money's worth, at the end of the concert I will refund your personal ticket.

But I know I won't be refunding any!


v Brian Pickell Band In Concert, May 7, 2005 - Bob Mino

I had the pleasure of attending my second Brian Pickell concert at the Edgar Farm on May 7th. The venue is outstanding and the concert was sold out. Seated in the balcony which surrounds the main floor seating area and stage, we had a birdís-eye view of the band and all the goings on below.

Pickell's band is made up of a very talented group comprised of:

  • Brian Pickell (guitar, mandolin, banjo, vocals)
  • Pat O'Gorman (flute, Irish pipes, whistles)
  • Julie Schryer (piano, accordian)
  • James Stephens (fiddle, viola, mandolin)
  • Shane Cook (fiddle)
  • Mark Sullivan (fiddle, feet)

The entire play list for the show was comprised of Pickell's compositions and featured many tunes from the band's most recent CD "Entwined". The first half of the program was completed with a "killer set" consisting of two jigs and three reels.....about twelve minutes worth of fiddle tunes!

Guests Charlie Cares and Michelle Legere contributed with vocals on several tunes.

Pickell's music, in this writer's humble opinion, is an eclectic mix of Canadian and Irish fiddle music coupled with a hint of classical violin and Pickell's unique ability to blend these ingredients into a distinctive fiddle oriented sound that is most pleasing to the ear....musically trained or otherwise!

The band itself is a tight, well oiled machine. The transitions from tune to tune in sets was flawless and at times scarcely noticed. From slow, soulful vocals to rollicking jigs and reels the music was without exception...outstanding.

The evening finished off to a standing ovation upon the completion of another "killer set" of five tunes.

A fine evening of excellent Canadian music in a wonderful venue!

Brian Pickell's music, both recorded and as sheet music, plus information about the band and Brian Pickell himself is available at brianpickell.com .

- Blues Harp Bob


v Finest Kind In Concert, April 30 2005 - Jack Cole

Wow. Wish we'd had 'em. Wow. We'll get 'em someday. Wow. HARMONY. Wow.


v The Mill Race Festival - Jack Cole

The Mill Race Festival of Traditional Folk Music is the premier folk music event in this area, and it's always exciting to see what Artistic Director Brad McEwen has cooked up for us each year. Now that the festival is a full three days long, there are plenty of opportunities for everyone to get down to downtown Galt and enjoy this free event.

The lineup this thirteenth year (July 29-31) features the return of some old favourites, first appearances by some exciting newcomers, and lots of local talent. I think it's the best ever. The Festival also adds an afternoon open stage, and traditional music jams lead by some of the performing bands, so bring your instruments.

Here's the list of performers with some words of introduction, mostly by me (and so to be taken with grains of salt). Full and proper biographies will appear on the Mill Race website in a short while.

Anna Massie Band. Anna Massie was the winner of the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2003 Award. I was jaw-dropped when I saw her fiddling in Goderich last year, and then I found out that guitar is her main instrument! She also plays mandolin and tenor banjo. Anna's band is rounded out by Jenn Butterworth on vocal and guitar, and Mairearad Green on accordian and pipes.

Chris McKhool, a fiddler, is one of Canada's fastest rising children's stars, and has been touring across Canada with his children's concerts for eight years, reaching over 350,000 children.

County Vaudeville consists of Paul Morris and Peter Stephens who specialize in turn-of-the-century British Music Hall songs and recitations, novelty songs, silly verse, and whatever bits of traditional British Isles material floats out of their well-stocked memory banks.

Crucible. I love these four. Welcome back to Cambridge! They were the harmony teachers at Goderich last year, and that only begins to describe their talents. Fiddles, accordian, guitar, pipes, flute - and those voices and songs. If you only hear two acts, this should be one of them.

Cubanos. No web site. "Cubanos is a traditional Cuban music project. Its music originates from the eastern part of Cuba"

The Funky Mamas "are 6 women, playing over a dozen instruments. Their mix of blues, folk, bluegrass, and pop, infused with a feel good attitude, has entertained children and adults across Canada." Their Web site, however, is very busy.

