September 2001

v Old Chestnuts - Year 7 - Jack Cole

As the days dwindle down to a precious few I count myself incredibly lucky. My far-seeing boss, recognizing burnout when he sees it, granted my request for some time off. So here I am, spending my days making music, doing housework, trying to write something (anything) worth reading, pondering home improvements and stopping occasionally to smell the roses.

In the usual course of affairs there would be a September Song Circle to work towards. A theme to invent and new songs to learn (or often, the other way around). But this time we have a house concert instead (see below) and no circle until October, and even then there's a scheduling conflict. So I find myself contemplating life without a crowded and enthusiastic Circle until late November. Too long to wait for singing!!

Good thing I have GreenWood and my own practicing to do (also, see below). And I hope to hear some of you at Ernie's, the Black Walnut and the Hill Top Cafe. Anyway, when we do meet to sing ...

Oh my God. As I am trying to finish this the World Trade Centre has been attacked. I saw the second plane hit, live. There are monsters in the world. This is inconceivable to me. Now the Pentagon. The second tower has just collapsed. My Lord. A car bomb report. Now they say that another plane has been hijacked. New York City is a cloud of dust and gas. What kind of people could do this? Where is their humanity?

I can't write any more - this is so irrelevant now. I'm shaking. Find some songs about peace, about humanity, about putting an end to this insanity. Bring them in October. oh my.

v Robin Laing in Concert

It's a long and winding road.

Four years ago Robin Laing was touring through Ontario from his home in Lanarkshire Scotland, and asked us about playing a house concert. Since I was unfamiliar with Robin's music I declined, but suggested that he would be welcome to stay over, should he need a place on the road.

As it turned out, Robin stayed with us the night of the season's first Song Circle. Word spread of our special guest, and that we would turn the second half of the Circle over to him. Forty people squeezed into our living room that night, and they came from all over southern Ontario to hear the Scottish singer with the whiskey-smooth voice. At the end of the night we passed the hat, Robin sold a boatload of CDs, and we knew we must have him back again.

That time has come. On Saturday, September 22 - four years to the day - Robin Laing winds his way back for a house concert that is not to be missed by lovers of Scottish traditional songs and songs written in the that tradition. Robin has recently released his fourth album, "Imaginary Lines", once again blending traditional and original material to create a richly satisfying whole.

In addition to his continuing show about Scotch whiskey, Robin has recently finished a book of whiskey songs and poems, called "The Whiskey Muse". He has also created a new show, "Glamourie and Graveyards", a "musical journey into the supernatural world of Scottish folk culture with its witches, warlocks, ghosts, vampires, bogles and other eldritch beings".

Be sure to wind your way to the concert. Tickets are available from 578-6298 and 745-3602, for $12. The concert will be at Mary and Barry's place on Frederick Street, starting at 8 PM. As usual, members of the Circle will open, and there will be munchies and door prizes.

[By the way - if enough people from Nancy and James' Harmony Singing class come to this concert, I would like us to open with a reprise of some of our songs. Call us "The Prickle Holly Singers". Let me know!]

v Eileen McGann - Jack Cole

It's no secret that I consider Eileen McGann the best all `round folk musician in the country. Her ability to take traditional songs and give them new life; her own poignant and topical song-writing; her captivating performances and spectacular voice all add up to a respected and significant force in Canadian folk music. Yet, because she is not big on self-promotion and non-stop touring, she is not as well known as her peers.

All four of Eileen's albums are rated 4 to 5 by the musicHound Folk Guide, with "Turn It Around" receiving a perfect 5. Her most recent album, "Heritage", consisted entirely of traditional songs, so it has been 6 years since we have had new, original Eileen McGann music to wear out our CD players with.

The wait is nearly over. As I write this, the recording is complete, the mixing is nearly done, the cover art is finalized and "Beyond The Storm" is about to go into production. This eagerly awaited album contains several new McGann compositions, 3 or 4 traditional songs and one cover. Previews at recent concerts have shown Eileen's writing to be as strong and evocative as ever.

Eileen had decided to launch the new record in Ontario, and the Old Chestnuts are lucky enough to be hosting what should be the most exciting date on the tour. Performers love to play here. Zion United Church has been called the best folk venue in Southern Ontario. And the Old Chestnuts crowd is well known as an enthusiastic and singing audience (take a bow!).

