Steve's Blog
Thursday November 15, 2007

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Hi everyone

This has been an interesting week! Last Saturday we had a marvellous concert with Tony McManus, April Verch and Doug Cox at St. James. The following night there was a huge crowd of dancers at the WISE Hall for The Umoja 5 Star Band. It was not a Rogue show per se, but we helped out by selling tickets online and providing the volunteers. It was nice to see the new floor and paint job inside the old hall, too (although the floor was barely visible once the doors were open!)

Then on Tuesday we had a full house at St. James for the Tom Russell / Ramblin Jack Elliot show. What a concert that was! Highlights included a heap of new songs from Tom, Jack's rambling tales, and the collaborative songs at the end.

We barely have time to recover before the weekend, which brings three concerts to the St. James Hall, offering a variety of musical styles, and some exceptional musicians and singers.

Headwater & Australia's Colcannon - Friday November 16th 8pm

This double-bill affords us the opportunity to present one of Vancouver's most impressive emerging young bands, Headwater. This sextet released their debut CD - My Old Friend - earlier this year. These are well-crafted songs, sung with fine harmonies and tasteful backing. The style is a sort of easy-going country folk, with banjos, guitars, and organ providing the backing. We have been fortunate to witness some wonderful singing from local bands recently, with The Breakmen being among the most memorable. Headwater, while not so strongly rooted in the Bluegrass / Old Time tradition, are equally impressive - both lyrically and harmonically. Unfortunately for them, their website has been disabled by nefarious parties, so you'll just have to take my word for it. Please come along and support these excellent young, emerging Vancouver musicians. Buy their CD, and enjoy their soulful songs and tasteful playing.

We will start the evening with Colcannon, a quintet from Adelaide who are winding up their extensive tour of Europe and Canada this week. They are led by John Munro, that fine guitarist / mandolinist who shares the stage with Eric Bogle on his rare overseas tours. Munro, like Bogle, is an expatriate Scot living the good life in South Australia. A prolific songwriter and producer, he finally released his first solo album a few months ago. Having produced over 50 records for other artists, and having played on all of Eric Bogle's albums, it was definitely time for him to step up into the limelight. "Plying My Trade" (Greentrax Records) features some wonderful story songs of Australian immigrants who have found new homes in the sunny south. He is backed by the remarkable singer, Kat Krauss, one of those proverbial vocalists who could sing the phone book and have you weeping in the aisles. Widely regarded as one of Australia's finest blues and R&B singers, Kat is also the principal voice in Colcannon, demonstrating her range and command of vocal styles. Colcannon also features guitarist and singer / songwriter Pete Titchener, fiddler Bridget McDowell, and bassist Damien Steel Scott. Their music is based on Celtic styles, but reaches much further afield, and their vocal harmonies are truly outstanding. "Look up 'harmony' in the dictionary, and you'll find a picture of Colcannon" (Northern Scot, UK) Concert Details

Sonia & disappear fear - Saturday November 17th 8pm

Once again we break new ground at the Rogue with one of America's foremost troubadours and peace activists. Sonia Ruttstein hails from New York and brings her songs and danceable music with its messages of peace and campaigns to end war and end world hunger. We first saw Sonia at the Anza Club a couple of years ago. Sounds & Furies brought her to town on that occasion. Unfortunately, Pat Hogan is not able to co-present with us this week as she's organizing the Same Sex Dance Competition at the Scottish Cultural Centre. On a brighter note, Sonia has a speaking engagement at the UBC synagogue on Saturday morning. So this really is a leap of faith for us!

Amongst Sonia's many songs my favourites include "Sugarcane", about an elderly woman who lives a few miles away from Ground Zero and spends most of her time listening to the radio. When she heard about the terrible disaster on 9/11 she left her apartment and took the subway to go and help. She gave her walking cane to an injured fireman, and made her way home. She was given the name "sugar cane". Another outstanding song is the title track of her CD, "No Bomb Is Smart."; Her new CD is called "tango", and it features songs in Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic and English. It is very upbeat and compelling.

