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.

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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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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.

All That Jazz!

Words spill out.  I use the word beautiful a lot!  I mention, too often, how grateful I am or how blessed I feel.  Writing helps me to take pause, to slow down and to take real measure of how truly fortunate I am. I seem to be a more positive person when I write. However, in that part of life away from the keyboard, I can become anxious, worrying and temperamental. I thought about this last evening, after an experience of improvisational jazz music that was both rich and compelling.  I’ll make a connection between words and jazz in a moment.  Readers, bear with me.

I always think of Wendy as a connector, but more than that, a dear friend.  Out of the blue, she invited me to join her for an early evening of improvised jazz.  The musicians, percussionist Robin Tufts and trumpet player, Andre Wickenheiser, created such magic in musical dialogue, that tonight, even as I write, I get chills.

We entered through the front doorway of the ‘yellow house’ and stepped into the warm light of new friendship.  Everywhere, interesting objects told stories of inspiration and the arts. Wonderful aromas wafted from the kitchen.  Introductions were made and Pat steered us toward the two pots of stock heating on the stove top.  Hanna turned meatballs in the fry pan.  I began chopping up beets on a wooden cutting board and the conversations seamlessly wove over and under and through the lovely gathering.  The only time the words stopped, was at the invitation to gather for the music.

Words stopped.

Taken from page 107

The Power of Silence: Silent Communication in Daily Life By Colum Kenny

What was about to take place was the ‘touching of a mystery’…a silencing of words.

Andre and Robin took their seats before us and Robin invoked a minute of silence.  It was heart breaking, the silence was so beautiful.  And…out of that silence was born the most remarkable improvised jazz sound.  I was transported or emptied or released…I haven’t decided which.  I relaxed.  Words left me.  I didn’t ‘think’.  It was a wonderful experience to focus on a weeping trumpet, a laughing trumpet…a percussive response; a light bell, wood, metal, skin….a cry, a gasp, a retort.  So complex, and yet so immediate and natural.

I was a little disappointed when the music came to a peaceful close.  Words, again, flowed throughout the room.  Conversations. Reactions. Circular sifting through spaces, hot bowls of soup…bread…desserts.  A glass of wine.  It was a genuinely ‘magical’ experience.

Thank you to Pat,  Robin and Andre.  It was good to meet you; Hanna and Roberta, Jaqueline, Rayne, Claudia…

Wendy, as always, thank you.

 

 

Calgary Folk Festival 2015

I’ve just purchased my four day pass for this year’s folk festival and so I thought I had better review my archives on last year’s events because the experience was a little different and very special in a number of ways.  I just didn’t take the opportunity to sit and reflect on any of it.  The program got shoveled into a pile with other papers and I just left the experience to marinate in my heart and my mind.  Folk Festival is a special event for me.

For 2015, initially, I had hoped to travel the Trans Canada Highway for a long visit with Dad in Ontario, but as it turned out, after teaching a long contract up until the end of June, Max-man injured his ACL in one back leg and days later, I broke my foot.  It was a calamity that sent me into a bit of an emotional tail spin because I was so looking forward to a big road trip. (I enjoy the experience of the Canadian landscape while cranking up CBC radio.)

Things weren’t going well.  After two weeks of being confined to one level of the house, Max began to heal and later that first month, with follow-up Orthopedic care, we received the news that he did not require the prescribed surgery.  That was awesome!  As his mobility increased, I met Steve of  Red Rover Pet Care and felt relieved that Steve was someone who would give Max the exercise he needed through my own convalescence and at the same time, be a happy and positive daily force in our lives.

The difficulties of Summer 2015, however, were not over!

Not much time had passed when my upstairs en suite plumbing led to more chaos and money that I had set aside for travel, ended up being poured into renovations.  Crazy! I DO try to find the positive side of events and as it turned out, through the water issues, I met a truly amazing young man, Trevor…such a professional and efficient plumber, on the recommendation of friend, Dino.  Trevor went well beyond the call of duty, given his fix-it knowledge and his kind heart.  Since then, I have learned so many good pointers from Trevor, where general renovations and handling fix-it problems are concerned.

In the midst of all of this, my daughter said, “Mom, if you can’t go on your trip, why don’t you buy Folk Festival tickets?”  I couldn’t imagine it!  Okay…well, I was blessed with a walking cast, but I still couldn’t picture getting around the grounds!  In the end, though, it all worked out.  Every night, I was a little more than tired!  I’m grateful to Erin who really did organize our food and snacks, very generously, so that I was basically just responsible to get myself together.

