Old Chestnuts & Black Walnuts Newsletter

September 1996

Update - The Singing Kettle Coffeehouse Jack Cole It seems like forever ago, but I wanted to give a brief report to counteract the gloom from the last newsletter. Eve Goldberg's concert was a great success. We had a nearly full house, and 10 or 12 people came early for dinner, so I know that it worked for the Kettle also. Eve's songs, as expected, were wonderful, and I'm pretty sure she had a good time as well. Jakki Ridley did a great opening set. Thanks to Eve, Jakki, Michael for the sound, and everyone who helped and who came! It was the kind of night I had hoped the Singing Kettle could be....now, do we do it again?

Upcoming Song Circles I've waffled back and forth on the question of a September Circle. None of my 3 right arms (Lori, Cathy and Dave) will be able to help out that night, plus we may be having a visiting potter staying over. Add to that all the work for the concert the week before and it looks like a bad idea. So naturally I want to give it a try; I believe that continuity is important to the Circle. So, come to 111 Chestnut St., Saturday September 28 at 7:30 to start another season! Since I am so right-armless, I would very much appreciate help beforehand to move furniture, and with munchies, coffee and so on. Thanks in advance. No theme this month, but please review the general philosophy of the Circle (below) and come with a song!

Why I Hate The City, Reason Number 17 Okay, so I haven't listed the first 16, but I'm sure any county-turned-city folk out there can find 16 without trying! Number 17 affects us personally. It seems that Kitchener has a bylaw prohibiting parking on any city street for more than 3 consecutive hours at any time, regardless of signs posted. They only enforce this bylaw if someone complains. Well, it appears that someone on Chestnut Street has done the deed, and the parking cops are now patrolling our neighbourhood, handing out $10 tickets for people who disregard this vital law. So anyone who comes to the Song Circles or house concerts runs the risk of getting nailed. If I knew who complained I would suggest that we learn You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch and give them our sweetest rendition. But I don't, and they probably wouldn't get it anyway.

The man at the Parking Ticket Complaint Line said that they typically patrol a street for 2 - 3 weeks, and then get on with their lives unless another complaint is received. So the odds are that by mid-September all will be normal again. Unless the complainer is targeting the Old Chestnuts.......the bottom line is, beware of this, and we will try to be vigilant!

"EileenFest '96" What a day September 21 will be!! Not only are we hosting Eileen McGann and David K for our second house concert, but they are also conducting a Harmony Singing Workshop in the afternoon!! The concert is waitlisted (tickets were sold in 2 days!) but there are still openings for the workshop, with a requested donation of $20 for about 3 hours of fun and information beginning at 1 PM. For people coming to both the workshop and the concert, we are planning a barbecue (for a small contribution) from about 5 until 7:30; bring your instruments as music may occur spontaneously (and park in the driveway!).

The concert will feature OCSC members doing warmups, with munchies and door prizes galore. If you have a ticket don't dare miss this concert, but if you have to miss it, remember that I have a waiting list; give me a call (but I may charge a re-selling fee this late). And if you're not on the waiting list but want to be, call me now; the list is still pretty short and there's a reasonable chance. If none of this works for you, then remember that the Black Walnut Folk Club begins their new season the same night; head to Victoria Park for the open stage. Or catch the Storytelling festival in Baden. (Or crash Pat and Robin Jones' anniversary party with The Murphys.)

Some Reflections on Mariposa-By-The-Shore, Cobourg, 1996 (Part 1) Merrick Jarrett

Merrick was a performer at the first Mariposa, and played his retirement gig this year in Cobourg. He has very kindly put his thoughts on the matter to paper, and has been even kinder in allowing me to serialize them in the newsletter. (For those who can't wait until next month, Merrick's entire text is available at June 96 ) Jack

Magic. Many years ago, a Toronto reporter at an earlier Mariposa talked about "magic moments", when an indescribable melding of performer, performance, and audience produced a moment of magic, where the audience sat transfixed, lost in something the performer had sung or played. It was a moment to always be remembered, and a moment that the listeners did not want to go away.

Mariposa 1996, or "Mariposa-By-The-Shore" in Cobourg, for me produced some of those moments. Right now I want to share some of them with you. Unfortunately, being involved in workshops myself or with Kate and John, there were others I would have loved to have attended, but it's impossible to be in two places at once.

We arrived in Cobourg, wondering what a change in venue, a down-sized Mariposa, perhaps a different approach to programming would be like. It all worked beautifully. What a great location! With the lake and lovely beach along one side, only a block or so away from downtown....pretty hard to beat.

For an hour I sat transfixed at the "Old Tyme Hot Guitar" workshop. Listening to four outstanding guitarists - Rick Fielding, Arnie Naiman, Tony Quarrington and Paul Mills (a.k.a. Curly Boy Stubbs) - was an incredible musical experience. I can only describe it by saying "I know what they're doing, but damned if I know how they are doing it!" Awesome.

Listening to Sylvia Tyson and Tom Russell discussing the craft of songwriting, particularly after I had read their book earlier, "And Then I Wrote..." (which, incidentally, not only is highly entertaining, but a must for anyone starting out writing songs). Their combined talents, along with the virtuoso guitar playing of Tom's accompanist, Andrew Hardin (and Tom is no mean guitarist himself) completed a memorable workshop.

And who could forget Bill Russell, a singer, instrumentalist, string-play expert, square dance caller, doing his stuff for adults and kids on the Folk Play stage, teaching Martha, my young granddaughter, a complicated string game...calling off a square dance, and generally being an all-around thoroughly professional and entertaining guy...and a very funny appearance by Kenny, one of the Mariposa sound men, who Bill persuaded to don a vest washboard and play it, while Bill sang an Acadian bayou song. Kenny hammed it up, and we ended up in stitches - of laughter, that is.

