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Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson

Related threads:
Remember Vera Johnson? (6)
Obit: Vera Johnson 1920- 2007 (22)


GUEST,Arthur Caldicott 28 Feb 07 - 10:36 PM
Peace 28 Feb 07 - 10:47 PM
Anglo 01 Mar 07 - 02:34 AM
GUEST,padgett 01 Mar 07 - 04:02 AM
Bob the Postman 01 Mar 07 - 08:07 AM
Waddon Pete 01 Mar 07 - 08:23 AM
Leadfingers 01 Mar 07 - 09:07 AM
Splott Man 01 Mar 07 - 09:12 AM
RoyH (Burl) 01 Mar 07 - 10:38 AM
GUEST,Mike Ballantyne 01 Mar 07 - 12:32 PM
Bob the Postman 01 Mar 07 - 01:09 PM
Bob the Postman 01 Mar 07 - 02:23 PM
Susanne (skw) 01 Mar 07 - 06:33 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 02 Mar 07 - 01:39 AM
Waddon Pete 02 Mar 07 - 06:47 AM
Bob the Postman 02 Mar 07 - 11:10 AM
Martin Graebe 02 Mar 07 - 11:38 AM
GUEST,Arthur Caldicott 02 Mar 07 - 02:08 PM
GUEST,Janet & Tony Geen 02 Mar 07 - 02:21 PM
GUEST,Janet & Tony Geen 02 Mar 07 - 02:45 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 03 Mar 07 - 01:19 AM
Bob the Postman 03 Mar 07 - 09:26 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 04 Mar 07 - 12:14 AM
Waddon Pete 04 Mar 07 - 10:59 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 04 Mar 07 - 10:19 PM
Waddon Pete 05 Mar 07 - 04:16 AM
Bob the Postman 05 Mar 07 - 08:06 AM
Willie-O 05 Mar 07 - 10:23 PM
GUEST 06 Mar 07 - 12:34 PM
North/South Annie 06 Mar 07 - 02:39 PM
GUEST,Bob Ryszkiewicz 06 Mar 07 - 02:54 PM
GUEST,Bob Ryszkiewicz 06 Mar 07 - 03:49 PM
GUEST,Bob Ryszkiewicz 06 Mar 07 - 04:35 PM
Fumble Fingers 06 Mar 07 - 07:40 PM
GUEST,Nick 06 Mar 07 - 09:04 PM
GUEST,Waddon Pete 07 Mar 07 - 04:49 PM
Bob the Postman 08 Mar 07 - 09:19 PM
bobad 10 Mar 07 - 11:34 AM
Bob the Postman 10 Mar 07 - 01:38 PM
Susanne (skw) 10 Mar 07 - 07:45 PM
Susanne (skw) 11 Mar 07 - 05:02 PM
GUEST,Waddon Pete 13 Mar 07 - 04:38 PM
GUEST,Arnie Naiman 14 Mar 07 - 04:23 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 15 Mar 07 - 08:49 PM
GUEST,Jon Bartlett 19 Mar 07 - 01:46 AM
GUEST,Mike Ballantyne 19 Mar 07 - 01:37 PM
GUEST,Mike Ballantyne 19 Mar 07 - 01:51 PM
Arthur Caldicott 29 Mar 07 - 12:31 PM
Jon Bartlett 29 Mar 07 - 01:47 PM
GUEST,Waddon Pete at work 29 Mar 07 - 01:52 PM
bobad 29 Mar 07 - 01:53 PM
Bob the Postman 29 Mar 07 - 10:07 PM
Bob the Postman 07 Apr 07 - 04:39 PM
Owlkat 08 Apr 07 - 01:54 PM
GUEST 11 Apr 07 - 06:37 PM
bobad 11 Apr 07 - 06:46 PM
Bob the Postman 11 Apr 07 - 07:16 PM
Jon Bartlett 12 Apr 07 - 05:12 AM
Bob the Postman 13 Apr 07 - 07:37 PM
Bob the Postman 14 Apr 07 - 07:25 PM
GUEST,Sheila 15 Apr 07 - 08:16 PM
Waddon Pete 16 Apr 07 - 10:11 AM
Waddon Pete 19 Apr 07 - 05:15 AM
Bob the Postman 19 Apr 07 - 08:13 AM
Waddon Pete 19 Apr 07 - 03:51 PM
Arthur Caldicott 29 Apr 07 - 11:12 AM
Arthur Caldicott 29 Apr 07 - 01:23 PM
GUEST,Fleggy 30 Apr 07 - 07:02 AM
Bob the Postman 30 Apr 07 - 09:56 AM
Jon Bartlett 30 Apr 07 - 10:05 PM
Jon Bartlett 30 May 07 - 07:58 PM
Waddon Pete 31 May 07 - 12:30 PM
GUEST,Kevin Littlewood 13 Jun 07 - 08:29 AM
ClaireBear 13 Jun 07 - 09:40 AM
GUEST,Kevin Littlewood 13 Jun 07 - 10:02 AM
Stilly River Sage 13 Jun 07 - 10:07 AM
Waddon Pete 13 Jun 07 - 11:42 AM
GUEST,Kevin Littlewood 14 Jun 07 - 03:53 AM
Waddon Pete 14 Jun 07 - 03:59 AM
Arthur Caldicott 16 Jun 07 - 11:02 PM
Waddon Pete 17 Jun 07 - 03:30 PM
Arthur Caldicott 18 Jun 07 - 02:16 AM
countrylife 18 Jun 07 - 02:32 PM
Waddon Pete 18 Jun 07 - 03:18 PM
GUEST,Guest. Wendy Price in Whitby 21 Jun 07 - 02:11 PM
GUEST,Bob the Postman on vacation 21 Jun 07 - 03:10 PM
GUEST,Monique 28 Jun 07 - 07:59 PM
GUEST,Monique 28 Jun 07 - 08:15 PM
Waddon Pete 29 Jun 07 - 04:14 AM
Arthur Caldicott 29 Jun 07 - 01:18 PM
GUEST,Sarah Ewanyshyn 09 Jul 07 - 03:02 AM
GUEST,Lorna Dowling = Guest 14 Jul 07 - 12:36 AM
Susanne (skw) 14 Jul 07 - 08:16 AM
GUEST,Lorna Dowling = Guest 14 Jul 07 - 02:46 PM
GUEST 23 Jul 07 - 03:01 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 23 Jul 07 - 11:40 PM
GUEST,Wendy Price 19 Aug 07 - 03:39 PM
Arthur Caldicott 11 Nov 07 - 01:57 AM
GUEST,Sarah Marie-Ewanyshyn 22 Nov 07 - 11:44 AM
Waddon Pete 22 Nov 07 - 12:14 PM
Bob the Postman 22 Nov 07 - 05:26 PM
Bob the Postman 22 Nov 07 - 07:38 PM
GUEST,Sarah Marie-Ewanyshyn 24 Nov 07 - 11:55 PM
Bob the Postman 25 Nov 07 - 03:07 PM
GUEST,Interested Visitor 13 Dec 07 - 01:41 AM
GUEST,David Gould 21 Aug 08 - 11:01 AM
GUEST,teresa shaw callihoo 10 Feb 09 - 05:41 PM
bobad 10 Feb 09 - 05:56 PM
GUEST,Peace 11 Feb 09 - 01:40 AM
GUEST,teresa 15 May 09 - 06:39 PM
bobad 22 May 09 - 07:21 PM
Jim McLean 23 May 09 - 04:19 PM
bobad 24 May 09 - 10:44 AM
bobad 24 May 09 - 03:05 PM
Bob the Postman 24 May 09 - 09:03 PM
GUEST,Teresa 25 Dec 12 - 08:11 PM
Leadfingers 26 Dec 12 - 08:38 PM
Leadfingers 27 Dec 12 - 04:53 PM
GUEST,# 09 Oct 14 - 09:50 AM
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Subject: Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Arthur Caldicott
Date: 28 Feb 07 - 10:36 PM

In 1966, when she was 46, Vera Johnson's second marriage was buggered. So she left Canada, boarded the Queen Elizabeth in New York and went to England for a year of busking and wandering and working at whatever happened to come along.

