v Old Chestnuts Year #12 - Jack Cole
We started our "dozenth" year in September with nearly 30 people and a lot of really good songs. To tell the truth, between being sick and working way too many hours, the rest is a bit of a blur. I really need to appoint a song title recorder - Jeff, you up for a new job?
October's song circle, as tradition and the upcoming pottery sale dictate, will be located at Mary and Barry's place, just around the corner. If you need an exact address please contact me. I understand that they have brand new hardwood floors there, so Barry asks that people come prepared to shed their shoes at the front door. Bring slippers if necessary!
No theme again this month, but after hearing you all at Eileen's concert, it would sure be nice to get some rich harmonies going again. So if you have a good harmony singing song, please dust it off! See you at Mary and Barry's on the 28th.
Oh - and I will have both Artscan Circle calendars for sale, and tickets to the next Folk Night concerts! Bring your chequebooks and do some Christmas shopping!
v The Stan Rogers Festival - Dan Patterson
Stanfest June 30-July 2, 2006
When everyone is dressed like they are making the last push to the summit of Everest, and you're not...you know you're in trouble.
Stanfest was wet, cold and at times sleepless.
But enough whining...the music was FANTASTIC!!!!! My congratulations to everyone who participated in programming and delivering the seemingly endless parade of stellar performances.
From Maritime stars and stars in the making through music legends to international virtuosos, Stanfest offered something for every taste. More to the point, all the mainstage performances were 5 star and better with some moments of pure magic - like Bruce Guthro offering his new tune "Marching to Jerusalem" backed by an all-star choir including Valdy, Matt Andersen, Chuck Brodsky, and Dave Gunning.
The afternoon workshops were the best I've seen at any folk festival. All workshop tents overflowed with SRO audiences taking in everything from kid's music to blues jams and even spontaneous step dancing. For the pure music lover, it doesn't get better than Stanfest.
The performers: Alfie Zappacosta, Afro Musica, Annie Gallup, Beolach, Bruce Guthro, Charlie A'Court, Chuck Brodsky, Chucky Danger Band, D.Rangers Dave Gunning, Ember Swift, Garnet Rogers, George Canyon, Guy Davis Haley Sales, Haugaard & Heirup, Irish Mythen, Juan Martin, J.P. Cormier James Keelaghan, Karen Savoca, Karen & Helene, Kelly Joe Phelps Kim Barlow, Lindsay Jane, Luke Doucet, Matt Andersen, Meeghan Smith The Mizzen Men, Mortal Coil , Nathan Rogers, Paul Mills Razzmatazz for Kids, Richie Havens, Ron Hynes, Rose Cousins Rylee Madison, Poor Angus, Samathan Robichaud, Sean Rooney SteveWright, The Audreys, The Doug and Jess Band The Kidd Brothers, Valdy, Zar, and The Original Stampeders
There was not a single performer or performance that I would consider out of place. The three Danish acts (Haugaard & Heirup, Karen & Helene, and Zar) gracing Saturday's mainstage were at times challenging and programming three Danish acts on the same night was risky, but somehow it worked as all three acts were warmly received by the Stanfest audience. Karen & Helene proved that music is a universal language as they sang accapella in their native tongue, while Haugaard & Heirup played Danish dance tunes (including a funeral song!!!) which sounded very Celtic. Zar was pure energy.
James Keelaghan struggled to keep a borrowed guitar in tune in his Friday night set. His did not arrive with his flight into Halifax. His line "this is either going to be the longest 45 minutes of my life - or yours" was hilarious. James did a great job.
Bruce Guthro, who now spends half the year fronting a Scottish band, is a personal favorite and I was thrilled that he included "Falling" in his mainstage set.
Richie Havens and The Stampeders turned back time. Both sounded as fresh and energetic as they did 30 years ago.
Canadian country phenomenon George Canyon shared the stage with his good friend Dave Gunning and literally blew the crowd away. George delivered as expected, but Dave was a surprise as this was the first time I've heard his work. It won't be the last time. His song "Salt Water Hearts" is an incredible maritime love story that will be part of an Old Chestnuts Song Circle as soon as I learn it (and get Dave's permission to sing it).
Guy Davis, a New York based acoustic bluesman had the audience in the palm of his hands with his gravely vocals, his incredible work with guitar, banjo and harmonica and his humour. "My dad gave me this banjo in 1960. Just the time when a black man didn't have to play the banjo no more..." He ended his set with a story told with his harmonica creating train sounds and a menagerie of animal noises. Incredible!
But the absolute star of the festival for me was Matt Andersen. Matt is a mountainous man with a mountain range voice. His acoustic blues guitar work is mesmerizing. If Clapton is Slow-hand, Matt is Fast Hand. If you don't remember anything from this piece, please remember the name Matt Andersen. If you ever thought for even a nano-second that you like blues, you have to experience Matt Andersen. I am beginning a crusade to have Matt participate in the Kitchener Blues, Brews and Bar-b-ques festival next year. Wish me luck!
