Born in Cumberland, England, Frankie began singing when the first folk boom hit England in 1957. By 1962 she had turned to British traditional songs and ballads, which, along with industrial and contemporary British songs, today form her vast musical repertoire. Frankie has been deeply influenced by A.L. Lloyd and Ewan MacColl, Britain’s leading scholars and exponents of traditional song. She has worked with them in recordings and in live performances. In addition to her work within the folk clubs, she has performed at many folk and arts festivals, and has toured in the USA, Canada and Europe. Recently, Frankie has been leading an increasing number of vocal workshops, designed to help singers and non-singers alike to liberate their voices. Frankie is also a social worker, and throughout most of the last fifteen years has worked in this field.
Leon Bibb is no stranger to Vancouver audiences; he lives and often performs here. We are happy to welcome him back to the Festival. Those fortunate souls who attended the Point Stage Blues Workshop last summer will remember Leon’s powerful a cappella performance of work songs and chain gang songs – the kind of music which eventually gave birth to the blues. More recently, Leon Bibb has taped a television special for the CBC, “Mr. Candyman and the Gospel,” which he conceived and co-wrote. This special will be aired in the fall season.
With a grand roar of Celtic thunder, Barde brought tens of thousands to their feet during their Pacific to Atlantic Canadian tour during the summer of 1978. From Cape Breton to Vancouver the traditional melodies of Ireland, Scotland, Quebec and the Atlantic Provinces moved the ground under foot. The music is played on the fiddle, guitar, banjo, mandolin, dulcimer, tin whistle, recorder, accordion and bohdran. Barde members hail from several corners of the world. Toby Cinnnsealac and Chris Crilly are from Ireland; Richard Chapman and Ed Moore are from the USA and Pierre Guerin and Elliot Selick are Quebecois. Together, in French and English, they bring to life a music generations old. If you are not already a fan of Celtic music, Barde will make you one.
Born of British parents in Malawi, Tony Bird is a self-taught singer and guitarist whose travels have taken him to Britain, the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf and all over Southern Africa. Influenced by rock, jazz, and blues, Tony has also absorbed the indigenous rhythms and tones of his native Africa. This is unusual for a white performer. What perhaps is more unusual is the view of South African society expressed in his songs. Tony Bird writes his songs in solidarity with black Africans and their struggle against oppression. Tony is certainly a rare bird, and bound to be one of the surprises at this year’s festival.
Sometimes it seems to us that the instrument Ken Bloom can’t play hasn’t been built yet, and when it is, Ken will build it. Ken has risen above his former calling as a studio musician for such memorable sound tracks as “Mod Squad” and “The Monkees,” and we think this is good. Bloom delighted audiences at last year’s festival with his work on some of the many instruments he plays, including guitar, clarinet, saxophone, bandura, Northumbrian small pipes and Delta bottle-neck blues concert zither, as well as his hot Motown arrangements of traditional American folk songs. Who knows what he’s got in mind this year. His fine first album is now available on Flying fish.
Heather Bishop is better known in the prairies than she is here, but we rather suspect that the Festival will change all that. She is a fine performer, a powerful and interpretive blues musician and the composer of some remarkable songs. Heather is also known for her championship of the women’s movement. Her first solo album, “Grandmother’s Songs,” has recently been released on the Mother of Pearl label.
Dave Bradstreet and Carl Kesee
Although born in London, Dave Bradstreet is no stranger to the Canadian folk scene. He began to play the Toronto folk clubs in 1968, going from the Riverboat to the Pornographic Onion, and opening for acts such as Biff Rose and David Bromberg. In 1974 he formed the group Lazarus with Carl Keesee and Bill Hughes, and they toured the USA and Canada. In 1975 Dave and Carl toured Canada as a duo, and they are coming together to the Vancouver Folk music Festival also. Dave plays guitar, banjo and ukulele, while Carl, on bass, clarinet and vocals, is described as “more partner than back-up.” Dave’s second album, “Dreaming in Colour,” is said to be “all about the emancipation of a folkie.”
Saul is perhaps best known as a harmonica player, having accompanied such artists as Steve Goodman, Jim Ringer, Debby McClatchy and Utah Philips, in both recordings and live performances. He also sings and plays guitar in a wide range of styles, including country and western, bluegrass, 50’s rock and roll, blues and American folk. Originally from Philadelphia, Saul has become a regular performer at clubs and festivals, coffee houses, colleges and high schools, all over the Midwestern and eastern USA and Canada. He is also a PhD candidate in folklore at the University of Pennsylvania.
Bob Carpenter’s songs have been called “unabashedly romantic,” while Bob himself has been referred to as “the archetypal folkie.” After a northern Ontario childhood, he spent the 60’s wandering around the continent. He travelled the Canadian coffee-house circuit, concentrating on Yorkville when it was at its peak. His songs have been recorded by Tom Rush and Bonnie Koloc, among others. Bob plans to continue playing for the Toronto folk clubs, and a record with the CBC is a possibility in the near future.
