Steve's Blog
Tuesday February 28, 2012

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Hi everyone

In this week's update:

  1. Memphis
  2. Hayes & Cahill - Feb 29th. SOLD OUT
  3. Le Vent Du Nord - March 1
  4. The Edge On Folk - March 3
  5. Festival du Bois - March 3 & 4
  6. Karen Savoca & Pete Heitzman - March 4

1. Folk Alliance 2012, in Memphis

We just got back from the Folk Alliance Conference in Memphis. What a blast! So many highlights, including the music, the soul food, the museums, the sunshine, and the camaraderie. Once again the Canadians rocked Memphis! With stunning performances by Blackie & The Rodeo Kings, The Sojourners, Jim Byrnes, Steve Dawson, Qristina & Quinn Bachand, Sherman Downey, Tiller's Folly, Kat Danser, and Genticorum to name a few. Blame Sally, Elephant Revival, Mary Gauthier, SONiA, Ellis Paul, Sam Baker, The Atomic Duo, and a host of others also impressed. It was great to run into old friends like Julian Dawson, the English singer who has just written the biography of Nicky Hopkins - the Rolling Stones' piano player for most of their career- and Jenny Allen, who lived in Vancouver when The Rogue got started. I'll post a blog about the conference in the next few days. I promise.

2. Hayes & Cahill - Feb 29th. SOLD OUT

Our concert with Ireland's finest fiddle player, Martin Hayes, is sold out. There is a very slim possibility of picking up a ticket at the door, but you never know: someone may be sick and can't make it. If you get there before the other hopefuls, then you will be first in line should there be anything left.

3. Le Vent Du Nord - Thursday March 1st, 8pm at St. James Hall (3214 West 10th Avenue)

Le Vent du Nord's dragon tale was inspired by Belgian castles and casks

By Tony Montague, Georgia Straight, February 23, 2012

When the Icelandic volcano with a name like something a berserker Viking would scream while charging blew its top almost three years ago, it sent particles into the high atmosphere that grounded flights throughout Europe for several days. Among other things, hundreds of touring bands were stranded by Eyjafjallajökull's eruption.

It would be interesting to look at how many new songs came out of the enforced pit stop for countless musicians, who found themselves writing under strangely peaceful skies. Quebec's hottest folk quartet, Le Vent du Nord, was in Belgium at the time, and multi-instrumentalist and singer Nicolas Boulerice has a good story about how he came to pen "The Dragon of Chimay", one of the songs on the band's forthcoming album Tromper le Temps.

A couple of friends, seeing us marooned in Europe, invited us to stay at their place in the small country town of Chimay, close to the French border, he says, reached at his home near Verchères, Quebec. As you know, it's also where Chimay beer is made by the Trappist brothers [monks], and so we were very happy to be there, sustained by the beer in the freshest possible condition.

Trappist ales were made to nourish, and the musicians may indeed have lived in an exalted state on fermented barley, hops, and yeast alone. The dragon is not in the flagon, however, but underground.

There's a castle there that goes back to the Middle Ages times and I went to find it, and got a guided visit-one of two people-from a lady of 87 years with a lot of stories about the castle and about her ancestors. She was the Princess of Chimay, and she still lived there. Her husband was dead and her children gone, and she opened her doors to get some help for the enormous cost of the upkeep, and because she liked to share her tales.

Boulerice, who sings and plays keyboards and hurdy-gurdy, was clearly enchanted. In the following days, his inspiration replenished by the Trappists, he fashioned a legend from different elements of the princess's stories.

I had the time to concoct a song where the future husband of a princess is taken away by a witch who was famous in the area called Barbe Bellot, and he's imprisoned under the town square, but kept alive by the waters that gather there. He transforms himself into a creature, and the ground is riven-he's a dragon. Many years later he manages to escape and flies away, finds the saddened princess looking out from the tower of the castle of Chimay, who was waiting for a frog, but no-it's a dragon that comes up and gives her a big kiss.

Le Vent du Nord plays St. James Hall next Thursday (March 1), as part of Festival du Bois. We are co-presenting this show with the Festival, which takes place this weekend at Mackin Park, Coquitlam (see below.) Le Vent Du Nord are not performing at the festival, so this is your only chance to see them this year ....

