Old Chestnuts Song Circle Newsletter

May 1997

March and Upcoming Song Circles Jack Cole

March OCSC saw the welcome return of several familiar faces and a valiant attempt to welcome spring as well, with songs about the season and warmer weather. (As I write this, it's just above freezing and pouring rain; maybe we should find a different approach next year!) Songs ranged from Gilbert & Sullivan (& Moore), to "Blue Canadian Rockies" - as one person said, we have a "very different song circle" (I'm hoping that was a compliment!). I consider it one of our better nights!

The final Circle for the season takes place on May 24. As you can see from the Upcoming Events, that will be a very busy night for folk music. If you're in Toronto you have to be at the Phil Ochs night. And in Cambridge it's the Mill Race fund-raiser. But if you feel like singing and find yourself in Kitchener, please come by and help us close out the year on a strong note. I've picked a theme that will be easy for everyone in the group - Songs with a Canadian Connection. I'm mostly thinking of songs by Canadian writers, but songs about Canada, written in Canada, having Eh in the chorus and so on are all on theme. As always, songs should have a singalong part, and songs not on theme are just as welcome.

Modabo House Concert Review Cathy Byberg

We've just finished unpacking from our amazing weekend of Modabo-ing, and we're still revelling in what we all wished wouldn't end. The kids had us playing "Heard it Through the Grapevine" (albeit by Creedence Clearwater Revival) all the way home, and by the time we had reached half way I had given up trying to convince them that it was one of the few songs that Darrell HADN'T written!

The guys were excellent. Chestnut Street in Kitchener ROCKED Saturday night and Sunday afternoon to their music (thank God we installed those steel I-beams under the floor, eh, Jack??) With loads of laughs, that wonderful Modabo sound, and three of the nicest, down-to-earth guys you could meet - well, we wanted for nothing!

Jack and Lori Cole were their usual warm and welcoming selves as hosts - thanks so much to them both for all the efforts on this! Listening to a band of Modabo's caliber in a LIVING ROOM - no mikes, no amps, just raw naked performers (okay, okay, the guitar and the flute covered the important parts...) - was such an intimate offering. Pinch me.

As Jack said on the weekend, now that the band is well on the way to full recovery from their year of misfortune, their talent will only take them up. I'm sure if Jack is thinking of having them back next year, he'll have his sights on a much larger venue than the 44 seats in his house. And this makes this past weekend all the more special. (Jack - were you still going to hold that exclusive "Midnight Matinee" that I wasn't supposed to tell anyone about...?)

In conclusion, I'm ordering my Summerfolk tickets as soon as I can, and we're looking forward to seeing Modabo there. Jon, Mike and Darrell - best of luck with finishing off your new album and traveling home. You were all WONDERFUL!!!

Cheers! Cathy

Modabo - Parting Thoughts Jack Cole

I just wanted to add a few notes to thank everyone who made the Modabo concerts howling successes. I swear, each time someone plays for us I think "That's it. Nothing can compare". And each new concert proves me wrong. So, thanks to the door prize givers (Lori for "Modablets", Cathy for stained glass, Steve for a carving, and Modabo for a signed poster), the helpers (the entire Growden clan, Sarah and Jenny and everyone else I missed), the openers (Eve, Dan and Nonesuch), to everyone who came, who dragged their friends along to two sold out shows, who bought albums and gave energy back to the band. And especially thanks to Modabo, who demonstrated once again that joy is contagious.

And to young James, to whom I must also apologize, because he had a ticket.

OCSC Concert News (and an offer) Jack Cole

Well, we can't rest on our laurels. When Lori and I started this concert thing we decided to limit them to two per year. Unfortunately there is just too much fine talent out there ("unfortunately?"), and too few venues to show it off in. Now that word is around about the OCSC concerts and how well you folks support them (shameless flattery), I get lots of inquires about performing. It's hard to say "No Thanks" to people - especially struggling musicians - but I apply my "am I willing to volunteer dozens (hundreds?) of hours to bring these musicians to the Song Circle" criterion, and respond accordingly.

Which brings me to three upcoming concerts by musicians for who I am proud to invest that time. Bill Gallaher is heading this way from Victoria for a few gigs, including the Sounds of Sail Festival and a house concert for us on Friday, August 29. With Bill comes Harmony Road, adding 3 voices and lots of instruments. Many of you may be unfamiliar with Bill's wonderful music. He writes mostly songs with historical subjects (Louis Riel, the settlement of the west, all about Lunenburg) with humourous, topical songs mixed in. Two ("Augustus and Catherine" and "Mary and The Seal") have been part of OCSC in the past and I will be teaching two more in May. He is, in my opinion, the perfect performer for a Song Circle event.

Shortly after booking Bill I found out that Cathy Miller would be touring through from Calgary. So, two weeks later (September 12) Cathy Miller stops in for a house concert. A staple of Canadian folk music, Cathy is a terrific songwriter, one third of Trilogy, and a very funny and friendly person. She has penned (at least) two unforgettable songs ("SuperWoman" and "Dance Beneath The Moon"), and has a voice that soars. Cathy tends to the jazzy side of folk, but her music is, above all, singable.

Finally, on December 6th, Trilogy is scheduled to return with Two Thousand Years of Christmas. They enjoyed last year so much that they gave OCSC the first choice of concert dates! We have decided to go with a single show on Saturday night, and to crowd a few less people into the church and to try to make it even better for Trilogy! I expect lots of returnees from last years incredible show, and tickets to move very quickly. It's not too early to think about booking that Saturday!! Now, the offer part……….