There were some real surprises at Folk Festival…and there always are!  Let me see if I can pull up some photographs of my favourites.

We have our folk festival rituals, one of them is to pour over our programs and mark our priorities/mapping out preferences.  I love this photograph of Cayley.  It has that Folk Fest feel about it!  Love the rubber boots!  And yes, this was a year that we had to run for it, a couple of times (cover up) and this involved me pulling a plastic bag over my cast.

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Musicians that I took in last year included (in no particular order because too much time has passed): The photographs are all mine…I did the best I could.  It would be nice if you asked to use them before you use them.

Aqua Alta out of Halifax, NS

Alright, so anything labeled as a Dreamscape, is likely not really for me.  A surreal sensibility in music, for me, is tolerable, but not a preferred experience.  I’m posting here, a sampling that is more literal than most pieces.  To be fair, one would have to say that the layers are very interesting.  I like the percussive layer.

Bombino from Niger  A huge ball of energy, life, light and carrying with him, a truly remarkable narrative, Bombino was one of the highlights for me.  I guess, classed as World music, one could not help but get up to this stuff and dance.  I remember feeling truly inspired by the guy.  Much evidence throughout his commentary and his music that he is in the world to create goodness! Highly recommend!  I remember feeling this same way the first time I heard K’Naan.

Sera Cahoone out of Seattle, Washington  Sera has a big voice for a little girl.  Her writing is good.  When I heard her, I was thinking that these twangy ballads will take people time to latch on to.  But, she’s a solid performer!  A lady with a pile of love songs in her heart. A nice voice to have sitting on a workshop stage.

Jennifer Castle; Toronto, Ontario  Jennifer spent a good while singing in a basement tavern in London, England and is said to have been influenced by British folk tradition in her songwriting.  I guess I don’t know enough about that to really get it.  I find her work a bit dissonant.  (she describes her music as being unsettling)

I heard her sing this number and liked it a lot.

Kim Churchill; Australia  Truth: this guy was just plain handsome…my daughters would roll their eyes at that initial remark, especially since today I turn 61.  If I were you and you had a chance to see this guy perform, I would encourage it!  I liked it a lot…and I’d never heard of Kim Churchill before in my life!  If you don’t take a look at any of the videos I post here, look at this one.  He shares some musicality, especially with the strong percussive underlying beat with Xavier Rudd.  Kim Churchill probably hates that comparison being made…but, I felt it so I’m writing it.

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EMBASSYLIGHTS; Calgary, AB/Iceland  I love love loved these guys!  I liked that they were such family-people! Demonstrating a versatile knowledge of instrumentation, I really thought EMBASSYLIGHTS was wonderful.  Indie or magic-light music, this couldn’t keep you going all folk fest long, but a restful respite on an otherwise-busy workshop stage.

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Father John Misty; New Orleans, LA  Supposed BIG NAME and a must-see, I saw, but in the end, felt that Father John Misty was such a darned PERFORMER, that it was all SHOW and not enough about the authenticity of the music.  Do you know what I mean?  Contrary to the content of his biography and despite the interesting things he has done, I didn’t feel it in the gut!

Frazey Ford; Vancouver, BC  I had been listening to Frazey Ford’s radio voice for some months before the Folk Festival.  She was a must-see on my list.  In the end, I don’t know if the sound techs had that stage worked out by the time she performed.  I just felt that her big voice with amazing and surprising nuance was not coming through.  She has such a quality of voice.  I chalk my disappointment up to the venue (main stage) and not to her performance.  I just really like her.

Frazey 2015

Jenn Grant; Halifax, NS  Yes!  Lots of mellow…chill…music.  We noticed that also.  That’s why, in the end, there are some people who really stand out!  Strong writing and truly beautiful, warm music. Not to be poo pooed.

Robyn Hitchcock; England  Here was a stand out for me!  I really enjoyed Robyn…saw him on a workshop stage with Buffy Ste. Marie and then again on Main Stage.  Really liked him. He had stories and a powerful connection with place. Labeled as a surrealist…his work is innovative and a little unexpected for its character.  Confidence, not arrogance, came through in his performances.  He felt seasoned.  That’s important sometimes.  This wasn’t for everyone.  lol

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Kids Koala’s Vinyl Vaudeville; Montreal, QC Pure entertainment!  Kid Koala just had us all in stitches, while also entertaining us with his amazing abilities!  This was surprising and very very entertaining!  Layers of sound, music and effects. Set way in the back of the early morning workshop group, his creativity and innovation came through! Smiles spread over the crowd!

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Lake Street Dive; Boston, MA  Such good music!  These guys are professional!  Listen to this woman’s pipes!  Great stand up base!

