vLast Month and Next - Jack Cole
Our tenth season. It's just about impossible to believe that friend Cathy and I met James over nine years ago at The Woods, and determined that we could actually start this thing (and only with full family support, of course!). The faces have changed over the years, as newbies - at least one every month - have found their way to our front step, and, sadly, as others have moved on to other Saturday night activities.
The first night of the tenth season will always be "Mary's night", as we remembered our friend Mary Jarrett, whose courageous battle with cancer was an inspiration to all who knew her. Mary had passed just the Thursday before. She, along with Merrick, had been a founding member of the Old Chestnuts, with us regularly until the last couple of years, and occasionally even after that. Mary loved to listen and to sing along, sometimes requesting a song but usually happy to be part of the chorus. We will miss her spirit, enthusiasm and wonderful sense of humour.
The evening started with "Duncanís Cove", a Cathy Miller song about Maryís favourite place, and continued with Linda leading "Will the Circle Be Unbroken". As we went around the room several people offered stories or songs for Mary. An uncanny thing happened when Gwen unknowingly requested Maryís favourite song - "The Green, Green Grass of Home". I flipped open my songbook, explaining that I once had the music, but didnít think I did any more, and darned if it didnít open precisely to the page. Everything felt a bit better after that.
We were 32 strong to begin the season, including 4 new people. Welcome, and welcome back, to all. In October, due to Loriís annual pottery sale rush (by the way, the sale and craft tour is November 13), we are moving the circle to Mary and Barryís place, just around the corner on Frederick Street. Call or write, if you need directions - 578-6298. There is no theme this month; just bring your voice some good, well-practiced songs to lead. Or just come and be part of the chorus - it's a time-honoured role.
See you there.
vOctoberFolk 2004 - Robin Jones
[ Once again, many thanks to Robin Jones for this terrific report on OctoberFolk. It makes the October newsletter my favourite!]
Line up: Peggy White, Pipeline, Lisa Moscatiello, Stephen Fearing, J.P. Cormier, The Dreamsicles, Bruce Guthro, and North Sea Gas. For the workshops only we also had Allison Lupton, Don McGeoch, and David Leask.
The first workshop of the day, "If itís no Scottish itís..." presented David Leask, North Sea Gas, and Allison Lupton David Leask is a transplanted Scot who now lives in Toronto, and has won a couple of song writing contests. North Sea Gas is three Scots, forming a formidable folk band with 12 albums to their credit. No names to credit in the programme. I donít have to introduce Allison Lupton, as we all know her as a fine singer, whistle, and flute player. I came in on the second song where David sang "Wild Mountain Thyme". David showed some solid guitar work, and to make a workshop of it Allison sang along.
Allison was next, and asked everyone to play along. This is the first time that I have ever seen her so nervous, Allisonís voice broke at the beginning of her song. No one joined in. When Allison broke in to her whistle break though, the fiddle player was on to the tune within three notes, but he was flat for the first few notes. North Sea Gas performed a version of "So will we Yet", to a much different tune than I have ever heard before. Throws you off a bit for singing along, but makes you listen more. Wonderful harmonies. Rare (said rary) Hill, by Allison, was the best song of the set. David Leask made a much better job of traditional songs than he did of his own. There was a general reluctance to join in and make it a workshop, despite Allison's efforts, but she managed to get them all going for the last set of tunes. A good way to start the day.
I then chose to see "Instrumentally my dear Watson", with J.P.Cormier, Pipeline, and Stephen Fearing, over "Not all folk songs are depressing", with The Dreamsicles, Peggy White, and Donald McGeoch. J.P Cormier is amazing, WOW! He was so fast it was impossible for anyone to join in, except for his wife Hilda on piano; you just had to have practiced those tunes. Stephen was so in to the music, you couldnít get his smile any wider. What a flat picking demonstration! When Stephen did his bit, J.P was just as impressed with his version of "Early one Morning", and kept nodding and muttering uh, uh, oh yeh. What a finger picking demonstration that was! Pipeline turned out to be a pair of clowns with extremely well honed skills. Pipeline are: Dermot Hyde, on uilleann pipes, and a myriad of whistles, and Tom Hake on guitar, bouzouki, and harp. These guys are good, very good. Lasting impressions of this set were J.P. playing two tunes simultaneously, "Yankee Doodle", and "Bobby Shafto" (I believe) then Stephenís version of "Lark in the Clear Air", and also an incredibly, haunting beautiful tune that Pipeline found in Galicia, in Spain. This workshop was worth the cost of admission by itself!
