We have an exciting 25th year lined up for you so please join us for our award-winning artists each month, culminating in a grand extravaganza anniversary celebration on June 3rd.
Our 25th Season
Our 24th Season!
Acoustic Harvest's grand re-opening and 24th year, welcomes the consummate artists Mary Kelly and John Sheard for your listening pleasure. This will be a special delight as we have not been able to bring you live music since March 2020.
We will observe all Covid protocols for your safety and good health. Please note these measures:
1. Prior to the concert please self-screen and do not attend if you are ill or have any Covid symptoms or have been in contact with any person with Covid or with Covid symptoms.
2. Masks and social distancing must be adhered to at all times throughout the performance unless eating or drinking.
April 13th, 2020
Congratulations to all the award winners at the Canadian Folk Music Awards! We have a great selection of wonderfully talented musicians in this country and it’s good to see them duly recognized. Well done on the production end and it was lovely to see Benoit and Jean again (social distancing 1500km apart!).
Congratulations to Irish Mythen (AH Nov/19) for her Best Solo Artist award and to The Slocan Ramblers (AH Feb/19) for Traditional Group of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards!
Very well deserved indeed!
And Congrats to all the other award winners...we have such amazingly talented artists in this country!
Dear Acoustic Harvest Friends and Supporters,
With the Covid-19 crisis ramping up, we are adhering to the advice of all the medical and science experts and our government and so, unfortunately and sadly, we are cancelling the Cadence concert on April 18th.
We are 'playing it by ear' for our May 9th and June 6th concerts. Please consult our website: www.acousticharvest.ca and Facebook page: www.facebook.com/acousticharvest for updates.
We hope to re-book any cancelled concerts in future and for those of you who have already purchased tickets, they will be refunded.
Many artists are streaming-live their concerts; please support them, check their websites and Facebook pages, also go to Roots Music Canada at: www.rootsmusic.ca. Many of our artists are on the Borealis Record label so please consider helping our great unemployed-due-to-Covid musicians by purchasing their CDs at: www.borealisrecords.com
Stay safe and healthy,
Lillian and the AH Team
November 2019 Newsletter
Our November 2nd concert, effectively the second concert of this 2019/2020 season (our 23rd don’t ya know) was a roaring success with Irish Mythen getting two standing ovations! There were quite a few people in the audience who hadn’t visited Acoustic Harvest before and were there to see Irish, she has quite a dedicated group of fans. What a powerful voice she has, and what good songs, altogether a great concert.
Thanks to Steve Pritchard for hosting Tony Quarrington and me on his radio show, Radio Boogie on Ciut 89.5 fm (www.ciut.fm)and thanks to Graham Mansfield for being a great interviewer. Graham fills in for Steve when he’s away, and does a wonderful job; our Steve has become quite the globe trotter over the last few years. Graham is truly dedicated to Bluegrass, just like his mentor Steve, but unlike Steve, Graham is a musician amd one half of the duo The Layrite Boys, with Graham on mandolin and Nichol Robertson on guitar.
We were hoping that they’d be part of our Winterfolk Showcase on January 18, but they’re busy that night, so we’ll have to go to The Tranzac to see them at the festival in February.
Anyway, I’m getting way ahead of myself here, before Winterfolk in February, before the WF Showcase in January, even before Christmas there will be an Acoustic Harvest concert (www.acousticharvest.ca) on December 7th. This will be a really special show, For King and Country, written by Tony Quarrington. Tony will joined on stage by Zoey Adams, James Gordon, Roger Clown, Margaret Stowe, Jon Brooks, Alex Sinclair, Tony Laviola and Ed Michael Roth.
“... on the faces of brass plaques and gravestones, in thousands of stone chapels across Canada, the traces remain of lives lost and glories found on the battlefields of Europe. The faint echoes of those lives have regained vivid colour and antic force in a new two-act musical drama. Toronto guitarist Tony Quarrington`s For King and Country is a masterful resurrection of the presiding soldier culture that enveloped Canadian life a century ago, reaching its climax with The Great War of 1914-1918.” – Paul Corby, online Radio Host, Corby's Orbit, Radio Regent Park.
