Old Chestnuts & Black Walnuts Newsletter

June 1996

Update - The Singing Kettle Coffeehouse (at The Country Kettle in St. Jacobs) Jack Cole

Well, we had our first try at bringing affordable, quality folk music to the area. And there is no doubt that we succeeded in the quality department, as Flights of Fancy put on a terrific show. Beverlie, Rick and Judy entertained us wonderfully, with expert harmonies, guitar, banjo, fiddle and spoons. Every song was a sing-along, even the two in French and Spanish. This was the perfect event for the Song Circle crowd - lots of opportunity to harmonize on traditional, classic and contemporary folk songs, with friendly and encouraging performers leading the way.

Too bad most people missed it. Including Lori and myself, our own family and friends, diners who stayed on (they recognized a good thing) and James Morgan (who got there for only the last 15 minutes) there were 21 people in the audience. A handful of OCSC folks came (thank you!) and all the advertising, flyer mailing, posting and hustling brought in, I believe, a single, solitary person. Who, by the way, had a great time and loved every minute.

The result was that we had half the people that we needed. Flights of Fancy was very gracious - they are truly professionals - and agreed to consider a house concert for the Circle in the winter, to help balance expenses. The trouble with non-profit events is that one of only two possible outcomes is a loss, as we found out !!

Was it the weather? Was it the time of year? Was it the location? Was it bad promotion? Was it the opening act? Was the X-Files season finale on, and nobody had a VCR? Are people just weary of music? Do people just not want this?

All of this leaves the future of the Singing Kettle cloudy, especially Eve Goldberg's June 14 concert. I feel very strongly that there needs to be a home for this music, the music of those as yet undiscovered, or whose songs will never be widely popular, but always loved by a discerning few. Sure, some local bars hire folk musicians, but just try to listen to a folk singer in a noisy, smoky club. At the other end of the scale we have the Rankins playing for $30 per, at The Centre In The Square. Are either of these venues your vision of the future of professional folk music in KW?

Okay, I've had my rant. I know I'm mostly preaching to the converted. The immediate question is what to do for Eve's concert in 2 weeks time. My solution: I have printed a bunch of tickets, and have them for sale. The $6 price for Eve is an outright steal, so I'm looking very hard for thieves among you. Reach a toe into your discretionary entertainment fund and call me (519-578-6298); send a cheque for a ticket or two. Call a couple of friends and do them a favour. When the concert date gets close Eve and I will decide if we go ahead. If not, I will call all ticket buyers and refund their money. This will be a lot of extra work, but it could never be as bad as my embarrassment and sadness last Friday night.

Today I found out that Buffy St. Marie is playing in Waterloo on the same night. This is even more discouraging! But I know that you'll have a lot more fun, for a lot less money, in a much nicer setting at The Kettle. And one of the Song Circle members will be the opening act, so please think about coming out to lend your support to a fellow Chestnut!

May and Upcoming Song Circles

May's circle was the smallest so far, with just 15 people attending, but it was also one of the best feeling circles - lots of fun and conversation. The "country songs" theme was well served, with many country songs, songs about being in the country, and songs about other countries all in abundance. James began with "I like to rise when the sun she rises", and things took right off with Cover of The Rolling Stone - a reprise of Modabo's opening from last month. Merrick brought a fistful of Australian songs, which were lots of fun. We re-emphasized the focus on singalong songs, and with one exception (which was a request, he said plaintively) we stuck to it. Have a glance at the song handout summary that's included for more details.

And that's it for the first year of Old Chestnuts. Thanks to all the helpers and bringers, strummers and singers. Especially thanks to the Growdens for help with setup and cleanup every month. That's all there is, there ain't no more! I can't imagine life without it now, and I hope most of you feel the same. I've built lots of new musical friendships and re-cemented some old ones. I've learned choruses to an amazing number of songs. I've forced myself to learn new songs to pass them on. And I think I've gone a whole 8 months with calluses on my fingers - something I haven't done since university! Thanks everyone, and keep passing them on!

Reviews ....and what I would pay for....

Robert Atyeo from Peterborough and Brakin' Tradition from Nova Scotia have expressed interest in playing for us in the fall. I had been thinking of the Kettle, but now I'm not sure. Any thoughts on this are appreciated. Meanwhile, I thought I'd review their latest recordings, which they very kindly sent along.

