Sweet summertime fun filled with some of the world’s best Celtic music
SINGER Brooke Miller is an acclaimed Canadian guitarist and songwriter.
CALADH NUA, one of Ireland’s hottest new bands, will play Mission Folk Fest this summer.
DON ROSS and his wife Brooke Miller perform at St. James Hall, 3214 West 10th Avenue on June 10 at 8 PM.
LEGENDARY harper/storyteller Patrick Ball will present his soul-stirring account of the life of famed Irish harper/bard Turlough O’Carolan.
By STEVE EDGE
DON ROSS AND BROOKE MILLER
Many years ago Don Ross came to town with his Celtic band The Harbord Trio. He'd been a regular performer at The Rogue for years, but this time he was bringing his band.
Some years earlier they had been booked to perform at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, but when another band had sound problems their start was delayed so much that their only concert performance was cancelled altogether. Very sad.
The other members of the trio were Don's wife Kelly McGowan (harp, vocals) and fiddler Oliver Schroer.
They were a wonderful band, full of invention and wit to go with their deep love of Celtic music. Sadly both Kelly and Oliver have since passed away.
Meanwhile Don, son of a Scots father and a First Nations mother, has gone from strength to strength, touring internationally, recording acclaimed albums, winning guitar championships, and teaching workshops – online, in person, and on DVD – to give young aspiring guitarists a “leg-up.”
He's also remarried, and his wife, Brooke Miller, is another acclaimed Canadian guitarist and songwriter.
They now live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and both have released new CDs in the past few months.
They will perform solo sets and duets at The Rogue at St. James Hall, 3214 West 10th Avenue in Vancouver on June 10. Don describes his music as “Heavy Wood,” but you can feel the Celtic soul stirring at its heart. See: www.gobyfish.com.
QUARTETE A TETE
Michael Pratt and Lynn McGown have run Celtic Traditions (formerly Celtic Woolens) for 15 years or more.
Their store on West 10th is stocked with the finest Irish wool sweaters and caps and scarves, and in the little rooms at the back, the future stars of the local Celtic music scene are learning their trade at the hands of some of the city's best young music teachers.
Michael and Lynn also present concerts in the store, mostly during the winter months, and as if that wasn't enough, they host Jericho Folk, a weekly folk club at the Jericho Sailing Centre (1300 Discovery Street) every Tuesday from May to September.
They both teach – Michael: fiddle, concertina; Lynn: vocals – and they also have a band, Quartete a Tete.
I first encountered Michael on a soccer pitch 30 years ago. He was an engineer in those days. Since giving that up and concentrating on music he seems younger now than he was then!
The quartet also features the brilliantly versatile guitarist Craig McGregor (who recently shared The Rogue stage with Radim Zenkl) and fiddler Vanessa Kay.
They will play a very special concert at St. James Hall on June 11, 8 PM – a celebration of the musical gifts Michael and Lynn have shared with Vancouverites for 30 years. Tickets are $20 from (604) 222-2299. Visit: www.celtictraditions.ca.
JERICHO FOLK CLUB
1300 Discovery Street, Vancouver
The feature act – The Irish Wakers – at the next Jericho Folk Club on June 14 stars the remarkable blind fiddler Mary Brunner, alongside local songwriter Brian Robertson, bodhran wizard Blake Wiliams, flautist Hugh Brock, and multi-instrumentalist Pam Jeffrey.
The format is an open stage in the first half (sign up on arrival and sing two or three songs), jam sessions before and during the break, and the feature performer in the second half.
Admission is $8 at the door. It's unamplified, and the room tends to fill up fast, so get there early! Highrise Lonesome (excellent bluegrass band) is the feature band on June 21, and there's more Celtic music from Westwynds on June 28.
ALISON BROWN QUARTET
This is one of my favourite bands, and Alison Brown (banjo) and her husband Garry West (bass) also run Compass Records, North America's premier Celtic music record label (they took over the Green Linnet records catalogue a few years back, and also host the likes of Lunasa, Solas, Karan Casey, and lots more.)
Alison is one of those incredible banjo players that defy categorization and astonish with their speed, clarity and virtuosity.
Her fingers are lightning fast, but look closely at her right hand. It's barely moving at all. The band blends Celtic music with influences from Cajun, jazz, bluegrass, Latin music, and beyond!
With virtuoso pianist John R. Burr and – I hope – the incredible mandolin/percussion wizard Joe Craven this band can excel at any style of music and win over any crowd. Highly recommended!
The Alison Brown Quartet play Capilano Performing Arts Theatre, 2055 Purcell Way, North Vancouver on June 27 at 8 PM.
THE SAVOY FAMILY CAJUN BAND
PLUS THE FOGGY HOGTOWN BOYS
With influences from Acadian music, old time fiddle tunes, and traditional songs from the old world, Cajun music and Bluegrass are North American cousins of Celtic music, and we have two of the very best bands in either genre under one roof!
Marc Savoy is a brilliant accordion player with a distinctively deep, throaty sound on his squeezeboxes.
He is also an accordion maker. Probably North America's most famous one, in fact.
His wife Ann Savoy sings and plays rhythm guitar, and their two sons: Wilson (piano) and Joel (fiddle) round out the wonderful Savoy Cajun Band.
