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Saturday, July 24, 2010

What the Folk Tries Travelling

Hello busybloggies,

Is it just me or is this the hottest summer on record? My computer is melting just like a Salvador Dali painting and so is my mind. What? Still there is no lack of bodies embracing folk music and stories at Just Us! Last week we were jammed in like slippery little sardines. It could've been "odorous" but Cindy brought three, count 'em... three fans from home ( and three electric ones too :-) We call them her fan club! And Michael brought his sewing. It didn't help cool the room but it was amusing... and way cool! If you need anything mended, see Michael. And ladies... he's single!

Putting all thoughts of sewing aside except for maybe the sowing of wild oats, Margo & Cindy took us travellin' all over Canada from Bonavista to Vancouver Island and all parts in between in a rousing chorus of THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND. I'd have gladly immersed all MY parts in the waters of either coast!

Then Leo, the "lonely and lonesome traveller" kept the sing-a-long momentum going as we went "travelling in mountains and valleys, travelling with the rich and the poor, travelling cold and travelling hungry." Can't say I relish travelling hungry but travelling cold for a few hours sure would feel devine :-)

And Karen, likely unconsciously thinking ahead to cooler days, shared her own composition AUTUMN WIND wherein she "left her home in the Autumn wind and the Autumn wind brought her home." Thanks Karen... for reminding us that barring unforeseen weather phenomena like a six month heatwave, Summer merely cometh before the Fall!

No doubt sweltering under the influence of the endless heat and humidity, Don, our very own Mark Twain, echoed our thoughts in his wisecrack: "Eternity is a very long time, especially towards the end". We had all been panting and fanning up to this time but felt somewhat cooler as Don reminded us that THE WATER IS WIDE. As usual Don's voice & chords were impeccable. And when Don left off after three verses, Leo supplied the fourth "I put my hand in one soft bush...." Oh Leo, 'tis a family show here. Perhaps that's why Don left it out :-)

Just back from three days at Stanfest where they uncharacteristically baked in the sun, John & Sydney told us that in desperation, the Fest organizers had to bring in a fog machine so people could get their familiar fix of the traditional ambience that usually accompanies the traditional music there. This is a sad night for us as it is the last night for these two lovely folks at WTF! Next week they will he returning home to Alberta. Lucky for us that John & Sydney pulled out all the stops & all their chops in a very imaginative medley of CHI MI NA MORBHEANNA in English with the choruses in Gaelic intertwined with Stan Roger's TURNAROUND. It was as breathtaking as the Alberta scenery! John & Sydney, can we stow away in your luggage?

Also travelling West, Jim told us that after graduating with his BA 33 years ago, he bought an old van and travelled all over the USA as far as Wyoming working at various jobs. He wrote a song based on observations of people he met along the way - "The turning of the wheel stills the emptiness I feel. For the time being this road will be my home."

Kelly, taking us both back East and back to a gentler time, launched into the old Stompin' Tom PEI tourism ad 800-565-7421. It was a blast!!! We remembered all the words too. Hey... has anyone thought to dial the number? Did Regis & Kelly answer??

Well... after travellin' West and East, it was about time that we went South. Ever the virtuoso, James totally channelled James Taylor in MEXICO. "Oh Mexico, never really been but I'd sure like to go." Me too. But not 'til winter. Mexico at this very moment would melt what's left of my mind.

With a completely different take on the theme of travellin', Adele McGann, joining us for the first time, shared WAYFARIN' STRANGER. We can only hope that it was way cooler over Jordan and that "mother, father, sister, brother " didn't go to that other place with the oppressive heat - Hellifax.

Again... another unusual take on travellin' as "... Uncle Walter goes WALTZING WITH BEARS." This has become Michael's theme song of sorts and he was aked to sing it as a special request from John & Sydney. Who could deny John & Sydney? And there was much hillarity when the phrase "lately I've noticed several new tears", prompted Michael to yell "quick someone... bring me my sewing kit". And Vince was singing his harmony line so loudly along with the choruses that Margo was prompted to say "It's obvious that you'd like a turn now."

But... as Vince was getting his guitar, Jean popped up, resplendent in 1940s garb to share a medley of songs to match her period clothes and hairdo. Jean started her SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY on a SLOW BOAT TO CHINA disembarking under the WHITE CLIFFS OF DOVER to finish the trip on a BICYCLE BUILT FOR TWO. It was a looonnnng trip but a neat one!

