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

 

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!

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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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.

Some of My Favourite People

Ascension Sunday was beautiful in so many ways.  Bishop Emeritus Frederick Henry was with us for the celebration of the Mass.  As much as being a part of this family has, at times, been a struggle, it feels as though I am home with my community when I share in the Mass with so many friends.  Sometimes in today’s world, we can be very MEcentric and I find that I am able to quiet that and really focus on ‘the other’ when I am in community. I sometimes wonder how the human family will look back on the world that we are creating and what our part in history will be.  I lifted prayers and offered up this Mass, in particular, for people in my life who have medical struggles and for my children.  From Mass, I stepped out into a gorgeous-weather day and decided to make my circle of the pond, with Max before anything else.

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I booked up the afternoon with a create! workshop at Wendy’s…a session co-delivered with Ruth Purves Smith, needle felting and wet felting, forgetting that I was also committed to attending Indigenous dance led by Jess McMann.  Sigh… I opted to head out to Lakeview, as I knew I planned to visit my YaYa at the Foothills Hospital afterwards.

The afternoon was glorious, back yard crafting with beautiful and engaged creatives. The birds were chirping and singing and bathing, all the while.  Ginger snaps and ice cold lemonade were served as we went about learning to make dryer balls, wet felting and creating lovely artworks.  A great way to spend the afternoon!  Thank you, Wendy and Ruth.

Not only is Ruth a huge advocate for the Custom Woolen Mills, she is a heart-filled musician and huge song writer and story teller!  I hang out with amazing people!

In conclusion, kits were put together and I was eager to get over to the hospital and my friend, to see if she would be able to try felting.

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It was a joy to watch my YaYa, sit outdoors in the shade of Foothills Hospital and manage some felting.  I will bring the project that she began along with me on my next visit and bit by bit, she can construct something beautiful.  Best she not poke her finger with one of those needles!  The day was so much brighter because I was able to hang out with her and to see the progress she has made in her healing.  Four months later, she is a strong and inspiring fighter!  Her husband is equally inspiring because he has been selfless and supportive through this very unique journey.  They are, together, an inspiring couple.

I spent the evening on my own…a little putzing in the garden…some more walking with Max…some texting with my daughter who had entered a song-writers competition.  She got to chat it up with one of my favourite Alberta song writers, Joe Nolan, and so I will aptly conclude this post with one of his tunes.

The day was a ‘Ballad of Some Sort”.  (Changed my mind…but, YouTube it!) Instead, River Ends. Both Ruth and Joe deliver music in wool socks.  I think song-writers who perform in sock feet are generally good people.

Thanks, Wendy Lees, for being a beautiful person!  Thanks to you, Ruth…for sharing the joy of creation with me, again.  Such warmth and generosity!

Love Art in Calgary Tours

Wendy Lees

Ruth Purves Smith

 

 

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.

 

 

My Hunter’s Moon

Listening to my new CD Out in the Storm, as I type…

I cranked up CBC radio on my drive north on Highway 2.  Fen, of the Custom Woolen Mills, had asked us to bring our own bowl, plate and cutlery, (I forgot) so I stopped off at the WIN store on the way.  For five dollars, I left with a finely crafted porcelain plate, a hippie bowl, a crystal wine goblet and three pieces of silver, a fork, knife and spoon.  Then I was on my way.

Artist, Megan Samms, was celebrating the conclusion of this past summer’s artist-in-residency program with an exhibition of her hand crafted textiles.

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These next two photographs, shared by Wendy Lees.  Megan explained that her patterns here, were patterns almost contemporary with the equipment found in the mill.

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In the front of the mill, Shibori dying was undergo,

(The following Shibori Photographs taken by the world’s greatest connector, Wendy Lees)

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…potluck feast was being munched upon

(Dancing Goat Cheese promoted by both Wendy and myself…photos to her credit)

Craig Sanok & Paul Anthony Chambers, you rock!

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…and fantastic music provided by Ruth Purves Smith and Dave Holloway and Brian Sovereign was pumping up the large group that was happily in attendance.

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I guess when I step into that world…and I wish that I did it more often, I am overcome with a sense of history, industry and family.  Some of the equipment is stuff that I grew up with in the Magrath Wool Card and Spinning Mill, but I realized only last night, that I really didn’t ever take a good look.  Last night I did.  With dates of manufacture going back to the late 1800s and the places as far away as Massachusetts and Philadelphia, a person can only feel in awe.

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Click any of the images below in order to see them larger.

That feeling of amazement transferred into my conversation with Megan, as well.  I thanked her for learning and keeping alive, the hand made craft and industry of textile creation.  In a world of manufacturing, it is good to remember what the hands can do, along with some very primitive, but dependable pieces of equipment.

Thank you to Fen, for the invitation.  Thanks to the mill staff who made the mill look so absolutely beautiful for last night’s event.  Everything in the place showed a special touch. As per usual, when I write of such things, at the keyboard, the morning after such magic, I weep, warm tears of gratitude.  Thanks, for the music, Ruth.  The very first song, for the children.  There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea!  As an military family, traversing this great country so many times, my mother and father’s voices lifted together and made the miles around Lake Superior go quicker, singing our road songs.  And this one…one of the entertaining ones.  Who wouldn’t want to learn all those words?

I hope that my readers will connect with Megan’s work.  I hope that you will listen to Ruth’s Music.  And most of all, before winter passes, I hope you will head up to the Custom Woolen Mills and stock up on warm goods and supplies for your own hand making.

Thanks, Wendy, for sharing the drive through the light of a full moon, fog, and conversation.

I have so many photographs this morning, that I really don’t know how to present them.  My children have told me no one reads this blog (wrong), so, it’s irrelevant, I guess.  This, more a journal of the magic of my life, than anything else.

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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.

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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!