I’ve been busy this summer recording and editing episodes of For the Sake of the Song. Since Victoria Day Weekend, the family and I have been to four excellent festivals, Twisted Pines Music and Art Festival here in Midland, the Minesing Unplugged Festival in Utopia, Ontario, the Mariposa Folk Festival in Orillia, and the Canturbury Folk Festival in Ingersoll. We hope to get to a couple others later this summer.
This year at Mariposa I was both volunteer and performer. I helped organize the Open Stage and was part of two workshops on the Folkplay stage entitled: My Favorite Children’s Song. On Saturday the sound system was giving us all kinds of trouble, so we walked in front of the stage and performed an acoustic workshop. On Sunday, the sound system was cooperating and we had one of those magical workshops where four individual performers walked on to the stage, but a band walked off. I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Steve Caston, David Zub, and my friend, Patti Ellis. Musical magic was in the air. We were all playing and providing harmonies on each other’s songs and I think it was as much fun for the musicians as it was for the audience. They also gave us a lovely orange Mariposa Folkplay Performers T-shirt.
My other Mariposa T-shirt says CREW, and I got it for working the Open Stage. My good friend, Jennifer Ives was coordinating this stage and worked along with Ken and Arlene Allen and Olivia Duck. We had a great time and some of the music on the Open Stage rivaled that of the Official performances. Standout performances for me on the open stage included: Olivia Duck, Steve Caston, Pat Clark, The Good Tangerines, and Tom Kremer and Friends.
I also noticed a sadder side of the Open Stage. It was set up in 20 minute sets from 11- 4:30 on both Saturday and Sunday. In order to perform, you just needed to come to the Open Stage and sign up after 10 am on either day. We filled all the slots by 12:30 on each day. Once we were full there was a steady stream of disappointed people coming up to us to ask if there was any more room. Most people were quite polite, but for some there was an undercurrent of desparation and entitlement, that they must play at the open stage. Several people tried sweet talk or pleading, one tried to bribe us (didn’t work), and one young man asked who he should kill to take their spot. I told him that last time somebody tried that the corpse played anyway. There was also an unpleasant incident with someone who was determined to subvert the Open Stage into his own personal showcase stage (don’t ask). I’ve got to a stage as a performer that although I still feel the urge to share my music, if an open stage is full I can sometimes pass on performing for the night. It was a little sad to see the desparation of people to say “I performed at Mariposa”. Perhaps I see things this way because I have had the good fortune to be asked to play at this fine festival about 4 times since it returned to Orillia. But even when we are at other festivals as audience, I no longer feel compelled to sign up for the Open Stages. If the opportunity arises and I’m not listening to one of the other stages, I’m still happy to perform, but I don’t feel the compulsion to “be on the stage” that I witnessed at Mariposa.
The following weekend at the Canturbury Folk Festival in Ingersoll was magical. The whole town of Ingersoll pulls together to put on three days of FREE music and crafts in a beautiful downtown park next to a creek. The site is small enough that our daughter spent the whole weekend on the playground within eysight, while we sat and listened to the show. They had a great lineup of performers from all over Canada and the UK, but with a strong contingent of local performers. Congratulations to Ted Comiskey Artistic Director, and everybody who made the Canturbury Folk Festival such a magical weekend. We will definitely put it on our calendar for next year. I particularly enjoyed the mainstage sets by Tanglefoot, Wendell Ferguson, Ian Thomas, and Laura Vinson. In fact I have a Laura Vinson story to tell you.
As an 11 year old living in Ryley, Alberta, I would look out my window across the prairies, while listening to my Radio Shack Crystal Radio which I built from a kit, and dream of one day having a record or maybe my own radio show.
My parents bought me two presents for my 12th birthday: A Hohner classical guitar (which I still use in my Grade 2 classroom), and tickets to see Laura Vinson and Red Wing at the Holden Theatre (this would be about 1979). I was very excited by her performance, and after the show my mother and I spoke briefly with her. She was very encouraging, and I couldn’t wait to get home to practice my guitar. Alas, I tried to teach myself over the years and was not successful.
Then the guitar made the rounds through my brother, my mother and my sister, before returning to me around the time of my 25th birthday. My present to myself that year was guitar lessons. Over the years I have performed as a folk musician and children’s performer, first with covers and eventually writing enough original material to record a CD in my basement in 2003. About 1-1/2 years ago I started recording public-domain audio books for librivox.org, which led to producing my current podcasts (on demand Internet audio shows). I am just amazed that now at 39, I have both the record and the radio show, and I recorded them in my own basement! I was thrilled this weekend to sit down with Laura Vinson to record an upcoming episode of For the Sake of the Song.
Be sure to listen throughout August for Twisted August. These will be shows that I recorded at the Twisted Pines Music and Art Festival in Midland on the Victoria Day Weekend.
August 2: A double-header show with interviews with Paul Northcott and Deb Brown of the Twisted Pines Music and Art Festival l, and Nancy Dutra, a fine singer-songwriter from Toronto.
August 9: 6 time CCMA Guitar Player of the Year, jokester and all-round nice guy Wendell Ferguson
August 16: Political punk-folk provocateur Hamell on Trial
August 23: Magoo: Perennial favorite festival host, children’s entertainer and songwriter.
Other Upcoming Shows
July 25: Greg Hobbs
August 30: Luther Wright
September 6: Dan Frechette
Interviews recorded but not yet scheduled: Laura Vinson, Corin Raymond, Mark Blevis, Bob Ardern, David Bradstreet, The Good Tangerines, Peter Judd, Olivia Duck.
This should bring me into November. I’m trying to have shows scheduled up to Christmas by the time school starts in September.
I hope your enjoying the show so far. Feel free to send in requests for potential guests.