September and Upcoming Song Circles Jack Cole
We started off the new season small
but determined. We had 5 first-timers to go with 8 old pros (hah!),
with a couple of potters joining in for the last round or two,
making this the smallest Old Chestnuts so far, but, on
the alternate rating scale of munchies per capita it was a huge
success! Thanks to everyone who brought goodies and helped out
With the small crowd and the Newbies
mostly passing, there were lots of opportunities for those wanting
to lead songs! We did multiple Harry Chapin (thanks Mitch) and
a lot of folk songs from My Youth (thanks Margaret). Several
songs were picked spontaneously from The Book. Often this doesn't
work well and is not the
preferred way to operate, but, thanks to excellent leading, it
worked out nicely.
There were three songs handed out for
learning: Bill Staine's October Winds, Richard Thompson's
Pharaoh, and Fred Small's Heart of the Appaloosa (the
last one being dedicated to a certain Appaloosa in distress...and
it seems to have helped). I really enjoyed seeing Dan and Ellen's
Old Chestnuts songbooks, filled with the handouts from last year.
I hope that others are making collections - we actually sang 2
or 3 songs from "our own" songbook this month. Remember,
if you missed them, I have copies of many of last years songs
yet. And please bring new songs to teach and add!
The next circle will be on October 26,
at 111 Chestnut St. Please be here and ready to go by 8:00 -
come earlier if you need to tune. Time for a theme this month.
Remember, songs matching the theme are not compulsory
- it's just to give people something to focus on. October's Circle,
coming about halfway between Lori's and my birthdays, will be
about "Growing Up and Growing Older". (No, this is not
just another ploy to let me sing The Cape again!)
Report on "EileenFest '96" Colleen Duncan
On September 21st the Old Chestnuts
Song Circle hosted a workshop and house concert with
and David K. The afternoon harmony workshop began with advice
on how to get the most from our body instruments. We were
taught the importance of warming up our chest, face and neck muscles
with stretching and limbering exercises. Then to start our chords
a hummin' they taught us their world famous, patented cow call,
that they engage in before every concert. Only then did we progress
to humming, scale singing and deep, abdominal breathing. Once
we were breathing properly and singing with confidence our delightful
cacophony continued on a more melodious note as we began to learn
about harmony. Eileen assured us we could learn to feel those
harmonies by listening to ourselves. To practice, we sang 2,
3, and 4 part rounds in groups. Then we walked around the room
trying to keep our parts despite being surrounded by competing
lines. David offered an analytical approach to harmonious perfection
by counting up notes from the melody line to 3, 5 or 7. The session
ended with an exploration of different types of harmony singing
from gospel to Celtic including a beautiful 6 part version of
Braw Sailing. What a way to mellow out on a sunny afternoon!
Everyone staying for the evening concert
then partook in a barbecue hosted by Lori and Jack Cole, Cathy
Byberg and Dave Growden. To accompany the burgers, salads and
treats, we participated in a sing-along and slow jam on the front
porch which lasted right through to concert time. With full stomachs
and high spirits we then gathered in Lori and Jack's cozy living
room to welcome 4 performers who graciously offered to warm up
the crowd. Jack started off, followed by Stewart Netherton, and
Merrick Jarrett with David K filling in at the last moment for
an absent OCSC participant. Each sang two songs with the repertoire
ranging from political satire to traditional folk. Much to their
own surprise and to Jack's dismay, both Jack and Merrick sang
their own versions of a beautiful traditional song, Blow The
Then finally, the big moment! We all
welcomed Eileen McGann and her one-man band, David K as they opened
with See My Journey from Eileen's latest album. As the
evening unfolded, she treated us to songs from all her albums
and managed to include every one of my favorites, including "Rollin'
Home", "Turn It Around" and Braw Sailin'. Each
song was introduced with a poignant story or personal anecdote
which gave the words a depth of meaning and filled the room with
energy, sparkle and a rich sense of community. The rapport between
Eileen and Dave was light-hearted and yet supportive as they glided
smoothly from song to song. The beautiful and creative arrangements
of the pieces incorporated all kinds of delightful and unusual
instruments including David's steel guitar, sounding like a cross
between a bass, xylophone and Hawaiian guitar. Of course, Eileen
sings with such a clear tone that seems so effortless and pure
it is impossible not to become entranced. Their voices blended
wonderfully with harmonies that were soft and full often belying
the serious messages that Eileen shares with her audience - the
messages of genuine social and political awareness and concern
that one finds in traditional folk music.
Between sets we had a munchie and door
prize break, with a chance to mingle, get to know our fellow
concert goers, chat with Eileen and Dave and purchase CDs which
Eileen autographed. As the evening began winding down Eileen and
David played a memorable Beggarman medley, starting with
the Scottish, then English version and ending with a fast, furious
and foot-tapping instrumental by David on the mandolin. Their
encore songs, Another Train and More Joy (sung
a capella) brought the day to a close around 12 with everyone
feeling wonderfully satiated in every sense of the word.