On the down side... I was looking forward to experiencing Modabo again. Unfortunately they were unable to play Stanfest due to a hand injury suffered by one of their members. They have committed to 2007. So like the Mary-Ellen Carter, Modabo will rise again.
Conclusions: Great music. Fantastic workshops. Weather can be very wet and very cold and changes without warning. Be prepared.
If you go....
Canso, N.S. is pretty much IN the north Atlantic. Fog is frequent, unpredictable, very wet and incredibly cold. Dress warm and for wet weather. Bring rubber boots.
There are few accommodation options (Canso has one small motel that is pretty much booked for 2007 as I write this) and the on-site camping is the main game in town. We camped in a ball field with very little shelter. Your tent is it. Bring a tent heater, an extra tarp, an extra sleeping bag and/or blanket and a PMA (positive mental attitude).
"Quiet" and "party" camping areas are offered, but... the party area officially operates until 3:00 a.m., but unofficial parties continue through the night and the noise carries into the "quiet" area. Prepare to either party hearty or experience a couple of sleepless nights. Remember the PMA!
The food vending is quite limited. Bring food to be safe.
Check out the Canso waterfront and the small Grassy Island museum. It is beautiful!
v We Need More John Prine - Jack Cole
You need to admire the way John Prine can work a phrase. At least, I always have. Like the late Stan Rogers or Texan Guy Clark, Prine can tell a story in a line, and capture a picture with a couple of words. He's written about things that I couldn't and wouldn't, but regardless of the subject matter or the (dis)-comfort rating, his songs are always craftsman's delights.
I got my first chance to see the legendary John Prine in person when he came to the Centre in the Square a couple of weeks ago. I had one major preconception, that he would be a world-weary, bitter old guy who had spent too much time looking at the dark side, and was just here ("where are we tonight anyway?") to hawk a new recording. Boy was I wrong!
Prine laughed, joked, beamed his wit and wisdom at the audience and seemed to be having the best time of his life. Accompanied by a bass player and another multi-instrumentalist, Prine put on a show that we were privileged to be part of. He played nearly all of his greatest hits, taking requests from the audience and welcoming the inevitable singing (hey - there were some Old Chestnuts in the audience, plus a lot of Prine fans!). He performed just a tantalizing handful of songs from his recent album, the Grammy-winning "Fair & Square". And, apart from a short lapse involving a white electric guitar, he kept the audience enthralled for a long, single set.
John Prine makes you laugh one moment and cry the next. He makes you listen, reflect, and then say "what the Hell". Whether it's the consequences of war, growing old, losing love, finding love, or enjoying whatever hand life deals, we can all use a bit of Prine in our lives.
We had the best seats in the house - dead centre, second row - so I was literally about 20 feet from his guitar hand. Many thanks to Paul Schultz for arranging those tickets. The short opening set was by another artist on Prine's label, who began by announcing that he is a painter, not a singer. While his songs were amusing (if vulgar) I tend to think that, like most good paints nowadays, one application was enough.
Whether one came to the concert as a dedicated Prine-o-phile or a skeptic wanting to see what the fuss was about, I am sure that at the end of the night there wasn't a soul that didn't admire the man and his songs. Catch the legend next chance you get.
v Folk Night at the Registry - Jack Cole
Rocks [rawkz] (v.)What happened at the concert on October 14.
It would be an understatement to say that the first Folk Night at the Registry was successful. It was an outstanding night.
These 6 concerts, from October to April, are co-presented by the Registry Theatre, The Old Chestnuts, and the Mill Race Folk Society, with the majority of the programming being done by yours truly. Most of the proceeds go to the performers (or the Mill Race, in the case of November's concert), with the rest going to help the Registry Theatre, a fantastic non-profit community venue. It is hoped that these concerts will enable the Registry board to continue to improve the facility. In addition, we are supporting both touring and local musicians - 2 of the main acts and all openers are local.
Eileen McGann was the perfect guest to kick off the series. She established an instant rapport with the audience, quickly discarding her set list and playing her way through a long line of requests. And even at that she missed both of mine, plus some classics like "Snow Shanty" and "Turn It Around"! She also played songs only found on her latest recording ("Light") and then delighted the audience with three brand new ones, one "only hours old" that we had to coax her to risk.
These three were, for me, the highlights. One returned Eileen to her "protest song" roots - an anti-war anthem that should find a place in her permanent repertoire. Another was inspired by two poem snippets from her mother's kitchen. The third, a song about taking the ferry, has one of the most singable choruses she has ever written, and the audience didn't let her down. While all three of these (and many, many more) included audience participation, it was this third song that lifted the roof. After stepping away from the mic and letting us sing the chorus alone, then waiting out the thunderous applause, Eileen promised to come back to Kitchener to record it someday. That remark lead Robert Reid, the Record reviewer, to suggest that perhaps an entire live album would be a good idea. Eileen - we're ready!