She carried a notebook, a guitar, and was always writing songs. Money was sometimes in very short supply, occasionally forcing somewhat rudimentary accommodation.

Tugboats were hooting way down on the river,
The streetlamps made halos out there in the dark;
Our bed was a jacket spread over the rustling
Leaves of October in Battersea Park.

All I know about Vera I've picked up from a bio she wrote in 1994, when she was 74. You can find it here.
http://cfmb.icaap.org/content/29.1/BV29-1art2.pdf

My interest and awareness of Vera was triggered a few months ago in a nursing home, a seniors residence, in Chemainus, BC.

It's very easy to keep your distance from the residents in these facilities. They've all lost some of their physical and/or mental capabilities. They drool. They yell. Whomever you are there for (my mother in law) usually takes up all of your emotional energy.

But John Prine was so dead on. These people are lonesome, and they are desperate for someone to say hello.

And Vera responded to my presence and somehow it came out that she was a singer or something. And though she is Vera McKinley in the institution, she used to be Vera Johnson.

So back home I asked Google about her. Wow. We're talking Canadian folk icon.

One day I mentioned the Minx from Pinsk, perhaps Vera's best known song. She sang it, sitting there at the dinner table surrounded by me and three other old women. It was wonderful.

Vera hates the $^@&!#* place. So she tries to escape by following people out the door when they leave. The staff got pissed off about that, and Vera is now incarcerated in the secure wing of the facility and I don't see her anymore.

It's an appalling situation. Vera is no exception though. She's just one person in a hundred in this place. And it's just one place in a hundred in British Columbia. And so on across the continent.

Phil Thomas, a much better known Canadian folk icon died in January. At least people who know him and Hilda are going to write an obituary. Wouldn't a book or an interactive DVD or a film be great? All that music. All those stories.

Vera will die or her mind will fade away and we'll lose another folk icon, and not even notice.

My question is, is there anyone on this list who knew Vera when she was still active in folk circles? Anyone who could tell her story? Anyone know her children?

Nobody ever visits her in the facility. She's there now, waiting for someone to say, hello in there. And planning her escape, I hope.

I'm all woman and a yard wide,
Got a disposition on the easy side;
I've had eight husbands and I wouldn't mind nine;
If you want to apply, boys, just get in line.

My email address is arthurcaldicott@sqwalk.com


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Subject: RE: Vera Johnson
From: Peace
Date: 28 Feb 07 - 10:47 PM

Vera in 1979.


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Subject: RE: Vera Johnson
From: Anglo
Date: 01 Mar 07 - 02:34 AM

Wow. Good on yer Arthur. I met Vera a couple of times way back when, eastern Canadian folk festivals we were poth performing at. I never really got to know her well but we chatted. And she was a Canadian folk icon if there is such a thing (though I admit I've never heard of Phil Thomas).

Sorry I can't help in the telling of her story, but you're right, it needs to be told.

John


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,padgett
Date: 01 Mar 07 - 04:02 AM

O my I am in tears literally it is awful to get old

Vera came to Barnsley when Derek and Dorothy Elliot ran the club I remember in the 1970s


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 01 Mar 07 - 08:07 AM

This thread set a faint bell ringing for me, so I checked and, yes, I have a dubbed cassette of Vera Johnson that my banjo teacher Eva gave me when she was making more room on her music shelves. I will digitize it today and transcribe some lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 01 Mar 07 - 08:23 AM

Vera certainly guested at the Croydon Foksong Club way back then. She was always gave a good night and was highly thought of.

Perhaps we need to set up old FOLK homes...rather than old folks homes. Where the folk bit is important! Imagine the sessions! (and the arguments!)

Best wishes,


Peter


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Leadfingers
Date: 01 Mar 07 - 09:07 AM

I also have fond memories of seeing Vera in various clubs 'back then '
A Very entertaining lady , with a wonderful supply of self penned songs ! Did she ever make an album ?


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Splott Man
Date: 01 Mar 07 - 09:12 AM

Sad indeed. I remember her well, I've got the LP with Minx from Pinsk on it. I also remeber The Do It Yourself Divorce (You have to be married of course).





Incidentally, welcome to Mudcat Pete, I remember you from Croydon Folksong Club days. You'll remember me as Fluff (and Sandy).


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 01 Mar 07 - 10:38 AM

Like Ray Padgett I'm terribly sad to read this. I knew Vera from her time on the UK folk scene, a bright spark of a laady, full of good humour and writer of good songs. I recall 'Minsk from Pinsk', also 'The Bus Conductors Shanty'. At one time she walked around with a poster pinned to the back of her coat stating a protest about something, I forget what. But I have never forgotten Vera and to read this is heartbreaking. Can nothing be done? Can't the Canadian folk community help her in some way? Could the address of the home be printed here so that messages may be sent? Mr Caldicott, when you see Vera again please tell her that Roy Harris remembers her and her songs, and sends greetings and good wishes. Burl. (R.Harris)


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Mike Ballantyne
Date: 01 Mar 07 - 12:32 PM

The British Columbia Folklore Society is in the process of publishing Vera's two LPs on two CDs together with the words of all the songs on the LPs, in one, 8 1/2 x 11, soft covered book (Pacific Folklore Studies No. 2). The book is being published in a very limited edition of 100, for the members of the Society, by arrangement with Vera's daughters and should be available in six weeks or so.
Vera (McIntyre) is in Ladysmith Extended Care on Vancouver Island.
Mike Ballantyne
Executive Director
British Columbia Folklore Society


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 01 Mar 07 - 01:09 PM

The Minx From Pinsk by Vera Johnson is in Digitrad. Here are links for The Fountain and Women's Liberation Blues

Mike, one of the songs she recorded is called "Mrs. Ballantyne". Any relation?


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Subject: Lyr Add: THAT'S WHAT I BELIEVE (Vera Johnson)
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 01 Mar 07 - 02:23 PM

THAT'S WHAT I BELIEVE

by Vera Johnson

Some people say you mustn't take a drink
Or you'll damn your soul to hell
Other people say you have to go to church
And maybe Sunday school as well
Some folks claim a man is born to sin
And a woman's bound to grieve
Well, maybe they're right and I'm all wet
But here's what I believe

(Chorus)
I believe in living
Enjoy it while you can
In kindness and in gentleness
Giving your brother a helping hand
Work and laugh and love and play
We haven't got too long to stay
So make the most of every day
That's what I believe

I don't pretend that I can understand
Why the Earth is moving through space
Neither do I know what made a cell mutate
And started off the human race
There's just one thing that I know for sure
Though to you it may seem odd
That we're all part of something great
And that's what I call God

(Chorus)

Hell's not a place, it's just a state of mind
A sickness of the soul
Heaven's how you feel when things are going right
And you think you're gonna make your goal
Good is anything that nurtures life
And makes it thrive and bloom
And evil's whatever cripples life
And threatens it with doom

(Chorus)

Each man ought to to the best he can
To be himself, not what he is not
Even if you think you're rather weak on brains
Just make the most of what you've got
Just remember that you're not alone
You're a part of all mankind
And man can achieve tremendous things
When he makes up his mind

(Chorus)


