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Canadian Folk Music

JedMarum 23 Mar 09 - 12:04 PM
ClaireBear 23 Mar 09 - 12:37 PM
Big Mick 23 Mar 09 - 12:52 PM
DonMeixner 23 Mar 09 - 12:57 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 23 Mar 09 - 01:01 PM
sian, west wales 23 Mar 09 - 01:15 PM
Terry McDonald 23 Mar 09 - 01:50 PM
gnu 23 Mar 09 - 02:05 PM
sian, west wales 23 Mar 09 - 02:28 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 23 Mar 09 - 02:30 PM
Terry McDonald 23 Mar 09 - 02:59 PM
breezy 23 Mar 09 - 03:32 PM
GUEST,Murray on Saltspring 23 Mar 09 - 04:22 PM
balladeer 23 Mar 09 - 05:21 PM
balladeer 23 Mar 09 - 09:33 PM
JedMarum 25 Mar 09 - 06:12 PM
john f weldon 25 Mar 09 - 07:59 PM
Big Mick 25 Mar 09 - 08:26 PM
john f weldon 25 Mar 09 - 08:44 PM
JedMarum 25 Mar 09 - 09:22 PM
Eve Goldberg 26 Mar 09 - 12:33 AM
meself 26 Mar 09 - 10:31 AM
balladeer 26 Mar 09 - 10:45 AM
meself 26 Mar 09 - 11:11 AM
Big Mick 26 Mar 09 - 01:54 PM
meself 26 Mar 09 - 03:19 PM
meself 26 Mar 09 - 03:29 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 26 Mar 09 - 03:34 PM
john f weldon 26 Mar 09 - 03:37 PM
Big Mick 26 Mar 09 - 04:26 PM
Tim Leaning 26 Mar 09 - 05:29 PM
bankley 26 Mar 09 - 05:30 PM
Beer 26 Mar 09 - 05:41 PM
bankley 26 Mar 09 - 06:00 PM
Eve Goldberg 26 Mar 09 - 06:43 PM
Beer 26 Mar 09 - 08:33 PM
Peace 26 Mar 09 - 09:14 PM
Beer 26 Mar 09 - 11:19 PM
Beer 26 Mar 09 - 11:20 PM
meself 27 Mar 09 - 08:36 AM
Big Mick 27 Mar 09 - 08:51 AM
Sandy Mc Lean 27 Mar 09 - 08:59 AM
Beer 27 Mar 09 - 09:13 AM
bankley 27 Mar 09 - 09:41 AM
meself 27 Mar 09 - 09:53 AM
GUEST,number 6 27 Mar 09 - 10:43 AM
john f weldon 27 Mar 09 - 10:46 AM
Beer 27 Mar 09 - 11:10 AM
Beer 27 Mar 09 - 11:11 AM
bankley 27 Mar 09 - 11:13 AM
balladeer 27 Mar 09 - 12:04 PM
bankley 27 Mar 09 - 12:19 PM
bankley 27 Mar 09 - 12:40 PM
Beer 27 Mar 09 - 12:56 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 27 Mar 09 - 01:06 PM
GUEST,HiLo 27 Mar 09 - 01:48 PM
GUEST 27 Mar 09 - 03:39 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 27 Mar 09 - 03:47 PM
meself 27 Mar 09 - 03:49 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 27 Mar 09 - 03:50 PM
Magpie 27 Mar 09 - 04:36 PM
Eve Goldberg 27 Mar 09 - 07:12 PM
GUEST,Golightly 27 Mar 09 - 07:58 PM
Beer 27 Mar 09 - 10:01 PM
Big Mick 27 Mar 09 - 10:58 PM
Eve Goldberg 28 Mar 09 - 12:58 AM
Beer 28 Mar 09 - 07:19 AM
bankley 28 Mar 09 - 09:28 AM
balladeer 28 Mar 09 - 10:34 AM
gnu 28 Mar 09 - 11:39 AM
balladeer 28 Mar 09 - 02:13 PM
gnu 28 Mar 09 - 02:34 PM
gnu 28 Mar 09 - 02:36 PM
balladeer 28 Mar 09 - 02:56 PM
bankley 28 Mar 09 - 03:12 PM
bankley 28 Mar 09 - 03:30 PM
john f weldon 28 Mar 09 - 03:34 PM
bankley 28 Mar 09 - 03:55 PM
sian, west wales 30 Mar 09 - 07:23 AM
Eve Goldberg 30 Mar 09 - 10:29 AM
john f weldon 30 Mar 09 - 10:51 AM
bankley 30 Mar 09 - 11:39 AM
sian, west wales 30 Mar 09 - 01:35 PM
Big Mick 30 Mar 09 - 01:53 PM
C. Ham 30 Mar 09 - 01:58 PM
john f weldon 30 Mar 09 - 02:01 PM
sian, west wales 30 Mar 09 - 03:33 PM
The Villan 30 Mar 09 - 03:37 PM
john f weldon 30 Mar 09 - 03:46 PM
The Villan 30 Mar 09 - 03:50 PM
john f weldon 30 Mar 09 - 04:08 PM
GUEST,bankley 30 Mar 09 - 04:16 PM
meself 30 Mar 09 - 04:21 PM
C. Ham 30 Mar 09 - 04:23 PM
Big Mick 30 Mar 09 - 04:31 PM
sian, west wales 30 Mar 09 - 04:32 PM
Tim Leaning 30 Mar 09 - 04:37 PM
Big Mick 30 Mar 09 - 04:39 PM
sian, west wales 30 Mar 09 - 05:53 PM
Big Mick 30 Mar 09 - 06:01 PM
Big Mick 30 Mar 09 - 06:22 PM
JedMarum 30 Mar 09 - 06:22 PM
Big Mick 30 Mar 09 - 06:43 PM
bankley 30 Mar 09 - 07:38 PM
bankley 30 Mar 09 - 07:49 PM
Beer 30 Mar 09 - 08:14 PM
Peter T. 30 Mar 09 - 08:53 PM
Beer 30 Mar 09 - 09:38 PM
meself 30 Mar 09 - 11:47 PM
balladeer 31 Mar 09 - 04:59 AM
sian, west wales 31 Mar 09 - 07:21 AM
bankley 31 Mar 09 - 07:48 AM
meself 31 Mar 09 - 07:51 AM
john f weldon 31 Mar 09 - 08:14 AM
Beer 31 Mar 09 - 08:50 AM
john f weldon 31 Mar 09 - 09:05 AM
meself 31 Mar 09 - 09:11 AM
Eve Goldberg 31 Mar 09 - 10:16 AM
Peter T. 31 Mar 09 - 10:55 AM
meself 31 Mar 09 - 11:02 AM
Sandy Mc Lean 31 Mar 09 - 11:15 AM
meself 31 Mar 09 - 11:56 AM
Crowhugger 31 Mar 09 - 12:23 PM
sian, west wales 31 Mar 09 - 12:24 PM
Beer 31 Mar 09 - 12:35 PM
Peter T. 31 Mar 09 - 01:47 PM
Eve Goldberg 31 Mar 09 - 06:46 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 31 Mar 09 - 11:50 PM
GUEST,Peace 01 Apr 09 - 01:00 AM
GUEST,Peace 01 Apr 09 - 02:26 AM
Peter T. 01 Apr 09 - 07:53 AM
gnu 01 Apr 09 - 03:46 PM
Peter T. 02 Apr 09 - 07:48 AM
Peter T. 02 Apr 09 - 07:52 AM
Peter T. 02 Apr 09 - 09:58 AM
Eve Goldberg 02 Apr 09 - 11:51 AM
balladeer 02 Apr 09 - 02:10 PM
Eve Goldberg 02 Apr 09 - 04:32 PM
balladeer 02 Apr 09 - 06:05 PM
Eve Goldberg 02 Apr 09 - 08:19 PM
Beer 02 Apr 09 - 08:47 PM
balladeer 02 Apr 09 - 11:04 PM
Eve Goldberg 07 Apr 09 - 10:03 PM
Jack Lewin 12 Jun 09 - 10:16 PM
sian, west wales 17 Feb 10 - 09:30 AM
JedMarum 17 Feb 10 - 10:02 AM
Penguin Eggs 17 Feb 10 - 09:56 PM
Beer 17 Feb 10 - 10:08 PM
sian, west wales 18 Feb 10 - 05:13 AM
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Subject: Canadian Folk Music
From: JedMarum
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 12:04 PM

We bordered on this subject in the Rick Fielding Tribute thread, and I could not bear to introduce thread creep to that discussion – so I thought I'd introduce the discussion of Canadian Folk here (maybe I should say Canadian Folk-Style).

I visited Disney's Epcot Center a decade ago when my kids were in their teens. I enjoyed walking through the exhibits of various countries and was really impressed with the end of day fireworks and light show. Actually impressed does not accurately describe what I felt. I was floored. I was amazed! It was a sight and sound treat like none I'd witnessed before.

They highlighted each country, during the show and played wonderful recorded music, appropriate for that country, as the laser lights and fireworks painted colorful images over the country's exhibit. The last two countries highlighted were Canada and the US and as they approached the time when Canada would be focused upon, I wondered what the music would be. The music selections and recordings for the other countries had been excellent, so by now I couldn't wait to hear what they'd do for Canada (and then the US).

When Canada's turn came, the Epcot show played some absolutely beautiful Canadian folk music pieces; real folkie stuff, acoustic guitar, dulcimer, mando, etc. I don't recall the names of the few tunes they played in medley – but the choice was so right on and so lovely. It made me realize just how close my New England roots in folk-music were tied to Canada. My first thought was, "Hell yeah! That's the way folk music is supposed to sound!"

You see I had been living in Texas for a while at that point, and I do like the Texas folk/acoustic styles, too – but hearing that beautiful and powerful Canadian folk-style music just made my juices flow!

I grew up in Massachusetts. I've begun to believe that the New England folk-style I learned as a kid is more Canadian based then it is tied to any other. I say that because I am instantly at home with Canadian players and styles. My first thought is, "Oh yeah, that's the way I feel it too." And that feeling happens to me more with Canadian players then with any others, including New Englanders. OK – now I don't want to be patronizing here. There's plenty of great stuff developed elsewhere and I've enjoyed that too. I just have to say that when I hear Canadian folk stuff, it just feels like home is calling me.

So when Mudcatters hear Big Mick talking about his love for the Canadian folk scene - I think this is what he is talking about (or is it aboot?). Mick also grew up close to Canada and I suspect he felt the pull of the same influence I felt in New England.

By the way – to finish my opening thoughts about the Epcot show, I have to say that the music they chose for the USA was so perfect and right-on too that I just said, "Of course!"