The concert was fantastic, Paul Schultz did a great job opening (and warming up our voices), the cider was hot, the sound by Dan and lighting by Christa were excellent, and the Registry Theatre was a definate hit with the audience. The only thing that could have been better would be to have sold another 35 tickets, but thanks to huge efforts and great support from the Old Chestnuts, we did okay.
Which brings us to Remembrance Day, Saturday November 11. After you tour the Frederick Artwalk and stop in to see Lori's pottery (10am-4pm) why not plan an evening of songs in support of the Mill Race Festival? The next Folk Night concert will be "Lest We Forget", songs of war and remembrance. The concert features Brad McEwen, Jean Mills, Geoff Lewis, Paul Morris, and Brian Sinclair with hosts Robin Jones and John Campbell - several Old Chestnuts among them! The concert will be set up in workshop format, with musicians taking turns around the circle. Songs will include laments for the fallen, celebrations of past victories and the songs that cheered those in service. It will be a very fitting concert to honour Remembrance Day. Tickets are included in the Series Pass, and are otherwise $15, available from myself, Twelfth Night, and the Centre In The Square.
There's already plenty of buzz about the concerts in the new year - Eve Goldberg (Jan 26), Midnight Clear with Norman Liota and Glen Soulis (Feb 2), Steel Rail (Mar 10), and Haines & Leighton (Apr 21). I have tickets for all concerts available now, or you can call the Centre In The Square or order over the Internet, or stop into Twelfth Night Music. In these days of million dollar entertainment deficits and $50 concerts, Folk Night (at $12 - $17) is the best value in the city. Come on out and support Folk Music, the Mill Race Folk Society, and the Registry Theatre!
A huge thank you to Janette, Dan, Ellen, Paul, Christa, Debbie, Robert, Lori, the Registry and volunteers, and Lawrence McNaught (who arranged newspaper and radio ads, and a TV appearance) for making the evening such a success!
v Margaret Christl - Maureen Clark
[ Maggie Christl played a concert in the Crossroads Cafe in Ferndale, just south of Tobermory this August. Maureen Clark took in the concert and sent this report. ]
The coffee shop was a very small venue, but they seated 30 people in a very orderly fashion, and the three staff behind the counter kept us in coffees and cakes. With Maggie and her son Simon, that made 35 folks breathing the oxygen. Fans were employed and the windows opened - still very toasty!
But the coffee was fair trade, the goodies were tempting, and the singing was marvellous!
The concert opened with 4 familiar, traditional pieces, one with bodhran, and then went on to encompass some western style ballads and laments (one written by Maggie's husband), and even a couple of bluesy types. Simon is quite accomplished with guitar, and reminds me a bit of a very young, up-and-coming Stephen Fearing. He was certainly enjoyable to hear on harmonies, frequently singing higher than Maggie's voice. He had a little fun with a blistering rendition of "Maybelline".
Maggie told us that she had just celebrated her 60th birthday (I love it when my heroes are older than me!), and was most pleased to be singing amongst friends at the cafe. Simon has been promoting his own guitar/singing career in Toronto while on their visit "back home". Maggie lamented that she hasn't been asked to sing in a Canadian festival for 15 years, and has been touring mostly in the USA. She also said her "favourite festival ever" is the Mill Race, and she would love to sing there again, where she found the inspiration for her song "Grand River". Her next plan is to return to Summerfolk and bring Simon to the main stage with her. I hope she is successful. We'd love to see her there again. She's a warm, caring person and very professional about her singing - even in a casual situation such as the cafe.
A very good evening all in all.
Closing Notes - jc
# The Ann Arbor Folk Festival. I recently received some news about this not-too-distant festival, perfect for those needing a fest-fix in January. Performers include Rufus and Martha Wainwright, John Prine, and Bill Staines. See theark.org for more information.
# Old Chestnut Loretta Fullerton has organized a November 3 concert in memory of Eva Cassidy, the wonderful interpreter of songs who passed away from cancer 10 years ago nearly to the day of the concert. The tribute, at The Boathouse, features Loretta, Heather Katz, Kevin Ramessar, Glen Soulis, Randy Rollo, and Richard Reinhardt. Tickets are $12.
About this newsletter..... It's 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. This weekend I met the gentleman (clearly) who has been singing my "Canadian Tire Song" in pubs in (of all places) Fresno, California! And he does a darn nice version, too. He'd never seen a CT store before last weekend, nor have his singing buddies who request the song (apparently). Just goes to show that, like Smelly Cat, it works on many levels! :-) A FANTASTIC first Folk Night (thanks to Brad Nelson for the Folk Knight!!) and I hope you can make it out in November and beyond! - jc (Photos by Dan Patterson and Brad Nelson)