September 2000

v Welcome Back! - Jack Cole

Hello again everyone, and welcome to the fall of 2000! The leaves are turning, the kids are returning, and new songs are churning, waiting for the Old Chestnuts season to get underway. And that will be very soon, on

******* Saturday, September 23 *********

I've had an entire summer to think of a theme but it took me until yesterday. September always makes me want to swim upsteam (in Laurel Creek) to the University of Waterloo campus. I get the urge to sniff freshly inked pads of paper, sharpen a few pencils, punch some cards and (above all) graze catalogs of things to learn, and work out the infinite possibilities present in class timetables.

As the new crop of frosh head off on their bright adventure, I wish I was among them. And I read today that Ontario's school teachers have voted to be in class in September too; I know there's really nowhere they would rather be. And I learned so much from my teachers at The Woods last week! So, that's it - the theme this month is Teachers!

Bring songs that you learned from a teacher sometime in your life. Songs about teachers or being taught. Songs about learning to do something new. Songs you can teach to us. Or (my way out) songs that your teachers recorded!

Speaking of The Woods - I have asked several folks for their impressions of this year's event. That article will appear in the October newsletter. Watch for it!!

v Singing....and Dancing Too - Jack Cole

The week around September 23 offers many more musical opportunities! That same day is the Chestnut Street block party! Some of you came out last year when GreenWood was singing from Wendy's porch. This year the organizers thoughtfully chose the afternoon of Song Circle, in the hope that some of us would come early and lead some singing.

My proposal: let's have a workshop style singalong on one of the porches or around the BBQs. Bring instruments and voices, and we'll give the neighbours a taste of what we do. In exchange we (and our families) get to participate in a fun afternoon of games, and a delicious pot-luck plus burgers and sausages barbecue.

I got a special request for children's songs, so I'm really hoping that the kids specialists among you will find the time to join us. The party runs all afternoon, so music beginning at 3 or 4 PM would be about right. The more voices the better! Then stay for the Circle.

The next Friday night (the 29th) there will be an Irish Ceili dance at that very same University of Waterloo. It's held at Fed Hall (near the north end of campus), starting at 8:30. Cost is $12 at the door, $10 in advance. I've been to a few of these and they are a lot of fun! Maureen (the caller from Celtic College) is usually in charge, and leads people of all experience levels through the dances.

And on another note about Ceili dancing, Bill White's classes at the Breithaupt Centre resume that same week, on September 27. There is a beginner class at 6:45 and an intermediate ("some experience helpful") at 8:15. There's also a demonstration on the 20th - same place. The cost for 10 weeks of dancing is $54.

And if you're in Toronto, there's a ceili at the Russian Orthodox Church Hall, 823 Manning Ave. from 7:30 to 11:30 on Friday September 15. My source tells me that these ceilis rock - so go and have a great time!

v The Old Chestnuts Song Circle - Jack Cole

The Old Chestnuts Song Circle is open to anyone who loves to sing or listen. We meet the fourth Saturday of each month, with some exceptions - call if you're unsure. We start at 8 PM sharp and finish about 11:30. If you are new, or have an instrument to tune, please come any time after 7:30 to get ready. If our living room is full when you arrive you might have to come back next month! We take a break for munchies and drinks part way through; contributions ($ or stuff) are welcome but not necessary. No corn products or perfumes please.

The formula is simple.

  • Everyone (in order around the room) gets chances to lead a song, pass, or request a song.
  • Our main rule: Every song should have a part for everyone to join in on - a chorus, response, rhythm section or provision of handouts to sing from.
  • Passing is always acceptable! People who have worked hard to prepare songs will appreciate it!
  • Requests should be based on someone knowing the song well enough to lead it. Try not to make general requests "of the room".
  • There is never any pressure to lead.
  • Prepare songs which you want to lead ahead of time.
  • Instruments are welcome but should not dominate.
  • Sing softly enough that you can still hear your neighbours.
  • Watch the leader for cues.
  • Just listening is just fine!
  • Applaud when a song is over.
  • Most of all, respect the music; pay attention while people are introducing or singing a song!! Children (and adults too) are welcome if they understand that simple rule!

If there is a theme, it is purely to help inspire the creative juices. There is absolutely no requirement that songs be on theme - but if they are, so much the better!