Robert Atyeo Angels on a Cliff Rating: $20

Think John Prine or Tom Waits and you'll have a good idea of how Robert sounds. His songwriting is excellent and much less obscure than Prine, who I frankly have trouble understanding these days. A sample: "My cat's scratchin' at the windowpane / I just let her out and now she wants in again / Crazy feline's gonna drive me insane / I hate it when she acts like me, yeah." The music has a nice bluesy feel and comes from the fingers of Atyeo, Tony Quarrington, Jeff Bird, Tannis Slimmin, Sue Smith, David Woodhead, Willie P. Bennett and many more. This is a very enjoyable album, and I recommend it. Catch Robert at a couple of local festivals this summer. Album can be ordered at 705-743-3671.

Brakin' Tradition Presence In The Past Rating: $17

This group of 6 have released their third project recently, to much praise and airplay. The liner notes refer to them as "New Age Celtic Music contributors", but I would argue that a better description is "modern players of traditional songs." The instruments include electric guitar and bass and a full drum set, so their name is apt. Add a couple of acoustic guitars, fiddle and mandolin and 4 voices, and the sound is nice and full. This CD reminds me over and over again of the first Good Brothers album, which featured their wild enthusiasm on a bunch of classic bluegrass/country tunes. I liked that one a lot, and this one too. Songs include Joe Neil, Bonnie Bessie Logan, Star of the County Down, Peggy Gordon, The Jeannie C., Sam Hall. There are also some new songs. This is an album that is comfortable & fun to listen to, but just misses that "grab you and hold on" quality. PO Box 381, St. Peters NS, B0E 3B0.

Upcoming Events

Of course we have Eve Goldberg coming up on June 14. If you skipped my diatribe above, go read it now! Tickets are $6 (with a big smile) in advance, or $6 (with a smaller smile) at the Singing Kettle, St. Jacob's. Eve, in addition to being a regular at festivals in Ontario, plays a lot in the Toronto area. She is an active member of the Toronto Song Circle and one of the organizers of The Woods. Her specialty is thoughtful songs that we can all sing together.

To get to the Singing Kettle take King Street north out of Waterloo (or the new St. Jacob's exit from the expressway). The Country Kettle Restaurant is on the right as you come into town, across from the lumber yard. Ralph is serving coffee, tea and deserts after we begin, and full meals beforehand. Check it out!

BIG NEWS!!! Eileen McGann is confirmed for a house concert on Saturday, September 21! The concert will be similar to Modabo's, with warm-up acts, coffee, munchies and door prizes included in the suggested minimum donation price, which will be between $12 and $15. Since there are no more Circles I have devised another way to sell tickets. They will go on sale July 15; call or drop over to get yours. There are only 40-45 tickets - they will go to the first people that get in touch with us at 519-578-6298. We will again keep a waiting list for returned tickets, however, to reduce the last minute returns, we have a new policy. As long as there are names on the waiting list, I will be happy to assist in finding new owners for tickets, well in advance. But, within a week of the concert, when we are very rushed, we may request to keep back a buck or two per ticket - this will encourage you to find your own substitutes, and will help us make the long distance phone calls that were plentiful last time. I hope you understand.

Eileen is also able to do a workshop that afternoon, probably at another location in town. I requested harmony, but song writing and slide guitar are also possibilities. Workshops are longer and more involved than concerts, so the price will likely be higher. If we have about the same number as the concert the price will be about the same. If we have half, the price will be about double. Remember, these are classes with Eileen McGann and David Knutsen - compare the price with a Saturday class at a college with an expert lecturer. And it could be a life changing afternoon. Maybe we could work out a package with the concert. It's vital that you call us ASAP if you are interested in this. Eileen is also interested in doing concerts for schools in the area, so if you have any pull with school boards....

The BWFC has it's final regular meeting of the season on June 15. On July 13 is a special benefit night for the Food Bank - all proceeds from the door go to the bank. Then they take a summer break too. Given the low attendance that seems to be going around, you might want to make a special effort to get to these!

Jun 1 Woods Benefit, Tranzac Club, 8 PM, $10, Grit Laskin, Eve Goldberg, Marie-Lynn Hammond and more!

Jun 8 Natalie MacMaster, Guelph War Memorial Hall

Jun 14 Eve Goldberg, The Singing Kettle Coffeehouse, St. Jacobs, $6

Jun 14 Buffy St. Marie, Waterloo Recreation Complex, $15/$18

Jun 14 Cravan Spirit etc. Brantford Folk Club fund-raiser, $10

Jun 15 Black Walnut Folk Club, Jester's Court, Victoria Park, $3.

Jul 13 Black Walnut Folk Club, Food Bank Benefit

I'm still looking for another home, with easy access and a large living room for September's circle. And when the fourth Saturday in September comes along and you haven't heard about OCSC, give us a call!! I may not get a mailing out.

About this newsletter......