They played Gershwin – but that's a discussion for another thread!


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: ClaireBear
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 12:37 PM

I would never have started my first band had I not gone to a (1970s) Vancouver Folk Festival and been exposed to so many breathtaking performances of music from all over Canada. We came home feeling a real need to spread the joy.

C


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Big Mick
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 12:52 PM

Glad you started this, Jed. I have been having a hard time trying to get my thoughts out on this.

I remember sitting in the green room this weekend among this amazing collection of players, and listening as they warmed up. I was, and am constantly, amazed at the sensory overload just listening to them. A very large part of the sensation comes from the warmth, respect, and giving nature of these fine people/musicians. And the music. The inate joy of it. I have struggled so long to try and put a finger on it. It is a unique combination of their history, incredible talent, a joy found in taking a simple tune and fattening it up with the riffs that seem to make grass grow, air breathable, and beer taste better. It is like they are tied to that sod they live on, their history and the unique and diverse society they have created. The music is a reflection of all that.

I was watching Bill, Paul, Grit, Tony, and Mose, supported by this amazing band, and the music was phenomenal and joyous. And the looks on their faces showed you the absolute glee in their hearts at making it.

I am not sure how one defines that stylistically, because it applies to every genre they play. I just know that I am dead thrilled every single time I am around it, and full of envy at the talent.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: DonMeixner
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 12:57 PM

Jed, I know I can start a fight with this so I'll say this first. Canadian music, especially Maritime music has a sound and style that is almost intangible and yet it defines the music.

Now the comment, and this is not a bad thing I believe. I think Canadian music sounds the way it does is because Canada is still too close to the wilderness roots to be troubled by over sophistication. Leonard Cohen being one of several exceptions.

Lame I suppose but I think that is really the case.

Don


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 01:01 PM

Jed, the ties between the Maritime Provinces of Canada and New England ( AKA "The Boston States") are part of an emigration pattern that go back over many generations. As an example Cape Breton Island was largely settled by Highland Scots, many of them clearance exiles.
Here until this day the Gaelic language influences the music and song.
A secondary but larger,over time, emigration from here to the Boston States carried this "Scotch" music to your shores. I believe that much the same can be said for the music of the Irish and Acadian French. Family ties made visits back and forth frequent and music was always freely exchanged. Living by and from the sea made us neighbours with many common interests.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: sian, west wales
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 01:15 PM

Alan Lomax talked about it, didn't he?   I found this article online which looks like it's from the Canadian Journal for Trad Music perhaps.

Of course, for those of us 'of a certain age' growing up in the 1960s in Canada we were probably all heavily influenced by Maritime music due to Don Messer's programmes. I've even met people from Texas who remember the shows (didn't know they reached that far)! It certainly gave us a common repertoire.

sian
(Canadian ex-pat)


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 01:50 PM

David Gregory's article on Alan Lomax is from Canadian Folk Music, Vol 36. no.4.

Jed's raised an interesting question and once that has intrigued me for some time. I gave a paper entitled 'They Took Their Music With Them' at a conference in Ottawa in 2003 about the similarities between English and Canadian songs. I made a throw away comment towards the end of the session that there is a marked difference between the sound of Canadian folk song and that from the United States, especially the Applachian region. I was working on a follow up to this for last year's Association For Canadian Studies in the United States' conference but in the end I couldn't afford to go.

One petty point re emigration to Canada and the Unite States - the English also emigrated in huge numbers but have never been allocated a hyphenated name, e,g, -English-Americans. The title of Charlotte Erickson's major work on the English in the United States is rather apposite - it's 'nvisible Immigrants.'


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: gnu
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 02:05 PM

Don... spot on for a lot of it that I grew up with (I'm 52). My old man worked in the lumber woods as a young man. The "Come-All-Yees" that he sang were as close to the wilderness as you could get.

I don't want to get into too much detail, but, as a lad, just 40 years ago, I was introduced to Makem and The Clancy's and such on a "record player"... the only one in the neighbourhood... FANCY stuff it was!

Oh, yeah. At the end of my back yard - field and stream and woods, and I lived in the big city.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: sian, west wales
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 02:28 PM

Terry, thanks for that. I know I have the issue around here somewhere. Also, re: the 'invisible English', I can go one layer further. The Welsh more often than not registered themselves as 'English'; 'English' and 'British' were considered interchangeable but, additionally, the Welsh often felt that calling themselves 'English' meant they were bettering themselves. Makes tracing Welsh history in Canada that little bit more awkward.

But that's a thread drift, I suppose.

I'll be very interested to see how the discussion of 'Canadianess' develops here.

sian


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 02:30 PM

I pose this question to anyone who may be familiar enough with both regions to comment. What musical differences or similarities can be found between the Acadian ('Cajun) music and folkways of Louisiana and their Canadian counterparts? My father's family was many generations deep in southeast Texas and Louisiana - they were Scots-Irish but several family members had married Cajun spouses and I was exposed to some of their music and dance forms when I was a youngster.

This is only a very superficial view, based on an admittedly small sampling, but I have found some of the French Canadian music to be very lyrical and to be somewhat less powerfully rhythmic in nature.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 02:59 PM

Re my comment about the different sounds of Canadian and American folk song. I've always thought Maud Karpeles' (I think it was her, but it could have been Edith Fowkes)comment that oceans unite people, but mountains separate them helped explain this, especially when considering music from Atlantic Canada.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: breezy
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 03:32 PM

when I visited Epcot -twice - each time the O Canada music was a Stan Rogers song.

Most moving and fitting


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: GUEST,Murray on Saltspring
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 04:22 PM

Can anyone find out what the music played at Epcot was?


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: balladeer
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 05:21 PM

I think it must be said that Canadian guitar players who came of age at the time of the sixties revival, and who hung around the environs of the Toronto of those days, were very influenced by what I have come to think of as "The New York School of Finger Picking". Dave Van Ronk, Bob Gibson, Len Chandler, and a host of other pickers who were paying their dues in Grennwich Village, were all influencing one another every day. Many of them came to play in Toronto and we learned from them. I believe the same thing was happening simultaneously in Montreal. When I first heard Paul Mills play, some twenty-five years post revival, I knew his style was rooted in that time and with those players. I could hear it.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: balladeer
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 09:33 PM

Sorry for the typo in the previous post. Should be GREENWICH Village


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: JedMarum
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 06:12 PM

Yeah I recognize the finger pickin' thing - but I am talking about a deeper level of music style; not so much technique as feel. I'm out on a limb here because I'm logic over heart sort of guy - but this is one area I can feel, but define.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: john f weldon
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 07:59 PM

The Epcot Center has nothing whatsoever to do with Canada or Canadian music. I have spoken to the people responsible for it, and, as far as Canada is concerned, they didn't give a shit. They merely felt that an American parody of Canada was fine.

It is the world for and by imbecilic Amercans.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Big Mick
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 08:26 PM

Some reason for such a broad generalization, John? I wonder how many Canadians visit the Epcot Center?


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: john f weldon
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 08:44 PM

The Epcot Center is a loathsome obscenity. It purports to be educational, yet only presents the viewpoints of large corporations.

It presents ignorance as knowledge, and stupidity as wisdom.

Its comedy versions of other nations serve only to convince Americans of their superior status; those other nations are mere shadows on a screen to to invaded or ignored.

I went there by invitation; when I critiqued the phoney "Canada", they cared not a whit. Only that it presented a Canada that fitted the American vision of what Canada might be like.

When people from other nations visit, they see it as a joke. When Americans visit, they see it as reality.

It is damnable and disgusting.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: JedMarum
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 09:22 PM

They must rotate the music. Of course it's been years since I was there and they played the lovely folk-style songs and tunes. I was expecting them to play Stan Rogers, actually - so I am not surprised they played Stan when breezy was there.

I know that my English immigrant family (my mother's mother's side) came to Canada first - then to the textile mills of Fall River MA. Her father's side came from Scotland and I think they also had family in Canada. My father's side, all from Ireland came through New York and Boston.

But there is clearly a connection of my family and many families from the area where I was born - to Canada. I grew up as a kid just thinking that Canada was just a little farther north then Maine! There were as many Canadians at the campgrounds as there were folks from New York or Vermont, it always seemed to me. Living in Texas, that "closeness" I felt in New England is just not there. But I still feel the pull of the music.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 12:33 AM

I grew up in New England until I was fourteen, when I moved to Toronto. I was exposed to a lot of folk music from a young age, but I didn't really become involved in a folk scene per se until we moved to Toronto. I now tour all over Canada, and also in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, etc.

In general, I think the folk scene in Ontario is far less connected to traditional music than most of the folk scene in the Northeast US or the Midwest. There's a huge tilt toward singer-songwriters at festivals and traditional music is pretty under-represented, with some exceptions.

But in the midst of that climate there is a still thriving, connected community that was influenced by Fiddler's Green Folk Club and Estelle Klein's Mariposa Festival, both of which had a HUGE impact across Canada and into the US. Montreal also had some seminal clubs and figures who have had a lasting impact on people still hanging around the folk scene up here. I think most of the musicians that Jed and Mick have met through Rick Fielding are people who came up through those influences.

One interesting thing I notice is that the connection to British, Irish, and Scottish traditions seem much more present amongst the traditional musicians around here. There's obviously a close connection to England, as well as Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and significant numbers of immigrants going back and forth all the time. I never remember meeting people with British or Irish accents until we moved to Canada.

On the other hand, my mom grew up in New York City in the 1940's and 50's in a left-wing family where folk music was a big part of political movements for social change -- the union songs, songs of the civil rights movement, etc. were all a part of the fabric of folk music that I grew up with. I've always felt like here in Canada that connection doesn't seem to be as strong or obvious in the folk scene. Not that there aren't folk musicians who sing political music, not that there aren't folk musicians singing out on picket lines and at demonstrations, but it doesn't feel like it's woven into the identity of the folk scene in Canada the way it is in the US (at least the Northeast US).

Anyway, I'm wandering all over the place here, but those are a few of the things I've noticed.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: meself
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 10:31 AM

Except for fiddlers and accordionists, and the odd harmonica-player, there are very few Canadian "folk" singers/musicians who perform music based in or derived from pre-1960s Canadian folk tradition. In other words, the musical and lyrical style is far more American- than Canadian-based.

************************

"-- the union songs, songs of the civil rights movement, etc. were all a part of the fabric of folk music that I grew up with."