In his composition COLD DAY IN JULY, Vince with the brilliant James on slide guitar sang "I think that I'll be leaving 'cause I've heard that winter's cry. The wind is just too cold here for the middle of July". Oh poor soul. The heat has claimed it's first victim of the night. Vince sweetie, you're delusional. It's got to be at least 110 degrees here at Just Us! But thank you for trying to keep our spirits up, reminding us that "cold" is not a figment of our imagination. Others have heard the illusive term too :-)

Ann and Karen, just back from songwriting camp in Sherbrooke Village where they wowed everyone as The Sherbrookettes, shared their new composition WHEN I HEAR THAT WHISTLE BLOW. I have it on good authority that one of the instructors... a certain J.P. Cormier... was moved to tears by one of Ann's songs and declared "That woman should be a star." Duh! Like yeah!!

Cindy told a very moving story that led into the song MARY OF THE WILD MOOR and spooked us with "some say if you go to the spot where the house stood, under the willow tree you will hear the cries". Cindy is so thoughtful. The resultant shivering really helped to cool us down.

Well it WAS... until Don decided to involve cooking... which means stoves... which means burners and ovens. Apparently... a husband asked his wife what she wanted for Xmas. Cooking lessons was her reply and so she got them. Then one night after many lessons, she comes home prepared to make supper. She made a great Hollandaise sauce and the husband really loved it. Six months later, his teeth were really bad. His dentist suggested a plate and gave him the choice of either a plate of plastic or a plate of chrome. To which the husband replied: "There's no plate like chrome for the Hollandaise." Don's killing me with these groaners. Then he changed tactics and went for KILLING ME SOFTLY with his song. How could I be mad?

Jim told us an old Zen story about monks complaining about the cold and then complaining about the heat with the message that one must find a place that is neither cold NOR hot. Jim's song ROLL DOWN THE HIGHWAY was about finding that balance. As he started to play, Jim found the chair he was sitting on a bit unbalanced so he moved to another one thus illustrating his point. Jon, master of the quick quip, (say THAT ten times in a row :-) said he only needed some "chair conditioning".

Then Karen sang a short, funny little shuffle tune called THE RUBBA SONG with everyone clapping along to its tight, infectious groove. Then... in their absolutely last appearance at What The Folk!, John & Sydney led us in the Stan Roger's classic NORTHWEST PASSAGE. The room fairly rang with harmonies. And a few tears too!

Leo bounced in with a short snippet from Gilbert & Sullivan - "O Wandering Minstrel...." before Vince and James sang us home with another of Vinces' compositions that offers great advice for the traveller..."There's an old dusty road and I don't know where its going... but I'm walking anyway... you talk about spinning your tires and being stuck in a rut... breathe a little... life's a mystery... you gotta try your best."

And we certainly did that all night long in spite of the heat. At the last minute, as a special tribute to John & Sydney, Jean led us in the old Roy Roger's/Dale Evan's theme song HAPPY TRAILS. How appropriate. What a pleasure to have had John & Sydney with us. Safe home.

And with that our night of travellin' was over. Next week the theme is FLOWERS. We stop to smell the roses and other scented beauties of the garden. Mind the thorns and watch out for bees. And the occasional flasher hidin' in the trees :-)

~The Artful Blodger

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What the Folk: Flower Power

The Helen Creighton Folklore Society Presents:

WTF: What The Folk!
folksongs . folktales . folkmusic . folkcraft . folklore

WTFstops to smell the

Friday,July 23rd

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

Just Us Cafe, 5896 Spring Garden Road

of the Disappearing ...


*another in the endless series of lunacy from our writer-in-residence before her absence from the locked ward is noticed, authorities are dispatched, and proper meds are FINALLY administered


Scott McKenzie and his pal Rosemary Clooney had been on their way to
SAN FRANCISCO,being sure to wear some flowers in their hair. They'd even been Darin enough to add FIFTEEN YELLOW ROSES each,in addition to a couple of dozen BLOOD RED ROSES. Unfortunately... they decided to stop off along the way at Ricky Nelson's GARDEN PARTY.