While I type Lori is throwing more OCSC mugs and Robert Atyeo plays on...the final newsletter until ????. Thanks to everybody who has contributed, read, commented, HTMLed, and come out to the OCSC, BWFC, house concerts and The Singing Kettle. I hope to see some of you at The Kettle and at the festivals this summer, or why not drop over with your voices some night! Have a great summer everyone! jc

Summer Festival Information

Here is information about nearby festivals that I have been able to scrounge from various sources. I make no promises to accuracy, but it should be pretty good!! I have listed some performers that I find particularly noteworthy - apologies if I have left out a favourite. Prices are minimum weekend rates.

Mariposa July 6 Bracebridge 416-924-4839 $ ??

August 3-4 Cobourg $ ??

A new slant on the oldest of them all. Bracebridge features Tamarack and 3 Our Tour. Cobourg features our very own Merrick Jarrett and family, Rick Fielding, Bill Garrett, Curly Boy Stubbs, Caitlin Hanford, Bobby Watt. I hope some of you can make it out to what Merrick swears is his retirement gig!!

Home Country July 19-21 London 519-645-2845 Free

One of my favourites, this will be the 23rd edition. Workshops run all afternoon throughout Victoria Park in downtown London, with concerts at the bandshell in the evening. Crafts are a highlight here and the food is pretty good. Music tends to the traditional. This year: Robert Atyeo, Bill Bourne & Shannon Johnson, Dixie Flyers, Georgette Fry, Joe Hall, Grit Laskin, Tom Lewis, Cathy Miller, Faith Nolan, Laura Smith, Graham Townsend.

All Folks Festival July 20-21 Kingston 613-548-6525 Free

Saturday afternoon and evening, Sunday afternoon. Too bad their Web site has no info! City Park, near Queen's.

Hillside Festival July 26-28 Guelph 519-763-6396 $45

Diverse range of musical styles in a very nice setting at Guelph Lake (but shade is scarce!). Jane Siberry, Willie P. Bennett, Ellen McIllwaine, Mad Pudding.

Blue Skies Festival Aug 2-4 Clarendon (Ottawa) 613-279-3260 $ ??

Supposed to be one of the nicest festivals, but very hard to get tickets. Camping is recommended here. Stephen Fearing is the only name I have.

Mill Race Festival Aug 3 Cambridge 519-622-0146 Free

Downtown, along the Grand. Focus on traditional music and dance. Everyone tells me this is a very nice festival, but I haven't made it yet, and The Woods is the same weekend! Unfortunately, I have no info on performers.

Earth, Air, Fire... Aug 9-11 Goderich 519-524-8221 $ ??

I've heard wonderful things about this festival, the setting (Harbour Park), the music - but haven't made it there yet. This is a full Celtic festival, preceded by a 3 day Celtic College. Four workshop areas and main stage. Loretto Reid + Brian Taheny, Mad Pudding, Dennis Doyle, Anderson & Brown, Bobby Watt, Arrandale, Glen Elg Full Moon, Steafan Hannigan, Pierre Schreyer, Don McGeough.

Festival of Friends Aug 9-11 Hamilton 905-525-6644 Free

Held in Gage Park in downtown Hamilton. Move diverse than most festivals, and often features a few "big names" who just play the main stage and split. Four stages and LOTS of crafts. Arrogant ("Last Saskatchewan Pirate") Worms, Baladins, Daisy DeBolt, Tom Lewis, David Wiffen.

Scottish Festival Aug 9-11 Fergus 519-787-0099 $ Individual events

Not really a folk festival, but local and fun. Natalie MacMaster has a featured concert. Also John Allan Cameron and Gopher Baroque.

Summerfolk Aug 16-18 Owen Sound 519-371-2995 $ 50

A lovely site on the lake, this is one of the top-rated festivals in North America. I haven't been for several years - I find it pricey and sure to rain. But it gets big name folkies, and you can camp closeby. And Big Names: Nancy White, James Keelaghan, Dar Williams, Natalie MacMaster, Katherine Wheatley, Penny Lang, Susan Werner, Shirley Eikhardt.

Eaglewood Earth Aug 23-24 Pefferlaw 416-481-5506 $ 30?

Co-favourite festival with Home County, just south of Lake Simcoe at the Eaglewood resort. Camping available, wheelchair accessible, more affordable than most and great lattes. Features performers from southern Ontario. Very relaxed, friendly and uncrowded. OCSC's own Jane Field, Alistair Brown, Rick Fielding, Bill Garrett, Curly Boy Stubbs, Mose Scarlett, Katherine Wheatley, Ian Tamblyn, Jackie Washington, the Whiteley brothers.

Songs of Sail Aug 23-24 Penetanguishene 705-361-3084 $ ??

Marine Heritage Folk Festival is the rest of the name, held at the Centennial Museum. Tom Lewis.

