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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Deep Roots at Summerfolk

By James Keelaghan
The other day, I was doing research into Canadian folk festivals. Every now and again, I like to go old school on the fact finding. I went to my Canadian Encyclopedia. In the entry for folk festivals, 6 festivals are mentioned-Winnipeg, Vancouver, Edmonton, Mariposa, Miramichi and…Summerfolk in Owen Sound. We’re even a little more prominent in the online version.

 

When the first Summerfolk debuted in 1976, I was 15 years old. I had never been to a folk festival. There wasn’t one in Calgary. We had a folk scene that was just beginning to take hold. There were house concerts at Lynn and Barry Luft’s place as well as Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy recording a television series at the local TV station, CFAC. There were plenty of clubs with acoustic music, but I was too young to frequent them because they served the demon alcohol.

 

Over here in Owen Sound, two brothers, Tim and John Harrison decided it was time for a festival. Out of thin air, with the help of friends and volunteers, they launched Summerfolk. It would take Calgary and Edmonton another 6 years to start festivals of their own.

 

I came to Summerfolk for the first time when I was 25. That was just shy of the 10th anniversary. I was the guitar player for a Scottish folk singer named Margaret Christl. It was the first time I had gigged east of Regina.

 

At the time, the festival at the time housed performers in a downtown hotel on 2nd Ave E. I have quizzed people about this, but there doesn’t seem to be agreement on what the hotel actually was. I distinctly remember there being a sign on the front that said St James, because a friend and I kept referring to the place as the St James Infirmary. There was a respectable motel attached to the back, but the hotel itself seemed like it might have been used as a squat. All the rooms were funkily decorated. There was an elevator that required an operator and a swimming pool that had been drained. I played a late night game of imaginary water polo in that pool with Odetta, Ron Casat and several others.

 

The hotel sessions at Summerfolk have always been legendary. I availed myself. I jammed hard on the Friday night with a group of people up in my 2nd floor room.

 

The next morning, when I arrived on site a woman, who I now know was Sandy Hogg pulled me aside and told me “her crew” had been singing my praises. She wanted to know who I was, precisely and she wanted to hear me sing.

 

I played the festival another eight times. I came to love it because it marked, in the sweetest way, the end of the summer touring. If you were lucky you started at Bumbershoot or Seattle Folklife in May, and ended up in August, right here beside Georgian Bay. I’ve always loved the fact that Summerfolk made it easy for musicians to play together. Since I took over as Artistic Director, I’ve made it my priority to keep that feel. There is, after all, a four-decade long tradition to uphold.

 

Since Summerfolk is turning 40, we are going to celebrate with a Birthday Bash!

 

The first Summerfolk opened on August 20, so the decision was made to crank up the site for Thursday August 20th this year. We are going to celebrate in style! There is a new tent for the Down By the Bay Stage. We’re going to raise the roof with 3 hours of outstanding music from Ottawa’s MonkeyJunk and New Brunswick’s Matt Andersen.

 

Matt Andersen

Matt Andersen

When Matt played the festival 4 years ago, he sold the most recordings of any solo artist in our history. Matt is real. He sings with his entire being. Since then, he has recorded a fantastic new album produced by Steve Berlin ( Los Lobos, Tragically Hip). He’s been keeping up a gruelling tour schedule, but wanted to be with us to celebrate our birthday!

 

He has over 2 million views on YouTube, platinum-sized independent cd sales, a 2013 European Blues Award, and won Best Solo Performer at the Memphis Blues Challenge. The entire world is now discovering what we at Summerfolk always knew-Matt Andersen is a powerhouse performer with a giant soul-filled voice and commanding stage presence. He has built a formidable following the old fashioned way–touring worldwide letting his reputation spread through word of mouth.

 

Also on the bill is MonkeyJunk. They are a powerhouse swamp rock R&B band with a fistful of awards and nominations. I’ve been trying to get these guys to the festival for a few years. It’s extra special that they will be making it for our 40th birthday.