They have just released Turn Loose But Don't Let Go (Arhoolie Records) - a stunning 15 song collection of hard-driven dance tunes and soulful songs from the bayou.
Toronto's Foggy Hogtown Boys are Canada's premier Bluegrass/Honky Tonk combo, featuring mercurial fiddler John Showman, mandolinist Andrew Collins, and Chris Coole on guitar and banjo.
Although, the group draws a great deal of inspiration and material from the "golden age" of bluegrass and country music, solid original songs written by members in the band blend well among the old chestnuts.
Their latest CD, Scotch & Sofa, is a remarkable collection of songs and instrumentals ranging from Salty Dog to Chinquapin Hunting and Always Been A Rambler. Let's turn the theatre into a grand old roadside honky tonk bar.
Dance the night away, for tomorrow we are on holiday!
The Savoy Family Cajun Band plus the Foggy Hogtown Boys play the Capilano Performing Arts Theatre on June 30 at 8 PM.
FOR YOUR SUMMER PLANNING
Island Musicfest, Courtenay, B.C.
This year's stellar line-up is a bit light on the Celtic content, but features Dick Gaughan (Scotland) with fiddle legend Dave Swarbrick.
There's Cajun music (Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys), Bluegrass (Alison Krauss & Union Station), western Canadian roots (The Breakmen), and some real giants of the music business: David Crosby, Randy Newman, John Jorgenson, Jon Anderson (Yes), Rodney Crowell, etc. plus the Sacred Steel of The Lee Boys and the mind-blowing versatility of Daniel Lapp. See: www.islandmusicfest.com.
Harrison Festival of the Arts
Harrison Hot Springs, B.C.
Irish band Beoga were a big hit at the Rogue a couple of years ago. Don't miss their only Lower Mainland appearance of the summer on July 13.
There's also PEI fiddle music and the zany antics of Chuck & Albert (former members of Barachois), African music (Etran Finatawa, Madagsacar Slim), Persian music (Navaz), Cajun (Mamou Playboys), Hawaiian (Hapa), and blues (James Cotton, Colin Linden) and much more. www.harrisonfestival.com.
Vancouver Folk Music Festival
Celtic music highlights of this amazing line-up include: The Dardanelles (Newfoundland), The Duhks (MB), Daniel Lapp (BC), Reveillons (PQ), and Solas (USA/Eire).
This will be the first time for Solas, after 15 years of making some of the best Celtic music in North America, it's about time! You might have seen them at The Rogue in February.
Marvellous band, featuring Seamus Egan on flute and lots of other things, Win Horan (fiddle), Mick McAuley (accordion), Eamon McIlhome (guitar) and new singer Niamh Marion Barry.
The Dardanelles are another band to watch for. Led by CBC Radio's Tom Power they feature the brilliant trad singer Matt Bryant, and stunning young box player Aaron Collis. Traditional music from The Rock at its finest!
There's a veritable cornucopia of musical styles to enthral you over the weekend: don't miss Tinariwen (Malian desert blues), songwriters Rosanne Cash, Gillian Welch, Josh Ritter, Corinne West, Justin Townes Earle, and Diana Jones.
Oh, and the ever-suave Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks, the sublime Joy Kills Sorrow, and the infectiously groovy rumba of Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca. www.thefestival.bc.ca
Mission Folk Music Festival
Fraser River Heritage Park, Mission BC
This one is the BIG TREAT for Celtic music fans! Three Celtic harpers (Maire Ni Chathasaigh, Patrick Ball, and Ailie Robertson of the Outside Track), one of Ireland's hottest new bands (Caladh Nua), legendary guitarist/singer John Doyle, and that wonderful Canadian/Scots/Irish quintet The Outside Track (with Norah Rendell and Mairi Rankin of BC on flute and fiddle, respectively).
I'm just listening to Caladh Nua's new CD, Next Stop. They sound very much like Four Men & A Dog on their first CD, with swinging fiddle, pounding banjo and swirling melodeon.
That's a great sound, alright. But when you add a singer of the calibre of Karan Casey – I kid you not – you are left with one helluva great band!!
It's worth going to Mission just to see this band. There's also related traditional music from Denmark (Harald Haugaard & Helene Blum), Basque Country (Tapia eta Leturia), Finland (Mari Boine), and Louisiana (Dirk Powell band).
Plus songwriters Ron Hynes (Newfoundland) who wrote Sonny's Dream, Nathan Rogers – Stan's son – and Amelia Curran (NS) and a whole lot more. www.missionfolkmusicfestival.ca.
The Outside Track
Norah Rendell (ex Cleia, The Shirleys) returns for a Rogue gig on July 29, at the air-conditioned CBC Studio 700 at 700 Hamilton Street in Vancouver, with her excellent band The Outside Track, which also features Cape breton fiddler Mairi Rankin (now living in Abbotsford!) plus Shetland accordionist Fiona Black, Scots harpist Ailie Robertson, and Irish guitarist Ciliian O'Dalaigh. See: www.theoutsidetrack.com
Listen to The Edge On Folk on Saturday 8 AM to Noon on CiTR FM 101.9, Cable FM 88.5, and www.citr.ca.