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Friday, June 18, 2010

Summer! at What the Folk!

The Helen Creighton Folklore Society Presents:

WTF: What The Folk!
folksongs . folktales . folkart . folklore

WTF embraces SUMMER!!!
Friday,June 25th

6:30pm Gathering and grabba cuppa
7:00 - 8:30pm - Performances

Just Us Cafe, 5896 Spring Garden Road

Warning! This is a work of fiction.
The cultural icons noted below are totally at the mercy of a deranged mind
In no way are they to be blamed for their part in this farce.

'Twas the SUMMER of '69. Bryan Adams went on V.A.C.A.T.I.O.N with Connie Francis. Unfortunately... their Surfaris were a WIPEOUT! Connie's ITSY BITSY TEENIE WEENIE YELLOW POLKA DOT BIKINI drifted UNDER THE BOARDWALK in MARGARITAVILLE where Frank Sinatra had just retired atter a stifling SUMMER IN THE CITY. Wasting away he wasn't!

After having noshed more than one Lovin' Spoonful of Jimmy's Buffet,Frank passed out... but not before passing on a fairly pungent SUMMER WIND which also drifted UNDER THE BOARDWALK where Bryan and Connie had taken refuge to avoid incarceration, probably in Denver, for having too much SUNSHINE ON HER SHOULDERS and other soft places.
Connie had been Slyly hoping for some HOT FUN IN THE CITY with Bryan's Family Stones but she was Percy losing Faith in A SUMMER PLACE that smelled like a Three Dog Night. Alas... there was to be no JOY TO THE WORLD

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!

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.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What the Folk - Just Us Having Hard Times and Singing the Blues


Sounds like an expletive but really... it's an expressive term of endearment for all of you who have encouraged this humble writer's musings.Thank you for noticing. Charles Dickens said: Pray, do not therefore, be inducted to suppose that I ever write merely to amuse, or without an object. Must be a guy thing!

The theme last Friday was Hard Times & Blues. The time before it was Shoes. Puts me in mind of Max MacDonald's song... "Last week I was in hardware; this week I'm in shoes. I've got the Workin' at the Woolco Manager Trainee Blues". My version goes... "This week I'm in Hardtimes; last week it was Shoes. I've got the Jugglin' Themes at Just Us Manic In Training Blues".

Margo and Cindy started the night off with a snippet from Stephen Foster's Hard Times. "Hard times, hard times, come again no more..." which really didn't make any sense at all since hard times was our reason for being there and the night was young. We needed all the hard times we could get or the evening would be a dismal failure.

Fortunately Don had brought his banjo and in true hard times fashion too... without a case. Or was that... just in case? Or was it the tea towel stuffed in the back just in case? Either way, Don astonished us with a most expressive & impressive use of banjo chords as he shared the Poor Man's Lament "en francais" no less. Magnifique!

Pixie said that she didn't know any hard times songs. Margo said that living with Vince more than qualified her so Pixie borrowed James's guitar and played Gillian Welch's One More Dollar - "One more dime to show for my days, one more dollar and I'm going home". Really Vince, she deserves a better household allowance than that!

Next we welcomed newcomer Bill Quimby. Bill's guitar was hardtimes in itself - a really neat old Gibson with 15 year old strings and a 2" wide neck. There was authenticity in those bar chords as Bill sang Randy Newman's Louisiana 1927. "There's 6 feet of water in the streets of the lower 9; Louisiana they're trying to wash us away". Well at least we were in no danger of being washed away up on the second floor but we were sure BLOWN away!

And we continued to be blown away as Kate, still playing fiddle as brilliantly as ever and accompanied by the baroque wizard David, sang... yes you heard it first here ladies & gentlemen... Kate sang. 30 years ago Kate sang a solo and last Friday she did it again. "In the pines, in the pines where the sun never shines and they shiver when the cold wind blows". Well WE certainly got the shivers from Kate & David's fabulous arrangement of the haunting modal melody In The Pines. Maybe... if we promise to sing along lustily on the choruses again, she won't wait another 30 years to solo?

And we got to sing along some more with Leo Feinstein, newly arrived from the Boston States. Leo regaled us with story & song snippets from slavery days. Songs like No More Auction Block For Me and Follow The Drinking Gourd. We may have had only one word to sing in Take This Hammer but we made every "Humph" and "Whumph" count. We couldn't agree on the pronunciation so we humphed and we whumphed and we almost blew the house down!

By now, as a chorus, we were approaching liftoff! Fortunately the ever tasteful Ann Fearon managed to temper our raucousness but not our enthusiasm as we contributed stellar harmonies to Ann's moving rendition of Stephen Foster's Hard Times. The lyrics may have been sad but the sound sure wasn't!