 

MonkeyJunk

MonkeyJunk

You can buy your ticket to the Thursday Birthday Bash as a single night ticket or add it to your weekend pass. All the information you need is at summerfolk.org  or on our facebook page facebook.com/Summerfolk

 

The Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival happens at Kelso beach in Owen Sound August 20, 21, 22 and 23, 2015.

*This article first appeared in the Owen Sound Sun Times on June 5th, 2015

Claire Lynch Has The Voice

By James Keelaghan
Every now and again I play a little game with myself. I imagine which musician I would like to be. Sometimes I’d like to be Phil Ochs, sometimes Captain Beefheart. Lately, I’ve wanted to be Claire Lynch.

ClaireLynch

Claire Lynch and band

 

Claire possesses that high reedy voice that is the hallmark of Anglo-American roots music. It’s reminiscent of Alison Krauss or Hazel Dickens. She can whip you into a frenzy with a holler or seduce you with a lullaby. When Dolly Parton says you are one of her favourite vocalists you must be doing something right. The International Bluegrass Association agrees. Claire Lynch is a three time winner of their Female Vocalist of the Year award.

 

There are singers and there are songwriters. Sometimes you have singers who sing their own songs but they really aren’t writers. Sometimes you have songwriters who sing their own songs, but they aren’t really singers. It’s very rare that you find someone who can really do both.

 

Claire Lynch is that person. Her songs have been recorded by Patty Loveless, Kathy Mattea and others. At the IBMA’s last year she also won the Best Song award for “Dear Sister”. The song is based on letters written between a brother and sister on the eve of the Civil War battle of Stone River. It fuses the world of the traditional and the original.

 

Her band is an astounding group in and of themselves. Mandolinist-guitarist Jarrod Walker is a soulful singer and skilled player. Bryan McDowell is a young string wizard who, at 18, had an unprecedented hat-trick at the Winfield, Kansas National Flat-picking Championship winning first place in fiddle, mandolin, and flat-picked guitar. Mark Schatz is a two-time IBMA-winning bassist-clawhammer banjo player-dancer-percussionist. He makes the coffee as well.

 

Mark Schatz also has a close connection to a member of the Winnipeg band, The Duhks. Some of you may remember Leonard Podolak being here 4 years ago with Dry Bones. One of the highlights of their sets was the hambone solos. Leonard learned to hambone and clog from Mark. Schatz also produced one of the Duhks recordings.

TheDuhks

The Duhks

 

I met Leonard Podolak when he was 10 years old. My band and I arrived in Winnipeg by train early on a cold October morning and cabbed it over to Mitch Podolak’s house. Mitch was the concert promoter for the show we were playing in town that night. He is also the legendary creator of the Winnipeg, Vancouver and Edmonton Folk Festivals.

 

I knocked on the door. There was the scurry of feet. The door swung open and a cloud of smoke billowed out. Leonard’s ten year old face screamed, ”I’m makin’ pancakes”!!

 

His level of enthusiasm has never dimmed.

 

He grew up in a house that was the centre of folk music in Winnipeg. The Podolak place housed anybody who was anybody in folk music. Stan Rogers, Utah Phillips, Odetta, Tom Paxton, Spirit of the West, you name them, they slept in the spare room. Leonard soaked it all up getting lessons and advice from them all. Banjo became his area of expertise, but he also learned how to build and run a band.

 

The Duhks, Grammy nominees and Juno award winners, play a high energy version of Old Time music. They get their instrumental power from the guitar, banjo and violin. The Duhks added a signature percussionist to give it more drive and then topped it all off with an incredible lead vocalist, Jessee Havey.

 

Jessee joined the band as a teenager. She received her musical education on the road. Because of the immense touring range of the band—they regularly play in the US, Europe and Australia—Jessee was able to learn from cajun musicians, traditional British singers and jazz greats.