In her brief autobiography (see link in initial post) Vera says that she assigned the royalties for this song to the Unitarian Church of Vancouver.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 01 Mar 07 - 06:33 PM

Arthur, thanks for posting this. I never met Vera, only taped a short live performance from the radio (The DIY Divorce, Pierre Trudeau and The Censor Song) and loved it. It's easy to believe she hates being dependent. Also, sad to hear her mind is going, and shocking to learn she is confined in the secure wing of a 'care home'. I know things get difficult for carers once dementia sets in but there must be a better way to deal with this ... Of course, things are worse for those who have no relatives or friends looking after them. Professional carers often lack the time and sometimes the will to look after all of their charges properly. Vera has my sympathy.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 02 Mar 07 - 01:39 AM

Yes, I knew Vera in Winnipeg when Cathy Fink and Duck Donald brought me in to play there a few times. And also at Mitch Podolac's Winnipeg Folk Festival. I thought of her as the Canadian Malvina Reynolds!! I had her LP at one time, but it disappeared from my collection. --- I can't believe they can legally hold her in seclusion with no chance to have visitors. That's simply insane. If you ever see her again please tell her that she is remembered warmly and fondly by Art Thieme in Peru, Illinois.

I'm going to tell Cathy to look in here. This is gonna make Ms Fink absolutely livid. (Few are better at making waves than Cathy Fink when she's pissed off...)

Give Vera my love!!!

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 02 Mar 07 - 06:47 AM

I hope the wider Canadian Folk world knows about Vera's situation.

Please let us know when the CD becomes available as I think you would sell a few over on the Left Hand Side of the Pond!

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: Lyr Add: NAGAMMA (Vera Johnson)
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 02 Mar 07 - 11:10 AM

NAGAMMA

By Vera Johnson

Doctor Lotta's children are spread through many lands
Reaching out with hungry eyes and empty searching hands
Little bloated bellies, each finger like a claw
And one among the millions is the girl called Nagamma

Nagamma is thirsty, the sun keeps beating down
She has to keep on moving her bare feet across the ground
Mud and stone for mortar in the basket on her head
She has carried it for years now, she will carry it till she's dead

Nagamma has never been taught to read or write
She spent her school years working on this construction site
There's no need of schooling for her to earn her pay
For labouring eight hours she makes thirty cents a day

Nagamma is helping her family to survive
They need her daily earnings to keep them all alive
Girls are not like babies, they must work so she's been told
So Nagamma keeps working, after all, she's eight years old

Doctor Lotta's children are spread through many lands
Reaching out with hungry eyes and empty searching hands
Little bloated bellies, each finger like a claw
And one among the millions is the girl called Nagamma


Vera assigned the royalties from this song to the Unitarian Service Committee, founded by Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova



Art, I don't thing Vera is being held in seclusion, exactly. She's in the secure ward of an old folks' home, which just means there's one or two additional locked doors between her and the outside world with it's traffic, tripping hazards, and bad weather. She, like Arthur's mother-in-law, has every chance to have visitors--it's just that nobody does visit her. Except, now, for Arthur.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Martin Graebe
Date: 02 Mar 07 - 11:38 AM

Thank you, Arthur, for telling us Vera's story. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I was thinking about her and the great songs that she wrote and wondering whether she was still with us.

In the early 70s we would book her at the Exmouth (Devon) club whenever she toured and it was always a delight. She described herself then as 'The Singing Grandmother' but she had more energy than most of us. When she stayed over it was usually a late night! I also remember her at one of the Loughborough Festivals (probably 1974) when she introduced me to Kenny Goldstein. A lovely lady!

Incidentally, I'm pretty sure that 'minx' was actually sung 'minxsk' to get the rhyme. I'll look forward to hearing it again sometime.

Martin Graebe


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Arthur Caldicott
Date: 02 Mar 07 - 02:08 PM

How wonderful that this posting about Vera Johnson was discovered by so many people, so quickly. Isn't it lovely that many of you have memories of being in the same places at the same time with Vera?

Thanks for the anecdotes, the pictures, the lyrics. Evoking these is more than I expected, and I hope the thread continues to grow with them.

Vera is in Chemainus Health Care Centre, 9909 Esplanade Street, PO Box 499, Chemainus, BC V0R 1K0 . I think cards to her from people who knew her once would be a wonderful treat. Maybe even include pictures from back then, or a CD with a song or two. Visitors are welcome - as Bob the Postman noted. She is not in seclusion or anything nasty like that.

I was not trying to vilify the staff or the institution. The provincial government? Well, that's another matter. It's the provincial government that controls the purse strings, and forces these institutions to operate perpetually short-staffed. The treatment of the residents is directly tied to funding for the facility.

The place is full of people with rich stories - and who doesn't have rich stories after 80 or 90 years on this earth. Sandy Clark is a painter who doesn't paint anymore, like Vera is a folksinger who doesn't write songs anymore. (There's a song in there, isn't there?) Some of the big murals around the small town of Chemainus were painted by Sandy. A delicate watercolour of hers is on a wall in the facility.

Residents generally don't receive many visitors. There are all sorts of good reasons for that - the husband is dead, the children live a long way away - for example. But visitors enrich their otherwise uneventful days enormously. As John Prine observed.

And we're all heading that way ourselves. Scary.

In the posting from Mike Ballantyne, it's great to hear that a collection of her music is being republished. It sounds wonderful - CDs and a songbook. May I ask why such a limited edition, rather than something that could be made available to more than the 100? I'd sure like to get a copy. Is that possible? If I join the society?

Thanks again everyone. Don't stop now.

Arthur


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Janet & Tony Geen
Date: 02 Mar 07 - 02:21 PM

We remember her very well. Someone told us she died about 20 years ago. We're glad that's not true, although it sounds as though life isn't much better.

We saw Vera loads of times in Guildford, Addlestone etc. (Surrey, UK).

We sing, or have sung, the DIY Divorce, Battersea Park, the Pencil Song and another song about a different workman each day of the week (can't remember the title).

Thanks for posting this thread, and we'll watch developments.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Janet & Tony Geen
Date: 02 Mar 07 - 02:45 PM

... oh, and Big Bright Barbie, or course. Never got round to doing Bald Eagle.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 03 Mar 07 - 01:19 AM

I'm really glad it's not as bad a situation as I thought.   Sorry for overreacting. I'll be sending Vera a CD or two as quick as I can do the logistics involved.

Art


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 03 Mar 07 - 09:26 PM

Here's a link to score and lyrics for Edith Fowke's favorite Vera Johnson song, the gently bawdy The Housewife's Lament


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 04 Mar 07 - 12:14 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 04 Mar 07 - 10:59 AM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 04 Mar 07 - 10:19 PM

Folks, I just heard from Cathy Fink. It does seem that Vera is where she must be right now; a place where she is well looked after. And some friends of Vera's in B.C. are working on re-releasing one of her albums as a CD. A few years ago, when the Folk Alliance yearly gathering was in Vancouver, Cathy tells me she did a "life history" session with Vera and "she was in fine form, though she hadn't sung much in the recent past."

I figured you'd like to know...

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 05 Mar 07 - 04:16 AM

Thank you Art!

As always...let us know when the CD is ready to purchase!

It is good to hear that she is well looked after. We must remember to write to her!