After passing a very Demented evening with Iris, Lily, Marlene and Flora MacDonald, carelessly guzzling Neil Diamond's stash of CRACKLIN' ROSIE
, they passed out completely on Jon Bon Jovi's BED OF ROSES. Upon waking, Rosemary screamed, "For Pete's sake...WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE
?". Sure enough... as far as the eye could See, ger were no FLOWERS OF THE FOREST left. Old King Cole, ever the Natty philosopher, shrugged, "They must be gone RAMBLIN',ROSE".
Distraught... Rosemary beseeched everyone to search high and low
FOR THE ROSES.The Statler Brothers said they saw some FLOWERS ON THE WALL
but Marie Osmond knew they were only PAPER ROSES. A sobbing Henry Mancini Bette that THE DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES were long gone now without
THE ROSE. A traumatized Neil Diamond had hoped to brunch on
BREAD & ROSES with his last night's conquest, Judy Collins, and wailed to no one in particular, "YOU DON'T BRING ME FLOWERS anymore". To which a very Riley'd Jeannie C. screeched, "I beg your pardon... I NEVER PROMISED YOU A ROSE GARDEN".
Blissfully unaware of all the acrimony back at the Nelsons, Joni Mitchell had just finished up at WOODSTOCK and was leaving Yasger's Farm in the dust 'cause she just had to get herself back to the garden. Little did she suspect that there would be no RED ROSES FOR A BLUE LADY there today. But... Tiny Tim could scarcely hide his glee now that there were no more stupid roses to interrupt his titillating TIPTOE THROUGH THE TULIPS.

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.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Folk n'Summer

Bloggone it! We did it again! Another fabulous night of folky fun at Just Us! And this time... there's incriminating evidence :-) Margo warned everyone that her daughter Kiera, visiting from Toronto, would be taking candid shots for the web site and anyone not wishing to be caught on film should speak up. Those who did were concerned only that the camera would be unable to record decent pix due to our lack of photogenics - too old or too ugly! To which Paul Hanlon yelled "Photoshop!" And with that... our egos soared... and we were off.

Speaking of "off"... Cindy & Margo got everyone singing "Sum sum sum sum sum sum summertime...." Twice no less!!!! Sounded like a stutterer's convention except there was absolutely NO convention to it at all. It was a frenzied free-for-all. And... just the way we like it :-)

Don was put in the unenviable position of following this lunacy. He wisely chose to avoid uttering the word 'summer' altogether, opting to imply it instead - "the sweetest flower that bloomed o'er the range" which "was buried as the snows begin to fall". There was some discussion regarding the author of Darcy Farrell/Darcy Farrow but we didn't come to blows... yet! In the interests of promoting both peace & education, I can safely say that it was NOT written by either Ian Tyson OR Steve Goodman. The authors are Steve Gillette and Tom Campbell - no relation to Cindy. Whew! A close shave there :-)

QUESTION: "How many singers does it take to sing Summertime?" ANSWER: "All of them apparently."

Karen REALLY wanted to sing the iconic Summertime and was afraid that others would have come prepared to sing it too so she asked if she could be one of the first singers tonight thus ensuring that she'd get the chance. How fortunate for us 'cause Karen's rendition of this George Gershwin classic from Porgy & Bess was lovely. I don't know whether it was the song or our singing along that made Cindy cry but sniffle she did. And James brought out his hanky. In fact... Jame's weeping so upstaged Cindy's that she was prompted to snarkly ask if he'd like a bigger hanky. With all that blubbering, he'd have needed a tablecloth!

What with the tragedy of Darcy Farrell and the pathos of Summertime, thank goodness for Leo. Leading us out of our malaise, Leo took us to Harlem,1943 and had us in stitches with a story called Summer Ain't Simple from Langston Hughe's book Simple Speaks His Mind. I have it on good authority that there was more than one simple mind in the room :-)

Keeping with simpler times, Ann took us down The Bumpity Road somewhere in the backwoods of New Brunswick where eleven kids were stuffed into the back of a volkswagon for a mile and a half trip to "... take us swimming & we all go grinning". If she tried that today, there'd be a fight between Child Protection Services and the RCMP Highway Patrol to see who could write the bigger ticket. Too bad there's laws against kids having fun these days! Who amongst us wouldn't have delighted in being "all shook up in a pickup truck 'cause it hops like a jumpity toad"?

