Thank you, Ziggy!

There we were at Anderson Station, bright and early.  Pat was so very kind to share her Sunday tickets, a gift from Ziggy and family, with me.  I will always be grateful because Sunday ended up being a great day for workshops and new discoveries at the Calgary Folk Music Festival!

With an 8:30 departure, we found ourselves setting out our tarp and setting up our lawn chairs at the Main Stage around 10:00.  Again, we had a marvelous location and I felt really excited about what the day would hold.  I really enjoy Pat’s company, our conversations and the fact that we are both open to adventure and surprises.  We brought Pat’s treats for the first part of our morning…nummy B.C. cherries, moist rhubarb cake (love her baking!) a huge bag of Hawkin’s Cheezies and mints, (the hard candy type with the dab of chocolate in the middle).

Walking past the CKUA tent and on our way to the Rigstar Stage 5, we happened upon an interview with Ndidi O.  BAM!  What a magical start to our day!

It’s so strange to learn that my first connection with Ndidi’s music was so long ago!  And had it not been for the Calgary Folk Music Festival, I likely would have not enjoyed that encounter.  Music is always out there and it reaches into our hearts.  I can only imagine how much work goes into establishing and maintaining a career in music.  Thank you, Ndidi, for your heart.

After her song, Maybe the Last Time, Pat and I headed to our first workshop of the day, Hear Your Voice at the Rigstar.

This was an eclectic stage, so there wasn’t so much jamming as you might typically experience, but it was a beautifully supportive stage.  T. Buckley, Logan Staats, Beverly Glenn-Copeland and Ramy Essam…each one very unique in their approach to both song writing and performance.  This was an animated stage.  It was a perfect mix and the audience was receptive.  Ramy Essam and Beverly Glenn-Copeland were the surprises here.

Follow link here to read Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s biography.

Ramy Essam had a huge collaborative presence on the stage and on several others during folk fest weekend.  A great contribution.

We didn’t take much of a break because this stage set us up for a powerful day of music.  We headed for the Community Natural Foods Stage 6 and set ourselves down along the edge of the tent, but in the shade.  The stage show was titled Dance Hall Moonshine and indeed, it was a Dance Hall.  On stage; Ndidi O, Valerie June, Cedric Burnside and Yissy Garcia and Bandancha.  Cedric Burnside was the surprise here.  This show was full of strong beats and drew in the crowds.

 

We decided to grab our lunch from our Mainstage backpacks and to find spots at Stage 6 again, beginning with Calgary’s own Lab Coast.  We moved ourselves quite a distance from the stage because the sound seemed really big (too big)…so, we ate our lunch next to the new Cannabis Consumption site. lol  

Thanks to Wendy Lees, for the beautiful salads that she shared with me the evening before, at the Ironwood Stage and Grill.  I felt like we took a big step up from folk fest food with these nice packed lunches.  And congratulations to Wendy on her summer tour of the Custom Woolen Mills and the Dancing Goats Farm.

At 1:55, Fantastic Bombastic began with me moving into a central position under the tent.  I knew that this would be a lively stage, featuring musicians; The Harpoonist and the Axe Murder, Sam Lewis, Reel in Dimes and Freak Motif.  And it was lively!  What fun.  This stage got the win for the greatest collaborative jams…there was such chemistry, while all-the-while each musicians particular genre and music was evident.  Everyone in the tent was up and moving.  It was a very powerful experience.

This stage was the highlight for me.  I had marked Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s concert on my map, for 2:20, but there was no way I could see myself leaving bopping stage!  Grateful that I caught him in the morning.

Folk fest requires that I enjoy several rituals throughout its course, but given the usual four days, these rituals can be spread over the entire festival.  This year, given two days, provided by dear friends, Linda and Pat…I couldn’t possibly do everything.  I didn’t take time in the merchandise tent this year, nor did I visit the artisan fair.  I did, however, take note of what activities were happening in the children’s section as I imagined my grandson attending next year.  One has to prioritize.  I didn’t miss iced cold lemonade though and Pat and I got a cup on our way to the Field Law Stage 3.