Tony is a force to be reckoned with; over the years he’s been admired for his stellar guitar playing as an accompanist with just about everybody and he’s produced records for, again, just about everybody. Along the way he’s always written songs but it seems to me that it’s only in the last few years that he’s got the acknowledgement that he deserves as a brilliant writer. Howard Gladstone has written this article on Tony for Roots Music Canada (www.Rootsmusic.ca) which you can find here (www.rootsmusic.ca/2018/10/03/songwriter-profile-tony-quarrington/). Howard’s put in a lot more information than I can fit into this little newsletter and it’s worth reading. Also worth reading, and also on Roots Music Canada is the excellent article by Paul Corby from which we took the above quote(www.rootsmusic.ca/2018/06/11/a-generation-fell-tony-quarringtons-for-king-and-country/)
For King and Country is a truly great piece of work and will be a great concert, I hope you’ll come out and see it and hear it. You won’t be sorry.
Some good news to share with you. Terry O’Donaghue has made a generous donation to Acoustic Harvest. As Duncan says “This is a wonderful opportunity for us to grow and enhance our Live Music East concerts.” Thank you Terry.
And that’s it for this month, I’ll be back in January with news about our Winterfolk Showcase and other offerings in the 2020 part of the season. In the meantime, have a wonderful Christmas and from everybody at Acoustic Harvest we wish you all the best for the New Year.
June 2019 Newsletter
Well, this newsletter is cobbled together - as Lillian mentioned in one of her e-mails this penultimate newsletter of the season is late because, as Ms Wauthier said I had "a wee computer glitch" Wee? The machine, for no apparent reason, stopped working and didn't respond to any of the ways Windows said it might fix itself. Thank heavens for my wonderful computer guy who took it away and fixed it, sort of. It works but the reboot meant I lost everything that had been on it and I'm still in the process of retrieving some of that stuff, things like Word, which is so useful if you want to write a newsletter. Anyway, I'm doing this newsletter as an e-mail and sending it to Lillian who will fix it up in the usual format. Thanks, Lillian.
* Thank you Heather, for doing a stellar job with our first foray into delighting our audiences with a monthly newsletter! - Lillian *
May 11th was a marvellous concert with the wonderful Eileen McGann, what a voice! Angelic and breathtaking! Eileen is from Scarborough and got her start in music here in Toronto, David Warren (lawyer to folkies everywhere) says he remembers hearing her at what must have been an early Flying Cloud Folk Club concert and being floored by that beautiful voice; a few minutes conversation at that event led to many hours of listening to traditional British music together, to David introducing Eileen to her first producer, Ken Whitely, and to a friendship that lasts to this day. David told me that back in those days Eileen was a teacher until she gave it up for the love of music. It always strikes me how many teachers are drawn to folk music, anyone know why?
Eileen lives in BC now, on Vancouver Island, and when she talked about walks along the seashore with her dog I thought "maybe I should move" because it sounded idyllic. She gets back to Ontario just once a year and she mentioned that she's already booked her 2020 tour which will include an appearance at Folk at the Registry which is put on by the folks at The Old Chestnuts Song Circle. I took a look at their web page which I would highly recommend you to do as well. The website itself seems to be a bit out of date but there is a wonderful archive of newsletters, written by Jack Cole, that for me was a trip down memory lane and may be for you too. Jack and his wife Lori are the founders of Old Chestnuts and I have fond memories of being at their house for concerts and at various other gatherings in Kitchener all of which involved the amazing Merrick Jarrett! There is a newsletter there from January 05, a memorial from Jack about his old friend and teacher and it's a wonderful read about "The Kitchener Cowboy" and his love and and enthusiasm for folk music and the history that's so often captured in those songs. Merrick had a wonderful way of spreading that enthusiasm and inspiring others and I'm sure his spirit is still alive at Old Chestnuts. Rick and Merrick became great friends and soon Merrick's wife Mary and I became good friends, I think partly in self defense - I mean you try spending an evening with two folk nerds of the highest order who are carrying on a conversation in song titles! Oh, they were so pleased with themselves!!