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: Lyr Add: WOMEN'S LIBERATION BLUES (Vera Johnson)
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 05 Mar 07 - 08:06 AM

WOMEN'S LIBERATION BLUES

By Vera Johnson

Mama said you got to cook and sew
Cause you're a woman
Scrub the floors and knead the biscuit dough
Cause you're a woman
Making biscuit's what you have to know
Cause you're a woman

Teacher said it's office work for you
Cause you're a woman
You will type and take dictation too
Cause you're a woman
Always see things from the boss's view
Cause you're a woman

I had status and a salary
I was a woman
I scorned the sweeper in the factory
I was a woman
But he was making twice as much as me
I was a woman

Then I married and the babies came
I was a woman
So I stayed at home and played the housework game
I was a woman
And then I started thinking what a dirty shame
I was a woman

They had put me in a pigeon hole
I was a woman
Just a doll without a mind or soul
I was a woman
Cast that doll in a supporting role
I was a woman

They said I was made from Adam's rib
Cause I'm a woman
That I was built to rock a baby's crib
Cause I'm a woman
Guess I'll go and fight for Women's Lib
Cause I'm a woman


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Willie-O
Date: 05 Mar 07 - 10:23 PM

I have a couple of memories of Vera Johnson. I remember seeing her perform at Winnipeg in the late 70's, and another time hanging out at a Unitarian conference, god knows where but quite likely minneapolis, and she was singing in a "hospitality suite" there.

I know Toronto has a kind of "assisted housing" centre for old artists, there should be one in every city! That'd be the fun one to go play at. But on the other hand, it sounds like Vera is doing what she's always done, bringing music to the surroundings she finds herself in. There are worse ways to spend your time...

W-O


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Mar 07 - 12:34 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: North/South Annie
Date: 06 Mar 07 - 02:39 PM

My good wishes to Vera! I remember seeing her many years ago, probably late 60's early 70's either 'down South' in Gosport/Portsmouth area or maybe 'up North' at Barnsley club as Ray has already mentioned (hi Ray). Anyway I always remember her for that brilliant song Splott man has already mentioned 'The do it yourself divorce'..'You have to be married of course..' I even went on to get myself a 'do it yourself divorce' years later!


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Bob Ryszkiewicz
Date: 06 Mar 07 - 02:54 PM

O.K. How about this. First Google Vera Johnson. Then, we have the telephone and the INTERNET. Anybody out there got an email address for the place? I let Mike Regenstreif at CKUT Montreal (Folk Roots/Folk Branches) know about the situation. If Vera got some messages from around the world, even if they have to be read to her by attendants, I know it would brighten her day. At least let's let a woman who has done so much for Folk Music know that she is not forgotten in the latter years of her life. bob


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Bob Ryszkiewicz
Date: 06 Mar 07 - 03:49 PM

I have emailed www.myspace.com/cbcradio3 in Vancouver and www.myspace.com/friendsofthecbc in an attempt to get a tribute, or some of Vera's songs played. Please show your support by contacting your nearest CBC affiliate. If any of you out there have industry contacts, now would be the time to use 'em. Thanks. bob


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Bob Ryszkiewicz
Date: 06 Mar 07 - 04:35 PM

The CBC has just responded to my email and has asked to receive ideas and stories about Vera Johnson. All those who knew Vera or have participated in this thread, can send your stories, anecdotes, and memories to info@cbcradio3.com. Help to create a tribute for Vera...and, tell them how you feel about Folk Music! bob


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Fumble Fingers
Date: 06 Mar 07 - 07:40 PM

Bringing the CBC into it is rich with potential.

Vera does have some family. Mike Ballantyne referred to two of her daughters. Vera spoke of her three daughters.

If anything is to be done in such a public way as something on CBC, Vera's daughters should be included in the discussion.

Mike Ballantyne, are you following this thread?


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Nick
Date: 06 Mar 07 - 09:04 PM

Never heard her, never heard of her, not a note, not the name, but this heart is touched by this thread, and intrigued as well. And I now that I have I can hear just a snippet from Pink Floyd.. Vera, what has become of you?
Mudcat at it's finest, Vera's finest I have yet to explore, mark my words, I will
Nick


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Waddon Pete
Date: 07 Mar 07 - 04:49 PM

You are in for a treat, Nick!

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE QUEEREST CRITTER (Vera Johnson)
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 08 Mar 07 - 09:19 PM

I'm not positive about the authorship of this song, but pending further info I have attributed it to Vera. The Folk Music Index credits a song called "The Queerest Critter" to a Vera Newlin. I'm assuming that Vera Johnson was married to someone named Newlin. Here are the words as transcribed off Vera's self-published lp "That's What I Believe" of which I have only a cassette dub.

THE QUEEREST CRITTER

by Vera Johnson

(Chorus)
What is the queerest critter of all
Man is the queerest I recall
Never sees the hand-writing on the wall
Till his back is up against it

Harpoon Harry roams the seas
Slaughtering the whales
Wonders why there are so few
In the oceans where he sails

Chorus: What is the queerest . . .

Seiner Sammy looks for fish
Brings his catch to shore
Takes the most that he's allowed
Grumbles cause he can't get more

Chorus: What is the queerest . . .

Logger Louis fells the trees
Sends them to the mill
Cannot understand why floods
Wash out each denuded hill

Chorus: What is the queerest . . .

Moe the Miner strips the hill
Claws up earth and clay
Rips the ground to get the coal
He says that's the price you pay

Chorus: What is the queerest . . .


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: bobad
Date: 10 Mar 07 - 11:34 AM

Chopper McKinnon, who hosts a weekly folk music program on radio station CKCU called Canadian Spaces, played a couple of Vera's songs this morning, Pierre Trudeau and The Censor Song. This was the first time I have heard Vera's music and must say I was delighted, her sense of humour as well as her commitment to social causes were in evidence as was her easy and warm rapport with the audience, as this recording was of a live performance.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 10 Mar 07 - 01:38 PM

Some Vera Johnson links:

National Library Holdings

Article by Vera on Alan Mills

Article by Vera on Edith Fowke


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Subject: Lyr Add: PIERRE TRUDEAU (Vera Johnson)
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 10 Mar 07 - 07:45 PM

My French is less than perfect, so any help with the lines with question marks would be appreciated.

PIERRE TRUDEAU
(Vera Johnson)

Pierre Trudeau is very astute
Not only that, he really is cute
He's got ideas and get-up-and-go
That's why I like Pierre Trudeau

Pierre Trudeau, un homme savant
Et quelque fois un homme charmant
Il va saumont il ait de l'eau
"Il va sautant, il est dans l'eau" ???
(He goes diving, he's in the water)
or
"Comme un saumon, il est dans l'eau"
(He's like a salmon in the water)
Et tres gentil, Pierre Trudeau

Pierre Trudeau he comes from Quebec
But doesn't think like René Lavesque                                                         
He wants to see our Canada grow                                                                                 
Both strong and free, Pierre Trudeau                                 

Pierre Trudeau, il parle bien
Avec grandeur, sans perdre rien
Les libereaux, ils sont idiots
Il dit cela, Pierre Trudeau

Pierre Trudeau has positive views
Casts totems down and breaks the taboos
Forget the past, the old status quo
Try something new, Pierre Trudeau

Pierre Trudeau il a un air riche
C'est pour l'argent il dit 'je m'en fiche'
De meur estrong on a grand jeton ???
"Il me restera qu'un grand jeton"
(All I'll have is but one token)
Tout simplement Pierre Trudeau

Pierre Trudeau he doesn't conform
In thought or dress to what is the norm
He is unique, we want you to know
There's no one like Pierre Trudeau

Pierre Trudeau, c'est l'homme pour moi
Il veut garder ??? toi
Et quand il parle j'ecoute ces mots
Car il est sage, Pierre Trudeau


(René Lavesque - then leader of the Quebecois separatist movement)


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 11 Mar 07 - 05:02 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Waddon Pete
Date: 13 Mar 07 - 04:38 PM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Arnie Naiman
Date: 14 Mar 07 - 04:23 PM

I remember seeing her at The Mariposa Folk Festival in the 1970s. I might have a picture of her doing an informal singing jam session on the festival grounds with Steve Goodman backing her up on guitar. I'll have to check into that. I bet you Mariposa has some sound files somewhere lurking in their archives.
Arnie


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 15 Mar 07 - 08:49 PM

I asked Clary Croft, who as Dr. Helen Creighton's protege might have some knowledge, and this is the information he found

Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2007 16:49:14 -0300
From: Clary Croft
To: George Seto
Subject: Re: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson

Hello:

I just checked with Dr. Creighton's collection today and found two letters from Vera to Helen. Nothing too important but, just the same, Vera knew all the people in the "folk song world" at the time and certainly made a name for herself among us growing up in that era. The references are: Nova Scotia Archives and Record Management. MG1 Volume 2814 #24. Vera Johnson to Helen Creighton, 18 December, 1952: enquiring about Helen's thoughts on Alan Mills for an article Vera was preparing for MacLean's Magazine. Vera Johnson to Helen Creighton, 4 January, 1953: response and query of obtaining Helen's Songs and Ballads of Nova Scotia.

