Old Chestnuts Song Circle Newsletter

February 1997

January and Upcoming Song Circles Jack Cole

The weather was bad, the evening was announced as being short and I'd already had a few cancellations. So we didn't even fold up the table or move the big chairs out of the room. Therefore it was a pleasant surprise that about 20 people crowded into the living room for a night of songs that were special to people that were special to us. Which was a way of getting Tennessee Waltz, The Wreck of Old 99, The Happy Wanderer, You Are My Sunshine and several other family favourites into the air. Thanks to all who came and brought songs (on topic or off) and goodies on such a wild night.

We had 5 first time visitors, including one from Woodstock and 3 from St. Jacob's (who helped lower the average age!), and I tried playing the harmonica in public (so they may never come back!). At 10:30 we kicked everybody out and made a quick exit ourselves for the vicinity of the airport.

The February circle conflicts with the Woods get together in Paris, and I know of a few OCSC members who are going there for the weekend. As wonderful as that sounds (and believe me, it does), Lori and I will be here on the 22nd, with the table folded and the chairs moved out - we can't bear to leave the Circle on its own just yet! You all know Jaspur. The cat who loudly told Eileen McGann what he thought of her high note at the Harmony Workshop, then turned and strutted out. The cat who marched through the Modabo concert, then sat with his back turned to announce that it was bedtime feeding time and what the heck are you doing just sitting there!???? Well, Jaspur's not too well as I write. Cathy pulled him through while we were on vacation, and we've been struggling to help him since we got home. But if we all sing very very sweetly on the 22nd I know he'll feel better. So, the topic for February is "songs with animals in them". Dust off your Stewball, your Roan, your I Wanna Be a Dog…..and The Cat Came Back.

Some Reflections on Mariposa-By-The-Shore, Cobourg, 1996 (Part 4) Merrick Jarrett

Merrick was a performer at the first Mariposa, and played his retirement gig this year in Cobourg. He has very kindly put his thoughts on the matter to paper, and has been even kinder in allowing me to serialize them in the newsletter. This is the conclusion. Thanks, Merrick, for this terrific article.

In finishing, we are all looking at some problems which face all festivals, ranging from small festivals like Peterborough, just getting started, to the large festivals such as Mariposa.

Nobody wants to lose money. One reason Mariposa moved to Cobourg was that after a series of deficits, there wasn't much cash in the kitty. This resulted in a great festival, down-sized somewhat from previous festivals; but, nevertheless, produced what we hope the public likes to think of as a folk festival. I don't know if Mariposa lost, broke even, or made any money -- I would hope the latter.

Here are some thoughts that crossed my mind while writing, that I toss out for your comments. I do not speak for Mariposa; these are my own opinions, and I certainly don't have all, or perhaps any, of the answers. But I know that the Mariposa people would like to hear your pro or con comments, and what you think is the road to follow.

Which way does Mariposa go? Will it have to go the way it went in earlier years, culminating in having to book high-priced "name" performers to bring the crowds to pay for other "name" performers the next year to bring in more crowds, and round it goes?

Is it possible to get more corporate sponsorship, with the possibility of lots of obvious advertising by the sponsors, with beer tents, etc., and possible interference in the artistic aims of the festival, which might destroy the intimate feeling of Cobourg and Bracebridge, for example? Something else to be considered is the funding, or increasing lack of it, available through Federal, Provincial or Municipal grants. Such funds are becoming harder to come by in this period of austerity and cutbacks, compounded by the proliferation of folk festivals in Ontario, all of whom would need some sort of grant, if not to survive, at least to sometimes make the difference between profit and loss. As well, corporations are tightening their purse strings.

Should we try to go back to the earlier days of Mariposa, when every performer received the same reasonable flat rate, plus mileage and accommodation; and knowing that everybody was being paid the same, would some of the bigger "name" performers come just for the pleasure of making music, meeting and working with old friends, etc.? This may be dreamland in this day and age, but something that might be considered.

Should Mariposa be moved to later in the fall, say September or October, when chances of the weather being better, and the competition for the summer festival dollar is not quite as bad? Yes, I know, you run into the fall agricultural fairs....

Is today's public interested enough in the mix of contemporary and traditional that we supply, or is it looking for something more like Hillside in Guelph, which is to me (I may be wrong on this) moving almost to being a rock festival?

I personally liked the idea of the evening concerts starting at 6 PM, which meant that the public is up and away by 11 PM. I also feel strongly that it would be hard to improve upon the wide and eclectic variety of workshops offered at Cobourg.

Just some thoughts. I know that folks at Mariposa have spent a lot of time concerned about what is a major question. How does Mariposa maintain its artistic integrity, provide a lovely venue, showcase so much individual and group talent, provide educational and entertaining workshops, with, at the same time, the bottom line being "who pays the piper"?