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Leftover Cuties; Los Angeles, CA  This was the best workshop stage I attended…a great bunch of people who didn’t mind really jamming.  Sometimes people don’t get that approach and don’t cross into other performer’s genres…this was a wonderful stage and the Leftover Cuties were great sports.

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John Mann; Vancouver, BC  I’m so grateful that I had opportunity to listen to John Mann perform even a few songs on a workshop stage.  It was a privilege.  All these months later, John has performed his farewell concert and of course, it saddens all of his fans.

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Milk Carton Kids; Los Angeles, CA Pure musicality and entertainment.  Wow!  I really am glad that I had the chance to enjoy these two.  They create fantastic harmonies with songs that are well-written!  Their transitions and monologues were uber-entertaining!

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Oh Susanna; Toronto, Ontario  More the twang of a country singer here.  Strong voice.  Again, a very subdued feel to her performance.

Lynn Olagundoye; Calgary, AB  Wow…jazzy…rich…warm.  A very beautiful voice.  It was surprising to me that this was a voice coming out of Calgary!  This workshop stage was so diverse in its styles, there were some struggles where good jamming could happen.  I enjoyed the individuals that came through, however.

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Petunia and The Vipers; Vancouver, BC  These guys also shared my favourite workshop stage.  Much fun! Daughter, Cayley, appears in a music video produced by this group.

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Buffy Sainte-Marie; Hawaii  My sister-in-law, Karen, had joined us on the tarp for some music at the main stage on our final evening.  It just happened to be that a friend of mine was leaving early and had been sitting the whole folk festival, on the golden tarp at the front of the main stage.  She came to talk to me as I waited my turn for the biffy and offered us the tarp.  So…off I went to see one of the most iconic female performers I know of, front stage!  I had also caught her sharing a workshop stage, so this was extra special!  What can I say?  Grateful!

A footnote here, Buffy has the most amazing percussionist ever!  I love the guy!  If you ever have the chance to truly observe Michel Bruyere, take the opportunity!  So beautiful!

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Shakey Graves; Austin, TX  One of my favourite performers was Shakey Graves!  He was passionate about his music, an excellent guitar player and was full of energy throughout his performance!  He was a great surprise.

 

 

Sarah Jane Scouten; Montreal, QC Very folky sounding.  I’ve got to say, this year, the selection was built for a folk festival.  I love well-written ballads performed sweetly.  I would have enjoyed hearing more of Sarah.

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JJ Shiplett; Calgary, AB  JJ shows up on Calgary bills, but I’ve never had the opportunity to see him performing.  I’m going to have to track him down.  Honestly, I love the rich warm sound of his guitar!

Esperanza Spalding presents Emily’s Dplus Evolution; Portland, OR

I’m not even going to post a comment about Esperanza Spalding.  I really didn’t understand her performance piece and regretted not moving from the stage.  It was evening and about supper time, so I just stayed plunked!

The Stray Birds; Lancaster, PA  It’s nice to hear from International musicians…to check out what’s happening beyond our borders.  I enjoyed the clarity of their music and the versatility of their instrumentation.  A very positive feeling to The Stray Birds.

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The Strumbellas; Toronto, Ontario A terrific six member band coming out of Toronto, with strong connections in Northern Ontario.  Their beats get people up dancing.  A very nice energy.

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Richard Thompson; England  As I said before, it’s a great thing when these festivals integrate some seasoned song writers.  Very upbeat and sensational in betweener stories. Lots of humour and great music.

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Loudon Wainwright III; Westchester County, NY  Another pleasure to watch, for his humour and his experience, Loudon Wainwright III!  If you enter his name into Youtube, a hundred titles show up!  Quite a song writer and it was really a treat to listen!

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The Wooden Sky; Toronto, ON

Hawksley Workman; Toronto, ON  Hawksley was a power house.  Lots of energy…he danced and sang across two stages.  I really liked this guy. He put on a great show!

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Adam Cohen Son of Leonard Cohen, I liked Adam’s work.  If you’re thinking that you’re going to hear similarities in his vocals…you’re wrong.  Quite a different experience.  A fun time at Main Stage on this one.

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Oh my, there were others…but, I’m leaving this now.

Yes, indeed!  Dawning my air cast, I took in all of this fabulous music and while we were just saying over breakfast this morning, that it was a very chill line up last year, I’m looking at this list and remembering some phenomenal experiences!  The thing about Folk Festival is that you are exposed to artists you might not have ever connected with who produce stuff that is MORE than appealing.  It was a great folk festival…now that I’ve created this list, I’m going to go back and add some meat to the bones, so to speak.

