Old Chestnuts & Black Walnuts Newsletter

May 1996

Modabo ­­ Close Up Margaret Hitchcock

Poet Rabindrath Tagore said "God respects me when I work; he loves me when I sing." Modabo gave him plenty to love when they performed at the Old Chestnut's first house concert on April 27. Love was definitely in the air as Modabo sang of love in 11 of their 14 original songs. Hearty thanks to Jack and Lori Cole and Cathy Byberg for arranging the visit. The problem is finding words fresh enough to describe the evening. For me, the evening was indescribable. Pure bliss. Modabadabadoo! That's it. "Ineffable" is the word I want--meaning "that which defies description." Though Wordsworth didn't have folk groups in mind when he used the word, when I recall in tranquillity Modabo's harmonies, heart­felt lyrics, their musical talent and energy, their wit and our laughter, and the rapport they established, then "ineffable" is the right word. Disclaimers aside, I'll describe the concert anyway!

Imagine yourself and a group of friends sitting in your own comfortable living room waiting to hear your absolutely favourite folk group. The last time you saw them you were a long way from the stage and surrounded by 30,000 other fans. Tonight there are only 44 of you. It's cozy. Everyone settles in. Jaspur the house cat stakes out his territory. Anticipation mounts, and the excitement is tangible. That's the scene.

What followed was four hours of pure pleasure as Modabo, and the four excellent local performers who opened for them, entertained us. Jack Cole, the host, began with Paul Hahn's "Sea Wall" and did great justice to one of my favourites "The Cape" by the Clarke's. Mitch Plant got us all singing with some Stan Roger's songs, including White Squall. Jakki Ridley, a last­minute performer, did her killer­version of Pentangle's "A Maid Deep in Love." Beverlie Robertson entertained us royally, as always, and ended with her spirited version of "Farewell to Nova Scotia."

MODABO­TIME. Darrell Grant, the group's wonderfully gifted song writer began quietly tuning up. After a few minutes, "Honey­Garlic Sweet Lips" Jon Weaver entered the room playing a campy version of Habanera from Carmen on his flute. Mike Doyle followed him, making a grand entrance as a splendidly bearded Carmen. As the boys said, they just had to get it out of their system. Obviously, we were in for some fun. They followed their "classical" opener with "On the Cover of the Rolling Stone" played with all the stops out. High, high energy. Many of the songs Modabo did were taken from their self­named CD "Modabo." Although it didn't win, the album, which was produced by Garnet Rogers, was nominated for Album of the Year in the East Coast Music Awards, and the group was also nominated as Band of the Year. You could see why.

All Modabo's songs delighted me, so I won't even try to pick out favourites. Here's the song list, though not in order: High Times, Sargasso, Stop, Brand New Start, Travellin', On a Bus Growing Crowded, My Heart's Arrow, Hold Tight, If It's Not Broken, Fire ­­ all from the "Modabo" CD which has distinctively memorable lyrics and melodies. Many joined in the songs, including 7­year old Amanda, who seemed to know them all. Other songs included a tribute to Mr. Dress-Up and Friendly, Love the One You're With (Stills), Crosby, Stills and Nash version of Blackbird, Bruce Cockburn's Diamonds, The Water is Wide (traditional), Stan Roger's North West Passage and Mary Ellen Carter, and the 70s Wild Cherry hit­­ Play That Funky Music. New Modabo songs included A Little Too Far, Let's Find a Way, Love (which Darrell wrote for the Halifax G­7 summit), Young, Young Man (a narrative about Tobias Cooper and a Newfoundland sealing disaster) and Love is a Boomerang. Some of these will be on their new CD which is in the works.

To this night­to­remember concert add coffee and home­baked munchies consumed in the kitchen while talking to the boys, plus hand­crafted door prizes, courtesy of Lori and Cathy, and you can see why we're still in orbit.

Modabo will be opening for Oliver Schroer and the Stewed Tomatoes' CD release party at the TRANZAC Club, Toronto, June 7 and 8. I couldn't wait that long, so I went to Brantford the next day to see them in another house concert. That's called putting your money where your mouth is!

Unfortunately, you can't get the present Modabo CD or tape locally. To get a copy write: Modabo Productions: P.O. #20132, King's Place, Fredericton, New Brunswick, E3B 6Y8, or email modabo@nbnet.nb.ca . [ CDs are $23.50 with postage, but give me a call first - I'm trying to get a few copies to sell to OCSC members. -Jack]

For more on Modabo.

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

I'm basically a folk music junkie. The Song Circle and Black Walnut satisfy a large part of the addiction, but I still crave more. So many wonderful musicians from coast to coast, and so little time! Hence the house concerts. And hence too, The Singing Kettle; my attempt to bring more folk music to the area in a small concert setting, with a coffeehouse feel at an affordable price. The deal is this: the performers are helping by working without a guaranteed fee. They get 100% of the "gate" (the ticket sales) and they are helping more by keeping the ticket price as low as possible. Ralph (the owner of The Kettle) is selling coffee and munchies instead of charging us rent. So there is no "middleperson" taking a cut. Every nickel you spend goes to the music and the food. This is your venue to make or break! Come on out!

On Friday May 24, 8:15 PM, The Kettle sings its first notes. Featured performers will be Flights of Fancy - (OCSC's own) Beverlie Robertson, Rick Avery and Judy Greenhill. These three veteran performers have a large repertoire of traditional and contemporary folk songs. They are multi-instrumentalists, excel in harmonies and love singalongs. They are sure to make for a great first concert. On June 14 Eve Goldberg is coming from Toronto to play her blend of folk, blues, country and gospel. Eve's warm, clear vocals and heartfelt delivery complement her selection of topical contemporary songs, with a healthy smattering of folk and blues tradition. Eve is certain to captivate you with wonderful songs that will be new - and will leave you humming all the way home. If these 2 concerts are successful (read "sold out") then I will arrange more. I have two more already in mind for the fall......