The Cathy Fink – Duck Donald Band
Since 1974 Cathy Fink and Duck Donald have criss-crossed Canada and the USA, touring non-stop while perfecting their unique approach to the old-time music they have become heir to. Earlier this year, Cathy and Duck decided to build on the foundation they had laid, giving themselves the potential to explore forms of old-time music that needed more instruments and more than two voices. They joined forces with Darcie Deaville, one of the best flat-pickers around, and bass player Dave Harvey (that cake eatin’ man!). Dave formerly played with the Humber River Valley Boys, while Darcie recently played with the Albertan country and bluegrass band, Village Point. Thus, The Cathy Fink-Duck Donald Band was born: a versatile group that performs old-time duets, string band music, bluegrass and swing. The band features exciting original material as well as the old-time greats with the country and western charm which he heard and loved last year. We are real pleased to have them back.
Born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in 1893, Elizabeth Cotten is best known as the composer of the classic “Freight Train,” a folk song she wrote when she was 12. Her complex finger picking style has served as a model for generations of guitar players, although very few have ever attempted to master her unusual technique. She plays left-handed, with her guitar held “upside down,” i.e. without reversing the strings, so that her thumb picks out the melody line. Her music pre-dates the blending of ragtime, traditional and religious tunes that was a part of the turn-of-the-century black experience.
Mimi Fariña and Banana
Mimi learned to play guitar while living in the midst of Boston’s late 50’s folk craze, the movement which launched the career of her older sister, Joan Baez. (She comes from a musical family!) Her own style, however, took shape in Paris, where she was influenced by local street musicians. It was in Paris, too, that Mimi met and married Richard Fariña, a brilliant writer and musician. Before Richard’s tragic death in 1966, they recorded three albums together. The second, “Reflections in a Crystal Wind,” was chosen in 1965 by the New York Times critic, Robert Shelton, as one of the 10 best folk albums of the year. Since then, Mimi’s music has grown. While keeping the spontaneity that has delighted audiences for over a decade, she has developed both her vocal and guitar techniques. She also continues to write fine songs, several of which have been recorded by Joan Baez and Judy Collins, and she is looking forward to the production of a solo album. Mimi will be coming to Vancouver with Banana, a good friend and an excellent guitar player who many will remember as a member of the Youngbloods. After the Youngbloods, Banana formed his own group, Banana and the Bunch. Banana now teaches hang-gliding in Mann County, California, when he is not playing with Mimi.
Frank Ferrel and Bertram Levy
Bertram Levy is regarded as one of the foremost Anglo concertina players in North America. He defies the notion that the instrument is limited in tone and scale range. Bertram is equally adept at playing the five string banjo, and is known as one of the finest traditional players of that instrument. Frank Ferrel has been playing the fiddle for close to thirty years, and has won many contests and championships. His playing is influenced by the Celtic and Gaelic traditions in North America, and is rooted in the New England and eastern styles. Together they have taken an interpretive approach to the traditional music they know, and perform medleys, suites, sonatas and even ballet, all based on their own arrangements of traditional material. They have toured throughout Europe and North America and performed with the Boys of the Lough last year on their Scottish tour. Their first duo album, “Sageflower Suite”, has recently been released.
“Ferron is an intense moving performer, a writer of haunting love songs, a singer of hypnotic ability, a self-taught guitar stylist and an artist who still has enough edges that you can say you saw her when.” So says Vaughn Palmer, and he is correct. Presently living in the Gulf Islands, Ferron has a solid and ever-widening circle of fans in Vancouver. She has two albums to her credit, both of which, as far as we can tell, have nearly sold out, and she is planning another one.
Flying Mountain is a unique and wonderful Vancouver-based ensemble made up of four musicians: Dan Rubin, Satoru Suttles, Rawn Mongovious and Ferguson Neville. Between them they play more than thirty traditional folk instruments. All four members of the group are song writers, and the music they write and play is an exciting result of folk, blues, bluegrass, classical and rock influences. Their first album, “Earth and Sky,” sold out twice within eight months. A second album, “Mountain’s Dream,” was released in April of this year. After almost three years of touring, with appearances at folk festivals, concerts and dances all over Canada, Flying Mountain has emerged as a distinctive force in west coast music, headed for wider audiences.
Bill is well-known to folk audiences in Canada through his work on “Touch the Earth.” What many people don’t know is that Bill is a versatile songwriter and excellent guitarist, talents which we plan on featuring at the festival this year. Railroad songs and old time favorites are Bill’s specialty. See the man behind the microphone.
