The Old Chestnuts Song Circle Newsletter
Summer 1998

Hello! - Jack Cole

Hello everyone, and welcome to my annual "rally the troops for another season" newsletter. I hope the summer has been good to you, youíve kept music in your lives, and that youíre looking forward to the start of another Old Chestnuts as much as I am!

My first order of business, though is to tell you about some exciting concerts that weíve organized for the upcoming months. Please read on - this is my only way to reach you until after two of these concerts have come and gone, and I really need everyoneís help to make them successful!!! Then call 578-6298 or email to order tickets and let us know that youíre coming!

Rick Fielding
September 26, 1998

On Saturday, September 26 we have Rick Fielding coming for a house concert. Tickets are $12 minimum donation, available now. If youíve been to an OCSC house concert before you know the magic that happens. And yes, there will be munchies, door prizes and opening performers (Merrick Jarrett among them).

You may have seen Rick at festivals, or heard his radio program on CIUT. At one festival I heard him introduced as "The Godfather" of Toronto folk music, just before he dazzled us with his music. Rick is a terrific songwriter, an amazing instrumentalist (on just about every instrument invented), a devoted disciple of the musical tradition, and an all-round nice guy. His music ranges widely, but singable folk songs are at the core. Iím really looking forward to hearing more of Rickís music and what the Old Chestnuts "sing-alongers" do with it!

I used one of the songs on Rickís first album to close the very first Old Chestnuts, and it is still one of my most favourites and most requested - Handful of Songs. If you know it, then you know some of what to expect from Rick.

 Rick has also been on staff at The Woods Music and Dance Camp as a teacher of various instruments. He has offered to do a workshop for us someday, and my plan is to talk about that at the concert, for a future date.

 So please folks, give me a call and plan to come see Rick Fielding. This concert will not be widely advertised, and Iím counting on the Old Chestnuts to fill the house!!

Eileen McGann October 10, 1998

On Saturday, October 10 we welcome Eileen McGann back to the Circle for both a concert and a workshop! The concert will be at a new venue, Grace Presbyterian Church (see directions below) and is priced at a minimum donation of $13 in advance, $15 at the door. Children 12 and under are $10 and $12.

Eileen and David K. played here two years ago, and have been back twice as two thirds of Trilogy. A recent American publication (musicHound Folk The Essential Album Guide) called Eileen "one of the finest singers, songwriters and interpreters of traditional music on either side of the Atlantic". And itís all true! You should not miss this concert! Eileen may have some special surprises for the concert, and yes, there will be munchies, door prizes and opening performa nces.

Eileen and David are gifted teachers of music too, and it was very difficult to select a workshop topic from the many possibilities. Finally, after getting two requests on the same night, I decided to ask Eileen to teach a Singing Workshop for us. The curriculum is up to her, but I expect they will demonstrate warm ups, voice exercises and (especially) harmony singing. We did a similar workshop 2 years ago and it was great fun. Iíve requested that Eileen plan the class so that it will have something for both returnees and first timers. The workshop (in our home) is $15, and as a special package, a ticket to both the concert and the workshop is $25. I am limiting enrollment, so call early!

October 10 is the Saturday of Thanksgiving and Oktoberfest, so I know that many folks will (unfortunately) have conflicts. We need to promote well to make this concert a success for Eileen. So check your calendar and then give us a call! I know itís a busy weekend for many of you, but if you can come please bring lots of friends and family and celebrate Thanksgiving with us!

Tickets are available from us (number is above) and from Readerís Ink Bookshop in Waterloo. The church is at 91 Madison Avenue just off Courtland. From the expressway take Courtland North and turn right at the light on Madison.

Eve Goldberg Date To Be Announced

Eve Goldberg is finishing recording her new CD, and her Toronto release party is scheduled for September. Sometime after that we will be hosting Eve for a house concert here in Kitchener. The date and location are not finalized, but we will let everyone know as soon as we have it figured out.

Eve is no stranger to the Old Chestnuts, having been out to a couple of our circles. She is one of the organizers of The Woods, and a mainstay of the Toronto song circle. I first saw Eve play at an Eaglewood festival a few years ago. This year she has been winning more fans at several Ontario festivals, and the reviews on the Internet have been rave! Eveís music is rooted in her love of singing, and with a collection of traditional, original and cover songs rich in harmony parts we are certain to have a great evening. Watch for more information!!

Trilogy December 11, 1999

Thatís right, 1999. Iím afraid Iím about to disappoint many of you. Trilogy offered us Two Thousand Years of Christmas for 1998, and the temptation was very great. But due to burnout on our part, and Trilogyís desire to reach new audiences after two years here, we agreed that maybe a year off was in order. So we have taken a pass on 1998, but booked them for Saturday December 11, 1999.

Think about that date. Exactly two weeks later is Christmas 1999 and another week after that is New Years Day, 2000! Could a more appropriate date be possible? Well, yes, of course, but not during the Ontario portion of their tour!

So Iím sorry - no Trilogy for Christmas in Kitchener this year. But you can see them in Ottawa December 4 (613-860-1203), Owen Sound on the 10th (371-2995), Aylmer on the 11th (765-3769), Barrie on the 12th or Goderich on the 13th. Or, come see Eileen and David for Thanksgiving instead!

Bill Gallaher Songbook

Just a reminder that I am pre-selling Billís songbook for him. A number of you have ordered copies, but Iím sure that more of you are interested. Please let me know! And if you have ordered but not sent me $20 yet, please think about remedying that - I would like to get the money into Billís hands so he can think about printing books! Thanks!

