February 2007 * Volume 12, Number 4

* Next Old Chestnuts Song Circle Febuary 24* Steel Rail with Jay Linden March 10 *
Haines & Leighton with GreenWood April 21

v Old Chestnuts - Last month and next - Jack Cole

January is typically a chancy month at the Circle, and with wild and frigid weather I didn't expect it to be a big night. Boy was I wrong! Lori stopped counting at 36 people; my guess is that we ended up with 38 or 40, including a couple of newbies, one of whom came from Toronto and another from Newfoundland!

And it was one of the best Old Chestnuts that I can remember (of course, I can't remember much any more, especially guitar chords as was evidenced that night, but still...). Here's a list of songs that were sung, and my apologies for any miscreant titles.

As you can see, we were all over the map and it was a blast. So, "welcome" to the new folks, "welcome back" to the rest, and let's see what February brings!

As I write this I am listening to the Chinese Water Torture - the month of snow and freezing temperatures has made an ice dam on the roof and there are 3 holes in the living room ceiling, drip drip dripping into buckets. I just got back from the top of a ladder and am waiting (praying) for them to stop.

So, it is my fervent hope that there is no more water in the living room by the time we have our next circle on February 24. And to that end I'd like the only water to be musical. So for February let's make the first round all about that liquid that makes the world go 'round. Bring songs about the beverage, the rain, the sea, rivers, lakes, oceans, sailors and car washes. Water, not falling on our heads!

See you on February 24!

v Steel Rail Makes Tracks to KW - Jack Cole

March 10 is a powerful musical night in Waterloo Region. We are triply blessed!

Tanglefoot is so popular that they are making yet another visit to the area - their 3rd or 4th in the last couple of years - in advance of their participation in this summer's wonderful Mill Race Festival. (Happily for TangleHeads, Tanglefoot will also be appearing at the Ingersoll Canterbury Festival in July!). Tanglefoot always delivers; sure to be a good show. Enoch Kent will also be part of that concert, at the Cambridge Arts Centre. www.grandriverfolk.org for more.

Secondly, Cara Luft, a fine singer/songwriter and very talented guitarist - and an original Wailin' Jenny - will be returning to The Boathouse (8 pm) with songs from a brand new CD. I caught Cara's show last time and it was great.

And, to complete the triptych, Montreal's Steel Rail makes its first ever appearance in Waterloo Region at the Registry Theatre, as part of the Folk Night at the Registry series, co-presented by the Old Chestnuts Song Circle. I've been "stealing" songs from Steel Rail CDs for ages, and have been longing to hear them live for quite some time; it's a thrill to have them playing for us!

The band is made up of Tod Gorr, Ellen Shizgal, and Dave Clarke. If you caught David Francey's area debut at our house concert a few years back, then you saw Dave Clarke in action; Dave has been hailed as one of Canada's best acoustic guitarists . Tod adds rhythm guitar, but it's his lead bluegrass voice that generates raves such as this one: "one of the most naturally country voices this side of George Jones". Ellen plays bass and sings lead on some of the bands most evocative songs. All three, together with Lucinda Chodan, the band's unofficial fourth member and most prolific lyricist, write Steel Rail's amazing songs.

The trio were all based in or around Montreal when they came together to play country and bluegrass classics in 1991. "We specialized in Bill Monroe and Hank Williams," Dave says. Soon, however, its members began writing original songs in the folk-country vein, winning comparisons to such legendary Canadian songwriters as Gordon Lightfoot and Ian Tyson. Since then, Steel Rail's material has been covered by artists like Bill Garrett and Sue Lothrop, Tammy Fassaert and Notre Dame de Grass. The group has also been acclaimed for its lush harmonies and a sound that gets its sensibility from folk and its soul from bluegrass and old-style country.

"If you were to fuse early Gordon Lightfoot onto current Del McCoury or the Seldom Scene, something very like Steel Rail would emerge," critic John McLaughlin of the Vancouver Province wrote.

Steel Rail has opened for such bluegrass legends as the late Bill Monroe and the Seldom Scene and appeared at numerous folk festivals The band has also garnered national exposure on CBC radio and been featured in concert on Stuart McLean's Vinyl Café.