By now you are no doubt getting tired of my philosophical meanderings, but I want to leave you with this. Beverlie Robertson (whom most of you know through her work as a founding member of Mariposa In The Schools, and as a member of the group "The Chanteclairs" in the 60's) dropped by the other day and we kicked around just what folk music is all about. She said, generally speaking, that we need a broader definition of "folk music" with which people can identify; such music is more eclectic and broader based than what it used to be. It preserves, but it also develops and grows, with basic facts being the same, but people changing in their musical tastes.

But folk music represents our history and culture and all the other things that make us proud Canadians; and if Mariposa can continue doing as it has been doing for the past thirty five years, in showcasing the incredible variety of talent that brings these things to our audiences, and at the same time solve its other problems, we are all well on the way to continue saying "Mariposa".....and that one magic word says it all.

Thank you, Mariposa, for inviting us. We had a wonderful time. May you grow and prosper, and provide us with more of those "magic moments".

April Special: Modabo In Concert Jack Cole

The dates are all set, the tickets are printed, and they're starting to go! The final word on Modabo is two house concerts at 111 Chestnut St., on Saturday April 19th at 8 PM and Sunday April 20th at 2 PM. The concerts have a maximum capacity of 44 attendees, and are $14 each. There will be opening acts from amongst the Song Circle folks, terrific M&M munchies and wonderful door prizes! Don't miss it!! Call me (519.578.6298, jhcole@mgl.ca) to reserve tickets!!!

I am looking for 2 or 3 people attending each concert to perform a couple of songs as openers. This is a low stress way to play in front of a folk-friendly audience, and is a lot of fun! I can't remember who might have volunteered at last month's OCSC (I was distracted) so please, anyone who is interested, let me know again! (Oh yeah, the concert will replace the Song Circle in April).

Finally, for those who might not know…. Modabo consists of 3 guys from New Brunswick who sing beautiful harmonies and play guitar, flute, piano and "the room" extremely well. Their first record was a finalist for the East Coast Music Award's album of the year; at last year's concert some people bought five copies! Their next record is in production now. They sing mostly original material with some Stan Rogers, Beatles, CSNY (and who knows what next!) thrown in. They are talented, funny, charming and energetic. Last April's concert was as a night that will never be forgotten. This April we'll try to top it!

OCSC Folks On Record

February 7 was a good night for folk music in the area. Ken's Brown & Pearlman in Elora, Brian Peters in Cambridge, and Jack Cooper's CD release party in Waterloo. Unfortunately, I spent the evening at the Cat Hospital, but this seems like a fine opportunity to mention Jack's new album, Waiting For a Spark. Jack's been a regular at OCSC and BWFC, and, while I decline to review the works of people that I know, I have to say that I really like the record (although I'm not sure about the bizarre writing on the disc!). Congratulations Jack. And at the same time I should mention that other OCSC members have works available - Ed Barrington, Jakki Ridley, Eve Goldberg that I know of…and Beverlie Robertson is recording now (I hope!). Give them your support!!

Rick Fines is another artist who is on the OCSC mailing list. Rick sent me a copy of his new album; I've not yet met him, so I can write about it! Besides composing, singing and playing solo, Rick is a member of the terrific blues band Jackson Delta. With the album titled Arcadia, though, I wasn't sure what musical category to expect. It turns out to be true to Rick's blues background. Now, I'm not a blues expert or fancier, so I'm not really fit to review this album. But even I can recognize some great cuts (Muskoka Moon, Goin' Down The Road). Most are original, with 2 traditional and one cover (which is the one song I would program out!). Rick's voice is unmistakable and just right throughout, as is his guitar; the writing is strong and the production by Colin Linden is excellent. If you're a blues fan you should check out Arcadia and catch Rick when he's around. For info: Box 2384, Peterborough, K9J 7Y8.

Upcoming Events (Check Acoustic Cafe for more!)

Feb 13 Great Big Sea, The Lyric, Kitchener. These guys are GREAT.

Feb 15 Black Walnut Folk Club, Jester's Court, Victoria Park, Kitchener. Open stage, 8 PM, $3. Also March 15.

Feb 22 Old Chestnuts Song Circle, 111 Chestnut St., Kitchener. 578-6298. 7:30 PM Also March 22.

Feb 23 Dave Webber and Annie Fintiman, House Concert, Toronto, Bob Biderman @ 416-483-1409

Mar 1 Mill Race File Club open singaround, Ernies in Cambridge. $3. 8 PM. Also April 5.

Mar 2 Mill Race Bluegrass and Old Tyme music sessions, Ernies. 2 PM.

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. Merrick has carried me for 4 issues, but his article is done now!! So I need articles submitted, please! Album reviews, concert reviews, philosophy, how-to''s……and event announcements are always welcome.