November 2000

v Late Breaking News!!!

A "too-good-to-miss" opportunity came up last week, and has resulted in another concert in January and a real coup for the Old Chestnuts! We (along with MJA/MJG Concert Productions) are privileged to host the first concert in Pied Pumkin String Ensemble's 2001 re-union tour!

For those who missed the 70's (for whatever reason!), you should know that the Pumkin were a seminal group in the British Columbia counter-culture folk music scene. Shari Ulrich, Rick Scott and Joe Mock brought their frantic sound to Ontario a couple of times, and I've always wanted to see them again! More next month!

v Last Month and This - Jack Cole

"Famous People" brought 25 out to sing in October. No space to write more!!

For November I want to try something different. I'll start off the circle with Paul Simon's "I Am A Rock". Your job is to link another song to it - something else by Simon, or on the same theme, or with a similar title or a similar image. On the next round do the same, or link a song to the one you did first. Let's see where we go!

And I must put in a plug for GreenWood, opening for James Gordon at the Button Factory in Waterloo, November 18. James is a wonderful songwriter and entertainer. GreenWood you all know by now! Tickets are $10 and you can get them from me.

And please read on for an appeal!

v Haines & Leighton

A date is set and a hall booked for what should be a most amazing concert to kick off 2001! Mark Haines & Tom Leighton defy description, but here's a recent attempt:

"Tom Leighton and Mark Haines blazed their way to glory, working the crowd up with their extremely polished set. They are both multi-instrumentalists. Leighton, amazingly plays as many as three at the same time! Leighton brought down the house with a solo bodhran break. Haines, who sang most of the solos, also plays a mean fiddle. Together the two musicians played a red-hot and glowing version of the Orange Blossom Special, driving the crowd INSANE WITH PLEASURE!" - The Chronicle Herald, Halifax

Tickets for this January 6, 2001 concert are $12 ($10 for kids) and available from several Old Chestnuts (578-6298) and Words Worth Books in downtown Waterloo.

Tom and Mark are interested in doing afternoon workshops. These are always difficult to organize, because first a topic is needed! Some choices are mandolin, fiddle, rhythm (a huge hit at The Woods), songwriting, and (group) singing. If you are interested in any of these, let me know right away!

Now for the appeal. I need help with these concerts!

At present there are a handful of volunteers doing all of the work, and they are getting weary. I would like to get other Old Chestnuts into the swing on a regular basis so that we can continue to enjoy live music of the highest caliber! Here's my proposal.

If you are willing to help out, but don't know what you might do, come to November's Circle at 5 PM instead of 8. We'll pool some cash and order supper, then spend a couple of hours making teams and dividing up responsibilities.

Jobs that need doing are mostly easy. Printing tickets, making flyers, tacking up posters, selling tickets to friends & family, billeting and feeding the performers. If we share the work it will be fun and simple!

So I hope some of you can make it on November 25 at 5. If you would like to, but can't come then, please call 578-6298.

v OctoberFolk 2000 - Robin Jones

The line up this year was: Bill Garrett, Sue Lothrop & Curly Boy Stubbs, Cyril MacPhee, Norland Wind, Ron Hynes, Archie Fisher, Steel Rail, Connie Kaldor, and Night Sun.

We started off taking in a workshop called "Influences & Inspirations," with Connie Kaldor, Sue Lothrop, Ellen Hamilton (Night Sun), and hosted by Cyril MacPhee. This was a really good workshop, a pleasant way to start the day and to see Cyril, Sue and Ellen for the first time. Cyril is a better than average singer and a fair guitar player from Cape Breton. He is a good entertaining act, but misses the edge of finesse that a person like Connie has. He did play along in the workshops, as did Bill Garrett. More people should jam in workshops! Sue was polished and professional. Ellen is a good raw talent - more about her later. Connie was the star of this group, she is so comfortable in front of a crowd; she gets in your pocket.

Ruth Sutherland and Norland Wind were in the other workshop at the same time. Needless to say we didn't get to see any of this workshop. Hindsight makes me wish I could have been in two places at once.