Mitch Greenhill and Mayne Smith
Mitch Greenhill was influenced first by the blues and more recently by Golden Age Jazz, modern gospel and soul. He has several solo albums to his credit, has scored for film and television and has produced records for Doc and Merle Watson, Rosalie Sorrels and others. His has been called “exquisitely beautiful guitar work.” Mayne Smith grew up in the Berkeley folk movement of the 50’s, Spent several years immersed in bluegrass (the subject of his master’s thesis), and developed his pedal steel and dobro styles while working in various commercial country and western groups. His songs have been recorded by various artists, including Linda Ronstadt, Larry Gross and Kaleidoscope. Both Mitch and Mayne were members of a country boogie band called “The Frontier”, when they backed Rosalie Sorrels on her “Travellin’ Lady” album, and a close association with her has continued through the years. They have a duet album out called “Storm Coming”.
Paddy Graber is a singer from a long line of Irish traditional singers. His mother was Eileen Mead of Limerick. Since coming to Canada in 1948 Paddy has become well known for his unaccompanied traditional ballads, labour songs and sea songs. He is an excellent and compelling storyteller who has brightened up the work days of the Festival staff on more than one occasion. He can also tell stories in Yiddish, if pressed, and is a mainstay of the folk music community in Vancouver.
Peter Gzowski, nationally known media personality, is a veteran host of Canadian folk festivals. In fact, he has performed this function more often than anyone else in the country. He not only introduces the performers, he enhances the festivities with his unique humour, patience and ability to ad lib. He helps create the kind of atmosphere that makes a festival a success.
Friends of Fiddler’s Green
The Friends of Fiddler’s Green are a motley conglomeration of singers and musicians mainly of the British persuasion. The exception is Grit Laskin who has yet to be persuaded. The history of the group has been the subject of several rejected PhD dissertations, but can be summarized briefly as having had its genesis at the legendary Fiddler’s Green folk club in Toronto and, in the course of 8 or 9 years, acquiring and shedding members to arrive at the present complement of 7. The magnificent 7 are Tam Kearney in water pollution; Jim Strickland, dabbler in sex hormones; the above-mentioned Grit Laskin, senior executive in musical instrument industry; Ian Robb, pathological electron microscopist; Alistair Brown in special education; Lawrence Stevenson, employed by the CBC as a three-piece suit type; and David Parry, theatrical academic. Between them they play so many instruments that no roadie will stay with them, and they have been known to sing in glorious six-part harmony so late into the night that everyone else gave up in disgust. Although they have been described by a serious reviewer as one of the best British bands in North America, they are not above treating festival audiences to their famous irreverent versions of traditional English Mummers Plays or Morris Dancing or even leading a session of Scottish country dances.
Green Grass Cloggers
The Green Grass Cloggers are a group of folk dancers whose skillful performances have entertained audiences throughout the USA and Canada. As country, old time and bluegrass music have become more popular, so has clogging, an energetic, foot stomping dance that developed to accompany the driving beat of the music. The stepping comes from American Indian ceremonial dances, buck dancing, Scottish/Irish stepping and English clogging. Since their beginning in 1971, the Green Grass Cloggers have evolved into a creative force in American folk dance. The group also has an old time string band among its members, as well as singers and instrumentalists who perform in many areas of traditional music.
Gypsy Gyppo Stringband
The Gypsy Gyppo Stringband, an old time country string band, revels in the traditional songs and dance tunes of the last several generations of rural America. The music of fiddle played by Naess, guitar played by Sandy Bradley, mandolin played by Jerry Mitchell and banjo played by Warren Argo, support the vocals, both solo and harmony, and provide the instrumentals for dancing. The songs spin tales of barnyards and cowboys, of railroads and river-boats, of lovers, ramblers and redemption, and of life’s legendary sorrows. Spicy fiddle tunes inspire soul refreshing hoedowns and square dances, sparked by the band’s own caller. Travelling nationally or nurturing their home community of Seattle, the band has played in kitchens, schools, dance halls, taverns, fiddle conventions, festivals, weddings, fox hunts and roof raisings. They are a creative and loving force in the presentation of the fine musical heritage we all share.
Fred Holstein grew up on Chicago’s south side where his interest in folk music was kindled early by exposure to the songs of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie and Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly). He played at the Old Town Folklore Centre and became a frequent act when the Earl of Old Town opened to folk music in 1968. Since that time, he has appeared at clubs and colleges, taught seminars in American folk music and appeared at many top American folk music festivals. in addition to being an interpreter of traditional and contemporary folk music, Holstein is an accomplished instrumentalist. He plays both six and twelve string guitar and five string banjos. His first solo album, “Fred Holstein – Chicago and Other Ports”, is on the Philo label.
John Hammond is one of the few younger artists whose repertoire consists largely of interpretations of authentic blues and rhythm ‘n blues. John’s father was involved in recording such greats as Billie Holliday, Charlie Christian and had a large collection of blues music to which John was exposed in his youth. By the time he left high school he had developed a strong urge to play, not just the music that he had heard, but the stuff it led him to – Chicago blues and Delta country blues. As a solo bluesman John played every major American club and then toured Europe. He is one of the best blues singers and players in America today, with soulful frantic slide work and aching right-on-target vocals.