Steel Rail has released three albums: River Song (2005), The Road Less Travelled (2000) and A Thousand Miles of Snow (1995). River Song was one of the Top 10 Canadian albums on the CBC Galaxie folk-roots channel in 2006. Bluegrass Unlimited magazine called River Song a "delightful and engaging album" and praised its songs "that tell small stories with strong, personal images". The respected folk magazine Dirty Linen also gave River Song a very strong review, saying that the band found "fresh ways to expre ss universal truths". The Road Less Travelled was a finalist in the Country-Roots category of the 2000 Crossroads Music Awards in the U.S. The band's debut album, A Thousand Miles of Snow, also garnered critical praise in Canada and the U.S. and airplay on country, campus, community and public broadcasting stations across Canada.

Opening for Steel Rail on March 10 will be Kitchener standout Jay Linden. Jay's debut CD, Satchel, has also been the source of several great songs for the Old Chestnuts, and it's a treat to have two of my favourite song sources on stage on the same night.

Rumour has it that another musician or two may be joining Steel Rail on March 10. Don't miss this concert!! Tickets are $16 in advance and $18 at the door. If you are a season's ticket holder, bring some friends, as this will be a concert not to be missed. But if you have to miss it, don't forget to pass your ticket on - I'd like a full (and singing!) house for this concert!

As our own Robin Jones wrote, after seeing Steel Rail at Octoberfolk 2000, "Hot stuff, good singing, good picking, and no nasal whine. This Montreal based band are definitely worth another see."

Absolutely right. Let me know how many tickets you would like!

Steel Rail
March 10, 2007
The Registry Theatre, 122 Frederick St., Kitchener
Tickets ($16/$18) available at
Twelfth Night Music in Waterloo,
the Centre in the Square box office,
the Registry Theatre box office, and from jhcole@mgl.ca.

v The Loop Has Arrived - Jack Cole

The LOOP is a free weekly email bulletin for local music, culture & entertainment listings. It began in Guelph some time ago. Now that they've worked out the formula, The LOOP is stepping up to the Big Time, and lanching itself in Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge (Guelph readers please throw only large denominations) :-).

The LOOP provides a valuable service to both event presenters and attendees alike. Like www.grandriverfolk.org, it provides listings of events, but unlike the GRFC site, it showcases happenings in all genres, including area theatres and pubs, and can be emailed to you every week!

Every Wednesday the LOOP publishes the week's upcoming events. You don't need to remember to go pick it up because it comes right to your inbox. Everything is listed from the movies playing in the cinemas to local bands and art exhibits. The LOOP also maintains a web-based calendar that shows events ahead of time. You can search listings by your favourite category of music, culture and entertainment or by keyword. To get the LOOP just email subscribe@theloop.ca or visit the website for more info at www.theloop.ca.

Don't forget the GRFC - but I highly recommend that you to add The Loop to your sources of arts and culture entertainment in Waterloo Region. It's still young and growing, but listings are becoming more complete every day. Check it out!

Closing Notes - jc

# Rise Up Singing. They have arrived and many have been picked up. If you haven't yet told me that you still want (or do not want) yours, please do so as soon as possible. People are waiting! Cost is $25, all included.

# March 24 is another busy day for acoustic music fans. Not only is it an Old Chestnuts song circle night, but it's also the annual Guitar Summit at the Waterloo Community Arts Centre, put on by Bob MacLean. Workshops make up the afternoon followed by an evening concert. Guitarists this year include Bob, Michael Pickett, and Shawn Trotter. Tickets range from $20 - $40.

Also that evening is a tribute to John Hurt at the Galt Little Theatre. This concert will feature several well-known musicians, including Ken Whiteley, Mose Scarlett, Alfie Smith, Jimmie Bowskill, Beverlie Robertson, Poor Charlie, and more. Tickets are $20. More info is at www.grandriverblues.org (hey - nice URL!).

# The Mill Race Folk Society is giving another try to a nifty concept they introduced a year or two ago. On the fourth Friday of March, April and May they will be presenting a combination open stage and concert. Each evening will consist of 1 set by a featured performer, and the rest of the evening will be a limited open stage. The list of performers so far is Ian Bell (March 23), James Gordon and Sons (April 27) and Mose Scarlett (May 25). Cost is $10, and the location is Cafe 13 in downtown Galt.

# May's Old Chestnuts will be taking flight to another location, as Lori and I will be focused on other things. Details to be announced soon. This also means that Chequegnat will be moved to June 16, so mark your calendars for our annual end of season party!

About this newsletter..... It's on the Web at http://www.mgl.ca/~jhcole and available at Circles. Call 519-578- 6298 or write jhcole@mgl.ca for more information. Drip, drip, drip. A truly useful Web Service (which is what I am trying to implement today) would be one that plugged leaking ceilings! Sigh.

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