I thought that because this was Pat’s first folk fest experience, we should go into the Field Law via the beer gardens.  Now, typically, folk fest sees me enjoying a single cold beer at this stage.  But this year, oh my, given that the Field Law is physically open to the beer gardens, I found it extremely crowded, elbow to elbow and very noisy.  Standing room only was located directly in front of the biffs.  It just wasn’t my cup of tea although it was evident that the music was phenomenal.  I sat for three songs and Pat stood where space was more available on the outside fringe.  She was such a good sport.  At this stage; Hamsa Hamsa, Ramy Essam, Mdou Moctoar and Cedric Burnside.  I was happy that we had earlier enjoyed two of these.

Off we went to the National for Channel Crossers; Jon Langford’s Four Lost Souls, Mekons, Colter Wall and We Banjo 3.  In the intense heat of the day, Pat was very observant and found us comfy seats under a tent, compliments of the National.  Wowsah!  What luck!  It was under this tent that a former student dropped by and grabbed a hug and our annual selfie.  It always seems I bump into Brent at folk festival.  So wonderful to see these young kids grow up!  This stage was a bopping Celtic sort of country blend.  The sound wasn’t good, although the National stage is usually pretty good.  The standout for me, here, was We Banjo 3.  They engaged the audience and got things bopping.  We greeted Colter Wall after the performance.  We thought he was very brave during the stage performance as his placement with the other musicians didn’t seem to be very well thought out.  Sound for his very traditional country music was better at the evening stage, but again, not my cup of tea.  It’s obvious there is a huge following of this 24 year old’s music, regardless.   

By this time, it was time to head for the ATB Mainstage where the lineup included Della Mae, Valerie June, Colter Wall and the finale The Strumbellas.  I really found Valerie June was one of the most unique artists, with a very beautiful presence on stage.  Funny how she stepped out, put her big green bag down next to the drummer and when she left, she said, “good night” and went and picked up her bag and walked off.  No messing around. 

Pat and I went, during Colter Wall’s performance to seek out french fries and coffees and returned to our spots with gigantic hot dogs from the Red Wagon food truck.  Mine was slathered in cheese, sauerkraut and onion…the onion slightly undercooked.  We chowed down while watching Colter’s fans completely engage his music.  His vocals are his strength, but for now, he is delivering a lot of covers.

The finale act was very entertaining and the entire island was moving rhythmically side to side and singing along.  I love folk fest evenings…the brilliant sky fading from blue to darker blue to black…the lantern parade…huge bubbles spilling into the air…beach balls bouncing through the crowd and finally, on the evening of the 40th anniversary, fireworks!  Hugs from friends, Jocelyn and Mark…and we were on our way…another beautiful folk festival thanks to my friends.  We crammed a lot of music into our day!  Thank you, Pat.  Thank you, Ziggy.  Thank you, Ziggy’s family!

Dear Ruth,

Thank you, Ruthie!  I love you like a sister!

July 27 was Mom’s birthday and I missed her terribly.  Your invitation came at a perfect time as I had spent more than a week feeling anxious, breathless and sad that I could not speak with my mother.  Right away, I contacted my daughter Erin to see if she would be able to come with me to the Ironwood to hear Hogan and Moss and she agreed.  I really felt blessed to be in Erin’s company.  We don’t have the chance to spend very much time alone together anymore and I miss her.  I felt vulnerable and sad and even wished that I could be back east with my Dad, sister and brother, so this time out was really a treasure.

We scooched in beside Lauraine and Wendy and Karen and to be honest, I felt that beneath our smiles and gratitude to be together, we were all a little tired. But, oh, Ruth!  You looked so beautiful!  Your hand made felted jacket was spectacular!  You glowed with the excitement of your plans for Scotland.  Your generous heart was appreciated.

You took to the stage and I had no idea that you would open your set with this song…

You are always generous.  The music community loves you.  We love you for your stories, for your laughter and for the struggles that have made you who you are.  We so treasure the times that we can share.  You do so much to build others up.

Thank you for introducing us to Jon and Maria…such unique, heart felt, authentic music.  Their music is so grounded in historical narrative.  It was wonderful to share this experience and to learn so much…

Jon Hogan is an official posthumous co-writer with Blaze Foley, who died largely unheralded in 1989, but has been covered by Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, John Prine, and Lyle Lovett, and about whom a feature film, “Blaze,” by Ethan Hawke, was released in 2018. Jon Hogan was commissioned by Foley’s sister to complete three songs from lyrics found in Foley’s handwriting after his death. (“Can’t Always Cry,” “Safe in the Arms of Love” and “Every Now and Then,” BMI.

Blessings on your journey, beautiful friend.  I hope that you discover love and kindness wherever you go.

