The 2014 Folk Music Ontario (FMO) Annual Conference took place at the Westin Bristol Place, Toronto from October 16-19. We were given the opportunity to spend some time with the mentors and youth involved in the FMO Youth Program. The program is open to residents of Ontario and the National Capital Region, between ages 15 and 21, who are chosen for their interest, ability and experience. The selected youth members are paired with experienced mentors from the Ontario folk music community for the duration of the weekend conference, while developing a showcase performance and participating in professional development activities. This audio documentary features commentary and musical contributions from programme coordinator Treasa Levasseur, mentors David Newland, Melanie Brulée, Drew Gonsalves, Tannis Slimmon and Brian Kobayakawa; as well as youth members Jazmine Wykes, Campbell Woods, Martine Fortin, Annie Sumi and Benjamin Rogers. For more information on the Folk Music Ontario Youth Program visit folkmusicontario.ca. Photo credit: Mike Bourgeault. Music: Treasa Levasseur “Shine Your Light” from “Memphis Sessions” (2013, Self), David Newland “I Saw the Light” from “Give It A Whirl” (2012, Self), Melanie Brulée “Wonder” from “Sucré/Salé” (2012, Self), Kobo Town (Drew Gonsalves) “Mr. Monday” from “Jumbie In The Jukebox” (2012, Cumbancha), Tannis Slimmon “Do What You Do” from “In & Out Of Harmony” (2013, Self) and Brian Kobayakawa “Indeed Indeed” (Demo), Jazmine Wykes “Laura’s Song” (Demo), Campbell Woods “Mad Trapper” (Demo), Martine Fortin “Qui est c’est fille?” (Demo), Annie Sumi “Life Like That” (Demo), Benjamin Rogers “Wayfarer” & “Pendulum” from “Wayfarer” (2014, Self).
Fish & Bird are a five piece alt. folk – roots band, featuring songwriter Taylor Ashton (vocals, banjo), Adam Iredale-Gray (fiddle, vocals), Ryan Boeur (electric and acoustic guitars), Ben Kelly (drums) and Zoe Guigueno (upright bass, vocals). They will be in Guelph for a Folk Roots Radio promoted CD launch for “Something In The Ether” at Silence, 46 Essex St on Wednesday November 12 2014. The support act will be Guelph’s own Tannis Slimmon. I had the privilege of introducing Fish & Bird at the Kingsville Folk Music Festival this summer, and they put on a fabulous show. Their performance at Kingsville was especially memorable in that they earned, that rare distinction, a festival main stage encore. The Silence show starts at 8 p.m. (doors 7:30 p.m.) Tickets four the Guelph show are $20 in advance ($25 at the door). Advanced tickets may be purchased online from Ticket Scene here. Silence is a fully accessible concert venue. We caught up with Taylor Ashton earlier this week. Music: Fish & Band, “Something In The Ether” , “Lost” and “Go-To-Bed Light” from “Something In The Ether” (2014, Fiddle Head Records).
Cambridge Live Music (ClM) are a group of music lovers passionate about the local live music scene in Cambridge, Ontario. Their mission is simple – to raise awareness of the incredibly talented artists who perform live music, of any genre, within their own “Music City” – Cambridge!. CLM publishes a free Live Music calendar on their website at cambridgelivemusic.com as well as via the monthly Live Music poster displayed in almost every local live music venue, as well as select local businesses. Ted Ferris from CLM joined us in the studio to chat about this important local music awareness project. Music: Jesse Parent, “Good To You” from “Good To You” EP (2009, Self); Dan Walsh, “Stayin’ Low” from “Outta The Jam” (2013, Self)
The MacKenzie Blues Band are one of the hottest bands out of Owen Sound. Featuring the powerhouse vocals of Tara MacKenzie alongside the guitar of Trevor MacKenzie with Joel Dawson on bass and Mike Weir on drums they were voted best new artist or group at the 2014 Maple Blues Awards. They released their sophomore album, “Slam Bam!”, an album of dark and spiritual but ultimately uplifting blues earlier this year. We caught up with band members Tara MacKenzie, Trevor MacKenzie and Mike Weir at the Folk Music Ontario conference for a feature length conversation. Photo: Jason Ruznak. Music: MacKenzie Blues Band – “Down With Love (Slam Bam!)”, “Move On”, “Bone Cage”, “Spiritual Power” and “Higher Road” from “Slam Bam” (2014, Self)
