May 2003 * Volume 8, Number 8

Old Chestnuts Song Circle May 31 * Chequegnat Festival June 7

v Last Month and Next - Jack Cole

Twenty-five folks came out in April to sing songs about - well, anything. But Tom Paxton became a bit of a theme, as three of his songs were sung, as were three songs from the recent (and fantastic!) Eve Goldberg concert. And we got on a bit of a gospel kick, which took us up a couple of notches in harmony. It was especially nice to hear Louise, Anna and Sophie singing (a la Wailin' Jennys) "Bring a Little Water Sylvie". And J&M on "It Rains Every Where I Go" was a definite hilight for me.

The final Circle of the season is Saturday May 31, followed by Chequegnat 2003 on the next Saturday (more about that below). Come on out to either or both, and get your summer festival legs (or should that be "bottoms"?) in shape!

I should mention a couple of initiatives which were introduced by James and Monique. The first is a "chair fund", to purchase some new folding chairs for use in circles and concerts. These would replace the old, awkward, and space-hogging kitchen chairs that we have all carried too many times! The second is a "songbook fund", to create binders of songs that we sing often, with a goal of making them more accessible. Monique is willing to create and maintain the binders, if we can get some money together. Expect to hear more about these at our events.

v Mill Race Festival 2003 - Brad McEwen

The Mill Race Festival of Traditional Folk Music is entering its second decade with some very interesting changes. Gone are the Kiwi and Badger stages, to be replaced with a new stage located between the historic Old Galt City Hall and the former Galt Firehall on Dickson Street. This new stage will be located in what is now a parking lot, but which will eventually be a feature in the ongoing Cambridge Civic Square project called Festival Plaza.

There are still plans to have some music in the pubs, but that music will be of a more informal, acoustic nature. We are hoping that the Dance Stage will be relocated to the Market Square on the other side of the Old City Hall, west of the Civic Square Stage. Arts and Crafts vendors will still be located on Dickson St.

The Main Street Stage was a resounding success last year, and the Downtown Cambridge BIA have agreed to continue funding it. All other stages remain the same as before, except that the Civic Square and Mill Race stages will feature workshops during the afternoon and concerts in the evening.

We are hoping to expand into the Sunday in 2004, depending on funding.

Performers (more to be confirmed):

  • The Ben Show
  • Calasaig
  • Cavaan
  • Cold Barn Morris
  • Crucible
  • Forest City Morris
  • Galitcha
  • Freeway the Clown
  • General Store
  • Orange Peel Morris
  • Geoff Lewis
  • Beverlie Robertson
  • Poor Charlie
  • Rineoiri Celtica
  • Pipeline
  • Toronto Morris Men
  • Paul Stock
  • Zoe the Clown
  • Eddie Douglas & Nonie Crete
  • Os Tradicionais of the London Portuguese Club
  • George Sapounidis Trio
  • Grand River Ceilidh Band
  • Kiyoshi nagata Ensemble
  • Naomi Tyrell & Mark Sepic
  • Siculi & Sciuri Sicilian Folk Dancers

v Bluebird: Part 1 - Mary Anne Epp

[This is the first of several parts about Mary Anne's journey to the Bluebird Cafeā in Nashville, which culminated in concerts and pilgrimage last fall. - jc.]

Part 1. The Original Bluebird Night Idea

Over 10 years ago, I began my adventures as a solo singer/songwriter. I had already been to Nashville a couple times and was well aware of the impact one song can make to an audience, and for the performer and the writer. I heard about the Bluebird Cafe during my last trip to Nashville, but I never made it to the club, so it became this illusive mecca; this sacred songwriting centre of the music industry, this unrealized goal to strive for.

Back in 1992, in Kitchener-Waterloo there really was no place for a songwriter to go to perform new material in front of a listening audience, so I improvised on this idea by going, where else, but to "blues jams". That's what there was back then. Among others, there was a fabulous jam at a place called "Henry's" on Highland Road (near the Liquor Store) and if I recall correctly, Fred Smith and John McKinley of Black Water Draw were the illustrious hosts. They were kind enough to let me get up on the stage all by myself to play a song or two and this seemed to help satisfy my inner urge to express myself.

After a few months of this, I noticed others were also venturing up to the microphone to play a song or two and I immediately assessed that it wasn't just me who wanted to try out some original songs for a listening-type audience. There seemed to be a growing desire for a singer/songwriter venue, so I created one.