Love,
Kath

“He took his pain and turned it into something beautiful. Into something that people connect to. And that’s what good music does. It speaks to you. It changes you.”
― Hannah Harrington, Saving June

 

Friday @ the Calgary Folk Music Festival 2019

Forty years since the beginnings of summer at the edge of our beautiful river and the celebration of music, community and food!  This year was the Calgary Folk Music Festival’s 40th anniversary!  And, surprise! Things are a little tight for me this summer and I planned that I wouldn’t partake this year.

Everything turned around for me when my sister-friend, Linda, told me that she’d treat me to a night at the festival, if I’d join her for Sheila-E.  What???  Of course I would go!!  I was speechless and offered snacks and dinner as an exchange. (hardly an equivalent!)

Friday at noon, we headed out from Anderson station.  My rituals each year have included the C Train ride and the walk with other folkies from the 1st Street stop down to the site.  Parking downtown has always been a bit of a worry for me.  This year was the first year, though, that I actually felt really weary as I headed home after the night’s main stage performances, so I might be reconsidering my mode of transport in future.

We set up our tarp at the ATB Mainstage and I was really happy to discover that friends, Jocelyn and Mark were parked right to our right.  Our location was forward of the walk path by a long shot and this year, to the left, near the dancing section.  I decided we had great spots for the evening shows and that I would have great access to step forward and into the front row fray later on.  Whoop!

On the way to the National (Stage 4) we stopped at the CKUA tent in order to confirm times for Grant Stovell’s interview with Sheila E.

The National was hosting a very energetic workshop from 3:00 until 4:15, Mujeres Poderosas with Sofia Viola, Yissy Garcia and Bandancha, Sheila E., Los Pachamama y Flor Amargo.  It’s really impossible to describe, here, the energy level.  A fabulous workshop.

I loved the percussive power at this stage.  Yissy Garcia and Bandancha, Los Pachamma y Flor Amargo and Sofia Viola owned that stage.  Sheila E. snuck in a bit of percussive stuff on one improvisation piece, I’m thinking because she wanted to let Yissy be the star of this performance, knowing she had a Mainstage spot that night.  I really don’t know, but this is the narrative I’ve written into the afternoon.  It’s all in the head!  It was hot hot hot and our shade kept moving.  Click on the images to enlarge.

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After this stage, we headed for the CKUA interview and for lunch.

O’ MY!  Sheila E. spoke so eloquently…a little about her career, the struggles, her music and her mission.  I felt that she was authentic, warm and was very blessed to be sitting this close to her.

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Freak Motif provided the musical dynamic through the course of the interview and they are fantastic!

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Yissy Garcia and Bandancha led off the evening main acts at 5:45.

IMG_6191 (2)  This performance was followed by one of my favourite folk fest discoveries, some ten years ago, Ndidi O.  What pipes!  What heart!  I treasured the experience of connecting with her music again.

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Dinner break came after Ndidi and Linda and I headed straight for Mediterranean, one of the yummiest meals served at the folk fest.  Linda went with the wrap style and I had the plate.    For years, I enjoyed the curry that was served, but that business didn’t show up about three years ago and I’ve never found the perfect substitute.

Back we went to our seats to enjoy the food, but not so much the music.  You have to be a certain kind of music lover to enjoy the Rheostatics.  The band has a strong following, given their forty years of performance and are often considered one of Canada’s iconic bands. For me, their music is a tad of the ‘musical theater’ vein.  I like the folk festival because it exposes to music you may not listen to otherwise, but this band just wasn’t my cup of tea.  The high point of this performance for me, was when poet Kris Demeanor joined the band in song near the end.

High point of the night came at 8:50!  Sheila E kept us all spellbound, and as planned, I headed for the front, coming finally to the second row, with Linda in tow.  What a night!  Sheila E completely connected with the audience.  It was fantastic!

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There was just not going to be any beating this performance and so I recommended to Linda that we pack up for the night.  I was going home with one of Sheila E.s drumsticks.  I was flying high from the vibrancy and execution of a wonderful performance.  We walked along to the train, full of music and gratitude.  Thank you so much, Linda, for this gift.  It was up there with the top musical experiences of my life.