It should be noted that Ann had a lot of fans in the room but Cindy was only looking for the one that counted... the electric one. She turned it on, pointed it in the direction of her seat and invited all menopausal women over to that side of the room. Jon said "you have to suffer to sing the blues". I bet HE suffered plenty later on back home :-)

David Stone brought another of his own compositions and since we were on a roll, invited us to sing along. This time it was a powerful Civil War song called Lord Forgive Me. We decided afterwards that David needed to be forgiven too for leading us on. He expected us to grasp what must have been the most wordy chorus ever written and we were not up to the task.
A seasoned auctioneer would have failed! But to be fair... he DID warn us and we should have known 'cause David is a master of wordy.His intros are often longer than his songs :-)

Sydney's a cappella rendering of She Moved Through The Fair was so mesmerizing that you could have heard a pin drop. Not an easy feat in this crowd!

Bob Hartman-Berrier with "bed bugs holding him down" mischievously changed the mood with a late 1920s cock-eyed view of life called Hungry Hash House. I noticed that Jim Smith, of Cockroach Blues fame, seemed to know it and was singing along. What's with those American guys and bugs?

John Waldron, with Leon Rosselson's We Sell Everything, gave David Stone a real run for his money word-wise. I don't think I have ever heard so many words going by so fast in one song except for maybe anything Gilbert & Sullivan :-) John made Hank Snow's I've Been Everywhere Man seem positively comatose in comparison.

According to Karen's 12 bar blues, when she "woke up this morning she had just a body and a tail..." but as The Tadpole Blues progressed, she evolved quite miserably, verse by verse until ... "I'm a frog & I cry & wail ". Jon Stone said that he loves a song with a hoppy ending! Jim said he found the song quite ribbetting!

Jim then quipped: "I thought puberty was hard but at least I didn't lose my tail." Probably 'cause he didn't have any to lose. It's hardly likely that the boys in The Schoolhouse Blues who "smeared glue on their fingers and pretended to peel off their skin" had to beat the chicks off with a stick.

Keeping with the theme of little devils, Cindy told The Black Devil, a hard times story from P.E.I where she grew up. It involved 5 brothers, one of whom was a slacker. But this was good 'cause it saved him from going blind when the 4 others were out in the field hoeing turnips for the Devil. But the slacker's mother was not amused and after chastizing him, they all went to church where a priest sprinkled some holy water and the 4 regained their sight just in time to see a large black dog who was following them home behind the wagon disappear mysteriously. I grew up on P.E.I too but I'm glad I left before the weirdness started :-)

Vince and James took the stage and James with a devillish look, stated that folks singing the blues tended to start with "when I woke up this morning...." James thought that it made a good case for sleeping in 'til the afternoon.

Vince is a very funny guy but tonight he shared his other side in two of his own compositions - The Book and I Am My Father's Compass. Vince told us of having found a book in Frenchys that contained such personal inscriptions that he felt like a Peeping Tom into these folks' lives. He left without the book but it still haunts him: "... If peace & love are what you want, then be that for someone else".

And "I am my father's compass and I will steer the boat. I will write the song and hang on every note. And we will sing together; we'll find that perfect tone. I am my father's compass and I will lead you home." Vince's dad probably had no idea that this handed down heirloom would so inspire this fisherman's son from Peggy's Cove. And what a fitting gift of song it is for Father's Day this coming Sunday!

And James was brilliant on guitar and harmonies as always. A good mornings sleep will do wonders!

Then Bill Quimby returned to lead us in Al Macdonald's Heading To Halifax. Bet you didn't know that Bill headed to Halifax all the way from Baddeck. I don't think those Capers can stand to see an empty highway :-)

And speaking of Capers...we ended the evening with St. Peter's favourite son David Stone explaining how TV images of musician's instruments floating away in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina inspired the song God's Not Into Music. Lines like " He's left New Orleans singing the blues" and "I'm tempted to toss this guitar in the sea before He comes back to finish off me" were the perfect finale to this evening of Hard Times and Blues.

The Summer Solstice is almost upon us so on June 25th... WTF! embraces summer. " Hot time summer in the city. Back of my neck's gettin' dirty and sweaty. Cool cat lookin' for a kitty. Gonna look in ev'ry corner of the city. All around people lookin' half dead...." Yeah... that pretty much sums us up. A bunch of aging Vampires sinkin' what's left of our teeth into some Summer Lovin' & Grease. How can you possibly resist?

~ The Artful Blodger

Saturday, June 5, 2010

WTF: What The Folk! foresees Hard Times & Blues!!!

The Helen Creighton Folklore Society Presents:

WTF: What The Folk! foresees Hard Times & Blues!!!
folksongs . folktales . folkart . folklore
Friday, June 11th
6:30pm Gathering and grabba cuppa
7:00 - 8:30pm - Performances
Just Us Cafe, 5896 Spring Garden Road

Stephen Foster said: Let us pause in life's pleasures and count its many tears
While we all sup sorrow with the poor
There's a song that will linger forever in our ears...

Eleanor Rigby put on her Long Black Veil and took the Midnight Special to Nowhere Man because she had promised to Send In The Clowns to cheer up Tom Dooley who was suffering in St. James Infirmary with the Worried Man Blues.

Frankie & Johnnie had Trouble In Mind when they passed this Wayfaring Stranger going Down To The River To Pray and not even Angels From Montgomery could have saved her from what waited on the Banks Of The Ohio.

