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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Posting about Protesting

Hey there Bloggers,

Last night I had the strangest dream. Ed McCurdy was in it. And Bob Dylan. And Billy Edd Wheeler. And Utah Phillips. And The Weavers. Oh wait... it wasn't a dream. It was WTF! and everyone there was singing songs of protest with so much heart & soul as to match or even exceed their writer's versions. If you were there you weren't square. If you missed it... Bummer for you. It was "a happening, man"!

Margo set the tone with a fragment of Odetta's O Freedom. Freedom songs like this one sprung to life during the American Civil Rights Movement. They were well-loved old spirituals given new words to inspire a new generation.

Cindy, taking off her usual storytelling hat and picking up her guitar, was inspired to sing a song by her friend, Norm Walker, a folksinger in Regina. The song, Diamonds and Gold, was about the horrors of diamond mining in South Africa. It had a killer chorus that soon had everyone singing along.

Then Don, apologizing for not having a protest song, shared Brother Can You Spare A Dime which he learned from the singing of Fred Hellerman of The Weavers. We all agreed that if that's not an anti-establishment song, what is?

We welcomed James & June for the first time. And about time too! June, with James on guitar and harmony, sang her own excellent composition Keep It In The Ground, an 'energy'etic piece. We could barely keep ourselves contained as the song was a hoot. And what was that about grandma's ass bumping, bumping, bumping?

Jim had a hard act to follow... but he laid his own deft humour aside and went with the master '60s protestor Bob Dylan's Blowin' In The Wind. He noticed that everyone had no trouble singing along once he had established the first few words of each verse. Old hippies never die but the batteries for their memories seem to be running low.

Fiddling Kate played a lovely tune called The Rights of Man inspired by Thomas Paine's 1791 bill. A protest song on the fiddle? Who but the amazing Kate could pull this off.

Michael led us in Ian Robb's They're Taking It Away and after at least six verses we were in fine voice and no one, not even "the man", could take THAT away.

Bob reincarnated Utah Phillips and surprised us even more by leaving his banjo home in favour of an outing with his guitar.

Jay, in fine voice, sang Donovan's Gold Watch Blues for anyone who's ever had to jump through the hoops of the job interview process.

Then back to Apartheid with Jon on guitar Singing The Spirit Home. He had lots of help on this Eric Bogle gem.

Vince told us about his time spent working in a copper mine in B.C. not so long ago. He said that due to price fluctuations, if you visit the site on Google Earth today, you will see two blue ponds. A perfect segue into Billy Edd Wheeler's The Coming of the Roads.

James took us back to the days where he "tucked his hair up under his hat" ( Giggle! Snort!) and there were "signs, signs, everywhere a sign blockin' the scenery and breakin' his mind." He said "Do this, don't do that, can't you read the signs?" We weren't sure what we were supposed to do or not to do since no-one told us we were playing Simon Says but we sang along 'cause "for sure, man... we could read the signs".

Pixie sang "It's a hard life, it's a hard life, it's a very hard life" and all eyes were on her accompanist, Vince, 'cause we knew where she was coming from. Just kidding Vince :-) Nancy Griffith herself couldn't have done better.

Don attempted a fragment of a Weaver's song in the hopes that someone would know the other verses. The song was brilliant but, sadly... we weren't. So Don sang one of his own compositions - Funny What People Call Home. We were blown away by its poignant message, exquisite melody and chords to die for.

Again Jim had another hard act to follow but he wowed us with Garbage... not his singing style, duh! ... but the content of this Bill Steele composition that "tells it like it is, man".

Vince asked James to play along on his Til The Job Gets Done and he did and it did with everyone singing lustily along. Then, Margo, reminding us that Ed McCurdy used to live just down the street, launched into The Strangest Dream. It was "groovy, man" 'cause everybody knew the words and the words mean as much today as they did back in the '60s when they were first written. But aren't we missing something here? Like... "the point, man"? Shouldn't we have gotten that monkey off our collective world backs by now? What was all that protesting for? Surely not just to add some pretty songs to our musical culture? "Heavy, man". And too heavy to ponder by the likes of us in one night. So we Roll(ed)The Golden Chariots Along with Vince. I, for one, plan to roll them back in for another night of protest songs in the near future. We barely scratched the surface and I'm still itchy. And hopefully... contagious.