I called it "Bluebird Night" and it was a monthly showcase featuring five artists per show, with each given a half-hour time slot to woo the audience. It was held at "Phil's Grandson's Place" in Waterloo and it was a happening thing. Some of the artist's featured were Paul MacLeod, Shannon Lyon, David Fougere, Lindsay Stewart, Jack Cooper, Wendy Davis and Scott Deneau. Nonie Crete still claims that I "gave her her start as a performer."

Guelph's now defunct Spotlight Magazine, of Bob Riley and Gerry Robbins fame, jumped on board, helping us to put out the word about the showcase and it caught on big time. Closer to home, Kitchener's Record and CKCO were also pitching in to inform our growing music community of the event and together with Spotlight, they elevated the reputation of the showcase. Everyone wanted to play and there was no shortage of singer/songwriters. Over all, Bluebird Night was a magnificent, community nurturing event with a stellar production team, including sound technician and popular local producer Ronald Roy.

Historically, the first songwriter showcase was held in June 1992 and it ran for 18 months. During the course of this Bluebird event, we featured over 80 artists, a number of which have gone on to create larger and larger audiences for themselves. The impact of this event was a major community effort geared towards the building of a supportive music community that did not exist prior to the existence of this event. And truthfully, all of this came about because I heard about a place to play in Nashville Tennessee called the Bluebird Cafe.

v Wailin' Jennys - Louise Carroll

The Wailin' Jennys and Tannis Slimmon
"A Night of Voices" Saturday April 19, 2003
Temple Studios, Guelph

Last Wednesday I was working away, listening to CBC Sounds Like Canada and I suddenly heard this incredible harmony singing....which turned out to be The Wailin' Jennys. When I found out they were only playing a couple more times in Ontario before heading back to Winnipeg, my daughter Anna (13) and I checked out their web site and made a beeline for Temple Studios in Guelph last Saturday night.

What a treat! Picture Dixie Chicks do folk, but with incredible, tender harmony AND with fresh, amusing stage banter, in the style of a kitchen party. Anna said she would love to just hang with these girls and sing.

NOTE: Anyone who was at Folk Alliance this year and missed booking these girls for summer festivals was either sleeping or in the "Oval Office" when these girls were performing. (Are you listening Ken Palmer?) They will be at Jasper Folk Festival (Aug 1-2), Canmore (Aug 2-4) and Edmonton (August 8-10)....and **Mariposa (July 4,5,6 Orillia)!!!

Cara Luft, Nicky Mehta and Ruth Moody (formerly lead singer for Scruj MacDuhk) are all strong individual performers, who, on the prompting of Ruth, with her band breaking up, decided to book a one time show in Winnipeg. It sold out and they haven't looked back. Part of the magic is that they all have written their own material and they are all great singers and musicians.....but together they are stunning. They have also worked out very pleasing arrangements to support each others' songs. Their CD is good, although short....6 songs for $12. Their arrangement of "Bring a little Water Sylvie" is one of our favourites. The girls and I have already learned this one to bring to the next song circle. They are also selling their individual CDs. To pass the time on the road, Ruth is making and selling necklaces. (Anna bought one)....and Cara decided she would knit help with touring costs.....but that is another story and it's all part of the fun.

The Wailin' Jennys did a great first set with most of the material from their CD and the BEST PART OF THE EVENING... singer songwriter, Tannis Slimmon (formerly of "The Bird Sisters" and more recently of "Crows Feet" and "Benji") ...handed out song books and WE ALL SANG along. (Tannis is now launching a solo career and has her first solo CD out: "Oak Lake". ) THE SINGING WAS MAGIC. Tannis had toured Temple Studios, a yoga/dance space, noticed how wonderful the acoustics were and organized her second "Night of Voices". We sang "I get a lift when I hear you sing" and "Jesus on the Mainline". The harmonies washed over us like a wave. The Jennys joined right in. I loved it. What a great way to do a concert. Tannis has such a great stage personality and a beautiful voice. Her passion is vocal harmony and it shows. She had everyone singing and enjoying the superb acoustics. (I have invited her to come to the Old Chestnuts some night. She will be doing a benefit concert in London soon with Mosaic. Watch for it.)

The Jennys did another set and because the concert was SOLD OUT, they ran another concert at 10pm.