After the banjo workshop at the first Vancouver Folk Music Festival, a number of people asked us where we had found that incredible banjo player, Barry Hall. When we told them that he was born, raised, and living in Vancouver, they couldn’t believe that such an incredible musician somehow existed in their own city without their knowing it. Wake up, chumps! As well as being a virtuoso on the five string banjo, Barry is a superb guitarist and an excellent songwriter. Don’t miss him. If you want to learn some of these licks, contact him through Bill Lewis Music, where he teaches.
Marc Savoy, who plays in the best Cajun band inside Louisiana, is reported to have remarked that How’s Bayou is the best Cajun band outside Louisiana. The powerful influence of the Balfa Brothers, Marc Savoy, D.L Menard, Queen Ida and many other Cajun musicians, runs through the band and their music. How’s Bayou is only eight and a half months old and has already gained great popularity in the American Northwest. Cajun music is based on fiddle, accordion and triangle and this group has a full complement of these instruments, plus guitar, bass and drum, in addition to vocals. How’s Bayou has given us a message to pass onto Vancouver audiences: BE READY TO DANCE!
How’s Bayou is: Karen England, lead fiddle; Bill Shepherd, lead accordion; Dave Lang, lead singer, second accordion; Peter McCracken, fiddle and triangle; Mike Bristow, guitar; Gerry Gallagher, bass fiddle; Big Rick Tollefson, drum; Bob Naess, third fiddle.
Hot Mud Family
Early in 1971 four young musicians with a taste for old-style music formed a band called Hot Mud Family. Encouraged and nurtured by the rich musical heritage of southwest Ohio, the band began developing a sound of its own, within the bounds of country and bluegrass music. From unaccompanied ballads and hymns to dance tunes and honky-tonk songs, the Hot Mud Family has come into its own.
During the relatively short time they’ve been together, Hound Dog has become one of Winnipeg’s top drawing groups, packing the lounges and universities consistently. They play a vibrant synthesis of blues, jazz and swing, which is guaranteed to please and excite you no matter what your musical bag is. Their first album is now available on Viper Records.
Dakota Dave Hull and Sean Blackburn
The way we got the story, they met while Dakota Dave was smuggling a piece of meat into the New Riverside Cafe (a famous vegetarian restaurant in Minneapolis). Sean has been playing and singing professionally since 1969, while Dakota Dave has been playing music on the road for the last seven years, and looks it. They write some of their own songs; the rest come from the tradition of old western swing, fiddle tunes, Irish music and true stories (some are more true than others) about their friends or each other.
Alain Lamontagne is a young Quebecois, born near Montreal in 1952. His first contact with music was with his father who plays piano and harmonica. Alain’s first approach to music was the blues, but he could not forget the traditional Quebecois sound, so he adapted fiddle tunes to the harmonica. Now, with all his heart, breath and with his feet, he performs traditional Quebecois music and his own compositions. “With cheeks puffing and legs flying he produces the best one-man-band music I’ve ever heard.” (Georgia Straight)
To rediscover the unashamed passion and hysteria of authentic Yiddish music you have to journey to the limits of living memory, to the lean years when Eastern European refugees swarmed by the millions into tenements and factories of New York City, to the union halls, cabarets, proletarian weddings of 1927 where the bad chin’s (wedding jester) bawdy rhyme, the Talmud scholar’s chant, the Ukrainian peasants’ drinking song, and the Rumanian Gypsy’s lament were wedded in ways at once traditional and fresh. This is the music of the Klezmorim. They dress up like Tevye the Fiddler, circa 1890, and make wisecracks in about seven languages. They also play violin, saxophone, flute, clarinet, accordion, tuba, and a dozen other instruments, including rarely-heard Eastern European imports such as the tsimbaiom, baraban and tsambal mik. They must be heard to be believed.
Each year there are some performers who come to a folk festival from far away, totally unknown, and leave you with the feeling that they are old friends whom you have known for years and are going to miss a lot. That’s part of the beauty of folk music festivals. We think Si Kahn is going to be one of those people this year. Si’s a union organizer who has written a book on the subject, and is now living in North Carolina where he is deeply involved in the struggle of the workers at J.P. Stevens textile mills for better working conditions and higher health standards. He also writes some of the most beautiful and intense songs we have ever heard. He writes about strikes, he writes about moonshiners, he writes about shooting pool after your lover has left town, and through all this he writes about the South. Not the South of clichés and yesterday, but about the real South as it is today, with all its contradictions. We’re impressed; we think you will be too.