And they were just as lawless in PEI too! Cindy told her own bumpity road story stemming from her summers at Thunder Cove near Darnley Point where the kids would pile into two cars and race to the beach - one car down the dirt road and the other taking the short cut through the tractor field. Hey Cindy... is it true that you taught Bud The Spud from the bright red mud how to drive? The Ontario Provincial Police don't think much of Bud thanks to you :-)

Bob told us that he grew up listening to opera while passing through the kitchen and that the music for Allan Sherman's Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah was from Ponchielli's Dance of the Hours from La Gioconda. Bob didn't go to Camp Grenada with Allan. Bob went to Camp Kookamunga where the Boy Scouts were way too busy perfecting their clandestine spying on the girls to waste precious time on a letter back home. They may have "learned to light fires by rubbing sticks together" but they never caught the girls so the woods were safe. Smokey the Bear says "Thank you for your superior lack of seduction skills."

Then that Don Juan, James, seduced us with the Seals and Croft's classic Summer Breeze. We know that James plays guitar like he has four hands ablazin' but we were gobsmacked to find that he seems to have taken up throat singing as well. How else could he have done such a masterful job of singing two parts at once? Well OK... we DID help out. Most of us sounded like seals though but there WAS one Croft in the room.

And it was his turn next. Clary's intros are often extraordinary stories in themselves. He told us that it was a hot August in Sherbrooke Village when a raggetty, maggotty old circus came to town and set up in the ballfield across from Rhoda Brigley's home. Rhoda had long kept scrapbooks of photos of people, places and things she'd like to see and she could scarcely believe her eyes when one of her desires came to be tethered right across from her front porch. She decided to stay up all night, rocking on the porch in close proximity with him cause she'd "never known his kind before" and likely never would again. Clary was there at the time and the song Rhody's Elephant was born. He may have been "an ancient wizzened elephant" but he inspired a most moving song with glorious chords!

Then Cindy told us a story called It Was So Hot. "How hot WAS it?" everybody roared. Cindy said it was SO hot that the corn in the field opened up and popped itself. "How hot WAS it?" we roared again. It was SO hot that the nuts hanging from the trees cracked open and roasted themselves. "How hot WAS it?" (We were on a roll now.) It was SO hot that the sap in the trees poured out and got mixed up with the corn and the nuts to become the world's biggest popcorn ball. Jean Hanlon said it sounded like poppycock to her! Jon thought it was a crackerjack story!

Then Don told us that "In the summer of 1898, when I worked on the railroad...." We should have shrieked "How old ARE you Don?" but we completely missed the boat. So did Don but his lapse was on purpose. He took the train instead and went 900 Miles. You'll have to go farther than that to get rid of US Don :-)

Menopausal Cindy, fanning herself with Don's new CD, Swan Song, announced that she was Don's biggest fan. Hey Don... that has the makings of a very lucrative marketing strategy :-)

For George growing up, two songs signalled summer... Nat King Cole's Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer and Roger Miller's In The Summertime. George shared the latter with some electronic help from his prompter and Jean's very enthusiastic choruses.

And poor Karen lamented "I'd like to lie down but there just isn't room" cause Someone's Been Sending Me Flowers. She was up to the wazoo in nasty perfumed "bluebells that were grey" coupled with meat eating "plants that panted" although she did say that "the cactus corsage touched her deeply". We should have been more sensitive to her pain but I'm afraid we were l.o.a.o.

In honour of Lammas Night, Leo led us all in Robert Burn's Corn Rigs Are Bonnie, a charming song of seduction recollected in tranquility, which Burns set to a tune from Playford's Choice Ayres (1681). We sang lustily along on the choruses 'cause there's nothing we like better than a little summer lovin'.

Unless... it's summer partyin' at Anns. "It's a summer night on McGlinchey Hill; there's a party goin' on" so "bring your newborn babies, bring your cranky old ladies" cause Ann will "teach them how to smile...." Then later we'll all pile ass over kettle into the backs of assorted pickup trucks for the trip back home down the bump, bump, bumpity road. Have you seen that TV ad from Tourism NB with music by a practically comotose David Miles? Well... it wouldn't motivate ME to vacation there! However... if TNB made a promotional video using scenes from Ann's McGlinchey Hill and/or The Bumpity Road, it would be Party Central in New Brunswick from May to September! Vote Ann for Premier!