Sunday in Parkland Community

My friend, Pat, invited me for a beautiful Sunday afternoon experience in the Parkland Community.  I have always really enjoyed hearing Pat’s pride in her community and I do see it as an exemplar of what community can be, while living in the suburbs of Calgary.  This community has got it ‘going on’ and with the leadership of a few very motivated community members (there are a few in every community) and the hard work, commitment and creativity of a strong membership, Parkland has much to be proud of.

The gates were opened up last Sunday and in the afternoon a gathering of people, carrying their lawn chairs and snacks, arrived at two in the afternoon for two amazing sets of blues music offered by entertaining storyteller, Tim Williams. This weekend, Sunday, will find the attendees enjoying the music of Houston’s Hogan and Moss.

After the relaxing time in the sunshine, Pat and I crossed the road to see the community gardens and the wonderful public art; murals, mosaic and ironwork.  Even the siding and landscaping demonstrates the thoughtful investment of the Parkland community. Fantastic stuff.  Gratitude to Pat for inviting me into the glory of summer!

New siding, textures and colour for the building.

Vintage signage has been installed, with thoughts of creating a protective covering, so that it will remain an archive of earlier times and the establishment of the original building of the Community Center.

The creation of storage included the narrative of the sorts of programs and offerings come with the membership in this community, including the book club that I so desperately would like to join.  (no members outside of the community…dang!)

Friend, Michelena Bamford of Wolf Willow Studio, coordinated and created beautiful mosaic work, along with community members.  I love that she included elements of the landscape and wildlife that thrives in our deep south.  The book club members contributed by learning how to create mosaic, but also broke up the pieces of glass for others to use.  Love this Magpie!  It’s a favourite piece!

Animal tracks represent the wildlife typically encountered in our home along the river.

One of the original pieces of art that was created for the community some years ago.  I love the nostalgia that this piece captures.

And then there are the gardens…beautiful and carefully planned and maintained!

Not only is this a magical garden, but I enjoyed a magical day in Parkland Community!

Pancakes! HEEE HAW!!!

An awesome job, Stampede Caravan!

Douglas Square Breakfast

Free pancakes, live entertainment, pony rides and more for adults and kids.

When: 9 to 11 am
Where: Douglas Square — 11540 24th Street SE
Price: Free

This event was so much fun!  YAHOO!  A great one for children!  Lots of activities going on, including pony rides, Butterfield Acres petting zoo, rope making, sheep roping, the walk through of the Marine and Navy bus and so much more.  We were entertained by live music, marching band and Indigenous dancers including explanations for the grand entry, male fancy, female jingle and female fancy.  Excellent times and a great breakfast.  I didn’t get a snap of our food plates today because my eyes were on Steven who had his mouth dropping open most of the time, for all of the excitement.  Such an excellent morning!

No touch piggy.

Sitting in the driver’s seat…Marine and Navy recruitment bus.

Watching the big screen…navy ice breaker!

 

What a great morning.  The food, again, was excellent, this time including those lovely circular shaped sausages, juice boxes and yummy pancakes.  Scrambled eggs were also served.

Departing the site, Steven spotted a forklift, so we spent some time also perusing that. Great times with the Grandson!

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Yesterday was a good day teaching grade six students. I mean it, the students were so beautiful and so eager to learn and relate and participate and help. I’m grateful that the day teaching was such a positive one.

My old boy Max and I hung out on the red couch for a bit after work and we both waited in anticipation for daughter, Cayley, to arrive and share in a Monday glass of wine with her mama. It’s always a blessing to chat with my kids and last evening I relished that I had two for end-of-day-catch-up. Oh, and Max!

After dinner, James and I headed down to Ramsay and nvrlnd, to enjoy the Jillian McKenna Project. Oh my! The trio was amazing! In fact, I want to write a poem today inspired by a piece that Jillian wrote…something about a meadow…and the Bow Valley Parkway. Sigh. Mayhaps I will write to her and inquire about the title. The following description was available on the invite. No idea who wrote it, so will link to the site. The piece gave me chills and today as I remember it, I feel the same way. This is the first time that a jazz piece has remained with me and so I want to celebrate it.

The Jillian McKenna project is a jazz-influenced group made up of some of the top established and up-and-coming Canadian musicians on today’s scene. Stretching what is possible in a standard jazz format, McKenna’s original music is rooted in jazz, pulling from different aspects of folk and world musics. With the Juno award winning Adrean Farrugia on piano alongside Mackenzie Read on the drums, this trio is quickly making a name for themselves throughout the country. Often using her voice as a fourth instrument, The Jillian McKenna Project is blurring genres and attracting listeners of all types.