More information:
Tickets: available online and at various outlets

4. The Edge On Folk - Saturday March 3rd, 8am to noon

Big thanks to Andy Gronberg for filling in while I was in Memphis. I'll be back in the saddle this Saturday with some new music by the likes of The Atomic Duo (Texas,) Tiller's Folly (BC,) Annie Grace (Scotland,) The Elephant Revival (Colorado,) Kat Danser (Edmonton,) plus new CDs by The Chieftains, and Altan, as well as concert previews and much more. Please join me for four hours of the very best in Folk Music - or whatever else you might want to call it - on CiTR fm 101.9, Shaw Cable 88.5fm, Telus TV channel 3717, or streamed live on

5. Festival du Bois - March 3 & 4, Mackin Park, Maillardville

There's a different format this year, with the festival running from 11am to 8pm on Saturday, and 10am to 4:30pm Sunday. That means there is no "Grand Spectacle" on Saturday night, and the event does not close down for a few hours on Saturday afternoon. There are many excellent bands performing, including from Quebec two great trad. bands: Bon Debarras and La Ligue du Bonheur; and two superb young Celtic combos from B.C.: The Jocelyn Pettit Band, and Qristina and Quinn Bachand. I'll feature music from various festival performers on The Edge On Folk. Meanwhile, check out the festival website for full details of this hugely enjoyable family-oriented event with its great music, amazing food, and joie de vivre. Flaunt your Frenchness - even if you're not sure you have one!

6. Karen Savoca & Pete Heitzman - Sunday March 4th, 8pm - St. James Hall (3214 West 10th Avenue)

It's hard to believe that it's been well over 6 years since Karen Savoca and Pete Heitzman last appeared at a Rogue gig. In the Fall of 2005 the duo had just released their 6th album, In The Dirt, and they were joined by the late Oliver Schroer that night. So, who remembers Karen Savoca? Surely those who have seen her will recall that magic moment at the Vancouver Folk Festival in 1999 when 10,000 people wanted to dance, but that was not allowed, so they waved their shoes in the air instead! Such spontaneous outbursts of passion from her audience are not uncommon. Karen is one of the most soulful and passionate singers around. Her music is infused with a compelling R&B / Worldbeat groove, and her guitarist partner Pete Heitzman is one of the funkiest guitar players anywhere. They make guitar, conga and voice sound like a full band, and the urge to dance is ever present at their shows. (Keep your shoes on! Dancing is encouraged at The Rogue!)

It's soul power... a quality so rare. Very highly recommended - Pure Music

Born in Bergen County, New Jersey, Karen Savoca's baby diary reads "20 months, knows 6 songs." At the age of five, Karen was the emcee of her kindergarten play. Karen's mom had been a big-band singer and the featured vocalist on a nightly TV show in Fresno, so it was no surprise that her little girl was always dancing and singing. Knowing that she wanted to pursue a musical career, Karen attended Syracuse University's Crouse College of Music. She enjoyed her Classical studies, but to someone who had already found her own true voice, the operatic vocal training was far too restrictive. Pete Heitzman was born in Syracuse, New York and was long known as one of the region's premier guitarists. He spent several years touring the US playing in rock and country bands. On a visit home he went to a club to hear a friend play and Karen was the new singer. Their powerful chemistry was evident right from the start. They jammed all night, Pete joined the band the next day and the two have been together ever since.

Karen's appearance on the contemporary folk scene says more about the broad-minded audience of folk than it does about her music. The duo's live performances are uplifting and hypnotic. They have worked with Greg Brown and Garnet Rogers (including making the stunning live album, Live at The Black Sheep, in 2003,) and have also written movie scores. But it's their original songs - and they are ALL original songs - that are their trademark. Their new CD, Promise, is their strongest collection yet, covering subjects as widely divergent as racial intolerance, bullying, love, loneliness, and what would you do with your last night on earth? The album's tour de force is the pocket history of the last 400 years in North America - "Crosses" - which covers Indian wars, slavery, Mexican exploitation, and political assassination. Yet even this is totally danceable music! Greg Brown says that if she had an Indian name it would be "sings like two birds" as she has a wonderful grittiness and edge to her voice that almost sounds like two voices working in perfect synchronicity.

Time was that a Karen Savoca concert was a guaranteed sell-out at The Rogue. She and Pete played here 5 times between 1999 and 2005. All of them memorable, stunningly beautiful concerts infused with infectious melodies and rhythms. If you've seen them before you know how good they are. If you haven't, then we urge you to take a chance. We are certain you won't regret it!

More info, including song lyrics, on