~ The Artful Blogger ~

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Protest: WTF

The Helen Creighton Folklore Society Presents:
WTF: What The Folk!

folksongs . folktales . folkart . folklore

Friday,April 23rd
6:30pm Gathering and grabba cuppa
7:00 - 8:30pm - Performances
Just Us Cafe, 5896 Spring Garden Road

Taxes got you down? Fed up with the state of the environment?
War? Overwhelmed by man's inhumanity to man?
Then...Raise your voices, raise a ruckus and raise our collective spirits
With protest songs & stories [ old and new ]

Format: Open mike unplugged. Cost: free will donation
If you are free on Friday, please join us. Tell your friends and family. The space is cozy, the coffee is great and the fun is contagious!
Protesting is optional.

Yours in folk,
Host/co-ordinators: Margo Carruthers 425-3828, Cindy Campbell 466-0157

What the Folk! meets, same time and place , every second and fourth Friday of the month.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sing a Song of Scotland (Celebrating Tartan Day)

April 9th in Halifax was a very foggy night - putting one in mind of mists on the moors. A lot of tartan abounded - Paul & Jean came fully decked out in kilts. Bob wore a tartan shirt and Margo - a tartan cloak. 'Someone' wore tartan underwear but most of us wouldn't look.
Some performers were thematic, some strayed, some strayed widely, but lots of fun was had by all which was ‘verra nice.’

Here is an example of the line up at that foggy event at Just Us Cafe on Spring Garden Road:

Intro: Margo & Cindy - Loch Lomond fragment
1. Don Burke sang Gaia - a James Taylor composition (guitar accompaniment)
2. Michael Thompson sang A Bottle of the Best ( a capella)
3. David Stone sang Headlights - his own composition about Cape Bretoner's traveling West and back ( guitar acc) Cindy thought he said "head lice" and could barely contain herself
4. Bob Hartman-Berrier sang the trad. murder ballad Willie Moore (banjo acc)
5. Cindy told a story called The Finger Lock. Clan McCrimmon prominent.
6. Jim Smith played an instrumental Appalachian tune on banjo
7. Clary Croft sang The Braes of Belquether (a capella). It was written by the Paisley poet Robert Tannahill who gave us the origins of Nova Scotia's unofficial folk song "The Nova Scotia Song" before he went mad and threw himself into the canal.
8. Kate Dunlay played a fiddle medley of puirt-a-beul (Gaelic mouth music - "Calum Crubach", "Seallaibh Curaidh Eoghainn", and "Chuirinn Air a' Phiob E". Margo, Jay, George & Michael sang along in Scottish Gaelic.
9. Margo sang Griogal Chridhe (Beloved Gregor) in Scottish Gaelic (a capella)
10.Vince Morash sang On Ilklay Moor Bar Tat (a capella) with lots of audience participation
11.Dave Stone sang two more of his compositions - Never See Another Train and Song For John Allen (with guitar) These might not be the true titles but they are the subject matter.
12.Don Burke sang Northern Lights - a Lenny Gallant composition (with guitar)
13.Jim Smith sang Made My Home on the Mississippi (with banjo)
14.Vince Morash sang Cosmic and Freaky - a Grit Laskin composition (a capella) complete with miming toking and had us all in stitches. We ended on that note because no one could possibly have topped that for fun and vocal choral intensity.
So there you have it as we remember it. Thanks to everyone who came out!
Margo and Cindy
The theme for April 23rd is Protest Songs and Stories, or if you protest the theme that’s okay too.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What The Folk! Tartan Day!

WTF: What The Folk! acknowledges TARTAN DAY!

folksongs . folktales . folkart . folklore

Friday, April 9th

6:30pm Gathering and grabba cuppa

7:00 - 8:30pm - Performances

Just Us Cafe, 5896 Spring Garden Road

Open-mic format, unplugged.

Cost: Free Will Donation

April 6th is International Tartan Day so in honour of all things Scottish...

Sing a song of Scotland, wear a tartan or a tie,

Four and twenty kilters coming thru' the rye.

When the rye was opened, the Scots began to sing.

Now wasn't that a_______________. [pick one]

(a.) Party (b.) Time (c.) Force to be reckoned with

If you are free on Friday, please join us. Tell your friends and family. The space is cozy, the coffee is great and the fun is contagious! Scots singing and tartan wearing is optional.

Yours in folk,

Host/co-ordinators: Margo Carruthers 425-3828, Cindy Campbell 466-0157

WTF: What the Folk! meets, same time and place , every second and fourth Friday of the month.

We Stumped and We Hand Planed!

Hey there Bloggers. Been a while. Unforeseen events... like family and surgery, but not at the same time although... some families may wish to cut out members from time to time. But not us folkies.