Band members

Jillian McKenna – Bass
Adrean Farrugia – Piano
Mackenzie Read – Drums

nvrlnd is a bit of a magical place and, last evening, Carsten Rubeling was able to give some background as he toured the jazz show attendees through the art studios during intermission. Thanks, also, to Cory Nespor for his hospitality. I was captivated by the space, for the caliber of jazz, for the sense of community and for the obvious thoughtful management. Please read the linked article for the background on the nvrlnd project. My son and I have attended two events and have felt really happy with the experiences. I’m recommending nvrlnd to my readers.

I grabbed a number of business cards as I wandered past the studios. Such a variety of media and approaches. You can read about the artists, here.

Thanks to Kelly Isaak who allowed us to invade her space. Phenomenal work!

Also, Cory Nespor, thanks for opening your studio to us and if you are unhappy with the zillion photos I’ve posted here, please just let me know and I’ll pull them down. You are making magic!

Again, Carsten, thank you for your hospitality. Thank you for a venue where we can relish quality Jazz. Thanks for the wonderful casual space where artists of every kind can visit with one another and celebrate experiences. Thanks to my friend Steven for the invitation and for Wendy and Elena (possibly spelled wrong) for the connection. (Wendy, I’m taking care of your Stampede seat cushion.) Thank you, nvrlnd.

John Stainer’s Crucifixion: Good Friday 2018

I am immersed in the solemnity of this day.  Good Friday, especially on such a bitterly cold and windy day, feels sad for me.  I am grateful that I had a chance to sit and chat with Dad via Skype.  I feel like he is often my closest spiritual director.  He inspires me in his faith.  Music provides such an entry point to understanding the loving sacrifice of our Lord.  I’m grateful.

Dad Choral Stainer's Crucifixion March 29, 1953

I’m sharing John Stainer’s Crucifixion…my father sang this on March 29, 1953.  He is third from the left in the back row.  This Youtube video provides a little over an hour of listening…it is a very powerful meditation.  I hope that it will inspire some.

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Today, on the Bow River -11 degrees…geese huddling, a lone eagle on its nest

 

A link to My Father’s Music can be found here.

Father Iqbal has recently been very much inspiring me through his sharing of scripture.  Today, I was especially impacted by 2 Corinthians 4: 1-15

Present Weakness and Resurrection Life

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”[b] Since we have that same spirit of[c] faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

Gordon Lightfoot, After All These Years

There are no photographs that I can find (we probably didn’t own a camera), of the days when Dad, my brother John and I used to play the ukulele.  There are just so many tunes to play around the campfire on a ‘Uke’ but I remember them including Yellow BirdMichael Row The Boat AshoreDown In the Valley and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.

Dad got us interested in stringed instruments very early in our lives.

Christmas St. Sylvestre

 

Whenever we gathered with friends or went camping, we had sing-songs.  In fact, we grew up surrounded by music.  Our military life took us on many family road trips and Sunday drives and all of it involved singing a repertoire of folk songs, big band era music like Abba Dabba Honeymoon,  Moon River and Mack the Knife and funny songs like “One Man Went to Mow“, There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea...well, you get the idea.

Dad also owned a beautiful Gibson guitar.  Nothing made me happier than listening to him sing songs, while playing that guitar.  There are no photographs of the Gibson, but I’m certain that my father and siblings remember it as though it was yesterday.  It was a family treasure.  Dad shared…

“I was given that beautiful Gibson from our neighbour across the street from us on Briar Hill Drive in Battle Creek, Michigan. I am sorry I cannot remember their names, but they were certainly good friends of ours throughout my tour there. He was a Lt.Col in the USAF Reserve and taught high school.  One of the humorous things I remember was Mom giving him a 1 quart and a 1 pint milk bottle that somehow came with us on the move. He was so excited since he would use them during his 2 hour course on Canada. That was the total length of time for their history of Canada.  Anyway he came over one day and had the Gibson with him. He told me that it had been owned by quite a famous country singer and was given to him. It honestly looked like it had just come from the factory it was such a beautiful instrument. I simply adored it and learned to play somewhat from a book.(just our usual camping songs.).”