Back to Eileen, who will be in Kitchener next year and says a lot of tickets have already been sold, so if you want to go, better not put off getting yours. She also says that if you have a request please send her an email so she can be sure and include it in her concert. And speaking of concerts, we are coming to the final concert of our 22nd year, this fabulous season of music, at Acoustic Harvest and we are going to finish with a blast, with Angelique Francis. I haven't seen her perform live but Lillian tells me she is a-m-a-z-i-n-g, and I believe Lillian when she tells me something like that and you should too. In fact, here is what Lillian said (to refresh your memory): "We are ending our 22nd season with a spectacular performer, Angelique Francis (from Ottawa). I can't say enough about this amazing, divine artist! I discovered her at the Kingsville Folk Festival last summer and she sure impressed everyone; she has a powerful voice, (think of some of the greats like Aretha Franklin!) an awesome stage presence and clearly is passionate about her music. She gives a captivating, mesmerizing show that keeps you absolutely riveted...hard to take your eyes off her except to note her very talented two sisters and Dad accompanying her. Angelique can sing in any style, whether it's folk, blues, soul, gospel, jazz, rock, pop, she truly captures the essence of every song she sings. We hope you'll come out to give her a listen...you'll be thrilled!"
See you on June 1st.
May 2019 Newsletter
We’ve had a season full of delightful concerts and our April 27th concert certainly didn’t disappoint, to the contrary it was a fantastic evening of music, witty banter and all around good feelings.
Annie Sumi (www.anniesumi.com) started the evening with an opening set. Annie looks like a soft, gentle person (which she is) and has a soft and gentle speaking voice but when she sings! What a contrast! A full throated, uninhibited singing voice which demands your attention and got our undivided attention; a short but spellbinding set which resulted in an unprecedented standing ovation. The audience loved Annie and I’m confident that we’ll see her again at Acoustic Harvest. In the meantime, Annie has a full summer schedule heading off to the UK for a short tour before coming back for festival season. You can catch her in Ontario at The Kingsville Folk Festival, Aug. 9-11 - www.kingsvillefolkfest.org
Dala (www.dalagirls.ca) took to the stage completely unfazed by having to follow Annie’s standing O, in fact, knowing Sheila and Amanda they were probably thrilled at her success. I’m always taken by the visual contrast between these two; on this night brunette Sheila in edgy black and cool, blonde Amanda in vibrant red but the harmonies are, as my friend Lorraine said, SUBLIME. They’ve been a duo for fifteen years and friends for even longer – which when you think about it is amazing when music history abounds with stories about duos/groups who can’t stand to be in each others company off stage. And I love listening to the between songs banter between the two of them, it’s always witty, funny and endearing. What we learned from the chat is that while Dala remains a vital musical force (thank God) the women have branched out and taken up their own side projects: Amanda has released a children's CD and has written the score for a movie (to be released this year I think) and Sheila has a second duo going with Brian McMillan and they’ll be releasing their first CD “Kennedy Road” on May 16th at The Burdock (www.kennedyroadmusic.com).
To round out our 22nd season we have two more concerts coming up:
On Saturday, May 11th we’re pleased to present Eileen McGann (www.eileenmcgann.com) one of Canada’s finest songwriters as well as a superb interpreter of traditional Irish/Scottish music. As a songwriter Eileen has won awards for her environmental anthems and social commentary as well as hilarious political satire and is a strong voice for justice and the earth; as a singer of traditional songs Eileen has standing invitations to some of Britain’s most traditional festivals, a testament to her ability to breath life into ancient songs and show that they still have power and relevance. On stage, Eileen’s performances are full of laughter and stories which, with her breathtaking voice and stellar guitar playing, makes for a riveting evening of music.