The next Workshop I took in was "Celtic Melting Pot" with Pipeline, North Sea Gas, and Allison Lupton. I chose this over "Songs from the heart" with Lisa Moscatiello, Stephen Fearing, and Bruce Guthro. I should add that the latter workshop was packed to the rafters. North Sea Gas started a cappella, with the regimental song for the highland Regiment of the Black Watch, which, by the way, is being disbanded: "Enlist bonny laddie, and come awaí with me, Over the mountains and over the main, through Gibraltar to France and Spain, With a feather in your cap, and a kilt about your knees, Enlist Bonny Laddie, and come awaí with me". Then Allison sang, "I Wandered by Brookside" accompanied by Tom Hake on guitar, and Dermot added some beautiful whistle parts. Pipeline then sang a cappela, that fine song by Patrick Cavanah "Raglan Road". They sure can sing too. Pipeline left the deepest impression in this set, especially when they were backing Allison, and with their earthy humour, which at times really left Allison embarrassed and speechless. Allison did manage to get N. S. Gas to jam, but it was like pulling henís teeth.
Next workshops were up, and I had to split my time between both, so I could get to hear Bruce Guthro and the Dreamsicles. The first was "These are a few of my favourite songs" with Peggy White, The Dreamsicles, and Lisa Moscatiello. Peggy White is a singer songwriter, very much in a country vein. Very pleasent voice, but her songs were not conducive to singing along. Next were the Dreamsicles. They look like an odd couple. I did not get their names, but she is a tall blonde from Texas, who cheers for the Cowboys, and he is a stocky guy of East Indian heritage from the Washington area, who cheers for the Redskins. In this workshop their songs were toe tapping with very good harmonies. Nice jamming with the next actís cello player.
Then Lisa Moscatiello, with her cellist Fred Lieder. Lisa sang Leonard Cohenís, "Hallelujah". What a voice! Everybody sang along. The Dreamsicle guy played the bass strings on his guitar, an effective edge. The song that was in process as I left was by Peggy and the whole crew was joining in. The cello and Dreamsicles guitarist were jamming very well together.
I then went over to, "Potpourri, (sing whatever the heck you want)" with Bruce Guthro, David Leask, and J.P. Cormier. David Leask was singing a song about a church that purchased a strip club, to change in to a place of worship. He was playing piano. His song seemed to be formula written; still a lot better than I can do. Bruce is a very outgoing, witty, character whose songs vary a lot, and are definitely not formula written. He sang one song, "Trailer Park", which was about a young couple who had to get married because she was pregnant. J.P. lost control laughing and had to leave the stage when Bruce got to the line that the baby couldnít have been the husbandís because it came out wearing an afro haircut. This guy is really something and really funny as well. J.P. sang the "Molly Mae". J.P. has a fine singing voice, and this is a good song written in the traditional style. David then sang a song called "Ancestor's Eyes"; good theme, good song, but David was the odd man out on stage. Bruce then sang a song he had been commissioned to do about an adopted child, "Thatís what Love is For". Very nice, but very country sounding. Good workshop.
Next was a concert by North Sea Gas. First song was "Bonnie Dundee"; lovely harmonies; a solid version of this popular folk song. They then followed with Dark Island", and I found their version to be very abrupt and choppy, as I like to sing along with this song but they cut all the good harmonizing parts short. Understanding art - I don't always get it. They next performed a set of fiddle tunes - again the fiddle was flat at times, but generally good. I was beginning to wonder if the fiddler could hear himself in the monitors. They then did "Looking For a job", a song of unreasonable expectations, low hours and high pay, only to end with a verse about achieving that goal when becoming a member of the new parliament in Scotland. A good sing along song "Where are you now Harry Brewer", was next - more flat notes from the fiddle Then a Really nice rendition of Ron Hynesí song "Sonnyís Dream". This band is worth another listening. Good fun. Supper break - usual prime rib buffet. Mm, Mm good.