(Okay….so that was quite an experience of music! 2231 words later!)  I hope that my readers have enjoyed the odd bit.  I’m not going to be waiting until a year later to document 2016 Folk Festival…so looking forward to it!

 

 

 

 

Ruth Purves-Smith and David Holloway

I’ve suspended my writing for the week because I’m teaching elementary children on a month long contract and I’m focused and inspired and need to line up all my jelly beans. What I really want to sustain over this month is my time in nature because things are evolving so quickly out there…and so many new birds are on the wing.

I’m writing diligently about an art tour that I took at Pason Systems on this past Saturday…one piece at a time…it was such a fabulous experience!  I suppose I’ll publish that during the coming weekend.

But…

…here’s an exception. I felt I needed to write my gratitude for Wendy Lee’s invitations to meet and listen to the music of Ruth Purves-Smith, accompanied by the fantastic guitar player, David Holloway.  So, for Juno weekend, I ended up having time on Sunday to attend Wendy’s house concert where chili was served, chilled white wine and the most wonderful company ever!  It was a hub of Juno energy and such a down-to-earth experience.

It turns out that Ruth’s father, Bill Purves-Smith and his wife, Fen Roessingh, have a connection to my own family patriarch, John Moors…and so, Ruth and I are connected by the beautiful warm smell and coziness of wool!  My grandfather is pictured below, a young man, in the throws of excitement about wool.

John Moors Woolen Mill Magrath, Alberta

Bill Purves-Smith and a photograph that appeared on his memorial 1934-2011.

Bill Purves-Smith

This story about the collision between Ruth’s family and my own appears on the Custom Woolen Mills website…

Fen Roessingh and husband Bill Purves-Smith developed a keen interest in weaving while studying at the Leighton Centre near Calgary, Alberta in the 1970’s. After being given a truck-load of raw wool in order to pursue their weaving, they began searching to find a mill that would process it into yarn. This took them to Magrath, Alberta, to work with John Moors in his mill, Wool Carding and Spinning. John had started in the woolen mill business at the age of 12 as a bobbin boy and worked his way up to running his own mill. When Fen and Bill came to work with him, John was in his 70’s and looking for someone to take over his business. Game for a challenge and motivated by their love of fibre arts, Fen and Bill bought the mill from John and moved it to Carstairs. They then acquired a wool washing system and additional carding machines from a small mill called Custom Woolen Mills in Sifton, Manitoba. The mill was owned by Anna Weselowski who, also in her 70’s, was looking to retire. Combined, the new mill was called Custom Woolen Mills Ltd. Wool Carding and Spinning, but everyone just called it Custom Woolen Mills for short. Over 35 years later, Custom Woolen Mills is still going strong; a hub in the community, a multigenerational family enterprise, and a producer of quality, Canadian grown and manufactured wool products.  

Of course, as soon as I could, I grabbed onto Ruth…gave her a big hug…and we began to spill out the memories.  I loved hearing about her playing in the back of the mill and watching the old television…I could picture it all.

Thank you for the stories, Ruth…and the music…and the generous heart.  Thank you David for the absolutely amazing guitar accompaniment and the talk of clocks.  And most of all, thank you to Wendy and Dan for their hospitality and for the sharing, always, of music and art!  Good to see so many friends that we now share and for the introduction to so many more!

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There’s nothing like a bookshelf filled with interesting titles…and a guitar that’s about to be played!

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It was a wonderful experience…bought the recent CD….so should you!

 

Related Posts:

Woolen Mill

Objects of My Affection: Woolen Blanket

Of All the Places

The Sunshine of Your Smile

Leah Came to the Door

May 8, 2015

Going to the Country

Southern Alberta Roads

Wool Card and Spinning: My Grandfather’s Story

John Moors 1908-1988

Ancestry Geek

John Moors 1876-1918

John Moors 1841-1914

 

 

 

 

A Reality Tour

It was January 21, 2004 and I found myself sitting next to my daughter, Cayley, at the Dome, somewhere up in the nosebleeds awaiting  the entrance of Macy Gray.  Her set leading up to David Bowie was short but so overwhelmingly energetic that the distance between us and her was not existent.  I’ll always remember the power of her vocals and her entertainment factor.  Gritty, joyful, her performance was spirited and authentic.

Tonight I had intended to drive to the core to attend an event at the National Music Center, but am I just becoming a home body, when on a Thursday evening, I don’t want to go back out onto the roads?  I just want to stay home.