Old Chestnuts on the Radio

One of the highlights of last fall was when the Old Chestnuts had a special guest appearance on CKWR radio! Doug Gibson, host of Songs From The Wood, invited a half dozen of us into the studio to do a live 90 minute broadcast . Each of us got to lead 2 songs and talk about the circle and the music. We had a blast!

Apparently Doug did too because he has invited us back, this time with a promise of "more singing". I requested a night in early September so that we could promote the Circle and also talk about the upcoming concerts, so we are on September 9th!

Now, I need volunteers. Last time I ended up drafting folks, all of whom had a great time and all of whom I expect would be glad to go again. But if anyone out there wants to be part of this, please let me know as soon as possible!

On the same subject, both Rick Fielding and Eileen McGann are tentatively booked to spend an evening on the same program, the Wednesday before their concerts. So please tune in to Doug Gibson, Wednesday nights on CKWR radio!

Notes From the Far East - John Hennessy

[ Many of you know John, and that he and Grace are on a 3 year junket to Taiwan. I hear from John every week, and I thought folks might enjoy some of his observations. ]

I'm starting to realize that I really like China. Specifically, the PRC - it's just pure fun. Things you'd have to join a club and pay money for in the West are free here. Everyday life is like "e" ticket rides at Disney. Just crossing the road is better than the scary rides at Canada's Wonderland. Getting into a taxi is like climbing on board the Cessna to make my first parachute jump.

Yesterday we were in Nanking to visit a prospect. The hotel we stayed at the night before was maybe the best hotel I've stayed in anywhere. But then we had a taxi ride. Shear horror - my mind has blanked out much of it. Once there we were taken into one of those waiting rooms you see on the television. Little tables and big arm-chairs around the walls, carpet. I was waiting for Mao to come in and give a speech. After a few minutes they ushered me to the (even fancier) committee room next door to give my talk. The power went down twice, maybe three times in 40 minutes. Then we went for lunch in what I can only describe as the Faculty Club. Air conditioned private dining room. Waitresses, paneled walls. And I was the most neatly dressed person there (scary - very).

This place managed to win the prize for "most new genera in a single meal". It started fine. Bits of beef, lily bulbs, lotus root, that kind of thing. Then there was a salad which had some bits of black thousand-year egg in it. Old hat - I just ate it. BUT..... the next plate had something that looked like a rack of tiny ribs, attached to a convex plate. Gulp. Tortoise. Or perhaps turtle. Fixed smile, deep breath. It wasn't all that bad, but made me a bit queasy. A bit later they bring t his huge leaf-wrapped bundle. I cheered up - it looked like sticky rice in a lotus leaf which is one of my favourites. As I'm the long-nose-of-honour, it gets opened up in front of me. Oh God. It's full of black lumps. I go to pick one up and the lady who speaks the best English says "frog". It was too. I bit into it and it was crunchy. Crunchy Frog. As a devout Pythonist I didn't know if I should swallow, spit or wait for the Anthrax Ripple, Stormy Petrel on a Stick and Spring Surprise. In the end I spat out the (wierd) bones and swallowed the meat. It is not just like chicken. It is just like frog. Ribbit. Kermit. The leaf was (of course) a big lilypad.

Having done my bit for international cooperation I relaxed, but then another plate was plonked in front of me and the lady said "screw". I was confused. We eventually worked out that she was talking about the spiral nature of gastropod shells and that this was snails. Maybe they thought "Hennessy" was a French name. Zut Alors. Tabernacle!

I can report that snails taste of nothing, except the ketchup provided to dip them in. They are totally inoffensive, with none of the snot-like aspects of turtle, jellyfish or preserved egg, or the stable stench of stinky tofu.

Here's the kicker though. Three times this week I had dinner at my hotel. A buffet, which makes life simple. One dish on the buffet had three pieces of cheese. A small Brie and a piece of Blue Stilton - maybe a pound in weight. On Monday it was a little dodgy looking. By mid-week, the Stilton was throbbing and glowering at passers-by. I was brave enough to eat some on two days and the waitresses nearly fell back in horror as I carried my decayed lump of bug-ridden milk product past them. I'm just itching to feed some of my Chinese colleagues a really rich & stinky set of cheese sandwiches.

Finally: About the Song Circle

The first Circle of the new season (radio excepted) will be Saturday October 24th. No theme this month - just bring songs to share!

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 youíre unsure. We start at 8 PM sharp and finish about 11. 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 necess ary. No corn products or perfumes please.

The rules are simple. Everyone (in order around the room) gets chances to lead a song, pass, or request a song. Every song should have a part for everyone to sing - a chorus, response, or handouts to follow along. Requests should be based on someone knowing the song well enough to lead it. There is never any pressure to lead. Instruments are welcome but should not dominate. Sing softly enough that you can still hear your neighbours. 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!

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 .

Some Events in The Area (as space permits!)

Sep 18 Black Walnut Folk Club, (I presume) Laurel room, University of Waterloo. Open stage, $3

Sep 26 Rick Fielding, House concert at our place! $12. 578-6298

Oct 10 Eileen McGann Singing Workshop in the afternoon, $15. Concert in the evening. See above for details.

v About this newsletter..... Itís emailed if I have your address. Itís 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!!! As I write, The Woods is in full swing..I'm jealous! Celtic College was wonderful, and I recommend both heartily!!! And singing on mainstage at both the Mill Race and Celtic Festivals was coo l! (Don't tell the artistic directors - they have no idea!!!!).

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