Because of this inspiration around stringed instruments, when I got a regular summer job at The Deluxe restaurant in North Bay, Ontario, I decided to buy my very own guitar.  I spotted the one I wanted in a music shop window on Main Street and began saving up my tips.  By end of summer, I made the purchase of my Yamaha Classical guitar…something I decided on so that I could play with ease because of the give of the classical strings instead of the resistance of steal strings.  I’ve treasured that guitar for ever since.  Yes…it’s gone out with my own kids to campfires and parties…but, it hung in and makes a beautiful sound to this day.

At the day of my purchase, I also bought a song book of Gordon Lightfoot songs.  The thing about this particular book, the chord illustrations appeared above the appropriate words, so I figured, like my Dad before me, I could teach myself to play guitar.

From 1960 until 1963, Gordon Lightfoot became a household name in Canadian homes.  He was and still is a wonderful song writer…optimistic writing, surfacing during what came to be known as the Folk Revival (just before the huge movement of Beatles music across North America and the world.)  I wasn’t like my brother, John, who next door to me in Great Falls, Montana, in a neighbouring bedroom, played the Grateful Dead and Gregg Allman.  I was playing Dylan; Buffy Ste. Marie; Peter, Paul & Mary; The Mamas and the Papas, Pete Seeger and Gordon Lightfoot.

In the end, it turns out that my older brother, John, became a person I would always admire for his ability on guitar.  He had the ear for music and was a natural.  He felt the guitar and released its spirit, where I would be measured and predictable.  I think he spent some years playing at gigs as well, and given his home in Sault Ste. Marie, he moved towards a Bluegrass style.

Once I moved to Lethbridge and attended University, I continued to appreciate more mellow voices and music, enjoying Valdy, Bruce Cockburn, Bette Midler, Cat Stevens and Paul Williams.  Somewhere along the line, I bought myself a Three Dog Night album.  It seemed that I never really had a lot of money…still don’t…so accessing concerts and getting out for musical events didn’t really happen until I ‘grew up’.  I did, however, listen to other people’s music and so became exposed to a lot of Cabaret music in the day, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Peter Frampton and Grace Jones…on and on it went from there.

Summers and Christmases, traveling back home to share times with Mom and Dad, the guitars came out…and always there were sing-songs.  Mom always asked me to play and I did.

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singing and group 4

Family reunions brought together a large group of very talented people, many of them sharing guitar during the programs.  Cecil, Jo-Anne, my brother, John…Dad…

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Kath and John Reunion 1984

There have been a lot of back yard, under-the-tree sorts of moments…sitting in the stair well at the U of L, singing my heart out.  Living in residence was isolating at times.  The guitar filled lonely moments.

 

Gloria

Singing at weddings…oh my gosh, I’ll never forget not being able to find my beginning note during Lord of the Star Fields.  But things went well when I played and sang I Will and also For Baby.

Gloria's Weding

There was never the chance or the opportunity to pick up a Gordon Lightfoot ticket before this recent purchase.  But, long-story-short (fail)…last evening I had the chance to attend a concert where 78 year old Gordon Lightfoot came to Calgary, I felt, to sing just to me.  I purchased the ticket some time ago.  Without a partner, I’ve had years to practice not being shy about attending events on my own.  Strategically, when something comes up on my radar,  I pour over the seating maps for the venues and select the best single seat that I can find for that event.  Last night, I ended up in the second row of the Grey Eagle Casino Theater, with an unobstructed view of Lightfoot.  A father and teenaged daughter duo were sitting to my right.  I felt a bit sorry for the daughter because after every tune, the Dad would turn to her and say, “Did you like that one?”

To my left, two Ya Yas sat down just as the show began, a little envious of the cold gin and tonic that I was sipping, having arrived in time to access the bar line before the performance.

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I felt that the performance last night was all about good song writing.  The lyrics, beautiful narratives, for the most part, were exquisite.  I was filled with admiration for this person…for a career of dedication, struggle, and sideways living-gone right.  I really listened to these lyrics for the first time and saw them as very positive.

I got teary at the point where Gordon Lightfoot began singing The Minstrel of the Dawn…and that continued until the end of the song. Many of his songs moved me, but this one, the most.

Lightfoot is good humoured about his abilities.  He has a great lead guitar that provides the thread of his former performances.  His voice is weaker than in the past, but has all of that quality that is endearing.  Some songs were performed as shorter versions of themselves, out of need to entertain the crowd with the ‘old familiars’, but Lightfoot performed his most recent writing in its entirety and with enthusiasm.  I was really impressed.