Peterborough Folk.. Aug 24-25 Guess 705-749-3157 $ ??

Saturday is a Club Crawl in a variety of downtown locations. Sunday is free in the park. "Lots of chances to get involved, so bring your instrument." Eve Goldberg, Blue Rodeo.

Ottawa Folk Festival Aug 23-25 Guess again. 613-520-2600 $ 18

Held in Britannia Park, this festival always sounds great, and this year is no exception. Lynn Miles, Moxy Fruvous, Lucie Bleu Tremblay, Penny Lang.

Celtic Continuum Aug 31 - Sep 1 Collingwood 705-444-7750 $ ??

This is the third year, but I had not heard of this festival until this year. Held at Bygone Days Farm just west of town on 6th St.

Wye March Festival Sep 14-15 Midland 705-526-7809 $ 30

Catch three of my favourites - Modabo, Eileen McGann (in a warmup for our house concert) and Garnet Rogers, plus Elysian Dream, Ken Perlman. Music, wildlife carving and art, conservation activities. If I add a festival to my list this year, it will be Wye Marsh!

Old Chestnuts Song Circle Handout List / Through to June 1996

500 Miles (Proclaimers) Dec/95 Proclaimers?

A Time To Watch The River Run Dec/95 Ed Barrington

Across The Western Ocean May/96 Trad

As I Roved Out Nov/95 Trad.

Augustus & Catherine Nov/95 Bill Gallaher

Before They Close~Minstrel Show Nov/95

Blackfly Song Nov/95 Wade Hemsworth I have extra copies of most of these songs.

Blue Eyes Cryin' In The Rain Mar/96 Fred Rose Drop by and sort through my files!

Bonavist' Harbour Nov/95

Boston Tea Party, The Nov/95

Brandy Tree (?) Jan/96

Caledonia Jan/96 Dougie MacLean

Cape, The Nov/95 Guy Clark et al.

Circle Dec/95 Harry Chapin

Circle, The Feb/96 Coleen Peterson

Click Go The Shears Nov/95

Cover Of The Rolling Stone May/96

Erie Canal, The Nov/95

Fare You Well Nov/95

Farmer Song May/96 Murray McLaughlin

Fashioned In The Clay Sep/95 Elmer Beal

Fogerty's Cove Feb/96 Stan Rogers

Garden Song, The Jan/96 David Mallett

Gentle Annie Sep/95 Stephen Foster

Go To Work On Monday Sep/95 Si Kahn

Handful of Songs Sep/95 Jerry Rasmussen

Hard Travelling Nov/95

High Road TO Rum May/96 Trad.

Hobo's Lullaby Sep/95 Woody Guthrie

Hymn For Pincher Creek May/96 Connie Kaldor

I Ride An Old Paint Nov/95

I'm Just Dreamin' May/96 Fred J. Eaglesmith

If Wishes Were FIshes Sep/95 Eric Bogle

It's Amazing Dec/95 Ed Barrington

Johnny, I Hardly Knew You Feb/96

Kisses Sweeter Than Wine May/96 Pete Seeger (??)

Last Saskatchewan Pirate, The Nov/95 Arrogant Worms

Lilly Of The West Mar/96 Trad?

Little Star Treks Mar/96 Tuerff / Reynolds

Long Black Veil Mar/96 Trad?

Love Is Teasing May/96 Trad?

Mary And The Seal Mar/96 Bill Gallaher

Maybelle Mar/96 Jakki Ridley

Merry Month Of May May/96 Trad?

On a Day Like Today (?) Jan/96

Oxford County Line May/96 Fred J. Eaglesmith

Pass It On Dec/95 Sally Rogers

PGE, The Nov/95

Please Come To Boston May/96 Dave Loggins

Potter's Wheel (chorus) Mar/96 Bill Danoff

Run Come See Jerusalem Dec/95 Trad.

Shearing Time Nov/95

Something To Sing About Nov/95 Oscar Brand (?)

Song For A Winter's Night Dec/95 Gordon Lightfoot

South Australia May/96 Trad

Springtime It Brings..Shearing May/96 Trad

Sweet Baby James Jan/96 James Taylor

Tell My Ma Mar/96 Trad?

This Love WIll Carry Jan/96 Dougie MacLean

Three Score & Ten Nov/95

Thyme Feb/96 Trad

Wabash Cannonball Dec/95

Way I Feel, The Feb/96 Gordon Lightfoot

When The Currawongs Come Down Nov/95

When The Ice Worms Nest Again May/96 Wade Helmsworth

When The Rivers Flow Feb/96 Ed Barrington

Whiskey In The Jar Mar/96 Trad.

You Are The One May/96 Jakki Ridley