Cheers,

Clary Croft


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Jon Bartlett
Date: 19 Mar 07 - 01:46 AM

Just got back onto Mudcat and noticed the thread. Rika Ruebsaat and I have a regular spot on "North by Northwest" (CBC-1, Sats and Suns 6-9, BC only: 101.7 in Vancouver) and we're preparing a one-hour show on Vera and her music to be aired either 1 April or sometime in May. We'll post the time here as soon as we know.

Vera's oevre is a snapshot of the late sixties-early seventies. The themes she touched on in her songs and her articles(women's liberation, the environment movement, political struggles on the left) are still with us, of course, and Vera's songs from the earliest days of the folk song revival in Canada remind us that nothing is achieved in a day and a night.


She was also (for fans of such)into filk music: "The Sweetheart of Sordido V" is hers. I myself bought a bunch of her sci-fi books, including a first edition (1952) of "Player Piano".

Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Mike Ballantyne
Date: 19 Mar 07 - 01:37 PM

Hi Folks,
Further to my message of 01 Mar 07 - 12:32 PM, no, I am not related to the Mrs. Ballantyne of the song, Vera didn't know my arm of the family when she wrote it, although I have come across many "Mrs. Ballantynes" in my time!
I have not been following this thread on a consistent basis.
You should all know that Vera is in very caring hands and is not behind locked doors of any sort. She is in the Extended Care wing of Ladysmith General Hospital and is visited by her family, daily. I don't know what all that was about Chemainus - she isn't there although she may have been there very briefly a couple of years ago.
The reason the British Columbia Folklore Society is publishing only 100 copies of "The Recorded Songs of Vera Johnson" is because the Society is not supported except by its very limited membership and consequently has very little money,
Anyone can join the Society (membership is $25) and members receive the Society's publications free (including this two-CD book).
Messages to Vera can be sent to her care of her daughter Moira at: moirafoster@shaw.ca and if you want to contact me I am at info@folklore.bc.ca
The Society is at:
British Columbia Folklore Society,
7345 Seabrook Road,
Central Saanich, B.C.,
V8M 1M9
I guess, if enough people were interested, we could run a few more copies of this issue but, even with the number of people writing to this thread, it doesn't appear that there are more people than we will have spare copies to accommodate.
I hope this answers a few questions and allays a few myths (in the popular sense of the word).
Mike


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Mike Ballantyne
Date: 19 Mar 07 - 01:51 PM

Folks,
I should add that Vera is pretty well, physically, and is free to wander about the area she is in and to interact with other patients. She still plays the piano to entertain them and herself although most of the music is quite simple now, and she still recognizes her daughters...
Mike


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Arthur Caldicott
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 12:31 PM

Hello, Jon Bartlett. Are you doing the Vera show on April 1 or later? Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 01:47 PM

It looks like May, Arthur: we need more time to pull the piece together. Sunday April 1, 8-9 am CBC-AM, will be a sort of musical journey - how Rika and me got from there to here.

Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Waddon Pete at work
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 01:52 PM

Hello Jon

Will we be able to get the broadcast over the internet?

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: bobad
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 01:53 PM

Is the program available on the internet?


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 10:07 PM

You can pick up the feed here by clicking on the link "Vancouver" in the list called "West".


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 07 Apr 07 - 04:39 PM

I will be playing all the cuts from Vera's second album "That's What I Believe" on CJLY's show Folks Music this coming Monday April 9 from 10 am to 11 am in the Pacific Time Zone. That's 1 pm to 2 pm Ottawa time and 6 pm to 7 pm in the UK. You can stream CJLY from this link.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Owlkat
Date: 08 Apr 07 - 01:54 PM

Hi y'all,
I haven't been here for ages because of university and graduation (you don't have to be crazy to do this, but it helps) but I'm very glad I dropped in today.
I remember Vera Johnson playing and I saw her on at least a couple of occasions. She glowed with warmth and humour, and she never stopped smiling. If I think a little bit more I might remember when the shows happened. Nonetheless, discovering this thread has been a very touching and happy surprise. I've seen my share of folk legends, and thinking about her now, I remember feeling that we were simply in someone's living room, surrounded by friends, and listening to a favourite and eccentric aunt.
Thank you for starting this thread.
And now, I have to go back to finishing my women's studies research paper on women in prison and institutional and social changes from the second to the third wave.
Oy.
Peace,
Dana (Owl)


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Apr 07 - 06:37 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: bobad
Date: 11 Apr 07 - 06:46 PM

Listened to your show on Monday, Bob the Postman, thanks for doing that - I heard some music which I had not heard before, always a treat.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 11 Apr 07 - 07:16 PM

An mp3 of the show is available here


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 12 Apr 07 - 05:12 AM

Good work, Bob!

Our one-hour piece on Vera will air in BC on CBC (690AM in the Lower Mainland) on "North by Northwest" from 8 to 9 am, Sunday 29 April.

- Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 13 Apr 07 - 07:37 PM

Thanks, Jon. Praise from a master is praise indeed. Greatly looking forward to your and Rika's show, and to hearing more songs from Vera. "Jesus Was A Preacher" is one I'm curious about, and also "Battersea Park".


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 14 Apr 07 - 07:25 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Sheila
Date: 15 Apr 07 - 08:16 PM

Thanks so much for introducing me to this singer. I'm listening to the mp3 right now.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 16 Apr 07 - 10:11 AM

Hello,

Thanks Bob!

Have listened to the mp3 and thoroughly enjoyed hearing Vera's songs again. Definitely one of the valuable uses of the Internet!

Incidentally...did we ever clear up whether she was living in Chemainus or in the Ladysmith General Hospital?

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 19 Apr 07 - 05:15 AM

Hello,

To add to the above....I have now listened to the mp3 a few times and now the songs keep coming to mind at unexpected moments!

Well done Vera....and well done Bob!


Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 19 Apr 07 - 08:13 AM

Peter, check your PMs.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 19 Apr 07 - 03:51 PM

Thanks Bob!


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Subject: RE: Vera on NXNW?
From: Arthur Caldicott
Date: 29 Apr 07 - 11:12 AM

Hello, Jon Bartlett. It's Sunday, 29 April, I'm listening online to North by Northwest, and alas, you're not on, your Vera show is not on. Rescheduled?


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Subject: RE: Vera on NXNW?
From: Arthur Caldicott
Date: 29 Apr 07 - 01:23 PM

Vera Johnson wasn't on CBC, but the forum thread following this one was Fairport Convention - Now Be Thankful. So I clicked on it, followed the first link to YouTube, and spend a happysad hour listening to early Fairport Convention, multiple configurations of Richard Thompson, Sandy Denny, Martin Carthy, Dave Swarbrick, Maddy Prior ...