There is of course nothing intrinsically leftist, liberal, or progressive about folk music in and of itself; it is what it is. From time to time, it is adapted if not appropriated to further the goals of one type of political movement or another. For instance, we've seen some consternation on this forum recently concerning apparent attempts of the BNP to identify itself with English folk music. In fact, speaking of this forum, you will find a broad range of political views represented here, among aficionados and practitioners of various forms of "folk" music.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: balladeer
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 10:45 AM

Hey Eve: I enjoyed your post very much. Great to get your perspective from both sides of the border.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: meself
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 11:11 AM

Yeah, me too - I should have mentioned that!


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Big Mick
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 01:54 PM

It is the world for and by imbecilic Amercans. john f weldon

I find that comment insulting and gratuitous. I am not going to hijack the thread over it except to say it says to me that john has an axe to grind over something that happened. I am sorry to hear that. But this thread really isn't about Epcot, it is about Canadian music.

I really enjoyed reading my friend Eve's comments, as well. I think that is more aimed at what Jed is talking about, and if it isn't he will correct us.

There is this thing that I have been trying to nail down in my mind. It's not the ethnicities and their effect in various regions, and the subsequent styles that evolved. We all understand that part. It's this love of the land, it's characters, and the history. Think of Stan's music, such as Barrette's Privateers, MacDonnell on the Heights,Northwest Passage, Lockkeeper, Fisherman's Wharf. Think of anything that Glen Reid has done like the Heritage River and Wildcat's Howlin CD's, Bill Gallaher's music. Go through the Borealis catalogue. And for me, it is especially when I watch these performers live. I'm no adoring sycophant here, I have been raised around singers and music my whole life. Maybe that is it. Maybe they remind me of my own cultural love of the music, and my recognition of how important it is to the human condition and the societies we create. But whether it is in the Maritimes, Quebec, Southern Ontario, or BC, I sense it and hear it, and have became a huge fan of this land, its musicmakers, and the pure joy they have at making the music.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: meself
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 03:19 PM

Yeah, John was out of line there. No need to insult our friends ...

John?


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: meself
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 03:29 PM

I do think you're onto something there, Mick, about the relation to the land. Never thought about it before, but you do get this attempt in Canadian song lyrics to express something not entirely expressible about the effect of "wilderness" on the psyche. Often the attempt doesn't quite work; sometimes it does ("Trees and rocks, rocks and trees;/Rocks and trees, trees and rocks" repeat ad infinitum).

Some of the interest in our history and its characters is a bit of a defensive reaction to the inundation in American culture that we've been-subjected/have-subjected-ourselves to. (And which, as we have seen, can prompt unexpected outbursts of bitterness).


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 03:34 PM

Many Canadians do perform at Epcot and Disney World. Many show such references on their websites so they must have been better treated than John. Canadians do sometimes feel put down by stereotyping from an uneducated media in the USA and he seems to feel that Epcot was to blame as well. I am sure that there is more to the story.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: john f weldon
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 03:37 PM

You're right. I apologize. Epcot makes me blow a fuse.

However, the attitude comes not from me, but from the designers of Epcot. They have no respect for their customers, and speak of them with open contempt. One of those rare occasions when I've met with the "perps" and heard their attitudes.

Nothing to do with Canadian folk music, but I what passes for "other nations" at Epcot has nothing to do with those actual nations, including Canada. It is like mistaking the animatronic alligators with actual wildlife.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Big Mick
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 04:26 PM

Fair enough, john. You are angry at the Epcot folks, and I get that. I just felt like that broad categorization you made about Americans was as unfair as some of the characterizations that some bozo's on this side of the line make about Canadians. In either case, thanks for the apology.

I thought your line about comparing the animatronic alligators with the real thing hit the mark squarely. And for what it is worth, the Disney treatment of the various American folk music forms is often sterilized, and quite bland. Cartoonish....... how a propos.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 05:29 PM

I like Ice rood truckers if that helps?


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: bankley
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 05:30 PM

and Goofy's not such a good banjo player either...

I believe that because of our small population and vast expanse of territory, there is a different perspective. You get 100 miles north of the border and it's different.... When I was in Northwest Territories a few years back.... there was so little outside stimulus that songs of the North just about wrote themselves... when I did a show there and played a few, folks thought I was from there and had been hiding out in the Nahanni like old Albert Failey.... and as Mick said, each region is unique.... like fingerprints.... some folklore in Quebec goes back centuries... never mind Celine and poutine... although they're okay if you have the appetite.. Stompin' Tom Connors wrote hundreds of songs about small towns, local lore, and drifting around... and he did well by it.....

"Bud the Spud from the bright red mud, rolling down the highway smilin'
The spuds are big on the back of Bud's rig and they're from Prince Edward Island"


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Beer
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 05:41 PM

Well said Ron.
Beer (adrien)


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: bankley
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 06:00 PM

hey Beer, how are you ? remember this one.... here's an excerpt.. it's been awhile

"Let me take you out to Canada, the valley of the Ottawa
Where paddle songs of couriers-de-bois once ran the woods for barter.
They didn't have a lot of laws, just black powder and musket balls
Hand-to hand the tomahawk falls harder upon the martyr

Rippled miles were measured by calumet smoke and journal words the black robes wrote
The steady rhythm of sweaty strokes sliced the sliver water
Fingers of God broke through Jesuit clouds, gently touched the forest shroud
A pale priest prayed out loud in the name of his Latin father

They made their stand on the Borderland".....


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 06:43 PM

Wow, I just wrote a long and totally brilliant (ha!) addition to this conversation and somehow it disappeared when I posted! So I'll try to reconstruct it again.

Meself said: "There is of course nothing intrinsically leftist, liberal, or progressive about folk music in and of itself; it is what it is. From time to time, it is adapted if not appropriated to further the goals of one type of political movement or another."

Whether or not there is a progressive social movements and folk music go together naturally is a separate point, I think. I was merely pointing out a difference I see between the Canadian and US folk scenes (although if we were to get into a discussion about it, I would argue that there are some natural connections and affinities between progressive social movements and the ideas and experiences reflected in a lot of folk music - not that the music is political in and of itself all the time, but that there are connections that should be recognized and celebrated. But that's just me...)

And Mick, I think you raise a good point about the way that Canadian songwriters seem to tap into the Canadian landscape and psyche. It's true we've got a small population and a huge country, so that's certainly part of it.

One thing I've realized as I've travelled around Canada is how vastly different the country is from coast to coast to coast (never been to the north coast, but I hope to go someday!). There's no way you can grow up in the prairies and NOT be affected by the big sky and the quality of the light. And there's no way you can grow up in Newfoundland and NOT be affected by the sea. And I think that has to work it's way into the art and music and writing of the people who live in those places.

And then there's the fact that even the idea of Canada as a nation is still so highly contested (ask a Newfoundlander or a Quebecer or even some Albertans about that sometime!). Canada is always working out what it means to be a nation, in a way that the US seems to have dispensed with a long time ago.

More rambling thoughts from me this evening. Thanks for getting us going, Jed, I'm enjoying the conversation!


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Beer
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 08:33 PM

Ron,
Sure did. In fact the first time I heard it I think if was from some bathroom recording on a cassette. Hope you sing it this summer at the Festival.
Adrien


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Peace
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 09:14 PM

My soul is rooted in this land. So is my heart. Heck, meself will know what I'm talking about because at one time we both lived in the same place--but at different times. Goddamned mosquito-infested swamp land where there'd be ten hatchings a summer.

Beer and I went for a short walk to the river edge and looked at trees that had been brutalized by ice storms and winds. Some trees are still standing and re-growing.

Ron is in what could be called 'small-town' Canada where traditions run deep and so do various loyalties.

Balladeer lives in a big metropolitan area but is able to express things so eloquently in her songs. I'd know amongst fifty writers from elsewhere that any given song of hers was written by a Canuck. There's just something in the way that stuff goes. Can't put my finger on what.

Sandy is a work of art as a person: deep, open and honest--a reflection of his upbringing and where he lives.

IMO, it's impossible to separate Canucks from their country, an observation that can be at once a blessing and a heart break.

John is a wonderfully insightful character whose sense of humour is great as are his occasionally sharp views about things. I can't recall ever discussing politics, religion or stuff like that with any of these people, all of whom I admire for assorted qualities.

As for its music, we have yet to get as nasty as some folks do on 'what is folk threads'. The people I know here who do make music will listen to each other's without the need to categorize the stuff, and that is great.

BM

PS I know Mick's views of this country are deep and real. Thanks, Mick.

And Tim is somethin' else with his music. Neat to see y'all here. That goes for the rest of the folks whom I have never met or traded correspondence.

B


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Beer
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 11:19 PM

Canadian Folk Music?? Well, for me it started with my Mum singing by the piano while dad played Meloncoly(sp.) Baby, Blue Skirt Waltz, Ever in Dreams, Down the River of Golden Dreams, Smile a While. And so on. Then Dad would break out with a Jig or Reel of Don Messer, King Gaddan(sp.) or some other Celtic flavoured tune. The when that was over Mum would start to sing songs like Frozen Charlotte, Molly Bond , Prince Edward Island Is Heaven to Me, Peter Emberley, Moose River Gold Mine, Cape Breton Lullaby and on and on. Then the radio played an influence for awhile. All of a sudden my brothers and sisters were playing guitars and singing songs of Elvis and others of the 50ties and 60ties.
Then I started listening to Hank, Johnny Horton, Jim Reeves, Buddy and all those greats that have slipped away. But still we listened to Mum and Dad's music.
Then in 63 the world changed for me. I split and hitched to Ontario to the land of milk and honey. Worked as a garbage man at a dollar an hour. But the music had changed (for me that is) in that I heard a song that I could relate to because I was only 2 hours away from the Detroit Riots. The number was "Black Day in July". A song written and sung by Lightfoot.
I really think that this is when I started to listen to modern day folk. I say modern day because I didn't realize that Mum was the originator for me. However for me it was Lightfoot. It was also a time when I realized that all my brothers and sisters played instruments and I was the only one not able to play, so I purchased my first guitar which I still have. A Yamaha 180 (1963).

Today I still play songs of my Mother as well as my brother and sisters influences. I play and sing of Stompin Tom's songs, Lightfoot, Stan and Garnet Rogers and many more from Canada. But I also play tunes of Jimmy Dale Gilmore, Guy Clarke, Tom Russell, Jeffery Jeff Walker, Jimmy Buffett, and even Iris Dement.

I have no preference if it is Canadian or U.S. I just love music. And if it moves me I learn it and share it.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Beer
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 11:20 PM

Well said Bruce.
ad.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: meself
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 08:36 AM

Geez, Bruce, you put a lump into my throat ...

***************

("King Gannan").