Humber River Valley Boys
The Humber River Valley Boys are one of the best bluegrass groups in Canada. Coming from around Toronto, they rarely appear in the West, although their reputation and their record have preceded them. They feature fiddle, guitar, banjo, mandolin and acoustic bass. In 1978 they were presented with the bluegrass gold award at the Canadian Bluegrass Festival in Carlyle, Canada, for their wide contribution and promotion of bluegrass music in Canada. As well as bluegrass, they have a varied repertoire of old-time string band, ragtime and square dance music. We think they’re going to make a lot of friends here.
Jude is from Hamilton, Ontario, where she has been playing the autoharp professionally for several years. She has attracted considerable notice in folk clubs, at festivals and from her fellow musicians. Guitarist, Jason Avery, and various other musicians often accompany her on stage. Jude has recently been recorded for the CBC radio program “Touch the Earth” and CHCH TV’s “The George Hamilton IV Show. She also did background vocals for CBC’s “Marketplace” theme.
Alhaji Bai and Dembo Konte
Alhaji Bai Konte and his son, Dembo, have come from the Gambia to introduce the kora, a 21-stringed African instrument. According to them, the blues, jazz, gospel and reggae have their roots in this ancient instrument. It has been described as a cross, in sound, between a guitar and a harpsichord. The kora duets involve constant juxtaposition, shifting rhythms and swift ornamentation, accompanied by complementary vocal harmonies. It is a very complex music which takes many years to learn. The Kontes say they are pleased to help bring this African instrument to the people of North America. The Vancouver Folk Music Festival is also pleased and proud to be part of this process.
Singer-songwriter Doug Lang was born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan in 1952. His first exposure to music was through family hootenanny nights when the neighbours would come by to play guitars, harmonicas, concertinas and kitchen pots to pass the hot summer nights. Doug’s repertoire consists of original songs and songs gathered from various popular, traditional and obscure sources. His most recent performance credits include a one-hour live performance for KZAM FM in Bellevue, a feature set at Mama Sundays In Bellingham, a half-hour radio session with KALW FM radio in San Francisco and a concert at Victoria’s Norway House with James Dix.
Debby McClatchy offers the music of two distinct heritages – a mother reared in the hills of Tennessee and a great-great-grandfather from Belfast who ended up a California forty-niner. Her material ranges from old-time banjo tunes, Appalachian dulcimer ballads, Irish street songs and songs of resistance, parlour pieces on the ukelin, dance medleys on the concertina and penny-whistle, to an extensive repertoire of topical songs and fandango tunes from the great gold rushes. She has performed professionally for over ten years, travelling throughout the USA, Canada and Europe, giving workshops and concerts.
Don Lange, a published poet and award-winning songwriter, took a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Writer’s Workshop at the University of Ottawa. His repertoire is eclectic, drawing from British traditional sources (accompanied and unaccompanied), from American traditional and old time music and from a body of original songs that are at once contentious and beautiful. He has appeared in concert with so many fine musicians that we cannot mention them all here, and has performed for the major clubs, festivals, colleges and universities in America.
Gilles Losier has been a professional musician since 1958 and, for the last five years has been the official accompanist of Ti-Jean Garignan, one of the greatest folk fiddlers in the world. At 41 years, Gilles has logged many tours, competitions and voyages, as well as innumerable hours in the studio. He has made music since 1952, and has mastered piano, the other keyboards, acoustic and electronic, the violin and the bass. He is also a piano tuner technician. While representing Quebec at the International Wine Festival in France, he won the coveted “Silver Record of the Charles Gros Academie.” Following this he toured Scotland, played in Bulgaria and Louisiana, and has participated for the last eight years in Toronto’s Mariposa Festival.
Dave McLean is probably Winnipeg’s best known blues performer. Dave has a powerful voice which he accompanies with some pretty fancy slide guitar playing. Recently he has founded a blues group “Black Betty. ” Hearing Dave McLean play, Muddy Waters was heard to remark “so-o good.” Don’t miss Dave in the blues workshop this year.
Mystery Pacific (formerly the Kitsilano Kat Kickers)
From their humble beginnings, the Kitsilano Kat Kickers clawed their way out of the murky depths of alley-way oblivion to become rising stars of stage, screen and Co-op radio. Taking their new name, Mystery Pacific, from a Django Rheinhardt classic, this Vancouver based string quartet plays swing music from the 30’s and 40’s, adding their own unique touch to the compositions of La Hot Club, Billie Holliday, Fats Wailer and Howard E. Frobisher. Mystery Pacific is: Kitty King, bass; Michael Dunn, guitar; Michael Heiden, violin; Alison Hogan, vocals and guitar. A legend in their own minds.
Eric Nagler plays the music of people he has known because “a person’s music yields a depth of meaning that you don’t often get with other forms of communication.” He hung around Washington Square In Greenwich Village in the early 60’s along with David Grisman and Stephan Grossman and was part of the Sunday afternoon musical gatherings at Alan Block’s sandal shop in Manhattan with the likes of Maria D’Amato (Muldaur), Jim Kweskin, Dylan, etc.