Oops, off topic.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Fleggy
Date: 30 Apr 07 - 07:02 AM

Vera was a friend to Redd Sullivan and Martin Winsor who ran the Troubadour folk club in Earls Court London, which is where I saw her a few times in the 1970's. She always impressed me.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 30 Apr 07 - 09:56 AM

Hi Arthur, I think CBC rescheduled the Bartlett/Ruebsaat spot because this weekend's NXNW was a remote from Victoria, on account of the BC book awards being held there. I'll keep checking the NXNW web page and post an announcement if Jon doesn't beat me to it.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 30 Apr 07 - 10:05 PM

Thanks for the nudge, Bob. Yes, everything got put on hold re the Vera show (which is still coming). We need to fit CBC's schedule, and also, they can only play CD's (they have no capacity for 8-tracks, reel to reel, cassette, LP's 78's, EP's etc.), so we've been madly Cdizing early recordings of Vera and also her 2 LP's. Rika and I are days away from moving from New Westminster to Princeton (3 hrs inland) and so are up to our armpits in 19 years-worth of accumulated crud. Plus we're heading for Mystic, Old Songs and Library of Congress in June, Jon driving and Rika flying, plus Rika is retiring from 23 years of teaching). So what else is new?

We want to make the show a good one. We normally do it live, but I think this time it will not be possible. As soon as we put the show in the can, and get a date from Sheryl McKay, the show's host, we'll let everyone on this thread know. Thank you all for your patience!

Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 30 May 07 - 07:58 PM

YES, we have a date! The show is in the can.

Sunday 17 June, 8 to 9 am, on CBC-1 (690 in the Lower Mainland for local folks). Rika and me are really sorry for the delay but it's been a completely loony last two months.

Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 31 May 07 - 12:30 PM

Excellent Jon,

Thanks!

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Kevin Littlewood
Date: 13 Jun 07 - 08:29 AM

The other day I was trying to remember the words of a song by Vera Johnson; searching the net I picked up this thread.
Vera was one of the people I remember at an early folk festival in Keele Uni in the 1960s; the protest she was engaged in at the time (mentioned above as a message pinned to her clothes) was -- I think -- a hunger strike for Biafra. She hadn't eaten for some time and obviously looked bad, but she still insisted on singing. A very strong, committed woman.

I saw her at folk clubs round the north-west, she was a great entertainer and musician and there were a couple of songs I really liked, one was Homer Johnson -- about her father? -- and a love song, which was the one I was trying to recall, about England and the soft rain, with a chorus beginning 'Tell my love that someday I'll be with him/ her, Where the hills are ?low and misty green...' I know the tune; anyone know where the words are? I had one of her LPs, but someone half-inched it years back...


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE GENTLE RAIN OF ENGLAND (Vera Johnson)
From: ClaireBear
Date: 13 Jun 07 - 09:40 AM

I found a site with unattributed lyrics matching those you've quoted: Is this it?

If a Mudelf would be so good, he or she could change this to a Lyr add with proper attribution to Vera Johnson once we are sure it's the right song.



THE GENTLE RAIN OF ENGLAND

On the banks of the Riveried Prairie,
In Quebec at a place called Shaumaday,
All the trees are bare of leaves,
And a lonely robin grieves,
For his friends have spread their wings and flown away,
I 've watched the cold black waters running eastwards,
And my thoughts are flowing with them to the sea,
So I whisper to the waves,
What my hungry spirit craves,
And I wish they'd act as messengers for me..

CH:
Tell my love that one day I'll be with her,
Where the hills are low and misty green,
And the roads wind between the hawthorn hedges,
And we'll walk in the gentle rain of England.

In the sky southern clouds are drifting slowly,
There's a chill in the air that smells of snow,
And in every window box, there are empty flowers stalks,
Where geraniums and pansies used to grow.
All the leaves are red and gold and yellow,
Crumpled carpets till the breezes set them free,
Then they twist and turn and spin,
By the river, then fall in,
And they set out on their voyage to the sea.

There's a West wind that's cold and full of bluster,
Roaring threats that the snow is on its way,
Then it snatches at a kite,
Lifts it almost out of sight,
As if pausing for a moment just to play,
Then it rushes towards the great Atlantic,
And I wonder if somewhere over there,
Swooping down from up above,
It will find the one I love,
And will take delight in tangling her hair.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Kevin Littlewood
Date: 13 Jun 07 - 10:02 AM

Thanks very much, that's so swift! Amazing. It's 3 pm here...

Yes, it is the same song -- I didn't know there were 3 verses, that's even better. I think in the first verse, maybe it should be Riviere de Prairie? and Chomedey?
Now, get singing folks, it's a lovely tune too.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 13 Jun 07 - 10:07 AM

Kevin, Mudcat is often this way--a new thread appears or an old one is revived and you can have your answer soon. You may want to lurk a while and find other subjects of interest. Use a consistent name when you post as a guest, and consider joining the Mudcat.

Stilly River Sage


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 13 Jun 07 - 11:42 AM

Hello Kevin,

Thanks for re-awakening this song for me too. Can you share the tune?
As suggested above...join us! It's free and you will get so much in return!

Best wishes

Peter


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Kevin Littlewood
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 03:53 AM

Hello Peter

I only have the tune in my head I am afraid. The song was on an LP/ vinyl; I think it was a black-and-white cover, with a drawing? Sorry to be vague, it's a while since I had the record.

I have found anotherr ecording, a website with CDs for sale, oddly enough it's by someone from up the coast from me in Liverpool, Jacqueline McDonald (of Jacqui and Bridie).
Go to http://www.jacquiandbridie.com/cdsforsale.htm
It's on Jacqui's Best Loved Songs Vol. 2.

Best wishes

Kevin


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 03:59 AM

Thanks Kevin!

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: Gentle Rain and the CBC
From: Arthur Caldicott
Date: 16 Jun 07 - 11:02 PM

Jon Bartlett and Rika Ruebsaat's radio show about Vera will air on Canada's CBC radio this Sunday morning, 8-9 am. Perhaps they'll play the Gentle Rain of England.

If not, one of Vera's daughters donated some materials to the Cowichan Folk Guild, and I'll have a look in those for the song.

Arthur


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 17 Jun 07 - 03:30 PM

Thanks Arthur!


Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: Vera Johnson on CBC's North By Northwest
From: Arthur Caldicott
Date: 18 Jun 07 - 02:16 AM

Long promised, finally aired, here's a tribute show to Vera Johnson, put together by Rika Ruebsaat and Jon Bartlett, and aired in June 2007 on CBC's North By Northwest.

http://www.sqwalk.com/media/CBC_Ruebsaat&Bartlett_VeraJohnson_20070617.mp3

Bob "the Postman" Stubbs earlier put together a radio program, aired on Folk's Music, on Kootenay Co-op Radio, in April 2007.

http://www.sqwalk.com/media/CJLY_EvaDeFoor&BobStubbs_VeraJohnson_20070409.mp3

Monster files, both of them - 71 mb and 26 mb - but if your computer is able to stream them you won't even notice.

Enjoy. Arthur


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: countrylife
Date: 18 Jun 07 - 02:32 PM

In case anyone is interested, the website for the CBC Radio programme, North By Northwest is

North By Nortwest


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 18 Jun 07 - 03:18 PM

Thanks for the mp3 of the latest broadcast Arthur! It was well done, I thought.

The website is interesting too, countrylife.

It would be good to have these songs on a CD...I wonder if any of our CD gurus on mudcat could help?