On Saturday, June 1st we present for the first time at Acoustic Harvest, Angelique Francis (www.angeliquefrancis.net). Beginning her stage career at the age of 7, by her 14th year Angelique was a regular performer at folk festivals across North America. Multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist, multi-genre singer-song writer and composer she has wowed audiences across the globe with her electrifying performances, instrumental abilities and powerful vocals. Known for her eclectic mix of musical genres including blues, soul, folk, jazz, gospel and rock her soulful smoky vocals and instrumental techniques display a modern sensibility, yet you can hear influences of legends like Big Mama Thornton, Koko Taylor, Aretha Franklin, Bessie Smith and many more. Her instrumental abilities call to mind Willie Dixon on the bass, Sister Rosetta Thorpe on guitar, Big Mama Thornton on the Harmonica and Aretha on the piano.
So, there you have it, two phenomenal concerts to end our fantastic 2018/19 season and we hope to see you there.
A couple of other things happening around town that you might be interested in. Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer gave us a great show a couple of years ago and they’ll be back in Toronto at Hugh’s Room on May 19th. On a sadder note, that unique singer/songwriter and national treasure Joe Hall passed away a few weeks ago. There’ll be an extravaganza of a send-off at The Tranzac Club on Friday May 17 with, among others, Tony Q. Jaymz Bee and Rebecca Campbell.
Producer Rick Worral has asked us to give a shout-out for the upcoming Rocky Mountain High-An Evening of John Denver, with the Hamilton Philharmonic Ochestra. This production will be presented at Roy Thompson Hall on June 21. For more info, please visit: www.rockymountainhighconcert.com
Steve Pritchard has been a longtime supporter of all kinds of roots music and has been very generous in his support of Acoustic Harvest. Every month he features our performers and, if possible, has them guest on his show. As I've mentioned before in these newsletters, it's been very hard, in fact, nearly impossible, to get radio promotion elsewhere - you've been to our concerts, you know the caliber of the performers we've presented year after year, and mostly Canadian performers, and perhaps you'd agree that all of them should be heard much more often on our airwaves. We are very grateful to Steve for his support and to CIUT.85.5fm in general for their support of local talent and Canadian talent. CIUT 89.5fm is independent, community radio - the only one in Toronto - and relies on listeners for much of its funding, the Spring fundraising drive takes place May 6-12 and you can donate on its secure server at www.ciut.fm, or tune into Steve's show Radio Boogie, Wednesday from 4-6, for two hours of great music and more details. Hint, you might want to know about the Grand Prize Draw because this year it's a trip to Dubrovnik in Croatia and that's not all!
Acoustic Harvest will be calling in to Steve's show as a gesture of support and we'll also be giving away tickets to Eileen McGann's concert.
April 2019 Newsletter
Happy Easter everyone!
We’ve been busy at Acoustic Harvest! Our upcoming concert with Dala will be our third in six weeks and promises to be every bit as successful as our recent concerts with Grit Laskin and Suzie Vinnick and Rick Fines. It’s been exciting to see such good turn outs and such enthusiastic audiences and it’s especially nice to see people coming out on a regular basis.
I was very sorry not to be at the Grit Laskin event, as Lillian pointed out to me this was a rare opportunity to see Grit present his lecture/concert on the art of guitar making, unfortunately I had a previous commitment. From what I’ve heard it was a wonderful evening and I think I should let Lillian say a few words here…..Yes, it was a brilliant presentation from a master craftsman and singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist; Grit played his own beautiful guitar, the concertina and the English bagpipes and treated us to a few of his best and most poignant songs. His lecture on sound and vibration was riveting and fascinating. His display of around 50 slides, (no two guitars are ever the same!) with accompanying description and history highlighted his dedication to telling a story and to creating the most exquisite inlay art the world has ever known.
I was at the concert with Suzie and Rick and what a fabulous evening that was! Not to take anything away from Rick, who’s a fine singer (no pun intended) and you have to love that growl, but Suzie’s voice just keeps getting better and better. The guitar playing with Suzie, sometimes on bass, was superb and it was just great to watch two players at the top of their game enjoying playing together.