Finally, since this newsletter is going far afield, some simple directions to our home. We are at 111 Chestnut St., In Kitchener. To reach us from the 401, take Highway 8 into Kitchener, and follow Highway 7 East towards Guelph. Exit from the expressway onto Frederick Street, and follow it towards downtown. After about 5 blocks you will see Chestnut on your right. We are just up from the corner on the left. 519.578.6298 if you get lost.

v The Running Of the Circle - Jack Cole

Some of you have kindly offered to help with Song Circle activities, and I promised a shopping list of things that need doing. Here it is; I have marked with an asterisk the things that would be easy or most helpful for someone else to take on. If you spot something that you think you would like to be involved in, or would like to just take charge of, it would be a blessing for me. Ideally, someone might volunteer to take an entire function, like "ticket sales" or "concert setup". I will gladly train...

As it is right now, there are no concerts planned for the fall because, despite offers from numerous, wonderful performers, I simply do not have the time to make them happen. This is too bad!

So, if you would like to help out please let me know!

Song Circles. (Most months.)

  • Offering your home as a venue. If you have a big room with character and good sound, please consider inviting us in! Easy city access is required. Pick a month!
  • * Moving furniture, transporting & setting up chairs. Come early and help us set things up!
  • Preparing coffee, munchies.
  • * Hosting the evening; leading the circle.
  • * Cleanup. Stay late and undo the damage!
  • * Organizing leftover handouts. Take them home!
House Concerts & Workshops. (2 or 3 per year)
  • Everything as for a Song Circle. Only bigger.
  • Selecting performers. (Something I love to do!)
  • Billeting performers. Bed, board & privacy required.
  • * Creating posters. From scratch, or from a sample.
  • * Putting up posters all over town.
  • * Printing & distributing tickets.
  • * Keeping track of ticket sales.
  • * Promoting via newspapers, radio shows, newsletters, flyers, announcements (for the Circle too!)
  • * Taking tickets at the door.
  • Organizing door prizes.
  • Organizing opening acts.
  • Organizing CD sales.
Larger Concerts. (1 or 2 per year)
  • Everything as for a House Concert. Only bigger.
  • Creating a budget.
  • Visiting and detailing the venue.
  • * Finding places (stores etc.) willing to sell tickets.
  • * Servicing those ticket sellers.
  • * Organizing sound system and lights (yay Michael and Christa - THANKS!)
  • * Decorating the venue if required.
  • Paying everyone who needs paying.
  • Organizing the venue for the performers (snacks, green room, washrooms, mirrors).
The Old Chestnuts Newsletter / Web site
  • *** Writing articles (my BIGGEST need!) Concert & album reviews, musical thoughts, events ..PLEASE!!
  • Creating the newsletter in Word, fitting it to 2 pages, and making it pretty.
  • * Printing the newsletter master.
  • * Photocopying about 50.
  • * Printing the mailing labels.
  • * Folding, stuffing and mailing about 35. Hand delivering some.
  • Creating and sending the eMailed text version.
  • Creating the HTML version for the Web
  • Keeping the mailing lists.
  • * Scanning and re-typing articles about us
Performance Requests / Community Involvement
  • * Singing in parks, malls etc.

v Canadian Women In Song

This 6 session course at Laurier University is being lead by Old Chestnut Beverlie Robertson. It starts October 19 and is (darn!) for those 50 and over. Details next month, but in case you want to register now call 884-0710.

v Some Events in The Area (as space permits!)

Sep 2 Mill Race Folk Club, Ernie's Roadhouse, Cambridge. (Check the date - usually 1st Saturday but might be Sep 9th).
Sep 9 Hilltop Cafe‚ (if that's still the name?). New location on King St. Waterloo (Father's Caf‚?). First Saturday thereafter.
Sep 10 Mill Race Traditional Sessions, Golden Kiwi Pub, Cambridge. Second and fourth Sundays.
Sep 14 Grand River Dulcimer Club, Folkway Music 163 Suffolk St. W. in Guelph. 7:30 PM $3
Sep 15 Black Walnut Folk Club, Mill-Courtland Centre. $3. Open mic. With host. A new home!
Sep 22, 23 Canadian Songwriter's Festival, Guelph's River Run Centre Ian Tyson, Jesse Winchester, Lynn Miles and more.
Sep 23 Old Chestnuts Song Circle. Arrive between 7:30 and 8 PM. 578.6298. Teachers! Plus the Block Party in the afternoon!
Sep 29 Irish Ceili, University of Waterloo Fed Hall, 8:30, $12. 579-4586 for details.

v About this newsletter..... It's emailed if I have your address. It's on the Web at and 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. Call 578-6298 for more information. Wow - season 6 begins. What a strange summer. But The Woods was incredible, and I hear the same about Celtic College. Time passes very fast indeed. See you soon!

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