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Guest. Wendy Price in Whitby
Date: 21 Jun 07 - 02:11 PM

I've been searching for information on Vera Johnson for at least the last five years, as we were very good friends in the 60/s - late 70/s . My husband Bill Price and myself met Vera when we were living in Canada and this friendship continued when we returned to Yorkshire in the mid 60/s. She was always a very popular guest at the folk club we ran in Dewsbury, and we even found her on the Town Hall steps one day singing to a load of young students! She was never afraid of whipping out her guitar and giving a song to anyone who would listen - she was found under a tree at Vancouver Festival entertaining the crowds not hiding in the artists compound with her peers, and I also remember her standing behind the bar at our local folk club giving the landlady a private concert (after closing time). I think my interest in crocheting was fostered by Vera who was well known on the British Rail Network as the "crocheting" woman. We stayed in the little room she rented in London once and were amused that she had even crocheted a "fire escape" which was attached to the window with instructions on how to use it.

Why I missed this thread I do not know, but I am leaving for Vancouver Island in the morning, and will make every attempt to look up Vera in Ladysmith. Incidentally, I have a book of her songs, which was one she put out herself, I believe.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Bob the Postman on vacation
Date: 21 Jun 07 - 03:10 PM

Camping in Saskatchewan so I missed the North by Northwest broadcast. Looking forward to hearing it on the squalk site. Thanks Arthur.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Monique
Date: 28 Jun 07 - 07:59 PM

Hello,

I am one of Vera's granddaughters. How grea


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Monique
Date: 28 Jun 07 - 08:15 PM

whoops, i'll try that again.

How great this is to find such a large forum topic on my grandma! After listening to the CBC radio show with my 2girls (Vera's great-granddaughters)I realized what a big impact she has been in the folk world. I'm very proud of my Grandma Vera! As my daughter said,
"She's famous mommy!"

Just to clear up a couple of things. Vera is in Chemainus, not Ladysmith. She has family come to see her often. Including her 3 daughters, sister, nieces, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. My mom mentioned that Vera would love to have members of the folk guild visit her there. So please feel free to stop in and see her!

Cheers,
Monique


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 04:14 AM

Good to hear your news Monique,

Give Grandma Vera all our love!

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Arthur Caldicott
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 01:18 PM

Lovely to see your post, Monique. Thanks.

Following Monique's correction I want also to correct a wrong statement I made at the beginning of this thread.

Vera is visited regularly at her residence.

It just happens to be at a different time of day than my visits. I made a wrong conclusion. I apologize.

I have received emails from family members pointing this out. I appreciate the gentleness of the corrections - they have every right to be quite angry.

Man is the queerest critter of all.

Arthur


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Sarah Ewanyshyn
Date: 09 Jul 07 - 03:02 AM

I am elated to have come upon this thread about my Aunt Vera. I am the youngest daughter of Vera's youngest sister. My memories of Aunt Vera are all positive. My mother always referred to her as "a character" and I thought to myself that I hoped one day I would be referred to as "a character" also.

Her arrival at family parties meant that music would begin and she often started a performance out of the blue with a single chord which commanded the party to turn towards her. If she forgot a lyric, she would laugh and try again and always use this opportunity to share an improv witty remark. The comedic interludes were part of the performance. I remember sitting on the floor looking up at her, amongst my young cousins. She might suddenly turn to us "little ones" and get us all joining in chorus in "There was an old lady who swallowed a Fly"... or sing something adult and political. Sometimes I didn't understand the lyrics yet, but I was felt the emotion in me. And I loved the rhythm. Knowing she was born in Birmingham enabled me to live in Coventry for 2.5 years in my early 20s.   I am very proud of Aunt Vera and it feels great to read about all the people who care about her.   And a hug to Monique out there....I haven't seen you since we were little girls!
Sarah Marie Ewanyshyn


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Lorna Dowling = Guest
Date: 14 Jul 07 - 12:36 AM

Here is a blast from the past for you, Jon. Ha! Just wanted everyone to know that Wendy Price, wife of folksinger Bill Price, is at my home in Port Alberni visiting from Whitby, England, and we spent yesterday afternoon with Vera. The facility is very nice. Staff appear to have more than a little affection for our Vera. Vera did not remember us but we were delighted when she joined in on verses of her songs that Wendy sang to her. Wendy said "you wrote that, Vera," and she said "I did?" She seemed to recall Bill Price and when I told her Wendy was his wife (I should have said widow) she threw up her hands and said "Congratulations!". We also spoke with her about the song she wrote for Billy Graham. We could not remember all the words and Wendy said, "Oh, what was that song about, Vera" and she said "Well, it was about Billy Graham, I presume". It is true she has little memory of the past but she appeared to take great pleasure in our visit and the three of us had lots of laughs. She is expressive and still speaks her mind . She is a delight to visit. I knew Vera in the very late 60's - early 70;s. We were in Summerland running a coffeehouse known as Chatauqua 333. Josef Benson, George and Norma Ryga, Dick Clements and myself. Vera sang for us.    I reconnected with her in Vancouver after moving there and getting involved with Vancouver Folksong Society, Jon Barlett, Phil and Hilda Thomas, Barry Hall, Adrian Duncan , etc. Jon...do you know where any of these folks are now? I know Phil has passed away. Dick Clements called me.   I am so sorry I could not make it over for the gathering to celebrate his life.   Certainly a recorded collection of our BC folksingers would be wonderful. It would be such a pleasure for Vera to be able to hear this before she joins Phil. Jon...over to you. You were always so good at making sure things really happened and I know that has not changed.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 14 Jul 07 - 08:16 AM

Another classic Mudcat thread! I'm glad for Vera that her situation isn't as bad as it appeared when this thread was started. Also great to hear Wendy Price is well. I never met her either, but I've got the album Bill Price recorded for a German label before his untimely death.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Lorna Dowling = Guest
Date: 14 Jul 07 - 02:46 PM

By the way...I have some words to that song Vera sang to Billy Graham but not all. Wendy remembers: Religion was the opiate of the people. Marx declared it loudly long ago. You'll always feel alive , now Billy's on your side. He's a man you really ought to know. Chorus: Come and get your daily shot from Jesus. Don't rely on pot or lsd. Christ can give a thrill like the needle never will. Come and get your kicks from Calvary. That is it. Vera could not understand why Billy was not enchanted with her song when she got up and sang it to him and his evangelical audience. She was not being disrespectful. Vera was , and is, a sincere Christian . Anyhow...anybody have the rest of the words to this song?


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Subject: RE: last posts
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Jul 07 - 03:01 AM

How wonderful these last posts have been from Monique, Sarah and Lorna!
    Please remember to put a consistent poster name in the "from" box when you post a message. Anonymous messages risk deletion.
    Thanks.
    -Joe Offer, Forum Moderator-


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 23 Jul 07 - 11:40 PM

I fondly remember a concert Bill Price did for us through the organization "Come For To Sing" in Chicago many years ago. And also at the Winnipeg Folk Festival about 1972. Fine memories of great music times...

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Wendy Price
Date: 19 Aug 07 - 03:39 PM

Wonderful to see Vera again when I was in Chemanais last month. Back in UK, I checked my song books and indeed have a copy of "The Vera Johnson Song Book No.1" published in 1974 by Zax Music, Langley, B.C., and has 31 of her songs in, including her most popular ones. Am I the only person who has this wonderful book and was there ever a "No.2"?