A multi-instrumentalist, he plays guitar, mandolin, auto-harp; and picked up the fiddle in the later 60’s to get the music of Block and Bob Beers (another major influence) “out and into the air.” He also founded and ran the Toronto Folklore Centre for many years and was the coordinator of the Fox Hollow Folk Festival in Petersburg, New York.
Margaret MacArthur is an outstanding singer in the traditional style, and one of a handful of dulcimer players who have sparked the dulcimer revival of the last decade. Margaret entered college in Chicago at the age of 16, and there began to search through the folk music library, to play the zither and to sing around the campus. Later, after she was married, she began collecting songs and learned to play the harp and dulcimer. Her whole family is involved in music in one way or another, and has made an album, “On the Mountains High”, a collection of traditional songs. Her arrangements of dance tunes for dulcimer have become standards for many young performers, and her workshops in dulcimer and folksong collecting have become some of the most constructive and helpful anywhere.
Tom Paley has specialized for many years in the traditional folk music of America and especially that of the rural South – ballads, blues, songs and dance tunes. He plays guitar, five string banjo and fiddle, with a touch of autoharp, mandolin, harmonica and dobro. He has worked widely as a soloist and as a part of several small groups. He was a founding member of three country string bands: The New Lost City Ramblers, The Old Reliable Stringband and the New Deal Stringband. As a soloist or as part of a group he has performed in the USA, Great Britain, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Austria, Holland, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Germany and Canada. He has also made many recordings.
Once a winner of the Stephen Leacock Literary Award for humour, Maurice Paquin performs, as his specialty, comedy sketches, based on his philosophy that, regardless of who we are or what we do, we all end up the same-six feet underground. Interesting, very interesting. Through his travels, which include a long stint in Costa Rica, Maurice, originally from Saint Boniface, depicts the solitary worlds of the nobodies, the misfits, the hobos, the immigrants, the workers at Canada Packers and those at the cemetery. Maurice is going to be one of the joys and surprises at this festival.
Faith Petric really was born in a log cabin; pretty good credentials for a folk singer. The cabin was in northern Idaho, where her father, an itinerant preacher, schoolteacher, farmer, carpenter and inventor also played the piano, organ, harmonica and a variety of wind instruments. Faith writes, “About 1925 I discovered cowboy and country songs, followed by the great protest songs of the thirties, and I’m still addicted to all of them. I try to sing what I feel and what a song means to me. I hope that people hearing the songs will like them and feel them too.” Faith calls herself “the Indian Earth Mother of the San Francisco Folk Music Club,” and she has been an invaluable resource and influence for a whole generation of west coast folk singers.
Gamble Rogers considers his forte to be “southern Gothic art songs.” He is also a hell of a fine Travis style guitar picker, songwriter, and storyteller. Last year he was the first performer at the Vancouver Festival to blend Southern Baptist preaching with the secret desires of boy scouts. You figure it out. An admirer of Mark Twain, Gamble Rogers makes the English language live in a way we thought was gone for good. Glad to have him back.
“I don’t really have a great voice. I can make it loud or soft, depending. Mostly, I guess my voice sounds like the places I’ve been and the people I’ve stayed with. I sing songs about trains, coal mines, unions, factories, working people, lazy people, the old and the new west, bums, politicians, and the different things that happen to you when you’re in love. And I tell stories and try to get people laughing and singing together. That’s what I do.” Good though.
Pied Pear and Shari Ulrich
There isn’t much you can say about Rick Scott and Joe Mock. Shari Ulrich is currently living on Salt Spring Island writing songs and preparing to make an album. We’re really happy to have them back at the Festival.
When journalists write of the Greenwich Village folk revival of the early 60’s, the name of Tom Paxton always appears alongside Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Phil Ochs and Dave Van Ronk, as one of the finest of a generation. The army was responsible for bringing Tom to New York and to the Village, of which he said, “The Village coffee houses were that dearest of blessings to a beginning performer, a place in which to be terrible and to learn from being terrible.” In the years that followed, his reputation as a performer and songwriter grew, and some of his songs, such as “Ramblin’ Boy” and “The Last Thing on My Mind”, are known all around the world. At major concert halls and festivals he has commented, through his songs, on topical issues such as Anita Bryant, Allende, the electric chair, Watergate and Stephen Biko, as well as the Joys and pains of daily life. For all those who ask, whatever happened to…? – you’re about to find out.
Chris Rawlings is an entertainer from Montreal, who has entranced audiences across Canada, the United States and Europe. He has a large repertoire of “singable and listenable” songs fashioned from bits of history, legends, non-sensical fantasies and amusing experiences, which have won him a reputation as a great tunesmith. Two unusual elements of his performances are his instrumentals on various flutes and recorders, and world-famous poetry set to his original music. The flutes range from pan-pipes from Peru to a mysterious Tibetan Buddhist Bass flute; the music from Quebecois jigs and reels to wild Bulgarian dances. Poets set to music include Masefield, Dylan Thomas, Yeats, Rimbaud and Coleridge. Rawling’s performances reflect beautifully the myriad images of Quebec and Canada, complemented by his interpretations of English Canadian and Quebecois folklore.