Next up was Night Sun in concert, and a Folk, Country, and Bluegrass workshop, hosted by Ron Hynes. We decided to split our time between the two. The workshop was so good we didn't catch any of the concert. If Steel Rail had been my introduction to Bluegrass, I'd have probably liked the genre more than I do. Wow. This was a really good workshop, with everyone joining in to some extent. This is more like what a workshop should be, but even this could have been better.

I skipped "I wish I had Written That", but took in "The Songwriters and Their Songs", and "Traditional Scottish and Irish Songs and Tunes." The first workshop, hosted by Connie Kaldor, turned out to be less of a workshop but Bill Gossage (Connie's bassman) played on almost every song. Bless you Bill - you know what the word workshop means. Ellen had the rest of Night Sun with her, and seemed a lot more polished than she was in the first workshop. Connie cracked a joke about hapless men trying to break in to her van, and her having to show them how to do it. The male culprits were Bill Gossage and myself, and this happened at Hillside, years ago. When Bill saw me after the workshop, we both doubled up laughing.

I went to the Tradition workshop, to be greeted by a Bo Derek look alike playing the bodhran as well as I have seen, or heard anyone play. This was Kerstin Blodig, a part of "Norland Wind;" a German Celtic group. Another very good workshop hosted by Ruth Sutherland, with Archie Fisher, and Thomas Loefke, who is one third of Norland Wind. This German plays Celtic Harp, and speaks English with an Irish accent. The world is getting smaller.

The last workshop was "Guitar for Solo, Duo and Trio." Like last year this turned out to be the very best workshop - I'll even go out on a limb and state that this was the best workshop I saw this summer. Bill Garrett hosted Ian Melrose from Norland Wind, Curly Boy Stubbs, Dave Clarke from Steel Rail, and Cyril Macphee. Highlights were Ian playing the "Pink Panther," Dave giving everyone a guitar lesson - Curly Boy was fascinated by his technique. Cyril was flat picking fiddle tunes. This workshop was worth the cost of the festival.

The concerts started after supper with Bill Garrett and gang. I had never seen Sue before, and as I said previously she was good, but she really shone when she sang back up. I didn't really get excited about this group, but I think that it is because I've seen Bill and Curly so often they are becoming too predictable.

Next up was Cyril Macphee. He had a bassist with him, and they performed very well, bantered well with the audience, lots of sing a longs, once thanking our own Dianne Kennedy for her beautiful harmonies. Despite not having the edge that I talked about before, this is a definite see again person.

Norland Wind was the most pleasant surprise of the evening. Three superb musicians. This band is based in Germany. Apparently there is a huge Celtic music craze in Germany at the moment. The band is Thomas Loefke on Celtic Harp, Kerstin Blodig on guitar, bodhran, and vocals, and Ian Melrose on guitar. Ian sounded like he was a Yorkshireman to me. Thomas has an Irish accent when he speaks English because he works in Ireland several months of the year. To describe their sound is difficult - Celtic Jazz would be close. Think of the Girl from Ipanema sound, and marry that to Celtic tunes. Very interesting. I would definitely go and see these people again.

Next up was Ron Hynes. Ron was solo and that is when he is at his best. This guy can write a song about anything, and gave us a really fair sampling. Not too much banter, he let his songs do the talking. Naturally he closed with "Sonnys Dream." Another good set.

Archie Fisher was his usual excellent self, but boy is he looking older. He did a lot of new songs, & was joined on stage by Garnet Rogers for the last two songs. I prefer his older songs to his new ones; perhaps he is losing his passion, or maybe his new passions do not speak to me like his old ones did. Another really good set.

Steel Rail followed. Hot stuff, good singing, good picking, and no nasal whine. This Montreal based band are definitely worth another see.

Connie Kaldor followed, and proceeded to put on her usual excellent show. Connie performed a good mix of old and new tunes. Bill Gossage accompanied on the bass and fiddle. Garnet Rogers also came on board to play and sing "Bird on a Wing " with Connie. Garnet came in to visit with Archie, and ended up being recruited free of charge to round out the sound of both Archie and Connie. What a welcome surprise. Another excellent set.