Before I go on to tell you about our upcoming concert I just want to mention something Suzie did that impressed me. She thanked the volunteers, by name! Now many of our performers do thank Lillian and Jason, and so they should, they do a fine job, but they often fall short of thanking all the volunteers and that’s a shame. Acoustic Harvest is lucky to have a great crew who work hard behind the scenes, giving their time and occasionally their money, to make sure that performers and audience feel welcomed and have a great evening. So, thanks to Ada (who we missed last concert), Brian, Duncan, Fran, Heather, Lillian, Sytske, Tomek, Topaz and occasional help from Judy. And thanks too to Reverend Dan who often stays to help us out.
Coming up on Saturday, April 27th, we’re proud to welcome DALA back to our stage. We have quite a long history with Dala: we met Amanda first because her Dad, Dominic, was part of the Toronto Song Circle; Amanda and Sheila were on my radio show Acoustic Workshop quite early in their career; I think they’d just put out their first CD Acoustic Harvest was one of the first shows they did. It’s all been upwards since then, Juno nominees and winners of the 2010 Canadian Folk Music Award for Vocal Group of the Year, touring with Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Café, opening for artists like Tom Cochrane and Arlo Guthrie, and, in 2009, being the only Canadian Act to play at the 50th Anniversary of the Newport Folk Festival. (www.dalagirls.com). They’re also very funny, witty and irreverant, as they laugh and joke with each other between songs you feel the strength of their long and close friendship.
Opening for DALA, we're pleased to welcome Annie Sumi. Annie has been described as an ethereal folk artist whose songs "take you to places of quiet wonder, of unspoken love and of tranquil landscapes". Annie's music has earned her a lot of attention and critical acclaim including a nomination for Emerging Artist of the Year at the 2018 Canadian Folk Music Awards.
With DALA and Annie Sumi April 27th will be a concert that will be uplifting and joyful and thoroughly entertaining. To book your tickets go to www.acousticharvest.ca
Recently, Lillian, Tomek and I attended a Digital Bootcamp, an event sponsored by the Toronto Blues Society and very ably hosted by Derek Andrews. This was aimed specifically at musicians with four panels on digital and social media topics, but we still thought we might pick up some tips that would be useful for Acoustic Harvest. It certainly was informative and highlighted how rapidly technology is changing the world for musicians and in many ways making it harder to make a living. If you’re interested in reading more about this there are some interesting articles at www.rootsmusic.ca
Stay tuned for the next newsletter, we’re already hard at work planning our next season at Acoustic Harvest and may have some exciting news soon.
March 2019 Newsletter
What a great concert we had in February, just the thing to banish those winter blues and raise our spirits. Ben Sures (www.bensures.com) started things off and broke the ice with a great first set. I particularly liked the song he wrote about his father sending him home on the bus with a package of soggy tomato sandwiches; love comes in all forms, I guess. The Slocan Ramblers (www.slocanramblers.com) were every bit as fantastic as we knew they would be, in last month’s newletter Steve Pritchard said “they have the ability to drive bluegrass and old-time music direct to your heart … (they) play and sing hard, clean, emotional and with heart” and he wasn’t wrong. Too bad he couldn’t be there to enjoy it! We were pleased to find out that the Slocan Ramblers were nominated for a Juno....alas, they did not win in the Traditional Roots category but congratulations to fine musicians Pharis and Jason Romero, on the Borealis Record label (www.pharisandjason.com).
And speaking of Steve, last month I said his radio show, Radio Boogie aired on CIUT.89.5fm from 3-6pm, so thanks to Sharon for e-mailing to remind me that the show has been running from 4-6 for quite some time now. I’m not sure what’s on at 3pm but if you tuned in early on my advice I hope you enjoyed it.
CIUT.89.5fm is now the ONLY community radio station in Toronto. It has been a strong supporter of independent musicians and it's spoken word programming gives a voice to many under-represented communities. For some time now it’s been the only radio station that will help promote our Acoustic Harvest concert series (ask Lillian about this) and now CIUT.89.5fm is under threat. Ken Stowar, Station Manager and Programme Director writes “The Ontario Government has announced the introduction of the “Student Choice Initiative”. This will affect student levies that support campus services and organizations that have not been designated as “essential” as outlined in the new policy. As it stands right now campus media (radio, newspapers) have not been categorized as such.” Please go to www.ciut.fm to read Ken’s urgent message and how you can help.