"On her new CD, "Tango," Baltimore folk-rocker SONiA takes the opposite tack, daring to offer original songs in four languages -- English, Hebrew, Arabic and Spanish -- and inviting the whole world to dance. In the hands of another musician, such an effort could seem like a gimmick -- but from the socially conscious SONiA, who has such an obvious passion about promoting global harmony, the result is nothing short of magic." — Chris Kocher, Press & Sun Bulletin, Binghamton, NY

"She performed in a bomb shelter in Israel this summer during the Israel/Lebanon War. She's donating a guitar to a Palestinian womens' group called Flowers Against the Occupation, aiming to replace guns with guitars. And she plans to send a copy of her upcoming CD to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to "open a positive dialogue with him." It seems like generous-spirited Jewish lesbian singer- songwriter-guitarist Sonia Rutstein has the potential to have a greater impact for good on theMiddle East than the entire Bush administration." — Anastasia Pantsios, Cleveland Free Times

"We should be listening to SONiA... She is calling on us to pay attention to how we are in the world and how we should walk this Earth." — Rabbi Elizabeth Bolton, Baltimore, MD

Disappear Fear is Sonia's band. In this case the band comprises the amazing drummer and singer Laura Cerulli. Believe me, this band rocks!!! Concert Details

Liz Carroll & John Doyle - Sunday November 18th 8pm

We wrap up this amazing weekend of music with one of the very best fiddlers on the planet, Liz Carroll from Chicago. Liz is a former member of Cherish The Ladies, a much-decorated champion fiddler on both sides of the Atlantic, and a prolific tunesmith whose compositions continue to find heir way into the repertoire of every Irish and Scots band worth their salt. Above all, she is a stunning musician and a genuine sweetheart, as likely to be offering a workshop or giving advice to aspiring fiddlers as performing in concerts or festivals across the continent. When accompanied by former Solas guitarist John Doyle her music soars. John is a brilliant accompanist, whose driving, rhythmic chording and fierce percussive chops are a deadly combination. He is also a fine solo guitarist, a sort of left-handed Tony McManus if you like! And he's a fine singer as well, from a long line of sean nos singers in Dublin. Concert Details

The Edge On Folk - Saturday November 17th 8am to noon

I'll be playing music from all these performers this Saturday, as well as new releases by Tracy Grammer, Garnet Rogers, Erynn Marshall, Dala, and more from the new Kate Rusby, Orchestra Baobab, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, and The Imagined Village and Mother of All Morris CDs. Please join me four hours of the best in Roots music on CITR fm 101.9 on Saturday morning. It's also streamed on the net and podcasts will be available later on the same site.

Coming Soon

The Sojourners CD release concert is at St. James Hall next Saturday 24th at 8pm. The guys who sing on Jim Byrnes' latest CD "House of Refuge" have their own CD now. "Hold On" is also on Black Hen Music, and yesterday they came to St. James to look at the space. It sounded great when they burst into song! It's going to be a memorable night, with the full band including Jim Byrnes and Steve Dawson backing them up. Concert Details

On Monday November 26th we are delighted to offer you a very rare chance to learn from two masters of folk and roots music when Stacey Earle and Mark Stuart come to town. The workshops start at 7pm and run for two hours. The cost is $35. They will be held downstairs at St. James in two separate rooms. Please call 604-736-3022 to pre-register. Workshop Details

The Mark Stuart guitar clinic: Solo guitar, accompanying another guitar, playing in a band setting will all be covered. Folk/blues/ country/rock all will be addressed. There will be ideas for harmonics, chords, Travis-style, octaves, bass lines and more. The instructor's influences range from George Harrison to Merle Travis to Robert Johnson to John Fogerty to Chet Atkins to John Prine! Mark has toured and/or recorded with Freddy Fender, Steve Forbert, Stacey Earle, Steve Earle, Jonnell Mosser. He has toured as an artist internationally and is a Nashville native.

The Stacey Earle songwriting clinic: Co-writing, rewriting, getting songs recorded, making your own record, and more will be covered here. Stacey has been a staff songwriter in Nashville, toured internationally as a folk/Americana artist, owned an Independent record company. She is, of course, the sibling of another renowned writer, Steve Earle.

Don't forget, Don Ross - Canada's number one guitar man - returns on Friday November 30th at St. James Hall. Concert Details

Hope to see you this weekend!