When things run so smoothly and seamlessly
there's always a reason. So.... a big thank you from all of
us to Jack, Lori and Cathy for their hard work in planning and
organizing this event. What a great way to spend a day!
Some Reflections on Mariposa-By-The-Shore, Cobourg, 1996 (Part 2) 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. This is part 2. (For those who can't wait,
Merrick's entire text is available on the OCSC Web site) Jack
(Merrick has been describing
some of the workshops at Mariposa '96............)
An amusing incident, for my family and
I anyway, was seeing Bill Russell lying flat on his back behind
the audience at the Folk Play stage, while Kate, John and I were
performing. He looked to be sound asleep, and I thought, "Oh,
oh...our show is boring and Bill has fallen asleep....perhaps
the audience has too and our show is down the tubes....".
But it turned out that Bill had a sore leg and was merely resting
it as he lay on his back.
And Les Barker with his witty on-stage
readings as he MC'd the Saturday evening show. The job of MC
is a tough one, as one tries to think of interesting or funny
things to say to fill in the gaps as the stage guys get things
ready for the next act. Les and his alter ego Holmes Hooke carried
it off beautifully.
And what would a festival be without
Bobby Watt? This big, bluff, hearty Scotsman, with a wonderfully
ribald sense of humour, cracking jokes, bawdy and otherwise, and
entertaining us with stories and great traditional songs.
And what a pleasure to hear Kathy Reid
and Arnie Naiman perform, both individually and together. I first
met Kathy many years ago when she took part in a memorable ceilidh
I had organized for one of my classes when I was teaching a traditional
folk music course at U. of Waterloo. For me, one of the "magic
moments" was listening as she and Arnie entranced the audience,
singing and playing with such a deep feeling and love for their
music. No wonder she was involved in five workshops on Sunday.
As unexpected pleasure was listening
to Jim and Maggie Yates during a "Strange Strings" workshop.
Maggie played a small hammered dulcimer, possibly the only hammered
dulcimer at the Festival, and Jim had made a banjo out of a tin
can and other odds and ends, as well as a homemade fretless banjo.
A very creative guy.
As I talk about all these people, I
think, "What a wonderful group of interesting, warm, and
friendly people to gather together at this Festival...musically
talented, entertaining, with a deep commitment for the material
they are using," and how fortunate we all were that weekend
to have the privilege of listening to their music.
And then, as I was writing this, I thought
of the background to the whole Festival. The number of people
behind the scenes, the many volunteers, without whom a festival
would never get off the ground, the people on the sound systems,
the committees at both the Toronto and Cobourg ends, who smoothly
coordinated their efforts to put it all together; and to the Mariposa
Board and executives who had the courage to move Mariposa from
its home in Toronto to not only one, but two new venues; in Bracebridge
for one day and Cobourg for the weekend.
A successful festival like Mariposa
doesn't happen by accident. Months of planning go into it, and
I'm sure the organizers are already planning for next year. More
on this later.
2000 Years of Christmas
Well, I finally have some concrete news
about this great Christmas show, featuring
McGann, David K. and Cathy Miller). The show will take place:
Tuesday, December 10, 1996 at
7:30 PM at Zion United Church, 32 Weber St. W. Kitchener
The ticket price is $12 for adults and
$8 for children (12 and under) in advance, $2 more at the door.
Tickets will go on sale at the next Old Chestnuts Song Circle,
on October 26th. I am also imploring OCSC members to take
a poster and a book of tickets home with them, and sell to family,
friends, co-workers, etc. etc.! If every OCSC member attends
and sells 5 other tickets we will be sold out! Why should you
care? Very simply, because there is no other way that this program
and others like it will come to Kitchener unless we make it happen
ourselves! That's how we got Modabo, and Eve Goldberg, and Eileen
McGann. So, if you think this is valuable, put up a poster or
sell a few tickets! It all helps! Tickets will also be available
directly from me (519.578.6298) and from Readers' Ink Bookstore
I am enclosing a description of the
concert, courtesy of Cathy Miller. What she doesn't say is how
entertaining the show is. Yes, you will learn lots about Christmas
traditions and customs, but you will also laugh, sing and cry
along. Cathy's version of Christmas In The Trenches is
the best I've heard, and they do a mean Grinch. The harmonies
and instrumental work are exquisite. Cathy tells me that they
have performed the show for kids, and it went very well, especially
with the older ones. So if you know children who would appreciate
this sort of thing, please bring them!
Upcoming Events (Check Acoustic Café for even more!)
Oct 17 Hoot Night at Angies, Waterloo. Every Thursday, open mic. with Beverlie Robertson
Oct 19 Black Walnut Folk Club, Jester's Court, Victoria Park, $3. Also, November 16
Oct 26 Old Chestnuts Song Circle,
111 Chestnut St., Kitchener. 7:30 until about 11:30, 578-6298.
Also Nov 23
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. BUSY this month with Eileen, OCSC and 2000 Years ..but what a thrill!