I can’t tell a lie.  As I listened, I thought about my Dad.  I thought about what a gift it must be (and I have some experience of this already) to be able to continue to delight in your talents after so many years.  Dad, at 86, is in a choir and continues to carry the magic of his Irish tenor voice whenever he interprets music.  I was impressed by Gordon Lightfoot last night and was moved in a remarkable way.  As we move into our later years, we need to do what we can to continue nurturing our gifts.  I’m posting a video here.  I hope you will take the time to listen to the interview and then, listen to the song.

Music is something we hold inside of us…like DNA.  The stories that we carry in us are, for the most part, bits and pieces of the music we have cherished in our lives.  Live music can never be underestimated for its impact on us.

Post Script: The Next Generation

 

Lost on Range Roads!

Alright…so, I threw my meatballs together and when they were piping hot, packed up my wine glass and my bottle and my meatballs and headed for Custom Woolen Mills.  There was a big accident south bound on highway 2…I did a bit of a rubber neck there, but once that was long gone, I couldn’t believe it when I kept driving north on the highway, past the Carstairs turn off.  For a moment, there was panic…I didn’t want to really drive so far as the Didsbury exchange, but, finally resigned myself to going north for a bit and finding my way back to the mills on country roads.  When I go on a road trip, I find it so relaxing.  There is nothing better than enjoying the landscape and the wide open sky of Alberta.

Light was fading, but still there, as I headed east on whatever-its-called.  I knew that I needed to find the 791 to go south.  Hmmm…overshot that by a good 20 kms…but, not before my Spidey senses told me to go south anyway, on some range road or other…I asked myself, “How bad can it get?”  These range roads are all numbered…I’m sure I’ll zig zag my way there, eventually.  In the meantime, I enjoyed viewing a beautiful owl and many grazing deer, some with very large racks…I even considered pulling off for photo-moments, but thought, “No, you really have to get there…”  I spotted a sign for Linden somewhere on the way.  “Now, that sounds like some place I’ve heard about before…”  And on and on I went, feeling like Milo in his little car, lifted right out of the pages of The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.

Never mind…dangit…the sun was slipping down fast.  It might be that I have to do that thing I don’t like doing.  “I need to back track.”  Heading west, the sun was blinding, as it peeked out at eye level from behind the pink clouds.  I thought to myself, “Now, don’t race…watch your way…you can find that 791…just notice.”  And I did…some miles later, I turned east again and then just needed to hook up with 272.  That, too, was a little shaky….the cattle, munching away to the north of me seemed to be snickering.  But that was likely all in my imagination.  From a distance, on the narrow (soft) dirt road, I saw the familiar silhouette of the mill on the horizon…I saw the warm lights…and said out loud, “I’m home.”

Entering in to the mill, Ruth’s voice was reaching above everything.  The audience was spell bound.  Displays of woolen things were to the left.  Lots of people were knitting.  “I love this place.  I love the smell.”  At the edge of the display created with works by Artist-in-residence, Sylvia Olsen, sat a Golden Fleece wool blanket, brought as a gift to Fenn by my new friend, Leah.  I felt nothing but happiness about being at the mill, bathed in love.

I poured myself a glass of wine…rustled up a plate of pot luck food (nothing better) and snapped a few photographs.  This morning, as I think back, I’m grateful for life and love and friendship.  Thanks to all of the folks at the mill for hosting such a wonderful event.

Music to Fill a Heart: Folk Fest Thursday, July 27, 2017

I haven’t updated my blog for most of the summer.  Sometimes life just carries you to places you didn’t expect.  It’s been one of those types of summers.  I purchased my Early Bird Folk Festival tickets months in advance of the event.  It was probably a good thing because otherwise, I wouldn’t have treated myself with so much going on at the home front.  In the end, I attended the entire weekend, with the support of my family and with coverage for dog walking and other responsibilities.  Max is always a factor in my planning.

It was July 27.  It was my mother’s birthday.  I remember taking my mother down to the the island, many years ago.  We sat on a bench and shared an ice cream cone. I thought a lot about Mom that evening. I ended up closer to the entrance than any previous Thursday night and had some lovely conversation with my line mates as we waited for gates to open.  I chatted with a family group and also met a gentleman who is married to a lady from Souris, PEI, so we had some time to chat about the Cheveries, as she has her family of origin in that line.