Another audience member (sorry I can’t remember your name, I’m sometimes a bit quick on the delete button- * Lillian's insert: her name is Adair Heath*) asked if we would be having The Laws (www.thelawsmusic.com) bacl again. Lillian responds that nothing’s scheduled at this time (so probably not next year) but she loves John and Michelle and would love to have them back in the future. The Laws have been busy these last few years with the Kingsville Folk Festival (www.kingsvillefolkfest.org). I haven’t been but Lillian tells me it’s a wonderful festival in a beautiful location. By the way, when John and Michelle decided to start a folk festival Lillian was one of the first people they asked to join their board and give them advice on booking artists, no doubt based on the fine job she’s done for Acoustic Harvest.
I’ve always enjoyed going to Cambridge for The Mill Race Festival, and I’m glad I went last year because it turns out that that was the last one. Brad McEwen, founder and artistic director of this traditional music festival says “this wasn’t an easy decision but it was the right decision….We have had a wonderful 26 year run of presenting fantastic music in a beautiful, historic downtown, but the time is right to say goodbye.” And it was a lovely venue with the main stage backing onto the Grand River. To read more about why Brad thinks this is the right time to finish go to www.themillracefolksociety.com
And, always thinking ahead, Lillian was at FAI (Folk Alliance International) in Montreal last month, to read her report go to the News section on our website www.acousticharvest.ca.
Now, what’s coming up at Acoustic Harvest? Well, we have two concerts coming up, practically back to back. On March 23, we’re pleased to present a very special event, an evening with internationally renowned luthier Grit Laskin (www.williamlaskin.com). This will be an entertaining and informative evening in three parts, a lecture, a slide show and a concert:
How do pieces of trees create a box that can stir emotion?
Why does the grain of a soundboard always go in a certain direction?
Why do guitarmakers use so many politically incorrect materials?
Why is a Soundhole a misnomer?
These are just some of the topics that are explored in Grit’s anecdote-filled lecture; then with the help of more than one hundred slide images, Grit takes you on a visual journey into his world of engraved inlay, and shows how he has, in the eyes of many, been largely responsible for pushing the inlay medium from a decorative tradition into an art form. And, to cap theevening, Grit will perform a short concert of songs and instrumentals, using four different handmade instruments -- one of his guitars and tenor mandolins, plus the Concertina and the Northumbrian Smallpipes (bagpipes from the north of England). Here's an article well worth reading: https://thenorthamericanguitar.com/blogs/new
On April 6 we are thrilled to present two stellar blues players Suzie Vinnick (www.suzievinnick.com) and Rick Fines (www.rickfines.ca)
Suzie's career has seen triumph after triumph. Among her most recent successes: being nominated for a 2018 Canadian Folk Music Award for Producer of the Year with her co-producer, Mark Lalama. Suzie achieved finalist status in the Solo/Duo Category at the 2013 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN, received the 2012 CBC Saturday Night Blues Great Canadian Blues Award and the 2012 Sirius XM Canada Blues Artist of the Year. Suzie has won 10 Maple Blues Awards (she has been nominated for 22 so far!), won the 2011 Canadian Folk Music Award for Contemporary Vocalist of the Year and is a 3X Juno Nominee.
Steeped in roots music, Rick Fines crafts a unique blend of warm-hearted blues, juke joint folk, and dockside soul that both embraces and defies the genres that influence him. As a veteran of the North American blues and folk circuits, he engages audiences with captivating songs, diverse guitar styling and his signature vocal growl.
Rick’s storied career has seen him working in stellar collaboration and as a successful solo act.
On his website it says “Rick believes in the transformative power of music” and so do we, so come on out to two amazing evenings of music and leave feeling refreshed and renewed; that’s what happens at all our concerts!