Bill Price was born in Yorkshire and began singing at the age of ten. He played in many clubs there and in the northeast of England in the early 60’s, specializing in unaccompanied ballad singing. In the mid sixties he moved to Canada where among other things he did a TV series on British folk music. He is one of the finest of the British traditional singers and we are proud to have him at the Festival.
Curly Boy Stubbs
Curly Boy Stubbs is a remarkable guitar player. He strums, he picks, he slides, and it’s great. Unfortunately that’s all we can tell you about him. He is a very mysterious person.
Whether it’s a cappella rendition of “Amazing Grace” that makes the hair on your neck stand up straight, or her own songs accompanied on the pianolin, guitar or dulcimer, Claudia Schmidt moves through the various aspects of folk music with ease and grace. She has an unerring and unusual ability to reach audiences and draw them in to whatever song she is playing. Claudia has recently put out her first album and moved to Seattle, and we hope to be hearing more of her.
Since the last time they were in Vancouver, when they filled the Vancouver East Cultural Centre and opened our fall concert series with a performance no one there will ever forget, Edmond and Quentin Badoux have joined forces with Bolivians Javier Canelas and Gonzaio Vargas to form Sukay. They play the traditional music of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and northern Chile and Argentina. In these countries, which once formed the Inca Empire, the native Quechua and Aymara cultures are still very much alive. Sukay is the Quechua word which means “to open up the earth and prepare for planting.” Through their work, Sukay have opened the ears of many North Americans to the rich Andean culture. Their instruments include the quena (a notched flute), sikus, zamponas and rondadors (varieties of pan-pipe) and charango (a mandolin made out of an armadillo shell). Bienvenidos companeros.
Roosevelt Sykes has been playing the blues and delighting audiences for over fifty years. Born In Arkansas, the Honey-dripper began his career in the juke joints of the 1920’s, developing the hard-driving style which distinguishes his music today. Along with a very few others, Roosevelt Sykes has formed blues piano playing. After working for over twenty years with a large band, Roosevelt now lives in New Orleans and plays solo concerts all over North America. When asked to define his music, Roosevelt replied, “You can’t teach the style of music I play. It’s the same as if you tried to teach a feeling. I’m going to teach you how to feel now – you feel good now – don’t you feel good? You can’t teach that. . .” Maybe you can’t teach it, but you can hear it, and Roosevelt’s going to do it again this year.
Ian Tamblyn is a singer-songwriter who plays guitar and piano, who sings as he travels and travels what he sings. In an evening Ian will take you surfing on Lake Superior, rolling down the Montreal hill on the Trans Canada Highway and contemplating the rust on the car fenders at a Peterborough coffee shop. A veteran of numerous folk festivals and concerts, Ian has released four albums.
Each year at a folk festival there are a few special people, who personalize the rich and varied folk traditions of North America. This year in Vancouver, one of those rare Individuals is Tom Scribner. Tom is an 80-year-old former lumberjack and a musical saw virtuoso. For us, there is no clearer way of illustrating the relationship between folk music and people’s daily lives, than the transformation of the instruments of work into instruments of human expression. This is a tradition that has almost died out and we are extremely fortunate to be able to present to our audience, mostly young, an art form which is becoming as rare as men like Tom Scribner. The people of Santa Cruz, California, where Tom lives, have seen fit to erect a statue of him. Tom is currently organizing a “Festival of the Saws” to be held this summer.
Originally from Toronto, Susan Shewan has been singing, writing and playing guitar since she was a youngster. In 1971 she moved to the Yukon, where she currently makes her home. Many of her songs reflect the beauty of that area, which most of us southerners never see. She has performed at many festivals and concerts throughout the North, including the Alaska Folk Festival and the CBC North Anniversary Concert, and has just received a Canada Council grant for work on her original compositions.
Stringband is: Bob Bossin, who plays guitar, banjo, concertina, and sings, as well as writing much of the group’s repertoire; Terry King, a superb fiddler who is equally at home with a Maritime reel, a Bach partita or a Charlie Parker solo, and has also taken up the mandolin and song writing; and Nancy Ahern, a singer and songwriter and previously an actress. They tell us that as they travel across the country, they “keep encountering tunes that want playing; jigs and reels, traditional Quebec songs and good songs by good songwriters.” They’ve played from one end of the country to the other and will bring their experiences and their music with them when they come.