Bob told an hilarious tale by the legendary Bruce (Utah) Phillips. Apparently one of the laws of the lumber camps involves the cook. If you complain about the food, the job of cook falls to you. But what if you ARE the cook and want out? Well... you try to come up with some concoction truly foul that will guarantee complaints. Bob's cook in the lumber camp in moose country went out and collected the biggest "pasture patty" he could find, added a generous sprinkling of wild oregano, popped the mixture into a pie shell, heated and served. The cook could detect a little bit of unhappiness but not a soul spoke until the last guy straggled in, took his first gagging bite and uttered the immortal lines that would deny the cook his prize... "My God! It's moose turd pie... but good though!"

James decided to spend his Sunny Days in the 70s "sittin' stoned alone in my backyard ... half undressed just soakin' up the sun". I'll bet that James didn't suspect for one minute that the girls next door were selling tickets for an unobstructed view from their upstairs bedroom windows. James paid their way through college :-)

Cindy told the story of the lost Fu*kawe tribe in which a city slicker went out to hunt game. A bunch of old fellers took pity on him and not wanting him to come to harm or get lost, they took him out themselves. They told him about a group of people who had been lost in the woods for a very long time, never to be seen again. Somehow the city slicker got separated from the old fellers and stumbled through the woods into a clearing filled with people. "Who ARE you?" said the city slicker. "We're the fu*kawe". Hoots, guffaws & much sidesplitting laughter erupted. Margo looked around in total confusion and proclaimed that she didn't get it which caused the room to erupt even more volcanically. Cindy, ever patient with children & the less fortunate, carefully explained the punch line to her - "Where the Fu*k are we?" "Ahhhhhhhh!" said Margo. Clary said "Good thing you got the looks girl".

We think he may need his glasses altered! But not his songwriting. Clary ended the evening with what he described as perhaps the oddest song he's ever written -Schade. It concerned his German 1752 heritage when Jacob Kraft (changed to Croft around 1830) came over on the Ann and was one of the original settlers to open up the town of Lunenburg. Schade means Sorry. Clary's not sure why Jacob's sorry but the line "Had I known then what I know now..." implies that maybe he's sorry for bringing them here, for putting them through the hardships of emigration. The words & melody were mesmerizing and Clary's guitar work was stellar. With Clary's glorious voice echoing through the cafe, we departed... happy in the knowledge that summer was here and that we had truly welcomed her in style.

Next week... we're going Travellin'. "Get your motor runnin', head out on the highway lookin' for adventure or whatever comes your way...." Hopefully those two yellow specks of lights dead ahead do NOT belong to a moose!

~The Artful Blodger

Thursday, July 1, 2010

What the Folk Goes Travellin' - kinda

The Helen Creighton Folklore Society Presents:

WTF: What The Folk! goes TRAVELLIN'
folksongs . folktales . folk music - folkcraft . folklore
Friday, July 9th
6:30pm Gathering and grabba cuppa
7:00 - 8:30pm - Performances
Just Us Cafe, 5896 Spring Garden Road

* Another work of fiction from our writer-in-residence
before it's discovered that she has escaped from the locked ward... AGAIN!

After 6 DAYS ON THE ROAD, Dave Dudley hoped that some EARLY MORNING RAIN would wash away the Woody scent of his HARD TRAVELIN'. With a heavy heart and a Light foot, he'd been GOING UP THE COUNTRY with The Band... cookin' over ACADIAN DRIFTWOOD and Canned Heat every summer since that RAMBLIN' BOY Tom had lured his PROUD MARY away to GRACELAND for some S&G at the Creedence Clearwater Revival. A Pax ton them all!

And as if things weren't bad enough on this SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY... all Ella broke loose. After Dave made some unfortunate CHANGES IN LATITUDE, CHANGES IN ATTITUDE were in order because Dave had unceremoniously stepped on a wolf and was now being Buffetted by more than FOUR STRONG WINDS. Dave wished he could Ty that son of a b**** to a tree but he was Chapped man. What he needed was a FAST CAR and PDQ 'cause that KATMANDU was BORN TO BE WILD and Segerly Nashing his teeth.

It was just a matter of time before that Stepped on wolf bit Dave in his MARRAKESH EXPRESS and Dave would be GOIN' DOWN THE ROAD FEELIN' BAD yet again. Oh... to be BACK IN THE USSR where the only wildlife to worry about were Beatles!

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.