February 2006 * Volume 11, Number 3

* Next Old Chestnuts Song Circle February 25 * The Pomelos March 10

v January's Old Chestnuts - Kate Jarrett

Dear Old Chestnut Song Circle,

How to describe an evening so rich in musical memories? How to thank a group of people who sang their hearts out, warming a wet and cold January evening, with songs and stories dedicated to my father? It is not an easy task. To say the very least, it was wonderful, and a night that I will not forget for a very long time.

When Jack first told me that he wanted to dedicate the January OCSC to my dad, I was delighted of course (knowing my father would have loved all the attention) but I also knew its' emotional potential, not only for my family, but for the many who would come -singing through tears is not easy. To Jack's credit, he made the evening much more than just a teary farewell to one Merrick Jarrett. Yes, he did invite folks to bring songs that my dad sang, taught, enjoyed or inspired. But he didn't stop there. If you couldn't find one of those, you could sing a traditional song, and if you couldn't find one of those, you could sing a song that reminded you of my mom or dad, or that you thought they would have enjoyed. As a result, it was a night of incredible music making and all that brings - great songs and harmony-filled, singable choruses (with a few funny stories thrown in for good measure!) It was a warm and lovely experience, I can tell you. I know now why my father so loved being part of the Old Chestnut community.

There was certainly something to sing about that evening. Songs sung reflected my father's broad interest in music. Cowboy songs, old time religion songs, children's songs, contemporary songs, ballads, and folk songs from the English speaking world - he had a love for them all, singing them any chance he could, so that others would hear and learn and in turn, sing them too. And sing we did. Instead of sadness, we celebrated in song (over thirty five of them!) from Farewell To Nova Scotia, Whiskey In The Jar, Duncan's Cove, Hallelujah, Simple Gifts, Barbara Allan to Froggie Went A Courtin', to mention a few. The evening honoured my father, but it was also a tribute to the songs themselves - they are alive and well and will continue to be, that much is guaranteed. You are truly "passing them on." What a legacy!

So thank you, OCSC, for making my heart smile in the midst of such a difficult time. Losing both my parents in the last year has changed my world significantly. Yet singing all those wonderful songs with you, and having an opportunity to be part of your musical community, has made my journey a little easier. I know my father gave to many of you in his role as "senior" folkie in the group. But after January's song circle, I am also very aware of what you gave to him all these years - a place to be heard, encouraged, respected and loved for what he could bring to your music circle. I cannot thank you enough for providing such an important environment for him to shine in. Knowing these songs are now in the hearts of a whole new generation of singers, would have made those merry blue eyes of his sparkle with joy. I do not doubt for a minute that he was singing every song along with us, my mom listening with all her heart, as well. Both of them enjoying and appreciating everyone for their musical gifts.

Whenever my Dad signed his name to anything musically related, he would always draw a small staff of music with some notes and write below it, "Keep on singing!" The OCSC is doing such an incredible job of honouring that message. Thank you all. And lastly, a very special thank you to Jack and Lori for welcoming the Jarrett family into their hearts and home all these years. May it ever be so.

Kate Jarrett
Peterborough, Ontario
February 10, 2006

v Last Month's Old Chestnuts and Next - Jack Cole

Some said it was the best song circle ever. It was certainly one of the best attended, with 42 people and a couple of spirits squeezed into the living room. It was one of the best sung, too - those old songs lend themselves to full throttle harmonies. The playing was pretty awesome, with the Jarrett family, Glen Soulis and Pete Ahrens adding to our regular orchestra of guitars, banjo, fiddle, piano, more guitars, mandolin, whistles, harmonicas, drums, and dulcimers. And there were some mighty great vibes in the room too. When it was done a little knot of people formed in the middle of the room and kept on singing for awhile. Yeah, I'd say "best ever" fits. Thanks to everyone for coming.

Here are the songs that we celebrated Merrick and Mary with.

On February 25 we return to regular Song Circles with a theme - Simon and Garfunkle. As is always the case, a theme is only a suggestion for songs to bring; all participation songs are most welcome on ANY topic, but if you have a S&G tune that you can lead, this would be the month! Please practice them ahead though, and I'm going to ask for a "no request" first round so that we can get through what I know will be a whole lot of fine sings. See you on the 25th.

v The Pomelos Roll into town - Jack Cole

Friday, March 10 is our next Old Chestnuts concert, a co-presentation with the Waterloo Community Arts Centre, and I'm really very excited about it. Last time is was Pumkins, this time it's Pomelos and we are bringing not one, not two, but five terrific performers to one stage.

Anchored by powerful vocals, memorable melodies and great stories, this quintet of Ontario based songstresses combine their unique talents for an unforgettable musical event. Katherine Wheatley, Tannis Slimmon, Laura Bird, Marianne Girard, and Heather Katz twice shared the stage in celebration of International Women's Day during 2005. This March, to celebrate International Women's Week they will be touring six communities in southern Ontario including stops in Ottawa, Toronto, and Waterloo's Button Factory.

With her offhand wit, vibrant lyrics and an infectious passion for performing, Katherine Wheatley captivates audiences everywhere she performs. Tannis Slimmon is a veteran singer, songwriter and player who has a passion for vocal harmony. Laura Bird is a singer-songwriter known for her warm, powerful and smoky alto voice. Gifted artist Marianne Girard has written hundreds of songs, including the ceremonial song for the 1992 United Nations Peace Conference. Heather Katz has been amazing audiences for three decades with her four-octave vocal range and her charismatic performances.

We are very lucky to have Laura, Heather, Marianne and our Old Chestnut friends Katherine, and Tannis bring their harmonies and songs to Waterloo. Tickets are available at the next circle, WCAC, and 12th Night Music. They are $16 in advance and $18 at the door, but be warned that the Button Factory has limited seating and a sell-out is expected.

See you there!

Closing Notes - jc

# Still waiting for those Rise Up Singings.  Anybody got a friend at Customs?? Sheesh!

# The Girls With Glasses tour, comes to The Boathouse in Victoria Park on Friday, February 17, a night already busy with open stages at both the Black Walnut and Brantford. But the show starts later (9:30) so maybe folk nuts can still swing by and catch Allison Brown, Karyn Ellis, Eve Goldberg, and Katherine Wheatley. Tickets are $15. This should also be a very good night.

# Old Chestnut and Chequegnat performer Paul Schultz is organizing another concert on the hurtin' side, this time with Canadian country star George Fox. Three time Juno winner for Country Male Vocalist, with 8 albums to his credit, Fox is touring with his new recording, "Canadian". The concert is at the St. Jacob's Country Playhouse on Monday, March 13, at 7:30. For more information call 638-5555.

# I just received word today that Lorne Brown is organizing a Toronto concert in honour of our friend Merrick, for the evening of June 17. More information as I receive it.

# Midnight Clear, that quartet (?) of fine voices that has performed at Chequegnat to enthusiastic response, is having a CD release concert on (tentatively) April 1. Several local musicians are lined up to entertain, and I will be MC-ing. Mark your calendars!

# Modabo is back. Our own all-time-favourite crowd pleasers performed together at a benefit concert recently, in Fredericton. Another Modabo fan wrote to tell us that their short set, an "absolute joy" consisted of Sargasso, High Time, Take Life Adagio, Hold Tight, Northwest Passage, and A Little Too Far, with all three of the lads joining in with other performers, and Darrell doing 3 songs on his own. A good prep for the Stan Rogers Festival, and yet another hopeful sign that we can get them back here someday.

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. Lori's in the Caribbean and it's 5 degrees outside and pouring rain. Life is very weird around here! Nights of singing don't get much better than that one.

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