Enjoyed reading that post, Adrien. Made me wish I'd been there. I kind of feel like I was ...


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Big Mick
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 08:51 AM

Eve, your last paragraph (I love your ramblings, btw) gave me an idea for a song about Canada and her musicians. You referred to Canada thusly:

Canada is always working out what it means to be a nation, .......


There is a song in that statement about this Yank's admiration of the land and the music.......... got to go to work on this.......

Mick


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 08:59 AM

Thanks for the kind words Bruce! I'm not sure that I live up to them though! To be treated so well here, by a true music icon such as yourself puffs up my chest. Thanks again!
                   Sandy


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Beer
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 09:13 AM

Thanks meself. I looked up King Gannan but can't find anything on him. If I recall he was from New Brunswick. You have any info?

Mick, that is a great line by Eve and how true. Well put Eve
Adrien


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: bankley
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 09:41 AM

could be.... King Ganam the fiddler, popular in the 50's


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: meself
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 09:53 AM

Yes, that's the one, Ron. I don't anything about him, really, other than his name - which I obviously only half-know.

Ah! I had a notion that he was from out west somewhere, but after muffing his name, I was scared that I would make a fool of myself by mentioning that notion - so I just googled him, and found he was from Saskatchewan: here's a bio.

His name is Syrian, which is unusual in old time fiddling. (Of course, there was Lila Hashem, the preferred piano-accompanist of Cape Breton fiddler Winston Fitzgerald; she also led her own dance band. Oh - of Lebanese background.)


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: GUEST,number 6
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 10:43 AM

King Ganam ... isn't this weird. Just talkin' music today with someone at work here and they brought up King Ganam in the conversation.

And then I read this thread

Hey ... that's Canadian folk music.

biLL


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: john f weldon
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 10:46 AM

King Gannam played a wonderful piece with a weird scale and timing, "The Snowflake Reel". It appeared decades later on a K-Tel record called 25 Fiddle Tunes (or something equally inspired.) From there it was picked up by others, notably the Delaware Water String band, and I've heard a straight clawhammer version (have to look up the performer). Funny how things get around.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Beer
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 11:10 AM

Thanks for finding the Bio myself.
ad.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Beer
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 11:11 AM

Sorry for the typo mistake meself on your handle.
ad.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: bankley
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 11:13 AM

so if King Ganam / Ameen Sied... was of Syrian heritage, did he play 'Country and Eastern' ?

speaking of fiddlers, anyone remember Ward Allan who wrote the classic Maple Sugar?
he was with "The Happy Wanderers" out of Ottawa with a regular live show on CFRA radio... the theme was Maple Sugar..


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: balladeer
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 12:04 PM

Bankley:

The Toronto folk-show host, Steve Fruitman, who has a weekly show on CIUT, uses the following as his theme.

WARD ALLEN: Back To The Sugar Camp (W. Allen)
Ward Allen Presents Maple Leaf Hoedown Vol. 3: Sparton Records SP 213
circa 1961

Joanne


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: bankley
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 12:19 PM

cool, just one of those tunes that really 'stuck' around.. I believe Mac Wiseman sang it with lyrics as well.. I saw Ward playing once at a smalltown concert in the Ottawa valley long ago.... I heard that he had been kicked in the face by a horse in his younger days.... it didn't affect his playing at all...


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: bankley
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 12:40 PM

Maple Sugar Sweetheart was first recorded by Hank Rivers (Henri Lariviere) from Hawkesbury Ont...Ward was on the session.. It's possible that Hank could have written the words as well...he was prolific... when I was playing at the Gilmore Hotel in Ottawa, Hank would show up on Sat. afternoons and do a few songs.... he was a storied character... signed early by RCA Victor, toured with the other Hanks, Snow and Williams... I loved sitting around and listening to him talk about those days... he played a big Martin and would show up in a Western suit....he died not long after that period...

man, this topic pulls out some memories... all good ones


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Beer
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 12:56 PM

Hank Rivers did a great song which I still sing when the crowd is right. It was titled "Hank's Centennial Travels". In fact I still have his Album. Must look for it and see what else was on it.
ad.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 01:06 PM

It was also recorded by Australia's great Slim Dusty. His is my favourite version.

Slim Dusty


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 01:48 PM

In some parts of Canada, particularly Nova Scoria I think..music comes by way of osmosis..if you have a kitchen you know the tunes.Is it folk ? Is it Canadian..No, it is just us...it goes in and out of us like breath and I never think of defining it..it just is.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 03:39 PM

Sandy

Are you that feisty former Fisheries official who attended ICNAF meetings in Rome 1976 ?

Just curious

George


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 03:47 PM

No George, not me. My fishing has been limited to the local trout streams where I am considered an under-achiever. :-}
I do faintly recall a namesake being a spokesman for the Dept. of Fisheries though. Also Sandy Cameron would have been Nova Scotia's minister of fisheries about that time. Probably one or the other of them.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: meself
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 03:49 PM

An "under-achiever", eh? I bet the trout love you, though!


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 03:50 PM

Yeh, only the worm is in any great danger!


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Magpie
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 04:36 PM

What about Quebec?
I just love La Bouttine souriante and Le Vent du Nord. (Spelling...?)Especially the latter. Great tunes, and the turluttes! They are really something!

Magpie


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 07:12 PM

Mick and Beer, I'm glad you liked my feeble attempt to articulate myself about Canada.

And Beer, I have to agree with you about influences, it's never cut and dry. I think I'm mostly influenced by folk influences from the southern US-- bluegrass, blues, country, gospel, old-time, jazz, etc. At least those are the styles I feel most comfortable in, and those are the styles I turn to for my own musical inspiration.

I know there's Canadian influences in there -- after all, I've lived here since I was fourteen. Certainly Rick was one, and Ken Whiteley is another (ironically, both of them brilliant musicians in a wide range of American folk and roots styles).

But what I hear when I listen to myself is pretty darned American. Guess I can't help it, 'cause that's where I'm from (never mind that I grew up in a secular Jewish household in New England and somehow I love all that southern music...)

And I'm loving this discussion about Ward Allen and King Gannam and Hank Rivers, et al. I wish I knew more about THAT kind of music, maybe I'd feel more authentically Canadian...


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: GUEST,Golightly
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 07:58 PM

I've never been to Canada, but here in the UK I saw Canadian band 'Spirit of the West' several times. Although their music was celtic-inspired at that time, the band wrote their own songs. I loved their intelligent writing on sensitive social issues. In fact, I regard John Mann as one of Canada's most important songwriters and really quite distinct from American counterparts.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Beer
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 10:01 PM

Eve,
There are still so many unknowns in Canada. Those that are great and yet still have not had their true recognition. Here are a few that I think should be known from province to province:
Ron Bankley
Joe Grass
Brent Titcomb
John Mann as mentioned above.
Ray Materick
Willie Dunn
Terry Joe Banjo
and oh so many others that I don't even know.

But here is one from the U.S. (Chicago area I think) that you should Google or go on You Tube and have a listen.

"Joe Pug"
I hope to book him for our festival next year before he becomes to much of a name so I can afford him
Adrien


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Big Mick
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 10:58 PM

Add Rick Speyer to that list, Adrien. Writes wonderful lyrics and has great baritone voice.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 12:58 AM

Well I knew 4 out of your 7, Beer, so maybe I'm doing okay. I probably know more about Canadian folk music than the average person on the street, but not growing up here there are bound to be some gaps. Never saw the Don Messer show, for example. Ditto for Mr. Dressup and The Friendly Giant. There's a way in which certain aspects of Canadian culture are not in my bones.

And I'll second that emotion, Mick. Rick Speyer is an undiscovered gem.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Beer
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 07:19 AM

Thanks Mick. Must look him up.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: bankley
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 09:28 AM

As Mr. Beer said....there are so many really fine performers/writers, outside the mainstream. You have to look for them, or stumble across them at a festival or local show.
April Vertch, Pierre Schryer, Kelli Trottier, (Ottawa Valley fiddlers)... Red River fiddle master, Calvin Volrath, plus Dennis Lakusta, Laura Langstaff (all Metis).... lots of talent coming from the Prairies and Yukon... The East Coast has it's own music awards, as does Quebec.. it goes on and on... This is the common language and sound that respects regions more than recognizing borders. A most important part of our national DNA, whether or not the governments and their agencies understand. Here's to all the folks who still choose to work things out with songs, revealing something special in the process..


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: balladeer
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 10:34 AM

I'm a proud citizen of Canada, but I began my life in England, and at bottom I am still British. There are things I will never understand about the culture of my home and adopted land - hockey, for instance, and the very concept of Newfie jokes. But I do love hearing Canadian variants of the old ballads. They can be found all over the country.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: gnu
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 11:39 AM

Hockey? Because just skating is like jogging... no fun. Newfie jokes? I assume you me the ones made up by Mainlanders. Real Newfie jokes can't be beat.

I am always taken aback by the wealth of talent in this little backwater, southeastern New Brunswick. I am especially taken aback by the mix of Celtic and Acadian music. Same in many parts of Atlantic Canada. I haven't travelled much west, but it's obvious from the above posts that the same talent exists, as it seems to everywhere. A thousand lifetimes....


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: balladeer
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 02:13 PM

Yes, Gnu, I'm talking about moron jokes disguised as Newfie jokes, Po-lock jokes, blonde jokes, etc.

You cannot beat the eastern provinces for unusual variants of the ancient ballads - and for uproarious modern humour.

And I still don't understand why people pay tons of money to watch grown ups beat each other senseless on skates. I'm sure the speed and skill part of the sport would be fascinating If I could keep up with it, but my brain moves at the speed of baseball.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: gnu
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 02:34 PM

Grown-ups? We ARE talking about men under the age of about 35. >;-)


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: gnu
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 02:36 PM

Sorry for the thread drift. I suppose I should go find a clip of Stompin Tom for the hockey stuff in an attempt to justify it.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: balladeer
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 02:56 PM

I'm sorry about the drift also. Let's just put the asides aside, shall we? I know perfectly well why y'all love hockey. I just like to tease.
We now return to CANADIAN FOLK MUSIC. Anyone?


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: bankley
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 03:12 PM

from the back of the $5.oo bill....

an excerpt from 'The Hockey Sweater' by Roch Carrier

"The winters of my childhood were long, long seasons.
We lived in three places- the school, the church and the skating-rink
but our real life was on the skating-rink"


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: bankley
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 03:30 PM

and back to the arts, quotation on the back of the $20....

"Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?"
                                        Gabrielle Roy..

funny money, pretty and poetic... but hard to hold on to....


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: john f weldon
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 03:34 PM

Sheldon Cohen's animated version, read by the author....