On march 26th, we welcomed our SING OUT! family. Almost everyone brought songs with choruses and you could hear us all the way out to the Frog Pond in Jollimore. Scared the frogs silent! The neighbours are still calling to thank us.

Some highlights: Jay & Margo started the evening with the chantey Starbuck's Complaint - very funny since we were in a competitor's cafe. Of course those two hammed it up and we all hooted on the last line of the chorus where it goes "now Sailor's stop, your order's here...." since there's no table service at Just Us cafe.

Bob sang and played Peg 'n Awl on the banjo in true Southern style and later on Don borrowed it for 3 Chords, 's Excuse Me 4. Finally... the banjo got some respect! And so did poor old much maligned Danny Boy when Kate and David, on fiddle and violin respectively, shared a gorgeous traditional Southern instrumental version. It was breathtakingly beautiful but way too short. Kate promises a reprise.

John and Sydney sang Both Sides The Tweed while David's Celtic violin sensibilities made us feel like we were there "where friendship and honour unite and flourish...." Karen arrived a bit late with The Jolly Ploughboy. Clary took one look and sang False Knight Upon The Road. Hmmmm! And just when we were getting cocky with our chorus singing too!!! Who wouldda thunk that a bunch of "diddle dydle dees" couldda undone us? After that... Jay got mixed up with his Woodworker's Alphabet. John's The Close Shave pretty much sums it up. But Jay really knows his trees so "we stumped and we hand-planed" but we didn't get board :-)

by Margo Carruthers

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Stories About Trees

To all storytelling fans, tellers and listeners:

Another great night of stories coming up next week.
Last month's gathering led to the idea of stories about
TREES, but who knows what will grow that night?

Come join us in the forest (where the wild things are).

Thursday April 8, 7-8:30 - but come early!

Upstairs at Just Us! Coffee Shop,

Spring Garden Road at Carleton

All welcome, bring a friend!

Contact: Cindy Campbell

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Storytelling Workshops Offered!

Storytelling Workshops: Spring 2010
Cindy Campbell’s Place (Dartmouth) or TBA

I am excited to be able to offer storytelling workshops this Spring. I have been telling stories professionally for 10 years and this fall I will be attending a storytelling festival and offering workshops. To help me prepare, I am offering a variety of workshops at a special price.
Whether you choose one or two workshops, you’ll get your creative spirit soaring to new levels...just bring your enthusiasm!
To register, contact Cindy at 902-466-0157 or at I can also take requests for workshops at another time and place.
My web page can be found on For updates on storytelling and workshops, check out my storytelling blog at

Costs for Each Workshop:
$30 per person
$25 per person for members of Storytellers Circle of Halifax

Beginner Storytelling Workshop:

Tell It! An Introduction to Storytelling
Saturday, April 24 1:00 - 4:30 pm

Wanna find out more about oral storytelling? Or perhaps you are interested in being a storyteller but don’t know if you have what it takes. Want to learn a few basic skills and connect with your storytelling style? This workshop is for you and will help you find, choose, learn, develop, and tell, your story.

Beginner/ Intermediate Workshop:

At the Root , It’s All about Connections
Saturday, May 15 1:00 - 4:30 pm

Storytelling at its roots has been connecting people and helping to define their culture and beliefs for several thousand years. Storytelling develops connections unlike any other art form.
Find your connection whether it be world or cultural tales, personal or family stories, community or historical, fairy or folk tales. Learn a few basic skills that will connect with your storytelling style and help you find, choose, learn, develop, and tell, your story. Discover a few techniques that can help you connect with your listeners of any age and audience size.
This participatory workshop is for novice or intermediate tellers who wish to explore storytelling for use in literary, educational, or historical environments, or for community, casual or performance type events.

Journeyman/Masters Workshop:

Delving for Buried Treasure: Dig Deeper, Connect, and Open Up
Saturday, June 19 1:00 - 4:30 pm

Think you’ve found a treasure of a story but can’t quite see the map? Been telling a story for so long, you’ve lost the magic? This workshop will help you navigate and find the hidden treasures in a new story or an old one. Learn constructive dissection of story parts or characters, then rebuild the story with satisfying improvements. Explore ways to combine several versions of a story or to weave fragments of one story into another one. Find out how to take small stories, anecdotes, folk lore and make a longer cohesive story. Discover the many ways to develop story combos, such as storysongs or how to enhance a story through trickery of voice.
This particpatory and peer supportive workshop is for journeymen or master tellers who wish to delve deep, explore, experiment, share ideas and experiences and feel empowered by change.