Oh, yeah…and I found this guy, in line.  (and yes…we need to get the programs in place NOW, in regards to homeless Veterans.  I’m with you on that, readers.)

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My first and most favourite food of the weekend…a Mediterranean plate, paired with an ice cold lemonade.  Thursday evening entailed no fly sheets, a simple cozy blanket for sitting.

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Thursday night saw me plunking my butt down at the Main Stage the entire time.  I ended up very close to the music.  I felt breath and peace and music sink into me, as for the first time, this summer, I truly relaxed.  My favourite discovery was the 5:30 performance by Dawes!  Why haven’t I heard Dawes before?  What???

Immediately, the song writing touched me and I related to the music at a heart level.  I’m going to post, not one, but two videos, here.

Ripped off, directly from the Folk Festival website…this biography.

“California in the ‘70s saw the rise of the singer songwriter scene, where musicians threw off the yoke of ye olde folk songs to try their hands at new, more personal creations that melded the personal, the political and the heartfelt. California roots rock band Dawes ably carries that musical torch, even recording their first album live to analog tape in a studio in Laurel Canyon. If you need a recipe for Dawes’s sound, imagine poignant and melodic songs, heartfelt lyrics, sweet harmonies mixed together in a package that’s just a little rough around the edges.

The band’s founders are brothers Griffin and Taylor Goldsmith, so they come by the sweet sibling vocals honestly. Turns out the band’s name is part of their family roots. Dawes is Taylor’s middle name, inherited from his grandad who really liked the idea of keeping the connection and introduced them to two of their favourite artists, Bob Wills and Hank Williams. Dawes mines five albums worth of originals and occasionally serve as the backing band of their old friend and collaborator Bright Eyes (Connor Oberst). And they spread their modern take on ‘70s music, touring folk and rock festivals in the U.S., building a loyal audience for their distinct brand of indie California folk rock.
ER”

 

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A highlight for me was musician, Duane Betts, son of Dickey Betts, who joins Dawes with their touring band.  Mouth dropping guitar interludes absolutely blew me away!  A great experience in music!

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Choir! Choir! Choir!  was entertaining at 6:45, but honestly, Calgary, I would have liked to see more participation.  This makes me laugh, as I see the teacher-heart spring up.  We did a poor version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.  It sounded nothing like the version I’ve posted, here.  I did move right up to the front and gave it my best effort, as you can all imagine.  We didn’t have Rufus Wainwright with us, but you get the idea.

 

An academic study into the effects of collective singing at one Mideast protest found that it helped the group vent negative emotions, strengthen solidarity, foster hope and experience spiritual transcendence. That’s also a typical review of a Choir! Choir! Choir! experience.

And it is an experience, more than a show or a gig. Choir! started as a weekly event at Clinton’s Tavern in Toronto, where anyone with $5 and any skill level could show up and sing along. As word and YouTube videos spread, they begin taking the experience on the road. The onstage setup is simple: usually, just an acoustic guitarist and somebody waving their arms (the conductor). The audience does the heavy lifting. No audition required: Choir! leaders hand out lyric sheets, divide the group into highs, middles and lows, teach the harmonies — and then a radio staple by Tragically Hip, Rihanna or a ’90s grunge band becomes a beautifully shared moment. Hope, solidarity and spiritual transcendence are often outcomes of a great Folk Fest stage, but never quite like this, where the magic emanates from all of you.

JM”

Up next was Coeur de pirate.  She has the pipes!  I was watching her perform through the eyes of my friend, Denise and I thought a lot about our friendship throughout the performance.  A beautiful and animated performer, she blew us all away.  It was at this point that I connected with friend, Jane, who happened to be hanging with all three of her kids and families.  I feel so blessed to have joined them on their tarp for this set.

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Billy Bragg and Joe Henry performed next.  It was difficult to separate the opinions of others regarding Billy Bragg and my experience of this music.  He is looked at like authentic ranchers would view a Rhinestone Cowboy…a bit of a star who doesn’t suffer the actual realities of hard working people.  However, I have to tell you, I was really impressed by the music.  I am nostalgic when I think of trains and this was the general drift of this set.  Joe Henry and Billy Bragg have been collaborators on a project that, I think, archives a history of music as it relates to the American Train.  I guess one would argue that this is an appropriation, of sorts.  I say this, simply, because its a subject that comes up a lot.

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I enjoyed my first night of music listening minus some parking shenanigans….so began folk festival 2017.