The Sweater


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: bankley
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 03:55 PM

thanks..john... it's a classic....


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: sian, west wales
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 07:23 AM

Just to please balladeer ...

... this thread made me remember Margaret Atwood's 1972 book, "Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature". It's her opinion, elaborated upon in the book, that the central themes of Canadian poetry and fiction are "survival" and "victims"; all interesting stuff and worth reading.

In the first chapter, she makes an interesting point about "Who am I?": 'But in Canada, as (Northrop) Frye suggests, the answer to the question "Who am I?" is at least partly the same as the answer to another question: "Where is here?" "Who am I?" is a question appropriate in countries where the environment, the "here," is already well-defined, so well-defined in fact that it may threaten to overwhelm the individual. In societies where everyone and everything has its place a person may have to struggle to separate himself from his social background, in order to keep from being just a function of the structure.'

She does discuss how people in the "Old World" exist in extremely defined cultures - everything from class structures to built environment. The "New World" must have been a seriously discombobulating experience for settlers (early, late,even 'current') because the tangible and intangible landmarks just weren't (aren't) there. There's probably tons of stuff written about the psyche and the 'pioneer spirit'.

I feel that American's do work to an overall definition of, "What is American"; you've got your pledge of allegiance and written constitution and even concepts of "un-American activities" (which means there must be a definition of 'American' to begin with). If there's one thing I've learned from Mudcat, it's that there are a lot of Americans who aren't completely on-board with at least parts of this definition (bless you all!) but still ...

Canadians, on the other hand, don't have that kind of definition; we don't have a pledge of allegiance (I'm Joe and I am Canadian, doesn't count, does it?) and we've only recently 'brought the constitution home', and our flag isn't that old and we keep changing the words to our national anthem. My mother talks of her generation being the first to demand the right to put "Canadian" for nationality on government forms rather than "British" - although, being Canadian, it was more a matter of digging in heels rather than open revolt. Canadian history has never been shaped by bloody conflict; if I remember correctly the closest we ever came to civil war started in a pub up 'round Hogs Hollow in Toronto and was over in a couple of hours. The big decisions have mostly been made through compromise rather than knock-down-drag-out-winner-takes-all action.

So, in terms of our music and to return to Jed's query, I think we take a lot of this on board. We absorb the bits of our fellow Canadians' cultures that we like. We don't have a definition of what Canadian is so a lot of our music explores what it's like to be 'in' Canada and maybe by 'describing' what that is, it will be like 'almost' having a definition - but better. And it's the musicians and poets and artists who are best placed to do this.

My 2 cents worth anyway.

sian


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 10:29 AM

Sian,

What you wrote is very interesting and I think right on the money.

I really was nodding my head a lot when you said:

"Canadians, on the other hand, don't have that kind of definition; we don't have a pledge of allegiance (I'm Joe and I am Canadian, doesn't count, does it?) and we've only recently 'brought the constitution home', and our flag isn't that old and we keep changing the words to our national anthem."

This is partly what I meant when I said that Canada is still working out what it means to be a nation in a way that the US settled a long time ago.

And I loved this:

"We don't have a definition of what Canadian is so a lot of our music explores what it's like to be 'in' Canada and maybe by 'describing' what that is, it will be like 'almost' having a definition - but better. And it's the musicians and poets and artists who are best placed to do this."

Amen!


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: john f weldon
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 10:51 AM

When I was a kid, we were Canadian. We were Quebeckers. We were North American. We were part of the British Commonwealth. We were also whatever our parents and grandparents had been. In no particular order. We were less chauvinistic than Americans, because we were never sure what to be chauvinistic about!

Our history teacher used to read to us from an American history text, for laughs. It was all written in the first person plural, which seemed ridiculous! "We (Americans) bravely and nobly did this, while they (whoever) wickedly did whatever..."

We couldn't use "we" because we wouldn't have been sure who the we was.

(Secret stuff: Recently a major initiative by a government organization attempted to create a Canadian History web-site. It fell apart, because nobody could agree on what Canadian history was!)


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: bankley
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 11:39 AM

"Canadian history isn't boring, the historians are" Pierre Berton


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: sian, west wales
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 01:35 PM

Now, John, that's something I find incomprehensible here in the UK. People keep asking me if I consider myself to be Welsh or Canadian. They don't 'get it' that I'm quite happy being both. Similarly, you get the Media doing a vox pop in the streets, asking if you consider yourself Welsh, British or European; what's with the "or"? Canadians are quite happy being hyphenated; when I was a kid my friends were Romanian-Canadian, Italian-Canadian, French-Canadian, Hungarian-Canadian (and then me, Welsh-Canadian). And I'm sure the songs I learned reflected those hyphenations.

Eve, I'm glad that made sense. I was afraid that maybe it didn't. I quite like the idea that our identity is still fluid (within parameters). It's like we haven't so much nailed our colours (coloUrs) to the mast as hung our washing out to air.

sian


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Big Mick
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 01:53 PM

Absolutely fascinating and starting to give me a line on this thing that I have been struggling to define. It is very interesting to me to start to look at the differences in how these two countries evolved. For example, I am quite certain that the effects of the US Revolutionary War played a large part in how these two cultures evolved differently. Because the US, as we now know it, was born in revolution, it seems to have spawned a central idea that being "American" was an ideal. Whether that idependent idea that has evolved in so many good, bad or inconseqential ways was a positive thing.... well I don't know. But the Canadians didn't have that same experience and it produced a different mindset. I think on things like the Metis. That cultural experience of melding the various ethnic and native peoples into a distinct culture doesn't really happen here. Our expansion and growth came at the expense of native cultures, for the most part. The melting pot here meant that everyone was supposed to become WASPish and American. Whereas in Canada, there was recognition of the various peoples, and an attempt to allow them some measure of autonomy. Saying that, I am not unaware of what became of the Metis, but what I am speaking of is the actual creation of them from disparate groups, and not the rebellion and quashing of them. In fact, let me make it clear that I am speaking in broad oversimplifications here for the sake of the larger discussion of how the music developed.

I think that when one takes into account the earlier comment by Bruce Murdoch about eschewing labels and just letting the influences (historic, ethnic, wilderness) that are out there effect the music, you come up with this unique take on things.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: C. Ham
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 01:58 PM

Reading through the thread I didn't notice any mention of the man I think of as the greatest Canadian folk singer and songwriter for almost 50 years: Ian Tyson.

From his early days as half of Ian & Sylvia, through to his recent recordings, Ol' Ian has a mighty body of very-Canadian work.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: john f weldon
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 02:01 PM

Sian -

I think it was quite healthy that we had multiple-identity-disorder. If you're Quebec-Canadian-NorthAmerican-BritishCommonwealthian-Scottish-Caribbean-Martian-Weldonian, whatever, you can be comfortable with a little uncertainty...

We used to make "National Unity" films (Trudeau, eh?) but there's only so far you can go with that concept in Canada. Not very far at all.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: sian, west wales
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 03:33 PM

Agree 100% John. It's like having a walk-in wardrobe where everything might not 'match' but it all goes together 'sort of'. Love it!

I quite liked PET. I always think of him as someone who turned our definition of Canadian from "anti-Americanism" to something more proactive. (I bet he could make love in a canoe, too.)

Big Mick, there are a lot of areas in Canada - including the Niagara Penninsula where I was born and raised - which were settled by United Empire Loyalists . So, part of our mindset is rooted in the fact that our early settlers were in Canada because they specifically did NOT want to be 'Americans'. And as they settled mostly along the borders, they would have provided the militia in the battles between Americans and British (Canadians) in the War of 1812; indeed, our Laura Secord was a UEL - as well as a purveyor of reasonable chocolate. To bring it back to music, I would imagine that Macdonell On the Heights (Stan Rogers) had a fair few UELs under his command.

For that matter, a lot of Stan Rogers' songs prop up Atwood's survival/victim theory.

sian


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: The Villan
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 03:37 PM

Tanglefoot June 27th 2009 @ Faldingworth Live, Lincolnshire, LN8 3SE in England on their last tour in the UK.

http://www.faldingworthlive.co.uk/


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: john f weldon
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 03:46 PM

Yes, and a real favourite Stan Rogers song "Billy Green" is about a real-life hero who was responsible for thwarting an American Invasion, in which 200 "Yank Invaders" died.   I wonder how much play that one gets in the US of A?


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Subject: Lyr Add: BILLY GREEN(?) (Stan Rogers?)
From: The Villan
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 03:50 PM

Do you mean this one.

Attend you all good countrymen, my name is Billy Green,
And I will tell of things I did when I was just nineteen.
I helped defeat the Yank invader, there can be no doubt,
Yet lately men forget the name of Billy Green, the Scout.

'Twas on a Sunday morn' in June when first we heard the sound,
Three thousand Yankees on the road to camp below Greentown,
Two Generals, Artillery and Company of horse,
With many rank and file afoot, they were a mighty force.

Says I to brother Levi, "Well, we still can have some fun!
We'll creep and whoop like Indians to try to make them run!"
Which then we did both loud and long, much to the Yanks' dismay.
They fired their 'pop-gun' muskets once and then they ran away.

Well, first they plundered Stoney Creek and then John Gage's farm.
They cut his fences for their fires although the day was warm.
They bound my brother Isaac up and took him from his home;
They pillaged all the countryside, no mercy there was shown.

Then says I to myself, "Now Billy, this will never do.
Those scurvy Yanks are not the match for Loyalists like you".
My brother's horse I quickly caught and put him to a run,
And reached the British camp upon the heights of Burlington.

Says I to Colonel Harvey, "Now, let there be no delay,
If we're to reach the Yankee camp before the break of day.
I'll take you through the woods by night where I know every tree,
And ere the dawn you surely can surprise the enemy."

With men and guns we then set forth the enemy to seek,
Across the beach at Burlington and then to Red Hill Creek;
We came upon their sentries; we surprised them every one.
One died upon my sword, and all the others off they run.

And so it was we were in place one hour before dawn.
We fired three times upon the camp and then we marched along.
We fired again and charged as Colonel Harvey gave the word,
And put the enemy to fight with bayonet and sword.

With great confusion in the camp, two Generals were caught.
The Colonel and his men made their artillery as naught.
We killed over two hundred and we captured all the rest;
Nor did we lose but eighty men; of them we had the best.

And so it was I played the man though I was but nineteen.
I led our forces through the night that this land would be free.
I foiled the Yank invaders and I helped put them to route,
So, let no man forget the name of Billy Green, the Scout.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: john f weldon
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 04:08 PM

Very little unites Canadians.