...What awaits YOU at What the Folk? Check out our Blog.
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!

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.

What the Folk! - Folk n' Footwear!

Hey there Blogguys & Bloggals,

Remember camp? Sitting around a roaring campfire with your new best friends singing favourites like The Quartermaster's Store? "There were gnus, gnus pawing through the shoes at the store, at the store.There were gnus, gnus pawing through the shoes at the Quartermaster's store". A veritable Frenchy's for the fuzzy & furry, the wild & the wooly!

Well last week at What the Folk! was kinda like that. We didn't have a campfire but there was lots of roaring (laughter that is). And the fuzzy & furry herd was definitely heard in wild & wooly shoe songs and tales of every style and size.

Clary started off the evening with the traditional Come All Ye Old Comrades and when gently chastized for ignoring the night's theme, launched into an impromptu and hilarious version containing the memorable phrase "boot them in the arse". Cecil Sharpe no doubt was turning in his grave.

After the giggles subsided... Bob, no doubt trying to appease the learned and long-dead folklorist, showed us some true mountain flair with Black Jack Davey on the banjo. John W took us to Amsterdam for a deeply moving stroll along the Zuider Zee in wooden shoes with The Dutchman. In the chantey Blow The Man Down, Jon "robbed the poor Dutchman of his boots, clothes and all". John W, perhaps in an attempt at redress, took great interest in Jon's tartan shirt. "What tartan is that?", said John. " Clan Destine", was Jon's deadpan reply. Groan!!!! Jon managed to duck our flying shoes and keep his wardrobe intact too. Better a redress than an undress!

Seguing into Mr. Bojangles, Karen (Robinson) told us of her great grandfather's career in the minstrel tradition up and down the east coast. Somehow Margo got completely confused and thought that Bill Robinson of Mr. Bojangle's fame was Karen's great grandfather Robinson. "But he's black", declared the porcelain skinned Karen. Margo had to concede that there was little family resemblance.

In The Red Shoes, Kate took us off to Cape Breton for this fiddle tune composed by Dan R. MacDonald and a trip down memory lane. Back in the 1980s, young Kate, new to Cape Breton culture, thought to wow the locals at her first dance with her old-fashioned, and very clunky granny shoes only to find that the locals, the women at least, preferred dancing in gravity defying high heels. Maybe the shoes were red from the seeping blood of broken blisters?

We welcomed Ann Fearon for the first, and hopefully not the last, time. Ann, with James on guitar, shared her own brilliant composition High Heeled Shoes Blues. Like Kate, Ann doesn't think much of footwear designed to maim.

Jay launched into The Dead Horse Shanty, because after all, horses have shoes, don't they? Paul Hanlon said he "nailed it". Double groan! Then Cindy told us a story that she slightly adapted from Helen Creighton's Bluenose Ghosts. We were totally entranced as The Dancing Lass With Shoes So Pretty lost her sole to the Devil. Yes... I spelled it right...her sole. I said that Cindy "slightly" adapted it. It was shoe-pendous :-)

Jim, a la James Dean, arrived on his motorcycle. A rebel without applause he wasn't after These Old Shoes - Jim's touching tribute to his father-in-law in this brand new song that was expressly composed for the night's theme.

June, with James channeling Paul Simon on guitar, floored us with Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes. For a few glorious minutes the room came alive with Ladysmith Black Mbaso harmonies. WoW!

A not so Funny Thing Happened to Clary's feet On The Way To The Forum while he was playing Hysterium in high heels at Neptune. But would his feet have been any happier clad in the new rubber boots that stomped the cabbage into pickle in The Sauerkraut Song? Some people are meant to go barefoot, me thinks :-)

Bob told us of a trek undertaken back in the late 1800s by members of the NYC Explorer's Club into the Amazon Rainforest. With no geographical knowledge of the area and only medieval maps as a guide, expedition after expedition went missing. Bob was so convincing that I believed that the story was true almost to the end. If The Foo Shits, Wear It!

When we regained our composure, John sang a Child Ballad which tells of a lady who gave up her pampered life to follow the Wraggle-Taggle Gypsies. Sounds a bit like Bob's story. No mention of their meeting up with a large flying incontinent bird though!

At Pixie's suggestion, June wrote Take These Shoes specifically for the shoe theme. In fact she was still composing as she and James took the stage to share immortal lines like "when the rubber hits the road, it'll be your sole".

Ann, accompanying herself on guitar, sang another of her own memorable compositions - The Queen of My Back Garden. Karen brought us back to shoes (sorta)... well she did mention "foot" in her hysterical metric version of Five Foot Two, Eyes Of Blue - "She's a centimetre shorter than a metre and a quarter...."

And then 3/4 of The Dory Bungholes (Jon, Jay & Margo) went Marching Inland... literally... much to everyone's delight. The people downstairs at Just Us must have thought the ceiling was falling in :-) Those Bungs can sure clear a room right some good.

Join us next on June 11th when the theme will be Hard Times & Blues. Surely we'll show more decorum then but I can't promise.

~The Artful Blodger~