 

The band has always described itself as polyethnic. It has certainly taken that approach with its material, but the band is diverse as well. Fiddler Anna Lindblad is from Sweden and brings a nordic style to the strings. Less raw, more melodic, but still capable of unstoppable groove. Guitarist/bouzouki player Colin Savoie-Levac is from Quebec where he’s in great demand. He splits his time between the Duhks and filling in when needed for Éric Beaudry in star trad trio De Temps Antan. He also guides his own group, Les Poules à Colin. Drummer/percussionist Kevin Garcia is from Detroit originally but now make Brooklyn his home where he plays with, well, everybody.

 

The Duhks has been a labour of love for over 14 years. Doc Watson, no less, said, “Oh God, it is so beautiful, some of the finest music I’ve heard in many a day.”

 

The band has evolved over the years, losing and adding members as bands do. What has never changed is the absolute dedication to producing music that is true, focused and as enthusiastic as a 10 year old making pancakes for the guests.

 

Claire Lynch and the Duhks are just two of the over 40 acts that will be playing the Summerfolk Music and Crafts festival this year. The festival happens August 20, 21, 22, 23 at Kelso beach in Owen Sound, just like it has for 40 years. You can find information about the festival at www.summerfolk.org

 

*This article first appeared in the Owen Sound Sun Times on June 19th, 2015

Summerfolk 40 Photo Contest

We’re holding a photography contest in honour of Summerfolk 40. The Georgian Bay Folk Society logo was inspired by the image of David Essig tuning up under a tree on the shore at the first Summerfolk. We challenge you to take a photo inspired by the logo, send it to us with “contest” and “Your Name” in the subject line, and we’ll post it on our Facebook page. The three contest photos that collect the most ‘likes’ between June 16th and 30th will receive a prize.
Have some fun and be creative!

Photos must contain:
-at least one (1) person with instrument(s)
– a tree
-water

Prizes:
1st Prize: 2 tickets to the Summerfolk Birthday Blues Bash on August 20th at Kelso Beach

2nd Prize: A Summerfolk 2015 t-shirt and 40th anniversary travel mug

3rd Prize: A Summerfolk 40th anniversary travel mug

Complete contest rules below.

2013 GBFS Logo

 

  1. The “Social Media Contest” (the “Contest”), operated by The Georgian Bay Folk Society on Facebook, will run during the time period specified on the “Social Media Contest” and end on June 30th, 2015. In order to participate in the “Contest”, entrants must fully comply with all the “Social Media Contest” rules contained herein.
  2. To enter the “Contest”, e-mail a qualifying photograph to gbfspromo@bmts.com in June 2015 with “Contest” and “Your Name” in the subject line.
  3. To Qualify, all photographs must contain at least one (1) musician with instrument(s) under a tree and with visible water.
  4. Photographs will be posted on the Summerfolk Music and Crafts Facebook page beginning June 16th.
  5. The prizes will be awarded to the contestants who submitted the photos with the highest number of “likes” as of June 30th at 5pm EDT.
  6. Limit of 1 entry per person.
  7. Contestants must own all rights to the works submitted and are solely responsible for obtaining model releases, when applicable. As such, Contestants hold the Georgian Bay Folk Society and Contest sponsors harmless from any breech of copyright in Canada, the United States and elsewhere and from consequential litigation. The Contestants retain ownership to submitted photographs, however,The Georgian Bay Folk Society will gain the right to feature winning photographs for promotional purposes through both Summerfolk.org and Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival social media accounts.
  8. The Georgian Bay Folk Society reserves the right to disqualify entries that it considers offensive.
  9. Participants under the age of 19 will require parental consent to claim a prize.
  10. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
  11. The contest is open to all residents of Canada and the United States. Excluded from the contest are all employees, agents and representatives of the Contest organizer (Georgian Bay Folk Society) as well as members of their immediate family (brothers, sisters, children, father, mother), their legal or common law spouse, and anyone domiciled with these employees, representatives and agents.
  12. By submitting a photograph to the ‘Contest’, contestants agree to all contest terms included herein.
  13. An employee of the Georgian Bay Folk Society will contact the winners as soon as reasonably possible to arrange delivery of the prizes.

 

 

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