The evening concerts started with Peggy White, who had a bassist, Patrick Junta accompanying her. This lady had a hit with one of her CDís on European radio, and she is fairly good. She has a pleasantly toned voice, and I would classify her music as country mood music, which wouldnít be out of place as background music in a steak house. She picks good topics for her songs, "In the Rain" and "Lucky Me" stood out. "Lucky me," was about a survivor's point of view of their beloved spouse dying of Alzheimerís disease. Despite the topics being interesting Peggyís songs did get to be monotonous, and sound all alike.
On the bill next was Pipeline, and they were as good as earlier. They are very funny men, hard to get better. They are superb musicians who had all the other musicians lined up at the back of the room taking them in. They varied the pace between fast and slow, serious, and hilarious - I would love to see these two again.
Next up Lisa Moscatiello, and I did remember correctly, she has a wonderful jazzy sounding voice, and interesting chord progressions in her songs. Lisa, enhanced by her cellist Fred, displayed the wonderful control of her voice with songs like Hank Snowís, "Fool Such as I", "Hereís a health to all true Lovers", and a traditional song from the Carolinas, "Wake up Maggie". Similar to "Wake up Darling Cory." Good set.
Stephen Fearing remarked that it was good to be doing his own work again. After touring for over a year with Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, he said his stuff seemed as if it was fresh to him again. He gave us a selection of his past favourites which had me listening to every word to catch the storyline. He ended with a version of Parting Glass that I had not heard before, a lovely heart rending, slow version, with the tune "Hard Times Come again no more", inserted for the break between the verses. Beautiful guitar work from one of the eveningís national treasures.
J.P. Cormier, was accompanied by his wife, Hilda, on piano, and someone who I cannot name, alternated between guitar, and bass. J.P is a good singer, and astounding instrumentalist on guitar, fiddle and mandolin. He deliberately kept his talking to a bare minimum so he could pack as much music in as possible. He played the "Masons Apron" faster than I have ever heard it before. He then proceeded to show us he was no slouch on the fiddle, and mandolin. He punctuated his act with songs, so there was always a fresh interest, and a fresh sound. Showmen this good are hard to find.
The Dreamsicles are hard to describe, because they donít sound like any one else, they are truly unique. They call their sound, Ice Cream and Love. These two weave an interesting combination of harmony, lead changing and each singing different words at the same time. They use many jazz type chords to enhance their voices. One song was very funny; it was about explaining the sounds that come from mummy and daddyís bedroom. Later Bruce Guthro called it the vibrator song. They also performed a song, "When Angels sing," that used a custom electric guitar that had a fan of extra strings on it. The guitar sounded very oriental, and must be a swine to tune. These two had a good variety of sounds, and there was no let down in interest for their entire act.
Bruce Guthro closed the evening. He was accompanied by a bassist, who also played fiddle, and I apologize for not getting his name. Bruce is an exceptional entertainer. He is another of the evening's national treasures. He started off with a version of "Itís a Long Way from Clare to Here", which is a traditional, or near traditional song, and then proceeded to wrap the audience around his little finger with his banter, and humility. He got his accompanist to play a fiddle tune set, and varied the pace and sound so well, that before you knew it: the show was over.
The evening ended with the traditional Brantford Folk clubís singing of "Wild Mountain Thyme". Joining Don on Stage were Bruce Guthro, North Sea Gas, and some of the volunteers. All the other performers had left - it was gone 1 a.m.
Thanks again to Don and Brenda for facilitating this wonderful festival.
Closing Notes - jc
# Jim Payne and Fergus O'Byrne. Robin Jones would like to invite everyone to the next concert in the WCAC (25 Regina, Waterloo, 886-4577) series "Folk at the Factory," featuring Jim Payne and Fergus O'Byrne. The show is Friday October 22, at 8 pm, and tickets are only $15. These guys are the "real deal", and not to be missed.