Genticorum. I heard these three guys from Quebec at the OCFF conference, and I immediately bought their CD. Fiddle, flute, guitar, feet, and great harmonies bring traditional Quebecois tunes and songs to life.

Handsome Molly. From New Jersey, this one sounds interesting. Handsome Molly dancing features "ploughboys" dressed in black, and a "Molly" dressed in gaudy clothes, all with painted faces. The dancers dance to vocal music. To me, this sounds like a great act for people ready to move beyond Morris dancing. (And I may pay dearly for that remark!)

Hair of the Dog is a trio of multi-instrumentalists from the KW area, playing traditional celtic and original tunes and songs.

Jean Hewson & Christina Smith. It's a delight to welcome Jeannie and Christine back again! Virtuoso guitar, fiddle and cello with a healthy dose of singing on traditional Newfoundland songs. They do it best! Don't miss them!

Kostas Papadopoulis & Leigh Cline. "Guitarist/composer Leigh Cline creates his own distinctive style of music that combines his background in folk/blues/Celtic music with the polyrhythms and scales of the Eastern Mediterranean and Asia."

Mixolydia. "This group is composed of Kirsten Allstaff, Ditte Fromeier and Eoin Couglan. Their blend of fiddle, flute and strings fuses traditional Irish melody with influences from other traditions."

Nancy Kerr & James Fagan blew us all away here in the past. I've never enjoyed fiddle and bouzouki as much as in a Nancy and James performance, or laughed as much as in their harmony class, or admired musicians as much as watching them on a rainy night in the lobby of the Goderich hotel, jamming their hearts out. This is the other must-see at the festival.

Nonesuch. Unable to find out much about this msterious trio, as they need a Web site :-)! Actually a quartet this year with Old Chestnut Jean Mills joining the lads. Brad McEwen fronts Nonesuch in their eternal quest to bring English traditional songs to a wider audience. Yay Brad!! Yay Matthew, Brian, and Jean! Go Nonesuch!!

Pam Armstrong & Lonesome Wind is a 6 member bluegrass band from London, which (I believe) includes well know players Al Widmeyer and Paul Hurdle.

Phil Elsworthy and Friends. Phil is a local Irish fiddler and fiddle instructor at the Riverside Celtic College, and founding member of the Grand River Ceili Band.

Riada is the latest incarnation of the Brian and Sharon Crozier band - remember the Murphy Family? Alison Lupton, Irene Shelton and Jay Weiler complete the sound. Guaranteed to be a lot of fun, and feature some great Irish songs. And they need a web site too!

Robert Davis & Snapping Toes. "Robert Davis has a knack for and keen interest in creating and performing entertaining and educational songs for children that are enjoyable to sing and dance to, participate in and easy to learn." Now if only his Web site didnít play it at top volume as soon as you go there! :-)

Roger Scannura & Ritmo Flamenco. "Roger Scannura is a leader of the nuevo flamenco movement, a music that blends the passionate gypsy roots of rumba with Afrocuban rhythms."

Tony Gouveia & the Antonio Amaro Trio. Another without a Web site. I couldn't find much anywhere on the Web either, except a page in Portugese showing a guy with a guitar, and the word "fado". Wikipedia says that "Fado is a type of folk music which most likely originated in the 1820s in Portugal. It is characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor." So there you are - mournful tunes on the guitar with Portugese lyrics (and my apologies if this inference is completely offbase - come check them out to see!) (Later - yes, these are very well respected fado artists!)

Whirly Gig is a local band including Eva McCauley and Robin Aggus, founders of the Riverside Celtic College with instructors Bob MacLean and Les Starkey. Expect pipes, fiddle and more!

In addition to the above performers, Greensleeves Morris, The Ben Show, Orange Peel Morris, Zoe the Clown, Toronto Morris Men, and Twister the Clown provide dancing, juggling, and humourous entertainment throughout the festival.