Each night a local musician will be invited to open the concert with a half hour set. (Many nights there will be a portion of the gate available for the opener, so If you're interested in playing give me a call. My perk? I'm going to open on the other nights!). There are only about 45 seats, so plan to arrive about 8:15. Music starts are 8:30. Concert manners are expected!

Scholarships at The Woods Sue Goldberg

The 1996 Woods Music and Dance Camp is not far away (Aug. 1-6). It's an opportunity for 5 days and nights of making music and merriment with a small group of performers/teachers and enthusiastic fellow campers. This year's staff includes Cathy Miller, Tom Lewis, Ken Perlman, Magpie, Becky Hill, Pierre Schryer, and Nathan Curry (see the flyer for more info).

Unfortunately, every year the cost of running the camp rises, and though the fee (starting at $455 for room, board and tuition) compares well to other music camps, it's beyond the means of many potential campers. It's especially hard for those still in school or just entering the work force, and those who are under-employed. Three years ago we began a scholarship fund to help such people. We offer 3 alternatives.

The first is time payments, spreading the cost over 6 months. Almost everyone who applies for this option is granted it. The second is work scholarships; in exchange for working up to 2 hours daily (lifeguarding, overseeing boating equipment, running errands etc.) a fee reduction is given. This depends on the jobs available and having applicants to match them. Finally, we give a small number of outright grants. Our main criterion in all cases is need, but we try to help as many as possible each year.

In 1993, our first official scholarship year, we were able to assist 4 campers; in 1994, 7; and in 1995 we helped 9. Many of these have been young people trying to make a living at music. Each year our policy has been that if the money is there, we use it and figure out how to replenish the fund for next year.

Well, that time has come again. On June 1 (8 PM) we're having a benefit concert at the Tranzac Club (Toronto, 292 Brunswick, south of Bloor). Tickets are $10. Performers will be Anne Lederman, Paul Mills, Eve Goldberg, Marie-Lynn Hammond, Grit Laskin, Alastair Brown, Tam Kearney and Laurence Stevenson. Like most Woods events there will be plenty of music, friendship and fun.

To add a little spice to the proceedings (and help the fundraising effort) there's also a draw, with the winner getting a spot at The Woods. If you've been wanting to give the Woods a try but can't spend $455, here's a chance to do it for a lot less. It's also a great gift for a musical friend. Each $10 ticket has 1 chance in 125 of being the winner! We'll be selling tickets at various events over the next month. Call me (416-469-8439) for more information.

So come on down on June 1. Get a taste of The Woods and contribute to a good cause by joining us. Or by a draw ticket! If you can't do either, direct contributions to the fund are always welcome and can be sent to The Woods, c/o Grit and Judith Laskin, 18 Simpson Ave, Toronto, M4K 1A2.

April and Upcoming Song Circles Jack Cole

Thanks to everyone who helped with Modabo - those who made it happen in the first place, who helped set up the house, fed the band, donated door prizes and talent for the warm-up sets. It was one of the finest nights of music and fun in my experience. So thanks to Lori, Cathy, Dave, James, Mitch, Jakki and Beverlie. And to Modabo and Mary for taking the leap of faith along with us.

May's Circle will be the last one until the fall. It's on Saturday, May 25 at 111 Chestnut St, 7:30 PM. Call Jack at 578-6298 for more info. I've decided to throw a pretty broad theme out for the final night - Music of the Country. This can be what we think of as Country Music, or music about living / working in the country, or songs about a country, etc. etc. As always this is just a suggestion to get the brain working. All singalong songs welcome!

In September we have another special event - the Eileen McGann house concert. So we may or may not have a Circle, depending in who is willing to host. I've had a couple of offers, but I would really like a location that's easy to access. So don't hesitate to volunteer. I'll try to have definite information on dates and locations in the next letter.

Upcoming Events (send me info!)

May 18 Black Walnut Folk Club, Jester's Court, Victoria Park, $3. May 18 Mill Race Benefit, Golden Kiwi Pub, 1 PM, Dancers and jam

May 24 Flights of Fancy, Singing Kettle Coffeehouse, St. Jacobs, $8/$6

May 25 Old Chestnuts Song Circle, 111 Chestnut St., 578-6298

Jun 1 Woods Benefit, Tranzac Club, 8 PM, $10

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

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

May 9 Bradstreet & Hughes, London. 478-7216, May 10 472-7622.

May 17 Brendan Nolan, Brantford Folk Club, $10

May 21 Susan Aglukark, UW Humanities Theater

May 27 Rankin Family, Centre In The Square, $26.50 - $29.50!

May 31 Open stage, Brantford Folk Club

Jun 8 Natalie MacMaster, Guelph War Memorial Hall

Jun 14 Cravan Spirit etc. Brantford Folk Club fundraiser, $10

About this newsletter......

What a month - a wild musical ride! Modabo, Earthborn, Singing Kettles (great name Cap), CDs and books to preview... Hello to all the new readers - hope you enjoy. Are you writers too? I anxiously solicit articles! Thiis letter is emailed to many, handed to few and snail mailed to others. Mail subscriptions: ~ .70 / issue please. Thanks to all contributors - great articles! Next month - Summer festival info and we wrap it up! Do you have your OCSC mug yet? A few prototypes still available, and orders gladly taken! Rumour of one more signed Modabo poster for May 25...be there! Thanks to Jim Fierling for HTML-izing! ttfn jc.