Please note that Bill Gallaher's concert is Friday of the Labour Day weekend. Cathy Miller's is a Friday too. Frankly, I'm anxious to sell these concerts out, and so I am trying to entice people to buy tickets early. The regular, advance prices for Gallaher, Miller and Trilogy are $14, $12 and $14 respectively. But, until the end of July, I will sell "Old Chestnuts Subscription Concert" (OCSC) Series Tickets for ALL THREE for $37 - that's $1 off each show. Limited to 30 subscriptions and I can't "unbundle" extra tickets at that price. As an added bonus, we will reserve up to 4 seats in the area of your choice in Zion United for Trilogy! And I can work out Easy Payment Terms, if necessary. (For people who subscribe, but also want to volunteer to help at Trilogy I will work out a fair scheme. )

Call or write to subscribe today! I know that these will be fabulous concerts in the OCSC tradition. Support the performers!

Return of the Album Reviews Jack Cole

It's been a while, but I'm finally getting back to doing a few reviews! The dollar figure is what I would pay for the album; FYI my average 'club' CD costs about $13. Four reviews of lesser known records this month, and next month Garnet Rogers', Leahy's and Bill Gallaher's new albums.

Tomas Lynch The Crux of the Catalogue Rating: $14

Mike Doyle (Modabo) gave me this album of traditional songs and "covers" (although to call The Foggy Dew a "cover" seems wrong) by Irish singer, guitarist and pipe player Tomas Lynch. Buy it just for the duet with June Tabor (I Wonder What is Keeping My True Love This Night). Also of note: Exploration, some great instrumental bits, some Irish history, and The Girls Along The Road. A grating song by James Joyce hurts the album. And there's a neat mixture of old and new phraseology in Speak Easy: "Gently scan your fellow man", "they may gang a kennin' wrang", "we partly may compute" - by Robert Burns!

Erin Benjamin erin benjamin (info 705.670.0646) Rating: $17

This album was sent to me by Erin, a Sudbury singer / songwriter. The music recalls Watson & Reynolds (also from Sudbury, 20 years ago!) and that's saying a lot! The songs are pretty strong in an upbeat, jazzy, sexy style. And Erin's singing is masterful; she broadcasts passion with every breath. She is backed by 5 jazz musicians on guitar, cello, acoustic & electric bass, drums, sax, congas, percussion and slide guitar. I like this record a lot (especially the 1st and last songs), but it's brief (35 minutes), and too rooted in saxophone licks to endear most folk fans. Still, I hope some festival brings Erin this way soon.

Robin Laing walking in time Rating: $18

This album was sent to me by Robin, a Scottish singer / songwriter who will be touring through the area this fall. But for my overbooking I would have him stop in KW. His voice is smooth and comfortable, as are most of the songs on this album, and I find anything Scottish completely satisfying. A mix of traditional, originals and covers, and a mix too of ballads, songs about women disguised as men (2 of them!), some instrumental, one song in Spanish, a Spring wedding song, a song of Ulysses, a song of Prince Charlie, and lots of stuff to sing along with. And I suppose I might grow to like the punting song (my single complaint), if I ever see a punt! I highly recommend this album, and try to catch Robin when he plays in London and Brantford.

Various Artists Mariposa '96 (info 416.223.2252) Rating: $14

The bargain of the decade, AVA Music is (was?) selling this album on the Internet for $5.99 US (less than $9 CDN, including shipping). This is a collection of recordings by artists at Mariposa, not a live recording. I confess that was a small disappointment, but the album itself is a treat. Performers are: Rick Fines, Jerry Alfred & Medicine Beat, Rick Fielding, Chris Whitely and Caitlin Hanford, Bill Russell, Bobby Watt, Fiddler's Green, Darcie Deaville, Len Wallace, Mary Knickle, Tom Russell, Inconnu, 3 Our Tour, Andy Sheppard, Holmes Hook and Tamarack. The latter's Magdelan McGillivray is just one hilight.

Upcoming Events (Check Acoustic Cafe for more!)

May 16 Tanglefoot, Octoberfolk Fund-raiser, Brantford Folk Club $10, 8:30 PM, 519.759.7676

May 17 Black Walnut Folk Club, Jester's Court, Victoria Park, Kitchener. Open stage, 8 PM, $3.

May 23 Also 24th and 25th. Whitby Folk Festival, various venues. Eve Goldberg, Bobby Watt, Tanglefoot,

Norm Hacking. 905.430.3774

May 24 Old Chestnuts Song Circle, 111 Chestnut St., Kitchener. 578-6298. 7:30 PM

May 24 Phil Ochs night, Toronto. Kim & Reggie Harris, Pat Humphries, Magpie, Rick Fielding, Eve

Goldberg, Marie-Lynn Hammond, Penny Lang, Grit Laskin, Garnet Rogers, David Wall, Rick

Salutin. $15. 416.469.8439

May 24 Mill Race Folk Club Fund-raiser. Poor Charlie, Beverlie Robertson, Green Stalk, Fools Dance.

$10 624.1175

May 25 Northern City Limits CD release, Lancaster Tavern, Waterloo. 2 PM.

May 25 Pat Humphries house concert, Toronto. 416.483.1409

Jun 7 Mill Race Folk Club open singaround, Ernies in Cambridge. 8 PM. $3

About this newsletter..... It's emailed if I have your address. It's 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. Thanks for the review Cap; and the HUGE help from Lo, Cap & Dave; Modabo deserves every superlative we can hurl at them - catch these guys wherever you can. Next month - more reviews, OCSC song wrapup, and summer festival info!