I decided to pull out one of my journals labeled Winter 2004 2 and to skim through until I found my notes on David Bowie and his performance.  With today’s news of the passing of Alan Rickman and a key historical player of the Stratford Festival, Brian Bedford, both from cancer, it causes me to take pause.  I think that Bowie’s 2004 concert was well-named.  I think it’s important to check in with ourselves over the course of this New Year and decide what it is in life that truly feeds the soul. What is this state that we refer to as REALITY?

There was a break as the stage was shuffled about and prepared for David Bowie.  Cayley and I sipped on our traditional two DOME cold beers and chatted.   Some time during that intermission, a woman with a huge roll of tickets came up to us and gave us two new tickets.  She said only, “David does not want any one sitting this far away.  He’s moving you up.”  Well…was that ever a blessing!  We had ideal seats one section above the stage on the left.  And so the music began to fly.  That night was a healing-night for me…hard to explain here, but it’s true.

I’ve taken photographs of my archives and while I wrote a lot about the music, I’m just going to post the visuals and maybe a video of the song that really moved me that night.

Eternal rest grant unto them , O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them .
May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Live rightly.  Live justly.  Give to those in need.  Respect your body. Cherish your loved ones.  And…dance.

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Always buy the t-shirt!

 

Oranges and Sunshine

The lights are dazzling on the Christmas tree this morning.  I sip hot coffee and sort through papers and bric-a-brac on the kitchen floor.  I don’t recommend painting walls right before the season’s celebrations.  It’s taking me an endless amount of time settling back in.  Everything, I’m certain, will feel fresh once I’m settled again.

Mornings like this, though, hold their beauty.  I like the nesting experience and I like the solitary moments, hanging with the border collie.  I can sing and sometimes dance, at will.

I decided to play a CD that was sent to me by my sister-friend, Linda Barns, over in London.  Some time ago, she attended an exhibition on my behalf, On Their Own: British Child Migrants at the V&A Museum of Childhood in London.

Some time before Christmas, I sat and cried through the movie, Oranges and Sunshine, a film about the migration of thousands of children from Britain to Australia.  Because I come from a family rooted in this same history, but as it is related to Canadian child immigrants, I feel a huge connection to the content of the movie.

The music I’m listening to as I write is titled The Ballads of Child Migration, songs for Britain’s Child Migrants.  They are beautiful songs written in recognition of this history.  Canadian descendants of British Home Children are continuing to look for similar accountability at every level and to see the events recognized in history classes throughout the provinces.

I try, as much as I can, to be positive when I write or engage social media.  We need, however, to be honest about our history, in order to avoid making similar mistakes again.  There are many atrocities performed by human beings upon other human beings.  This is one of those atrocities.  I suggest that my readers inform themselves on the subject, not for the purpose of blame, but for the purpose of recognition and reconciliation.

I think the movie is accurate in its portrayal of the events.

The music  that Linda has sent me is beautiful in a haunting way.  I love you, for this beautiful gift, Linda.

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Painting the Town

Sometimes I forget that I live in a city. I spend a lot of time connected to nature; long walks, bird observations and just taking in the landscape.

Last night, I headed to the core…traffic, noise, outdoor patios, bright lights and energized-everything.  I went to Kensington’s Essentia and took in one of my favourite art exhibits in a long time.  Thursday night is always a lively time in Calgary and there were several shows that I wanted to take in, but I gave myself the gift of spending some focused time at a single venue and really enjoyed it.  As always, I will have to get down to the other shows through the month of September and I see that my calendar is filling up.  In fact, I’m hoping to get around this afternoon to The Tinier Gallery in Bridgeland and the exhibit, EMBEDDED MEMORIES by Solveig Agecoutay.

The exhibit, The Changing Face, is a beautiful collection of portrait paintings, covering a diverse number of styles and approaches.  I thought this show rocked it!  Featured artists are Daniel Audet, Amy Gaulin, Aaron Sidorenko, Rich Theroux, Nick Rooney, Brian Flynn, Doug Nhung, Ness Nelson and Shon Anderson.

The competencies and technical achievements in these various artists was so evident. Not only was it a power house show, but the space sang of community and support and lively enthusiasm for the arts in Calgary.  I think that Calgary is generating a lively spirit as art, artists and performance artists emerge through create! the East Village lofts, in mattress shops, cafes, open studios and Rumble Houses.  It is a very exciting time where art and experience are accessible to all.  I’ve a few photo archives, but I sincerely hope that my Calgary readers will get down to enjoy the show in real time.

From Kensington, I headed to Lynnwood Station, where I enjoyed a glass of wine with a friend and listened to some great Tim Williams music…it was good to end the evening spinning circles into the dance floor!