In Feb (13-17), I had the privilege of attending the FAI or Folk Alliance International Conference (thanks to AH for the partial subsidy!), held in Montreal at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth hotel. This is the world's largest gathering of folk artists and industry personnel. It was a good time but quite an overwhelming experience with 3000 musicians, presenters, promoters, agents, managers, DJs, record labels and other Industry folk. It was great to see old friends, recent ones and to meet and foster new relationships. The music, celebrating Indigenous culture (in partnership with UNESCO and the United Nations' designation of 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages), was absolutely splendid! There is nothing like being wholly immersed in the "Spirit of Creativity" (the conference theme) for several days, to rejuvenate and inspire one. With over 600 showcases, it was difficult to take it all in and my tendency was to go hear performers with whom I'm already familiar and love....so to that end, (in no particular order), highlights were Tom Power & The Dardanelles, The Slocan Ramblers, Suzie Vinnick, Tri-Continental, Le Vent du Nord, Tom Wilson, The Turbans, Dave Gunning, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer...and the list goes on. Of special interest was Keynote speaker, Tanya Tagaq's talk and haunting Inuk throat singing, as well as a lively interview with the oh-so-vibrant and dynamic Buffy Sainte-Marie.
The day-time activities were devoted to panel sessions, talks and workshops; I attended an interesting session entitled "The Value of Art", focusing on the intrinsic benefit of music on community from both an economic and cultural perspective. "The Wisdom of the Elders" was a lovely panel moderated by musician David Newland and hosted by Sonny Ochs where she, Marilyn Gilbert (Arts Manager), Ian Tamblyn (touring musician and Royal Canadian Geographic Society fellow) and Gilles Garand (Society for the Promotion of Quebec Traditional Dance/Pres. Folquebec) shared stories and insights from a lifetime in folk music. "The Spirit Connection", led by Ken Whiteley, Twin Flames and Reggie Harris, was an exploration of the role of 'spirit' in the process of creativity, community and social responsibility and how it can inform, enrich and help connect us. A wonderful and enlightening panel on the effects of detrimental mental health factors on musicians was led by Lynn Miles who spoke from her 42 yrs experience as a touring artist. An Inuit Throat singing workshop was a fascinating glimpse into the world of Indigenous language and culture.
Various top honour awards were presented to Tanya Tagaq, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Twin Flames, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Michael Wrycraft, Hillside Festival, Alfred Caxaj (AD Sunfest), Gilles Garand (founder La Grande Rencontre festival, Matt Smith (Club Passim), Sonny Ochs (sister of the late, great Phil Ochs/radio host), Shoshona Kish (Digging Roots duo), fRoots magazine, Ellen Hamilton (Night Sun), Sofia Rei (Arts Prof NYU) and Hall of Fame inductees were radio hosts (amongst other accolades): Bob Harris, Wanda Fischer and Matt Watroba (whom we presented at Acoustic Harvest many years ago).
The Exhibit Hall was resplendent with many colorful booths displaying numerous agencies and their roster of artists, guitars, accessories and all the accouterments necessary for getting the best sound, as well as featuring various record labels including our own, Toronto's Borealis Records - *Note: Founder and President is Grit Laskin!
Official showcases started at 4pm, with the last at 8 or 8:15pm depending upon which ballroom you visited and then the unofficial, private "Guerilla" showcases began at 10:30pm-3:30/4am (!) in the bedrooms on floors 2-5. Beautiful posters and cards advertising Showcase times/room numbers were plastered on every conceivable surface of the walls, tables and elevators, even in the bathrooms. Folks decorated many of the rooms and offered up treats (poutine, Valentine goodies) and drinks to welcome listeners into the showcases. In case you're wondering, no, I did not manage to stay up until 4am although I did manage 1:30am!
All in all, this conference, so well put together by Exec Director, Aengus Finnan and his team, was a testament to the ongoing goals and mandates of hundreds of professionals and aficionados to keep the music growing and thriving.
For a blow by blow account please visit: www.rootsmusic.ca for in depth reviews by Heather Kitching (Roots Music Canada/Publicist), Paul Corby (radio host) and others.