However, it remains a simple fact (which we are often too polite to mention)... ...that as Americans are defined by having rebelled against the British, our ancestors fought and died NOT to be American.

I think this fact is misunderstood by most Americans; they tend not to dwell on the losing battles.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: GUEST,bankley
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 04:16 PM

Tyson's new CD is great... "From Yellowhead to Yellowstone" he blew out his voice a couple of years ago and is raspy now.... but loads of character and fine songs...

The Metis... well, they had a hard time for a long time... not full blood, not white.... fought a war of resistance in present day Saskatchewan in the 1880's... lost at Batoche... Louis Riel was hanged for treason... although he is one of the founding fathers of the country (Manitoba)... we're still waiting for him to be pardoned.. they finally took the hanging rope out of the RCMP museum in Regina due to public pressure... I'd recommend listening to Laura Langstaff or Willie Dunn for a feeling of Metis.... also Calvin Volrath the fiddler.. a proud culture coming back strong.... I was given a beautiful sash a few years ago and am honoured to have it....


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: meself
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 04:21 PM

Some of those lyrics are pretty clumsy for Stan (e.g., "With great confusion in the camp, two Generals were caught./The Colonel and his men made their artillery as naught.") Seems like a bit of a rush-job.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: C. Ham
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 04:23 PM

I'm looking forward to hearing Willie Dunn at Apple Hollow. I have an old LP from 35+ years ago with some excellent songs but have never seen him live. My turntable hasn't worked for years, but the songs that still stick in my mind are "Louis Riel" and "The Ballad of Crowfoot."


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Big Mick
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 04:31 PM

Yes, I am well aware of these sentiments, and the UEL's are who I was referring to when I made the distinction between the ours being founded in a revolution. We rebelled against the Crown, and your folks were loyalists. There was a great deal of disagreement on the Revolution in New England and, in fact, many of the New England settlers left the US for Canada. I am also very aware of the repelling of the "Yank Invasion". In fact, if this is the one you are referring to, it was actually a Fenian Invasion made up of the Irish Ex pat veterans of the US Civil War from both sides of the conflict, and it occurred in June of 1866. Clinton Hammond used to talk about this difference in the roots of our two countries music.

Billy Green is a pretty good song, great story, but not one of Stan's best in my opinion. Macdonnell on the Heights is much better.

I love the song "MacDonnell on the Heights" and used to perform it at times. I find the story fascinating. And john, you old cynic, these songs get a great deal of play among folk fans in the US. You really must give us a bit more credit. We are not all mouse ear wearing folk cretans. Most of the folkies and average folks that I know do not fit at all into the box that I think you have painted us in.

As we apply that history to the current discussion, one can see how these historical influences have shaped the music. When I refer to this hard to describe attraction though, it is not just one or the other of these things. The whole of the influences together kind of leads the Canadians down a path that is tied to the unique character of that land. There is, at once, excitement and joy, rebelliousness, a very strong pride and identity, a demand to be seen as something other than a neighbor to the USA, and this all adds up to great music. Another example is Bill Gallaher's "Shadow Boats". It thumbs its nose at the US laws, but also exhorts that it's "not for the money or whiskey, but for making those shadow boats run....".

I wish the hell I could get out what I am trying to say here. Bottom line is that I have great respect, and get great enjoyment out of the music that comes out of my Canadian friends.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: sian, west wales
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 04:32 PM

Thinking of Rogers' rhymes, I remember the first time I heard Macdonnell On the Heights, and specifically the line, "You brought the field all standing with your courage and your luck." I sucked in my breath and held it quivvering in anticipation at what a songwriter would do to complete the couplet - who has the nerve to end a first line with "luck"????? He had me going for a few seconds...

sian


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 04:37 PM

Hey anyone heard owt of "Peace" lately?
Seems mighty quiet.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Big Mick
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 04:39 PM

Yes, the Metis are another interesting as hell story. They were, indeed, put down. But to me it is a uniquely Canadian story that they would develope as a culture at all. In the States we surely had a mixing of cultures, but ultimately it was about making them "white" or WASP's (white/anglo saxon/protestant). In Canada they became a distinct culture that survives to this day. Canada's history with indigenous peoples is not perfect, but when compared to the way the US handled it, the Canadian's showed, and continue to show, a great deal more respect for indigenous folks.

bankley, I would love to see a picture of that sash.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: sian, west wales
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 05:53 PM

Two reflections on the above:

I remember being taught about the Fenian Raids in high school; particularly interesting as, again, they were slipping across 'our' border along the Niagara River. My history teacher's comment was that their attacks were rather like the terrier that lurks along the roadside and attacks the wheels of passing vehicles with rabid enthusiasm. "What," he mused, "did the terrier think he'd DO with the car if he caught it?"

And on the Metis front, in one of the rebellions (the second, I think) the menfolk of my mother's village in central Ontario - Ulster Protestants to a man - marched out to the Prairies to do the whole 'god & country' malarky. (N.B. until well into the 20th century the village's main cash crop was moonshine. This is not an insignificant factor in their Long March.) They made it out there, and back without, as far as we know, actually getting into any battles. Possibly also without ever sobering up, as they came back with spoils of war: the bell from a prairie town hall. (Pause for a minute to imagine the wives' reactions.)

I remember hearing the bell. It was kept in a tower in mum's village and was used as a fire alarm.

A few years ago a deputation of Metis visited Mum's village to commemorate the ancestors' visit "out west". It was all very civil and the local Legion did good business for the duration.

So, all was forgiven.

Strangely, the bell went missing some months later.

There's another Canadian song in there somewhere.


sian


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Big Mick
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 06:01 PM

From the Fenian's perspective, the idea was to use the captured land as a bartering chip to get Merry Old out of Ireland. They never intended to keep it, but rather hold it as ransom to free Ireland.

That Metis story, sian, is absolutely priceless. I love the fact the that the bell came up "missing". And you are right... there has got to be a song in there.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Big Mick
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 06:22 PM

Terry ..... I should delete your post..... no fair claiming 100 on a thread you haven't contributed to, you sneaky Brit whistle player!!!!

Mick .... with tongue planted firmly in cheek.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: JedMarum
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 06:22 PM

I heard a bit of discussion this weekend, from the stage about the Fenian movement - and Canada, et al. My friend Jim Flanagan introduced "COME TO THE BOWER" and told the story behind the song.

But, as in all good threads; we've digressed!

My original comment was not so much a comment on style, songwriter and finger finger pickin' techniques. I was talking about the spirit of the music. The soul. The magic. The muse. New Englanders and their northern neighbors, it seems to me are closely aligned.

The first time I'd been away from New Engalnd for more then a two years, as my plane was landing and I could gaze out the window at the early summer, rolling hills, shiny black ponds and green pines, oaks and maples - I just had this feeling that said to my heart, "Oh yes! I'd forgotten. That is what the world is supposed to look like!"

When I sit and pick with Paul, Joanne, and in days gone by, Rick. I had that same feeling. "Ah yes, that's why I love to hear and to sing these songs!"

I can't describe why. It just feels like home.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Big Mick
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 06:43 PM

Yep, Jed, that is what I have been trying to say throughout this thread. It is very hard to define, but I know it when I hear it.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: bankley
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 07:38 PM

Sure Mick, when I get back home I'll send you a pic of the sash. I almost forgot but it's also featured on my last CD, part of the inner artwork, a superimposed shot which makes it look like it's flying in the wind over a rooftop.. a weave from Langstaff's family tree, much like the Scots and their tartan....

There's a few Canadiana images in the booklet, a snowshoe, a Haida sculpture in argilite, a maple leaf shaped bottle of syrup,some beadwork from the NWT Dene people, things picked-up in my travels north of 49,,,!!!

and Good Luck with the song.... it could turn into a whole project... now there's an idea.......hmmm got me thinking too, again..

"My Father came from Scotland's shore, a young man in his day
He came to live upon the plains while working for the Bay
He dealt in furs and buffalo hides and wed an Indian girl
By and by a son was born by the name of John McLean" .....

excerpt from "John McLean" by Willie Dunn...


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: bankley
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 07:49 PM

a snap shot of a Canadian writer :

so here I am in rural Georgia for the past month writing new songs with a Southern feel to take to West Kentucky in a week or so, and do some playing and recording up there...go figure
it'll be fun and I'm glad to be doing it, all of that... I'll post one here with me and Jayto for around Easter... stay tuned.. y'all eh !


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Beer
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 08:14 PM

Hope your having a great time Ron and good luck in the recording.
Adrien


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Peter T.
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 08:53 PM

I don't claim to be a great expert, but here's my two cents, having lived through a whole range of the recent history (last 50 years).   I think that there is one characteristic about Canadian folk music that hasn't really been talked about in detail, though parts of it have been referenced (meself for instance).

While each area has a rich local history, the political/media centre in Ontario essentially lost or turned its back on virtually all of its own Anglo tradition -- there were bits of it left here and there -- Peterborough, the Ottawa Valley, and some northern communities, but it got pretty sparse -- and it was these people who were the most influential for so long in Canadian culture over the last 100 years. They hated everything rural. The political/media centre was crippled by a colonial belief in sophistication, which could only be British, and then American, sophistication (and ironically not folk music from either place). When I was growing up in central Canada, Canadian folk music and dance were a dismal joke: something for Dominion Day. Don Messer and the Islanders were beneath hicks.   It is notorious that the CBC -- which essentially ruled Anglo Canadian culture -- desperately hated, HATED all of that regional music, and tried to kill it over and over again. The Canadian equivalent to the powerful Appalachian spinal cord or the rich concentrated heritage of the blues as a central spine was scattered about or wasn't even there, and in the end the hatred for the rural culture was so successful that there were barely fragments left there to go back to when the time for going back came. There wasn't enough left to make a tradition. People tried, folklorists tried, but.....So while chunks of the country could still work on its own folk music heritage and keep it going, most of the central Anglo tradition that wasn't "provincial" went, when the time came, into eclectic borrowing from the United States to fill in the vacuum. Rick Fielding and I used to have conversations about the late 50s and early 60s, the pre-Canadian centennial folk albums, and some of the Folkways albums, and it is really hard to recapture how thin on the ground the whole Anglo-Scottish-Irish tradition became in central Canada (though of course it was thriving in the Maritimes). But even a lot of those folk traditions really needed a lot of juice when the time to come back came back. People don't remember how really sparse it all was all over English Canada: except in a very few places, we are talking the thinnest of threads for the longest time.