What a great night! Forget Bruce Cockburn (although Nicky apparently has a thing about Bruce Cockburn the same way Cara likes men in sailors!!..but that's another story...), The Wailin' Jennys is all the reason you need to go to Mariposa this summer.

v Chequegnat Returns - Jack Cole

It's official - Chequegnat will happen again on Saturday, June 7! This neighbourhood music festival and barbecue is open to residents of the block surrounding the home of The Old Chestnuts, and their families and friends. And that means you!

The music runs from about 2 until 8:30, with OCSC regulars dominating the early hours in workshops. Some of the featured performers this year (subject to change): Matt Osborne, Mary Anne Epp, Margaret Christl, Jack Cooper, Debbie Carroll, Paul McLeod, Tannis Slimmon & more!

Not only is this music all free (donations are encouraged), but the neighbours are also providing burgers (etc) at about 6 PM. There will be CDs for sale, a pottery workshop, a yoga workshop, activities for the kids and crafts!! And FOOD!

Please bring salads and desserts. Also recommended are lawn chairs, blankets, DEET, and plates and cutlery. If it rains, the festival is canceled (but we'll have a secret OC Song Circle inside, instead).

This is officially a private party by invitation of peole living here, so please don't circulate this information far and wide; we don't want to annoy the surrounding blocks! To help control the size of the audience (which was over 200 last year), I'm only going to say that this festival takes place at the usual Song Circle location. See you there!!

v Closing Notes - jc

<> Amnesty International is expanding it's KW fund- raising concert plans this year. A call went out recently for musicians, dancers and actors for a series of concerts at The Registry Theatre and Kitchener Library. The first concert date is July 18. Concerts will be recorded for the performer's use. If you would like to be part of this, contact Amanda Pal at .

<> It was great to see that Nancy Kerr and James Fagan were awarded the Best Duo prize in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Music Awards recently. Well earned!! Other winners include Eliza Carthy (several times), Altan, and Linda Thompson.

<> Home County in London - the 30th annual festival - recently announced it's lineup. Some of the performers: Lynn Miles, Valdy, Fred Eaglesmith, Anne Lindsay, Heather Bishop, Tanglefoot, Jackie Washington, David Essig, James Gordon, Penny Lang, Mike Stevens, Raymond McLain, Bob Snider, Haines & Leighton, Vox Violin, Tom Lewis and many more. July 18-20, in Victoria Park.

<> Toronto's Common Thread : Community Chorus celebrates the culmination of its 4th season on May 31. Several friends from The Woods and the Toronto Song Circle are part of this wonderful choir. Afternoon and evening concerts are $12 in advance. Contact Sue Goldberg , .

<> Don't forget Sara Grey on May 24, and David Francey on June 5. Also, the Paris Plains Church has started it's series of spring and summer concerts, and the Weekend in Paris (June 14&15) is looking GREAT! Check out these and more at the GRFC Web site!

v Some Events in The Area (as space permits!) Check out the Grand River Folk Community site for more.

May 9 Jerry Harmon, Folkway Music, Guelph. 8:30 $10
May 16 Black Walnut Folk Club, Mill-Courtland Centre. $3. Open mic.
May 24 Sara Grey, House Concert, Cambridge. 8pm 622-1481.
May 25 Northern Star Cafe , Mostly Organic Juice Bar , Kit. 2pm
May 31 Old Chestnuts Song Circle. 578-6298! 8 pm. Themeless!
Jun 5 David Francey, Princess Theatre, Waterloo, $!7
Jun 5 Kitchen Ceilidh, McDougall Cottage, Cambridge
Jun 7 Mill Race Singaround, Ernie's, Cambridge. 8pm.
Jun 13 Waterloo Community Arts Centre 10th anniversary.
Jun 14/15 Weekend In Paris, Paris Plains Church,
Jun 15 Mill Race Trad Sessions, Cambridge, Golden Kiwi, 4:30.
Jun 19 Songwriter's Circle, Centre in the Square.

v About this newsletter..... Itís emailed. Itís on the Web at and available at Circles. Also available by regular mail, but for that I request a few stamped envelopes or a contribution to postage. Call 578- 6298 or write for more information. If you are getting this by mail and have eMail, please let me know! Off to Vancouver Island for some vacation and singing! Ah it's great to be unemployed J. If you would like to help sing the Canadian Tire Song, come to WCAC 10th anniversary, June 13! That's it for newsletters for a while, so enjoy the peace and quiet of summer. But keep watching for events at the GRFC! jc

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