Last was Night Sun. These kids are really sound musicians, ably led by Ellen Hamilton's vocals. Originally from the Northwest Territories, and now based in Kingston, this group definitely has their own sound. I would label them as Celtic Klesmer. This is the second time this year that I have seen a clever quiet percussionist. The other one was the drummer who toured with Eric Bogle. I didn't get the name of the young lady drummer in this band but she was really good, and many drummers could take inspiration from her. Her tenor drum was muffled with a blanket, she used brushes on her snare, and on some songs played a single bongo. This lady is an artist. They also had a very good lead guitarist who played mandolin and saxophone. There was also a very able accordion player and a capable bassist. Keep your eye on these kids; I wouldn't be surprised to see them make it.

I cannot finish without a complaint, but this is a generic complaint I have about all performers at all the festivals I attended this year. There are too many performers who repeat too many songs from stage to stage. I don't want to see the same set on the concert stage as I see on the workshop stage. Connie Kaldor was the only one who did not repeat a song. I can understand a little if there is one special song an artist does, or if the artist is new and has a small repertoire. There is no excuse for artists like Ron Hynes, Archie Fisher, or Bill Garrett and Curly Boy Stubbs, with their wealth of knowledge to ever repeat a song on an entire weekend, let alone on one day. At the Collingwood Celtic Festival this year I heard one very prolific, really good artist, Rick Fielding, do exactly the same set on two different stages. Nuff said

Kudos to Don McGeoch for planning and putting on this wonderful festival.

v Cindy Thompson - Louise Carroll

A dynamo of fiddling and stepdancing!

I don't know how, but somehow we missed Cindy at Home County a few years ago, but we were at the Cuckoo's Nest Folk Club's season opener last Sunday night (Sept.17) and were truly dazzled by her.

Cindy Thompson, backed up on guitar by the very talented J.K. Gulley, gave an outstanding performance. Imagine fingers flying on the fiddle and feet moving even faster and then the music...totally entertaining toetapping fun. The pace changed easily from waltz to jig to fast paced reels. Cindy has a way about her that reminds me of Natalie McMaster, but Ottawa valley style... very infectious music, honest and straight from the heart. You get the feeling right away that this woman loves to fiddle and dance, often at the same time. At one point when J.K. took over the melody for a waltz, she couldn't stand not dancing and hauled Jeff up out of the audience for a short waltz.

Most of the material covered was on Cindys CD "I can feel it in the air" but she also asked for requests from the crowd and early in the evening she spotted a young fiddler with his fiddle who had been with her at the Orangeville Fiddling and Stepdancing Camp in the summer. Half way into the 2nd set, she invited him up to play with her and trade tunes back and forth and to play solo. The crowd loved it. You got the feeling right away that Cindy and J.K. would be "way too much fun" to have at a house party or jam session.

Cindy lives in the Midland area. If you like fiddling and stepdancing, don't miss the opportunity to go and see Cindy Thompson and J.K. Gulley live or to book them for a concert. Her CD would make an excellent Christmas gift for anyone on your list who loves fiddling. (The Orangeville Fiddling and Stepdancing Camp for kids in the summer sounds like it warrants further investigation.

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

Nov 17 Black Walnut Folk Club, Mill-Courtland Centre. $3. Open mic. With host.
Nov 18 James Gordon with GreenWood. Button Factory, Waterloo. Call Jack at 578-6298 for info. $10
Nov 24 Artisan Christmas Show! 905-873-8261. Also other dates in Southern Ontario - London, Goderich, Toronto. Check their Web site!
Nov 25 Old Chestnuts Song Circle. Arrive between 7:30 and 8 PM. 578.6298. Links to "I Am A Rock". Come at 5 to do planning!!
Dec 2 Mill Race Folk Club, Ernie's Roadhouse, Cambridge. 1st Saturday of each month. Christmas party!
Dec 7 Grand River Dulcimer Club, Folkway Music 163 Suffolk St. W. in Guelph. 7:30 PM $3
Jan 6 Haines & Leighton! Zion United Church, Kitchener. Details above.
Jan 31 Pied Pumkin! Zion United Church, Kitchener. Details next month.
Feb 3 Lucie Blue Tremblay, 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. Thanks to Louise & Robin - made my job nice this month! Looks like I took too long to accept the invitation to go Caroling downtown, so scratch that idea! They will ask us again next year. Maybe we want to do some on our own? See you soon!

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