This is what Bodie Wagner (yer friend and hobo) has to say about himself: “I was born and raised as a Quaker in the village of Yellow Springs down in southwestern Ohio. As a child I listened to a lot of Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly and calypso, and by the time that I was twelve, I was playing harmonica and tambourine and singin’ in rock and roll bands. After a few years, I picked up my first guitar, started writin’ songs, and quit bein’ in bands. Upon leavin’ high school, I served two years as a conscientious objector, drivin’ truck for Goodwill Industries of Indiana. It was during’ those years that I really started writin’ a lot of songs. Used to keep me from goin’ nuts. Well anyway, when twenty rolled around, I had finished my service and had a passel of songs and a load of energy that I promptly started spreadin’ all over the United States. That was a few years back and that’s about all I’ve been doin’ ever since – travelin’ by thumb and rail, street singin’ and bar buskin’. Although I’ve worked in factories, washed dishes and bent wrenches, I’ve never done a job as hard as the one I do now. But I think I’ll be doin’ it fer along time, because I love my work. So until I see you out on the road someday, I’ll bid you adieu and wish you good luck.”
Pop Wagner and Bob Bovee
The first music Pop remembers hearing was his mother playing the piano, his granddad strumming the banjo, and recordings of Woodie Guthrie, Cisco Houston, Huddie Ledbetter, Spike Jones and calypso music. The music he plays now still reflects those early memories. He plays old time and traditional music and some that’s not so old, his own songs or songs of friends. He is a warm, funny, easy-going guy whose music is as friendly and as real as he is. He plays the guitar, fiddle, harmonica and banjo. Accompanying Pop at the Vancouver festival will be Bob Bovee, a fellow member of the June Apple Musicians Coop.
It is said that Sneezy Waters changing a guitar string is more fun to watch than most performer’s entire show. Sneezy bills himself as “The Great Sneezy Waters”, refers to his backup musicians as the “Excellent Band” and worries that his ego is outsized. He is a consummate musician, with a gigantic and wide-ranging repertoire ranging from Jerry Jeff Walker to political reggae to Jimmy Rodgers’ sentimental country blues. Described as a “one man musical hurricane from Ottawa,” people are wondering if “we should turn back Bob Dylan to give Sneezy Waters a chance.”
Robin and Linda Williams
Hailing from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Robin and Linda bring to Vancouver the songs and humorous stories of that area. Song writers in their own right, one of their strong points is beautiful and unusual harmonies. They bring new life to traditional Appalachian music as well as performing contemporary songs they have collected in their travels together over the last six years. They have issued three albums on the Symposium label and we are looking forward to their first Vancouver appearance.
Kate Wolf is a Californian folk musician whose songs speak with elegance and compassion about the day-today realities and hopes of small community life. Her repertoire is large and diverse, and includes some songs by old-time and country American folk singers. Most of her own material reflects her Sonoma County lifestyle and the essence of her experience there. Kate founded the Santa Rosa Folk Festival and has been active in various public efforts aimed at improving both the spiritual and physical environments. Warmly welcomed at the first Vancouver Folk Music Festival, we are pleased to have her with us again this year.
Dave Van Ronk
Don’t call Dave Van Ronk a folksinger. “I am not a folksinger, I am a performer. A club singer. A cabaret singer. Clarence Ashley was a folksinger. Mississippi John Hurt was a folksinger. Look, I spend my spare time reading Baizac and Karl Marx. What kind of folksinger is that? I DO sing foiksongs. That’s the material I use. I love it. But I didn’t learn it in the traditional way. I don’t think of it in the traditional way, and nobody in my family has had pellagra for at least fifty years!” Blues, ragtime guitar transcriptions, great renditions of just about everything, Dave Van Ronk is better than ever. Just don’t call him a folksinger. Welcome to Vancouver, Dave, whatever you are.
Bill and Livia Vanaver
Livia Vanaver began her training in ballet, modern dance and folk dance in New York City. Bill Vanaver has studied folk lore and music with Bess Lomax Hawes, Edmund T. Carpenter and a variety of native musicians. He is accomplished in a wide variety of instruments and has been performing for the last eighteen years. In the spring of 1971 Bill and Livia met and have since toured North America and Europe, collecting songs, performing and teaching dance and music. A unique aspect of their work is the inclusion in their repertoire of Balkan tunes.
A child of the city, Ottawa, Valdy sings to people concerned with the effects of “progress,” who are reaching out for what they feel is the last citadel of sanity – the country. He has discovered a unique way of communicating with his listeners and soothing the anxieties caused by modern urban environments. Valdy became known across Canada with his first single record, “Rock and Roll Song”, which won a Moffatt award for the best record of the year.
Born and raised in New York City, Winnie Winston has been involved with folk music since the early fifties. His ability on the banjo is attested by his success at the Union Grove Competitions, to mention only one, and he has played back-up for many other well known artists. Winnie also plays the pedal steel guitar and has been a featured player annually at the International Pedal Steel Guitar Convention in St. Louis. it is also rumoured that Winnie works for a living, though this rumour was probably started by someone out to ruin his good name. Try to catch him at a workshop.