Besides the main concert stages, there will be a children's stage, an open stage (Saturday from 1 to 5), and performer-lead pub sessions at the Golden Kiwi. Six venues in all will keep music happening Friday night and all day Saturday and Sunday.

See the very tasteful, efficient, and utilitarian www.millracefolksociety.com site for more information. And see you there!


Closing Notes - jc

# It's too early to start selling tickets yet, but there's hope. The boys of my (dare I say, "our") favourite band got together a week ago for a party, and Modabo, to quote Jon Weaver, "stole the show".

The occasion was a goodbye party for Jon who is moving from New Brunswick to Montreal. The idea was to get all of his ex-bandmates together for a blowout musical night, and that included Darrell Grant and Mike Doyle. It was the first time the three of them had made music together since Modabo broke up in 1999. Jon says: "We laughed. We cried. We did an encore."

While they presently have no plans to tour again, never say never. And I have Jon's word that the Old Chestnuts - who hosted FIVE Modabo concerts from 1995 to 1999 - will be on the top of their list. Stay tuned to see whether 'never' is closer than we think!

# Chris Coole is "organizing a benefit concert in Guelph on June 5 that might be of interest to your members (we will play lots of old chestnuts!). All the proceeds will be donated to The Weekend to End Breast Cancer." The concert, at the River Run Centre, features Erynn Marshall ("soulful southern old-time music") with Chris Coole, Arnie Naiman and others. She is followed by the Foggy Hogtown Boys, "one of Canada's premiere Bluegrass ensembles". Tickets are $25 and available from 1-877-520-2408.

# Speaking of concerts at the River Run, I just learned that Guy Clark will be there on June 29! A legend, one of the world's best songwriters, and a concert to get to if you can. $28.

# And speaking of 1999, in September of that year Old Chestnut John Hennessy was living in Taiwan. He felt that my directions to the Song Circle were inadequate, and added his own. I saved them for a future newsletter but lost them in the archives.

He lives in England now ("weather is warm, hardly ever snows") but is back in the Far East this month working for the Evil Empire. So here are his directions to the Circle.

  1. Stagger out to Shi Pai Lu.
  2. Flag down a taxi
  3. Say "TaoYuan Chung Ching Jii Cha" until the cabbie says o.k. and "that will be one thousand dollars (Taiwan)"
  4. Scream "we're all going to die" as the cab negotiatets the Taipei traffic and the Chung Shan expressway
  5. Get to the Airport (yep "Chung Ching Jee Cha") and take a plane to Vancouver
  6. Explain why you live in Taiwan to Immigration, negotiate customs then run to the Starbucks stall in Vancouver airport
  7. Run to the Toronto plane departure gate, spilling coffee and arguing that as a transit passenger you don't have to pay tax.
  8. Fly to Toronto
  9. Try to rent a car and explain all about "no, my current address is in Chinese" to Avis
  10. Drive the 401 while jet-lagged
  11. Start on Jack's description of how to get to his house.

# The Chestnut Seedlings don't appear to be sprouting. Only two people have expressed interest so far. Please, if anyone else is interested, let me know soon. Remember the idea is to have a small group to let people get accustomed to leading songs and to pushing their comfort zone a little bit. I'll send out an announcement when we're ready to start; it will be a weeknight in June.

# Sara Grey and her son Keiron Means will be performing a house concert at Rose Cottage, in Cambridge, on June 11. Sara is a unique performer - a transplanted American, playing traditional tunes on the banjo - in Scotland. Her son is apparently a very good guitarist. The concert is at 8pm, and the cost is $12. Call 621-4649.


About this newsletter..... It's on the Web at http://www.mgl.ca/~jhcole and available at Circles. Call 578- 6298 or write jhcole@mgl.ca for more information. Counting down to 3 musical weekends in a row, and then some R&R! Cathy Miller, Circle, Chequegnat! And then the inlaws move to the city! What a way to start the summer. And after 10 years that's the pithiest I seem to be able to be. :-( Better slip some more Omega 3 into my Geritol.... Have a nice summer everyone, and let's hope we're all back here in the fall, in body or in spirit.

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