The result is that while there are these strong local traditions outside of central Canada, central Canada's folk tradition became Gordon Lightfooty -- a kind of new/old tradition (not to say that it was only in central Canada that this Americanization took place).   The Canadianness of this new tradition is in the content, not in the technical forms. The forms are borrowed, as people have said, from the U.S. Very few people (Rick Fielding was one) really championed the old Anglo songs -- logging songs, parlour songs, patriotic ballads, local history songs.   But ironically enough, this vacuum at the power centre means that Canadian folk music has evolved into this complete and I think delightful eclecticism -- there was no one to say, this is what Canadian folk music has to be, and so all the strong regional traditions and the "new traditions" borrowed from the US mingle together. There are good historic and political reasons why there is no one Canadian style.

The great tragedy, of course, is that, except in the tiniest way, the French Canadian music tradition never really made it into the Anglo world. The attempts in the 50s and 60s to make a "new" pan-Canadian tradition were strangled at birth by the eruption of Quebec independence as a movement.   The 350 years of French Canadian music, by far the richest tradition in Canada, never made a dent on the Anglos, nor has it yet, so far as I can tell, to their impoverishment.   

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Beer
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 09:38 PM

Your on a roll tonight Peter. Read your other thread. Good one.
Like what you have said here as well. Lots to think about.
Adrien


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: meself
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 11:47 PM

Thank you, Peter.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: balladeer
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 04:59 AM

What is the name of Peter T's thread?


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: sian, west wales
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 07:21 AM

Peter, in your discussion of the Media you have pretty much described that which has happened in Wales (and the UK). In Wales, the creation of a dedicated Welsh-language television channel was, arguably and paradoxically, a real blow for Welsh traditional music. Rather than strike its own path, it felt that it had to prove itself on the international stage and adopt global norms and goals. (There was a time when I would have called these, 'American cultural' norms but I think Global Corporations have even left the USA behind) When your norms and goals are global, your career paths are defined by something other than your indigenous culture.

I was involved in a European project a few years ago which brought together people from traditional music in 5 European nations. I remember one representative, from ... Sardinia, I think ... saying that their music had next to no air-time even on local channels, and on the odd occasion when they did appear, they were almost inevitably sat on a bale of hay.

There's been some very good work done on explaining the mis-fit between rural and urban life and values at Concordia (New Rural Economics project) and I think a lot of the overriding findings work in music as well as the general economy.

I'm not sure if this counts as thread drift. I think the Media's attitude to rurality, including music, is probably a big factor in how Canadian music has evolved but I also think it's had that effect in most other (western?) countries as well.

sian


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: bankley
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 07:48 AM

it started shifting from rural to urban in Canada, in the 50's when CBC began to relocate to Toronto from Montreal... we still had Don Messer's Jubilee... but the fix was in... CBC is in trouble yet again facing big cuts, 800 job lay-offs, and scaling back of regional programs.. Thank you Mr. Harper (not)... there's a petition circulating at present protesting this....

Beer... it's been really nice... so laid back in this area, if it got any slower I'd have to walk backwards just to catch up... even the crows caw with a drawl... it's been great staying in touch through the Cafe... I enjoy this thread, a lot of insight .... I'll be quiet for a week or two, as I'm hitting the road this morning for points west.. everyone stay well,,,,... R.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: meself
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 07:51 AM

In Canada, it wasn't just the embarrassment over and finally, as Peter says, hatred of, traditional rural/regional music, that was "a big factor", but a blatant contempt for ANY Canadian music. Remember the days before the CanCon regulations? Ronnie Hawkins says that when he would hire musicians (such as Robbie Robertson) from around southern Ontario, he would have to tell bar-owners that they were American ...

CKLW, in Windsor, which was, apparently, the most influential pop music radio station in North America, fought CanCon tooth and nail, and when they finally had to accomodate it, did everything in their power to literally make a mockery of it - and of music recorded by Canadians.

And in that era of university-building, it was typical for new universities to be staffed largely by Americans - the prevailing wisdom being that Canadian would-be academics couldn't possibly have what it takes to be real university professors.

We've come a long way since then.

If you haven't already, read John Ralston Saul's "Memoirs of a Siamese Twin". Great discussion of what this country's all about. A deep understanding of the country (as opposed to PET's lack of understanding).


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: john f weldon
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 08:14 AM

Jean Carignan would have been a perfect musician to bridge certain cultural gaps. A virtuoso player of Quebec music, he was also eclectic in his tastes. He played duets with Pete Seeger and Yehudi Menuhin. His big mistake was identifying Scottish and Irish tunes as such; in Quebec, you're supposed to claim every fiddle tune is from Quebec. He was largely rejected by Francophones in his lifetime, but re-claimed post-humously. (Big deal!)

His playing made him internationally famous.

He made his living driving a cab in Montreal.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Beer
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 08:50 AM

I remember him well John. When I was taking care of entertainment for a very large Psy. Hospital he came in along with Jeanne d'Arc Charlebois and Gilles Losier and put a show on for the patients. What a great show it was.
Adrien


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: john f weldon
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 09:05 AM

Happily Gilles Losier is still in the land of the living (last I heard) and what a great multi-cultural, gap-bridging guy he is.

A few years ago at Champlain Valley, fiddlers from all over were playing "stump Gilles"... ...trying to find tunes he wouldn't recognize (all in good fun). But he invariably came out with something like: "Oh yeah, that's St Possumtrot Reel, first recorded in 1923 by Fingers McGee." (which would turn out to be correct).


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: meself
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 09:11 AM

Ah, Fingers McGee! You never here much about him these days ...


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 10:16 AM

Peter,

Thanks for that interesting perspective on Canadian folk music. It fills in some gaps in my understanding, that's for sure.

And it makes me think of another difference that I've noticed between Canada and the US regarding folk culture and folk music. In the US, there was a small but influential group of musicologists and folklorists in the early part of the 20th century who championed folk music as a part of the US's national heritage, and who succeeded in getting major funding for several institutions that are still with us today. I'm thinking of Alan Lomax, Charles Seeger, and probably others that I'm forgetting right now.

Today, Americans have the American Folklife Collection at the Library of Congress, the National Folk Festival (which moves around the country every two years), the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the National Heritage Fellowships, and departments at the Smithsonian Institution that produce programming related to folk music and folk culture in the US.

On a bigger level, I believe that the idea of a folk heritage that is worth preserving became an important part of American cultural mythology. The fact that PBS regularly produces and/or broadcasts music documentaries like Ken Burns' "Jazz" or Martin Scorcese's documentary on the blues, or the "American Roots Music" series illustrates the way that Americans now see all of those kinds of music as part of their cultural heritage and their contribution to the world.

Although there are institutions in Canada like the Museum of Civilization, collections at the National Library and so on, I don't sense the same kind of mythology about Canadian traditional folk music.

On the other hand, I think over the last thirty or forty years, a modern mythology of the Canadian songwriter has been emerging, that celebrates musicians like Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, etc. I believe that mythology is still really in its infancy, so we'll have to see how it develops and where it goes, but to me it feels very tiny and modern compared to the American folk music thing.

Am I making any sense?


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Peter T.
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 10:55 AM

Hi Eve, actually there was a lot of folkloric stuff going on -- Ken Peacock, Edith Fowke and Helen Creighton are two examples, and all those Canadian "folk collection" albums, and then Mariposa.   I have stacks of albums by people like Alan Mills and Wade Hemsworth. It wasn't that there weren't people trying. And the National Museum had some real giants working on French Canadian music back when nobody cared (Marius Barbeau was unbelievably prolific).   It just never "caught fire" in the way it did in the US -- and my not very sophisticated diagnosis is that by the time it came around in Canada there was just too little left (and here I am talking about central Canada) to be robust.   

Jean Carignan was a god.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: meself
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 11:02 AM

"Ken Peacock, Edith Fowke and Helen Creighton are two examples" - here's why I don't like PET: the damned metric system! I still haven't gotten my head around it!


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 11:15 AM

If you were to add in Margaret Bennett and Jim Payne that would make at least three. :-}


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: meself
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 11:56 AM

Yeah, but is that metric or imperial?


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Crowhugger
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 12:23 PM

Eve, Peter, Mick you're all making lots of sense to me.

My view, (this week at least--it's ever evolving), is that Canada is such a young country we're only starting to develop musics that are bred in Canadian bones rather than in our ancestors' motherlands. Some of that is in the newer tradition (is that an oxymoron?) of the "white" singer-songwriters mentioned above, and some of it is the many hybridized "coloured" styles mostly referred to as roots.

What they have in common is that they can only flourish in a young culture like Canada's, where there aren't a thousand years of establishment filling up our psyche, where people don't have to let go of their heritage to belong, where people from all over the world can make music and cross pollinate each other's ideas in relative peace and prosperity. I hope they do flourish so we'll have the stories of late-20th century immigrants added to the primarily WASP-ish fireside lexicon.

Val.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: sian, west wales
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 12:24 PM

Either way, meself, you'd have to convert the numbers for our American friends. They have those littler gallons than we does, don't they?

I think we're clocking up a fair old number of collectors, considering we have about a 10th of the population of the States.

I know Sandy Ives is American but he did that collecting in PEI so we might lay some claim ...

sian


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Beer
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 12:35 PM

Seems to me there is a fellow by the name of Omar Blondell who moved to Newfoundland from Winnipeg and started to collect old folk tunes around the Island. Another Helen Creighton I guess.

Adrien


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Peter T.
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 01:47 PM

Apologies for the bad editing on the run.

The nice thing about this thread was the fact that I spent the morning listening to Jean Carignan and others. Really a rich tradition, so vibrant in its day.   I like to think that people like Glen Reid are a bit of that thread.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 06:46 PM

Peter, I think you are right that even though there were people like Edith Fowke and Helen Creighton et al around doing a similar kind of work, for some reason folk music did not worm its way into the national consciousness in the same way that it did in the United States.

From reading that I've done, it sounds to me like people like Charles Seeger and Alan Lomax and their colleagues in the US actually set out to get American folk music forms recognized at a government level as a unique cultural heritage that should be preserved, and managed to get federal money dedicated to some of the programs that I mentioned above. I think they had a grand vision, if you will, that included ideas like making sure all Americans learning folk songs in school, creating national events where Americans would come together and celebrate their cultural heritage, having places like the Library of Congress where important field recordings could be made available to the public, etc. etc. They were highly patriotic, very visible and vocal, and very blatant about their mission, and I think they succeeded to a certain degree.

I'm not aware of any of Canadian folklorists/musicologists who had quite that kind of "take no prisoners" approach to their work (I'd love to be corrected here!). Maybe it's yet another difference between Canadian and Americans -- the Americans went BIG with their folklore, while the Canadians quietly and politely worked away...