A workshop, or memorial, to Edith Fowke, who passed away in February. Sid Dolgay, Kathy Reid and her husband Arnie Naiman, David Warren from Mariposa, and I started off talking about Edith, and found that our audience was slowly slipping away. I guess a lot of people just didn't know or care about Edith, or talking about someone who wasn't there just didn't grab their interest. As the workshop host I was wondering what to do, when Kathy leaned over and said "Let's give them some music"; and since she and Arnie had their instruments there, that's just what we did.

We alternated remembrances of Edith with songs from her many books, and I'd like to think that our listeners went away having gained some more respect and admiration for one of our greatest collectors of Canadian traditional songs and folklore.

2000 Years of Christmas Whee! I am now organizing a local performance of 2000 Years of Christmas ("2kYX")! Eileen McGann, Cathy Miller and David K ("Trilogy") have toured Canada with their program of songs and stories for the last 2 Christmas seasons, and this year thought that K-W would make a good location for their one and only (at press time) Southwestern Ontario performance. And since they knew this inexperienced-but-dedicated organizer......so we'll be raising the curtain on 2kYX on Tuesday December 10 or Wednesday December 11, if I can work out all the details!

It's a great show. Several of us drove to Brantford to see it last year and had a wonderful time. The first half of 2kYX is ancient Christmas music and legends. The second set moves into modern times with some familiar songs and original material. They play a bunch of instruments, tell a lot of really good stories, and of course it's funny and the harmonies are delicious. The CBC broadcast part of the show on Boxing Day last year, and a CD version is due in October.

So now I'm looking for a venue for 100 to 200 people, with lots of character and parking and easy access from out of town, and not too expensive! And I'm thinking about ticket sales. One thought is to give OCSC members books of tickets and ask them to try selling to friends, family, work associates and so on, with ticket discounts for the sellers. Would people be willing? I'd much rather do this than give a big ticket reseller a commission! Let me know!

About Song Circles (Reprinted from the December 95 newsletter) Now that we've been at this for a few months I thought I'd remind people how it works. I've summarized some points below, most stolen from a document prepared by a member of another song circle.

Group singing is often folk music, but can really be any style. Don't feel restricted. The group likes variety!

Musical instruments generally remain in the background. Accapella is a good option to explore.

There is no pressure to lead a song. "Just listeners" and chorus singers are just as welcome. All songs should have a part for these folks to sing along.

The singaround is "play, pass or request". This we will do until break. After break it may vary.

If you choose to play, please consider some things. Realize that you are teaching or leading the song. Come prepared for that: know the song comfortably well; maybe bring copies (15?); maybe teach the chorus first. Let the rest of the group know what to expect: join in right away, just on choruses, last chorus twice, verse 3 women only, etc.; are other instruments welcome and if so when, etc. Otherwise we'll feel free to jump in any time!

if you don't want to play yet, or aren't a player, there is nothing wrong with passing! Don't feel obligated to play or request something when your turn comes. In fact, people who have spent lots of time preparing songs or who have a special request in mind will appreciate thoughtful passes.

Requests are of three types. You can request a particular person for a particular song; they may decline for whatever reason, no coercion allowed! You can request that the group sing a song, which you should be prepared to lead. This is like "playing", but acknowledging that some help is needed. Finally, you can put out a request for a song to the room; anyone who knows the song comfortably well can volunteer to lead it. This should be the exception, reserved for a song that you really want to hear but can't lead. If no one is comfortable leading the song - try again. Or someone may volunteer to prepare it for next time. In all cases, try to notice if the song or the person has been overworked recently - everybody gets weary of the some thing.

If there's a theme, consider using it. The intention of the theme is to inspire people to learn new songs, or to teach some that might be buried deep in their repertoire. It also helps people focus when choosing songs, rather than wondering what to do this month.

All ages are welcome, but kids (and adults) should be mature enough to follow the format and customs.

Respect the music. Enter and leave the room quietly. Once a song begins pay attention.

Respect the leader. The leader sets the pitch (maybe with help), speed, phrasing, style etc. Watch the leader for cues. Let the leader do the song their way. If you liked what they did, SAY SO! Encouragement helps everyone.

Respect the audience. Well prepared or well taught songs are appreciated. People like to participate - welcome it. Avoid playing or singing so loudly that you can't hear the next person - that's too loud. Exercise judgment and restraint with instruments and percussion. Sing harmony if you can; if you can't there's lots of room in the chorus!

Support the host. Periodically bring a snack or a beverage to share. Come early or stay late to set up or clean up. Buy the host expensive vacations or sport utility vehicles. Offer to help with mailings or photocopies.

Upcoming Events (limited by space this month - sorry to those I've missed and forgotten! Check Acoustic Cafe!)

Sep 12 Hoot Night at Angies, Waterloo. Every Thursday, open mic.

Sep 21 Black Walnut Folk Club, Jester's Court, Victoria Park, $3. Also, October 19.

Sep 21 Eileen McGann House Concert and Harmony Workshop at OCSC, $14 & $20, 578-6298

Sep 21 Harvest Storytelling Festival, Baden. Noon 'til late. Workshops and concerts. 519-634-8973

Sep 28 Old Chestnuts Song Circle, 111 Chestnut St., Kitchener. 7:30 until about 11:00, 578-6298. Also Oct. 26.

Oct 5 OctoberFolk, Brantford. Eileen, Fred Eaglesmith, Garnet Rogers, many more! $25, 519-759-7676.

About this newsletter...... This newsletter is emailed if I have your address. It is 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. I would love to have articles submitted, please! And event announcements are always welcome. Sorry about the small type and the squeezing....lots to tell you! And no reviews or Woods news even!