I read Art Thiemes note about my late husband, Bill Price who he saw in Chicago and Winnipeg in the early 70's, Never met you, but remember the name from those days. Incidentally, you might be interested to know that his daughters, Ruth Price and Sadie Greenwood, are keeping many of Bill's songs alive in clubs and festivals throughout the UK and are currently performing here at the Whitby Folk Festival where their dad used to sing. It's a great source of satisfaction to me that they are carrying on the tradition, which even young William, Bill's grandson, now participates in.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Arthur Caldicott
Date: 11 Nov 07 - 01:57 AM

Vera died peacefully last night, on November 9.

A celebration of her life will take place on Sunday, November 25, 1:30 pm, at the Eagle's Hall, 921 1st Avenue, Ladysmith. Music will certainly be a part of the celebration.

Vera is probably already writing songs about the place, wherever she is.

I'd like to remind readers about two radio tributes to Vera that were done in 2007.

Rika Ruebsaat and Jon Bartlett hosted a show about Vera on CBC's North By Northwest in June.
CBC_Ruebsaat&Bartlett_VeraJohnson_20070617.mp3

Bob "The Postman" Stubbs put together a wonderful show about Vera on Eva DeFoor's Folk's Music program on CJLY, Kootenay Co-op Radio, in April.
CJLY_EvaDeFoor&BobStubbs_VeraJohnson_20070409.mp3


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Sarah Marie-Ewanyshyn
Date: 22 Nov 07 - 11:44 AM

This is to let everyone know that a video of Auntie Vera has been put on YouTube. I've placed the link below, but if that doesn't work, just search for Vera Johnson. This is a poor quality home video from our living room one Christmas. It was likely in 1981/82. My nephew posted the video, but I'm pretty sure he got the name of the song wrong, "Big bright barbie, the bouncing baby" so if somebody could provide the correct name, we will alter the name on YouTube.

Hope you enjoy seeing her perform in a very relaxed and noisy setting!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vnjldk0N-Q


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 22 Nov 07 - 12:14 PM

Hello Sarah,

What a lovely video! Thank you for posting it for us to enjoy. It brings back many happy memories.

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 22 Nov 07 - 05:26 PM

Vera called this filk song "The Sweetheart of Sordido V", I believe.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 22 Nov 07 - 07:38 PM

Here's a clickable link for the video.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Sarah Marie-Ewanyshyn
Date: 24 Nov 07 - 11:55 PM

Another home video of Vera has been posted on YouTube, FYI.

R.I.P. Aunt Vera,

Love Sarah


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 25 Nov 07 - 03:07 PM

And here's the link for the second video, Vera performing The Indian. Many thanks, Sarah, to you and all your family for sharing these mementoes with us.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Interested Visitor
Date: 13 Dec 07 - 01:41 AM

Assuming the Source Info is accurate - It was mentioned in the editorial of the EFDSS Magazine December issue that Vera had passed away November 8th. 2007


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,David Gould
Date: 21 Aug 08 - 11:01 AM

I have been looking for the words to Gentle Rain Of England for years its absolutely the most beautiful song have ever heard. I met Vera in Derby England in 1970. I was 17 yrs old and a member of the resident folk group called the Clansmen at the Peasmouldia Folk Club which at the time was one of the largest folk clubs in the midlands. Vera was performing there I can remember speaking to her and her singing Gentle Rain and Pierre Trudeau. What I remeber most was I was singing the song Streets of London to the audience and I forgot the words of one of the verses and Vera mouthed the words to me and kept prompting me when I faltered. Its stayed with me all this time and I have never forgotten her or the Gentle Rain of England. Strangely, I moved to Montreal Canada and lived there for 14 years and just missed seeing her at the Yellow Door Coffee House around 1980.

I remember the tune and the chords so ill be singingit tonight !! Thanks.


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Subject: vera johnson
From: GUEST,teresa shaw callihoo
Date: 10 Feb 09 - 05:41 PM

vera johnson was my great grandmother she was an amazing person and entertainer i still try and ring her songs some times the song for mickeale is about my father


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: bobad
Date: 10 Feb 09 - 05:56 PM

Teresa you are a very lucky girl to have had such a gifted great grandmother. I hope you keep singing her songs so that everyone can have the pleasure of her wisdom and humour.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Peace
Date: 11 Feb 09 - 01:40 AM

Amen to that.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,teresa
Date: 15 May 09 - 06:39 PM

she was a very nice person...i remember her and her daughter, my grandmother coming down to visit us every summer we used to listen to her records all the time when i was little.i remember reading a book that she wrote too. im really going to miss her, i hope shes watching over me.did you know that she is a vegettarian? her one son was made for my father, however my favortite song is the great eagle, im not sure it thats the write name, i have her book with all her songs and Cd's but unfotunate i lost it so i was trying to find all her music when i can along this message to me. im so glad to see that so many people in this world love her, she was a very loving person.
thanks for writing me back,
Teresa Shaw


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: bobad
Date: 22 May 09 - 07:21 PM

I have come into possession of Vera Johnson's album Bald Eagle which was recorded live at the Black Horse Folk Club, Amberly, Sussex, England in 1974. The tracklist is as follows:

The Bald Eagle
Homer Johnson
Oh, Canada
You can't let your hair hang down
A song for Michael
The do-it-yourself divorce
Pierre Trudeau
The Word
Jesus was a preacher
Layabouts
The gentle rain of England
The Minx from Pinsk

I will be digitizing the LP as soon as I get the time and would be happy to send a CD to anyone who would like one, just PM me with your mailing address.

P.S. This is one of only two albums Vera ever recorded.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Jim McLean
Date: 23 May 09 - 04:19 PM

Bobad, I'm assuming that you will register your CD with MCPS and all royalties will be correctly distributed among writers and artistes.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: bobad
Date: 24 May 09 - 10:44 AM

In light of the previous post by Jim McLean and upon discussion with a friend in the business, whose opinion I highly regard, I have decided to withdraw my offer of a copy of Vera's album. It was certainly not my intention to deprive anyone of their rightful royalties, I was simply attempting to make available something which is otherwise very difficult, if not nearly impossible, to obtain.

I have found, in a 2007 Mudcat obituary thread on Vera's passing, a note from Mike Ballantyne of The British Columbia Folklore Society in which he mentions that the Society is in the process of transcribing Vera's two vinyl LPs to CD. I have sent him an email inquiring about the availability of these CDs and will post his reply when I receive it.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: bobad
Date: 24 May 09 - 03:05 PM

I received this information from Mike Ballantyne today:

The British Columbia Folklore Society has published Vera's two LPs on two CDs and they come in a booklet together with all the words and the music of the songs on the CDs. The book also includes various bits of Vera's life and history.

If you are still interested, a cheque for $30 will cover the book and CDs set and mailing.

We are at:

The British Columbia Folklore Society
7345 Seabrook Road,
Central Saanich, BC,
V8M 1M9


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 24 May 09 - 09:03 PM

The book and 2 CDs are an incredible bargain at the low low price of 30 Canadian dollars. My copy is currently out on loan to the programmers of "Feminist Voices Then And Now", a show on our local co-op radio station CJLY.


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,Teresa
Date: 25 Dec 12 - 08:11 PM

Hey everyone i am one of Veras great granddaughters. I would love to hear stories of her and would be so happy if anyone here would be willing to send me a copy of her music. I am learning guitar and want to learn her music please email me at trayshaw1990@hotmail.com


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Leadfingers
Date: 26 Dec 12 - 08:38 PM

I have E Mailed Mike Ballantyne for more current information


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: Leadfingers
Date: 27 Dec 12 - 04:53 PM

The Two CD Set and Book are still available from The Critish Columbia Folklore Society $30 canadian plus postage !


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Subject: RE: Canadian folk icon Vera Johnson
From: GUEST,#
Date: 09 Oct 14 - 09:50 AM

For David Gould who posted 21 Aug 08 - 11:01 AM


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnBF_KmGimE


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