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 11:50 PM

When we try to define Canadian folk music one roadbump is splitting traditional public domain songs from more recently composed stuff. Of the recently composed is it strictly Canadian or more internationally generic? All great stuff but is it a Canadian song or a song by a Canadian?
To my feeble mind Stompin'Tom wrote about Canadian places, people, things and history in a way that was very nationalistic and educational.
Stan Rogers did exactly the same but with a much different style. I believe that somewhere between these two lie my definition of Canadian Folk Music. Sadly I do not do the songs of either, not because I don't love both but because it is hard to match the original song.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: GUEST,Peace
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 01:00 AM

Without doubt, Stompin' Tom writes songs ABOUT Canada; as Sandy said, his songs are about the people and places in this crazy nation. It's a brilliant distinction you made, Sandy.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: GUEST,Peace
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 02:26 AM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BQyP869BHs


'The Hockey Song' and 'Sudbury Saturday Night'.

It's YOUTUBE (for those with slow connections).


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Peter T.
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 07:53 AM

Well, I await a real expert to blow this up, but I agree that Anglo Canada just didn't have a real showman or two -- in spite of the people I mentioned, good people, well meaning, it just stayed a kind of museum-piecy thing. The critical mass of players -- the deeps of Appalachia, etc., were just no longer there -- again, not for the maritimes, and certainly not for Quebec. There were also time delays and the Quebec thing. If (and here I am making this up) if the Canadian Centennial -- which was a huge deal in Canada, really a whole cultural awakening -- had been in 1957 rather than in 1967, I think we might have had a real Anglo folk tradition.   By 1967 it was just too late: too much else was going on.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: gnu
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 03:46 PM

Peace... "It's a brilliant distinction you made, Sandy."

Indeed!

As for the 1957/67 hypothesis, Peter T, I can get with that. Especially when one considers the "incursion" of C&W on our radios in the 70's and 80's.

I would also suggest you consider that the Canuck R&R and Rock bands during the same decades (and subsequently) did much to pull young people away from the folk you speak of, making it less viable and thereby, less playable. I am not "blaming" these musicians. Their amazing talent is to be lauded. In fact, young Canucks were inspired by that talent - The Guess Who immediately comes to mind as one example - and it certainly has served the purpose of generating new musicians, poets, writers.

Fortunately, it's not been a dog/tail thing. It's served to generate, initiate and and substantiate the music industry. As long as the industry is healthy, it gives rise to all genres.

I'll stop with the philosophy.. or, bullshit, if you prefer... and address logic : please explain to me how the Junos can have an award for Group Of The Year based on computer tracking of record sales and have five "nominees" for the category?... WTF?... or did I miss sommat?


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Peter T.
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 07:48 AM

This guy, Gary Cristall, seems to be working on a history. There is not much text yet, but there are some outstanding images of the early stuff as you go from chapter to chapter. The most immediately interesting (given the discussion) is the original poster for Mariposa 1961. There they all were!!

And I'd totally forgotten about the Jewish camp scene (one of the Canadian links to Pete Seeger).

Check out:

http://folkmusichistory.com/outline/01.shtml

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Peter T.
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 07:52 AM

Oops, and to add to the long list of people I forgot -- speaking of entrepreneurs -- Sam Gesser of Montreal, the Folkways pipeline. Our own Moses Asch.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Peter T.
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 09:58 AM

CBC Radio's "Inside the Music" did a 5 part series on the history of Canadian folk music last summer, by Gary Cristall, and they are going to be rebroadcasting it in June.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 11:51 AM

I heard Gary present a very distilled version of the CBC series at a panel at the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals last fall, and it was totally fascinating and illuminating. Gary has put together a lot of research and interviewed tons of people about folk history in English Canada. I can't wait for the book to come out!


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: balladeer
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 02:10 PM

Gary interviewed me a while back. We had a delightful visit, and of course his carefully chosen questions spurred me to remember incidents I had forgotten for most of my life!


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 04:32 PM

Hey, that's pretty cool balladeer! I'm sure you have lots of interesting stories to tell. So... we're waiting...


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: balladeer
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 06:05 PM

Nice one, Eve! I guess I set myself up for that (lol) but this is a thread about the folk music of Canada, and my stories are about the folk scene I lived in and performed in the midst of, as it existed in Toronto between 1959 and spring of 1964, and London England from June 1964 till Christmas of 1965.

If I ever write that memoir people sometimes suggest to me, I might have to ask Gary Cristall if I may have a look at his record of our conversation!

By the way, Eve, you were terrific on Heather's show the other night - so strong, so focused, so tenacious in keeping to the point.

Joanne


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 08:19 PM

Why, thank you balladeer! You weren't so bad yourself! It was fun and I hope I get to do it again next year.

And while we're on the topic, Mudcatter's can got to
CIUT's website and pledge money to support Heather Fielding's show "Acoustic Workshop"

As for your stories, balladeer, I think the folk scene in Toronto 1959-1964 is totally pertinent to this thread. Or we could start another thread if you want.

(In other words, we're still waiting...)


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Beer
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 08:47 PM

Yes, you should start a thread much like these two that were started and pop up now and again.
1) Montreal 60's Counterculture Question
2) Montreal Sixties

I think one coming out of the Toronto area would be great.
Adrien


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: balladeer
Date: 02 Apr 09 - 11:04 PM

If someone starts a thread of the sort Adrien suggests, I might get inspired to chime in, but many of the stories I'm remembering today feel too personal to put into print.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Eve Goldberg
Date: 07 Apr 09 - 10:03 PM

Following up on what I was saying about folklorists who had a hand in creating some of the public institutions that promote folk music, here's a link to the NY Times obituary of Archie Green. I hadn't remembered about his role in all this when I was posting to this thread:

Archie Green Obituary

Here's an excerpt:

"Mr. Green energetically promoted the idea of public folklore — that is, that folklorists should work outside the academy to gather, preserve and publicize local cultures through government agencies, museums, folk festivals and radio stations. His signal achievement in this area was the lonely lobbying campaign he conducted for nearly six years to create a national folklife center, which became a reality when Congress, by a unanimous vote, passed the American Folklife Preservation Act, signed into law by President Gerald R. Ford in January 1976.

"'By his energy, determination and enthusiasm he was able to impart his passion to members of Congress,' said Peggy Bulger, the director of the American Folklife Center in Washington. 'Without Archie, there would be no American Folklife Center.'"


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Jack Lewin
Date: 12 Jun 09 - 10:16 PM

Great thread guys, Sandy metioned Stompin Tom and Stan Rogers in the same reference, while they certainly contributed to Canadian folk mucic, they did so on different levels. Stompin Tom's songs (a proud Canadian) were not nearly as deep as Stan's. While Tom's are entertaining and identifiable, Stan drew on the emotion of the story within the story that still sets the benchmark for canadian Folk. For example, Stan could have weitten on general terms about the decline of the atlantic fisherey, but intead he wrote "Make and Break Harbour", or he could have written about the plight of prarie farmers, but intead he wrote "The Field Behind the Plow". With a country as large and as diverse as ours, there are so many stories to tell, the trick is to figure out the best way to tell it in under 4 mins.

Good Luck and Good Night
Jack
ps
David Francey should be on your list


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: sian, west wales
Date: 17 Feb 10 - 09:30 AM

I'm reviving this thread largely due to the Olympics ... and, as someone who complains bitterly about the cost of Olympics in the UK, this is perhaps ironic.

However, what's done is done.

I thought of this thread when I heard Shane Koyczan recite his poem, We are More , at the opening ceremonies in Vancouver. I know some don't like it, but I think it's great. Some lines, like "don't let your luggage define your travels", will go down in my personal book of favourite quotes.

I thought the use of traditional and folk music in the opening ceremonies was fabulous - Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, et al. There's another thread on all that, so I won't go on about it.

Big Mick, I'd be interested in knowing more about Bill Gallaher's "Shadow Boats". Would I be correct in thinking that it has something to do with rum running? (A big little business at one time in my home town on Lake Erie.) I've just been reading "Scruples of Conscience: The War of 1812 in the Sugarloaf Settlement" (by Donald G. Anger) and was a bit surprised to learn that the Americans who settled there after the American Revolution weren't upping sticks because they were 'loyal to the crown'; they were actually Quakers and Mennonites who refused to fight in the war or to pay the ensuing fines and had their lands confiscated. I found this passage about the Plumstead Cowboys interesting:

"As Quakers, Joseph Doan Sr and his five sons had for reasons of conscientious objection refused to take up arms agains the King and additionally had refused to pay the heavy fines which resulted because to do so would help congtribute to the war effort. The inevitable result had been the confiscation of their lands during the war. To the sons, this meant that their government was their enemy and the British as a result were their friends. Their 'Jesse James' style careers in thenext several years which included horse-stealing, spying and even the robbing of the Newtown Treasury building were the stuff of legend."

The Quakers and the Mennonites who relocated to that north eastern Erie shore also seemed to have run a lively trade in whisky distilling during the War of 1812.

You read; you learn!

sian


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: JedMarum
Date: 17 Feb 10 - 10:02 AM

David Francey is on my list! And "The Field Behind the Plow" is one of my very favorites.

Thanks for refreshing sian - I'd forgotten about this discussion.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Penguin Eggs
Date: 17 Feb 10 - 09:56 PM

I'm not sure how many of you on this site are familair with the Canadian folk, roots and world music magazine Penguin Eggs, but here's a link to a digital copy of the current issue http://livedemos.texterity.com/penguineggs_demo/

Enjoy,

Roddy Campbell


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: Beer
Date: 17 Feb 10 - 10:08 PM

I also thank you for refreshing it.
Ad.


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Subject: RE: Canadian Folk Music
From: sian, west wales
Date: 18 Feb 10 - 05:13 AM

I think this is a conversation which deserves to be resurrected from time to time.

Just a further bit on 'my' part of the Lake Erie shoreline ... I think I was mostly surprised to learn, in reading the aforementioned book, that our early settlement was SO germanic. Now, I confess to a "Duh" moment here, because a lot of the names of the early settlers are still prevalent in town: Doan, Sherk, Zavitz. I went to school with them all so I will hie me to the back of the class.

Anyway, this then led me to thinking what the 'roots' music would have been for the area. There's an invoice somewhere in the book of household items which, if I recall correctly, were lost in a raid during the War of 1812; included are a flute and a fiddle.

What would have been the song repertoire of a predominantly german-dutch population of the time, I wonder? Of course, one would also have to take into account the fact that some of these were first and even second generation Americans.

I guess it relates to the overall topic here, as there were influences on Canadian music beyond the English/Scottish/French.

sian


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