David Sereda is a singer, songwriter, actor, pianist, composer, voice coach, producer and educator. He has written musicals, released CDs, and performed at many music festivals across Canada. And, he was one of the first openly gay recording artists in Canada, with his first release, “Chivalry Lives” coming out in 1981. His last CD, “The Blue Guide” (re-released in 1996) looked at love and loss, and the journey of a relationship from infatuation to devotion to the death of the beloved. His upcoming album, “Boyfriend”, is a collection of songs about finding a way to love, and live after a world-shaking loss. David will be playing a show in Guelph on Friday October 24 at Magnolia Café with Tyler Wagler on double bass, who will also perform an opening set. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $15 at the door. Magnolia Café is a licensed cafe and restaurant that also doubles as one of the area’s most intimate listening venues. Because of the size of the venue, reservations are highly recommendeded especially if you’d like to enjoy a meal before the show! We caught up with David at home in Port Dalhousie. Music: David Sereda, “Beyond The Shadow” (single), David Sereda & Echo Women’s Choir, “When The Tide Goes Out” (Live Demo) and David Sereda, “Beyoutiful” (Demo)
Gathering Sparks, the wonderful new trio featuring Eve Goldberg, Jane Lewis, and Sam Turton will be appearing at Cafe Pyrus in Kitchener ON on Thursday October 23 at 7:30 p.m. Gathering Sparks embrace blues, gospel, folk, and pop while delivering engaging songs on acoustic and slide guitar, piano, accordion, ukulele, and banjo. Their debut 6-song CD, released in April 2014, has just been nominated for a 2014 Canadian Folk Music Award for “Vocal Group of the Year”. Whether they are singing an a capella sea shanty, busting out kazoos for a jazzy swing tune, getting down and low with the blues, or leading a well-known classic, Gathering Sparks performances make fans out of listeners with their stellar harmonies and fine musicianship. The cover is $6-10 (sliding scale) and the opening set will be by Glenn Chatten. Music: Gathering Sparks, “I Ain’t Finished With This Journey Yet’ from Gathering Sparks (2014, Self).
John Mann will be at the Elora Centre for the Arts for a solo performance on Saturday November 8 at 8:00 p.m. John will be playing songs from his latest album “The Waiting Room” which came out early this year. The album features a set of heartfelt songs written about his experience battling rectal cancer, a disease he successfully overcame. Tragically, however, John announced in Spetember that he has now been diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. John’s response to this turn of events has been very positive and inspiring with no indication that he will allow this new diagnosis to shape his life more than it needs to.
Trevor Gordon Hall has just released “Mind Heart Fingers”, the follow up to 2011’s “Entelechy”. We had a chance to chat with Trevor shortly before his appearance at this past summer’s Mariposa Folk Festival. If you love rich, creative guitar music with a twist, you’ll love Mind Heart Fingers. Check out the video of Trevor playing acoustic guitar on the beautiful “The Blue Hour”. I’ll admit that my knowledge of acoustic guitar tunings is rudimentary – however, for guitar aficionados, this song is apparently played in Nashville or high strung tuning (using only octave strings from a 12 string pack). This beautiful instrumental album was recorded during the summer of 2014 by Grammy Winning Producer Will Ackerman. You can find it in all of the usual places, including, for a physical copy, on CDBaby. For more information: visit trevorgordonhall.com.
Shane Jacob Philips releases his excellent new album, “Social Justice & Peace” with a show at The Cornerstone, Guelph on November 8 at 9 p.m. Social Justice and Peace features seven songs with a social conscience intended to provoke the listener to question the current direction we are moving in. As a committed social activist, Philips walks the talk, even if that means walking 102 km straight over 29 hours to deliver a message about water issues to the Ontario Minister of the Environment. Featuring Shane Philips trademark soulful vocals within laid-back folk-style arrangements that allow the lyrics to breath, it is not just a great album but also one where the lyrics deserve closer scrutiny. Music: Shane Jacob Philips, “Freedom” from “Social Justice & Peace” (2014, Self).
Folk Roots Radio on October 11 2014 (Episode 170) was broadcast live from the Guelph Farmers Market as part of CFRU 93.3fm’s annual Raise Your Voice funding drive. In honour of Thanksgiving (Canadian), this week’s show also featured a Canadian and close to home music mix alongside feature interviews with Guelph-based musicians Nicole Ensing (with The Wild Oats) and Tyler Wagler.