Jim Payne performs on guitar, accordion, mandolin, tin whistle, and violin, as singer, storyteller, actor, writer, step dancer, and teacher of traditional Newfoundland set and square dances. From Notre Dame Bay, Newfoundland, Jim has been a professional performing artist and writer for 19 years. Long known as a leading performer and collector of Newfoundland traditional music, he is also one of the province's most prolific songwriters. Jim has toured and performed extensively on radio and television in Canada and abroad, and has a string of recording credits to his name
Fergus O'Byrne sings and plays banjo, guitar, mandolin, concertina, tin Whistle and bodhran. Born in Dublin, Fergus emigrated to Canada in 1967. He became a founding member of the Irish folk band Ryan's Fancy, and has toured extensively throughout North America and Ireland as part of the trio. Fergus has been featured on many television shows throughout his career including the very popular CBC series Ryan's Fancy, which ran nationally for five years. Since then, Jim has continued to tour and appear on both television and radio as a solo artist, with Jim Payne, and as part of the legendary traditional band Tickle Harbour.
# Eileen McGann - Light Eileen's new CD is out, and I have a couple of copies available for sale and I can get more. This is a CD of "healing music", which contains mostly previously released material with 3 or 4 new songs. Among them is "Bless This House", a terrific song that you may have heard as part of Trilogy's Christmas show, and "Love & Light Surround Me", which Eileen introduced during her last concert for us. As we have come to expect, this is another wonderful recording from one of Canada's best.
# Tenth Anniversary Song Circle Mugs At the September circle Lori debuted her beautiful, limited series (only ten were made) 10th anniversary mugs. They feature the OCSC logo on one side and a stylized quarter note (made to look like a 10) on the other. All ten mugs are glazed in opal, but different accent colours were used to make The Ten all connected, but all different.
So far only OCSC members have been able to buy these. We have about four left, and if you would like to have a look please let us know. After October's circle they will be available to everyone.
# The OCFF Conference Last weekend was the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals annual conference at the University of Guelph. I want to thank the many volunteers who helped out with our (the Grand River Folk Community, that is) booth, both financially and with their time. The Old Chestnuts were the best represented of any organization! Thank you!!!
I plan to write a full report for the next newsletter.
# Singing Quilter Concert. Cathy Miller - already mentioned twice in this newsletter (once directly, and as part of Trilogy) gets a triple-header! Cathy is performing songs and stories about quilts and quilting on May 22, at Zion United Church. This concert takes place during the Waterloo County Quilt Festival, and is being supported by myself and the Old Chestnuts. Tickets are only $10, and make wonderful gifts for the quilters in your life!
I am also working on a special 10th anniversary concert and workshop, but plans are presently derailed. I have a venue booked for January, though, so stay tuned for late breaking information.
# Unitarian Church Coffeehouse I've been asked to participate in an evening at the Waterloo Unitarian Church - the same place where I ran a 4 week song circle in the spring. I don't have all the details, but I believe the night is November 19, and that it will be a family-oriented evening. Old Chestnuts are specially invited to attend, so if you would like to sing along with me (and the rest!), please let me know and I'll be sure to keep you informed.
# Rise Up's Left Laying! I have about 3 copies of Rise Up Singing that have been left over the last few circles. Interestingly, prior to that we had not one single orphaned copy. Anyway, if you are missing yours, please let me know. After a few months they will be considered community property!
About this newsletter..... Itís emailed. Itís on the Web at http://www.mgl.ca/~jhcole and available at Circles. Call 578- 6298 or write firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. The years keep on rollin' by. As I write this we have 3 sick cats, a few hundred pounds of finished and partly finished pottery, and a few thousand pounds of unmarked labs and exams. Who has time for music? :-( Well, at the OCFF Ken Brown gave me a bunch of stickers that say "Music is a gift. Give it." We all need to remember that, and help out by giving to each other! Pick up your sticker from me on Saturday!