So don't hesitate. Mark Friday October 12 on your calendar and stop by Words Worth Books (or call 578-6298) for tickets. This will be a keeper.

v Royal Medieval Faire - J. Kruegel

News about the Royal Medieval Faire, Sat. Sept. 15th, 11:00a.m.-6:00p.m in Waterloo Park. A day of medieval mirth and merriment meant for the entire family. There are a wide variety of musical acts (including several Old Chestnuts) interspersed with performances by magical acts, dance acts and finally to round out the day, a ceili dance at the days end. For the kids there are various games to be played (archery, siege weapons, courtly activities , ...) and prizes to be won for those who are skilled. In addition we have experts in various areas such as armour making and bird handling to add educational elements to the festival. See further details at or e- mail us at

v Aengus Finnan - jc

I ran into Aengus at Summerfolk and we chatted about the status of his new recording, to be titled "Flesh and Bone". "It is mostly songs of and about Ontario, drawn from my relentless touring". Aengus is aiming for a January release, but needs some help making this happen. This is where we can come in.

Product pre-sales are something we've done before for Modabo, Eve Goldberg and Bill Gallaher. The idea is that fans pay for copies of the product in advance to help finance the creation and manufacturing. In exchange we get (usually) signed copies, the eternal gratitude of the musician, and the satisfaction that we have helped get these wonderful songs out to the world.

If you would like to help Aengus with this, I am willing to administer the pre-sales. Just drop $20 off with me and I will co- ordinate with him.

Meantime, Aengus, who we introduced to the area in 2000, is part of a new folk music series in St. Jacobs. He will appear on November 17th at (I think) the Schoolhouse. Cost is $12. The "Live From St. Jacobs" series (so far) is:

  • Mae Moore Nov. 1, 8 p.m. $15
  • Aengus Finnan Nov. 17, 8 p.m. $12
  • Guy Davis (Blues)Dec. 4, 8 p.m. $18
  • Fred Eaglesmith Dec. 8, 8 p.m. $15 and (solo) Dec. 9, 2 p.m. $12
  • DANU Feb. 2, 8 p.m. $20 (Best Overall Traditional Band - 1999 Irish Music Awards)

Six years ago when we started hosting concerts, there were hardly any folk music events between London and Toronto. Now there are excellent concert series all over the place - St. Jacobs, the Button Factory in Waterloo, Folkway Music in Guelph, the Arkell Schoolhouse, and a few independent folks as well. The wealth and variety of music is wonderful. I hope we can all support these fine events.

v Amnesty Benefit - jc

For the last couple of years the local branch of Amnesty International has invited GreenWood (Jean Mills, James Morgan and myself) to perform a fund raiser house concert in support of their activities. This has traditionally been a concert featuring lots of fun and a very intimate and friendly atmosphere.

Please note that, due to a conflict with the Aengus Finnan concert, we have re-scheduled this show to Sunday November 18 at 7:30 PM. With great apologies to our out of town friends who have supported GreenWood so well in the past, we hope that an early Sunday evening will still be possible for you. It's for a good cause, and we promise lots of singing!

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

Sep 21 Black Walnut Folk Club, Mill-Courtland Centre. $3. Open mic. With host.
Sep 22 Robin Laing House concert for the Old Chestnuts. $12. 578-6298 or 745-3602.
Oct 6 Octoberfolk in Brantford. Eileen McGann, David Francey, Mose Scarlet and more! 519-759-7676.
Oct 11 Katherine Wheatley and Wendall Ferguson at Sunnyside Public School, 7 PM. $12. 896-1130.
Oct 12 Eileen McGann at Zion United Church, 8 PM. CD release tour! $14 & $10 in advance. 578-6298.
Oct 13 Hill Top Cafe Live, open stage. Second Saturday of each month. Contact Dan Hergott. . Dan is also looking for musicians to come play at the Hill Top, and also hosts who will get a 30-60 minute spot. Apparently the audience is large, but more performers are needed!
Oct 20 Allison Lupton CD Release, with Ian Bell, James Gordon, more. Cambridge Arts Centre, $12, 621-4649
Oct 22 Cathy Miller at the Elmira Mennonite Church. All quilting show. 519-664-2665 for info.
Oct 27 Old Chestnuts Song Circle at Mary and Barry's on Frederick. 578-6298. Also November 24.
Oct 27 Jim Payne and Fergus O'Byrne at the Button Factory in Waterloo. Both afternoon (aimed at children) and evening concerts. 886-4577.
Nov 1 Mae Moore, St. Jacobs. See above for other concerts in the series.
Nov 9 Christina Smith and Jean Hewson at the Button Factory in Waterloo. Jack Cole opening. 886-4577.
Nov 17 Dave Sinclair, flamenco style guitarist at the Button Factory in Waterloo. 886-4577.
Nov 18 GreenWood, benefit house concert for Amnesty International, $10 adults, $5 students. 578-6298.
Nov 23 Jack Cooper CD Release, Laurel Room, University of Waterloo.

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. A great summer of festivals and music camps! Some of you have offered to write your thoughts on the summer. I hope to collect these for the next newsletter, after the October circle. Please send me your contributions! oh my..if I've left anything unfinished I'm sorry, but......

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