Steve's Blog
Thursday March 6, 2008

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Hi everyone

I am recovering from a nasty cold. Just couldn't drag myself to the keyboard to write earlier this week.

Last weekend was a bit of a blur. We went to Festival du Bois on Saturday night - La Volée d'Castors were brilliant! Returned the next day for more. Then zoomed back to town for the Malinky concert. Thanks to everyone who came along to the show. It was a superb concert. They will definitely be back!

We have two great concerts this weekend - Tracy Grammer with special guests August on Saturday March 8th, and Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem on Sunday March 9th. Both show are at St. James Hall at 8pm.

Tracy Grammer & August, Saturday March 8th, 8pm at St. james Hall, 3214 West 10th Avenue

It's International Women's Day on Saturday, so we have a concert featuring five women - Vancouver's August (Rae Armour, Beverley Elliott, Linda Kidder & Meg Tennant) and Portland songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Tracy Grammer. You can see YouTube videos of three songs by Tracy on the concert page. She is a supremely gifted composer. With her late partner Dave Carter she recorded several award-winning CDs of deeply poetic songs. Dave was sometimes called the Carlos Castaneda of folk music. There certainly is a mystic spirituality in his songs, but not nearly so much mescaline! Tracy has continued to follow that muse, writing her own songs, adding songs by other composers like Jackson Browne, Tom Russell, Roger McGuinn, and David Francey. She has also released two new CDs of Dave Carter's songs: Flower of Avalon and Seven Is The Number. The Dalai Lama once told Tracy - who was then accompanying Joan Baez on tour - that he really liked her song The Mountain. You may have seen Tracy with Joan Baez at Malkin Bowl a few years ago. (Curiously, Rani Arbo was also in Joan's band at that time. You can see Rani and her own band on Sunday. More of that later ...)

August released their first collective CD last November, and The Province music critic John P McLaughlin was highly impressed, ranking them alongside any of Canada's leading singing / songwriting ensembles. Their music is a little more earthy than Tracy's, but we all need a touch of humour to embellish the dramas of daily life from time to time. And this day is all about celebrating women's music - in all its variety.

If you love vocal harmonies and the power of song, don't miss this show. Concert Details

Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem, Sunday March 9th, 8pm at St. James Hall, 3214 West 10th Avenue

A few years ago I stumbled upon a late-night concert at the Folk Alliance in one of the hotel rooms. Something about the music grabbed me. There was a fiddle, a National guitar, double bass and percussion. The vocals were amazing. They were singing all manner of classic songs from the first half of the 20th century. As soon as I heard them sing I stopped in my tracks and looked at the list of performers posted on the door. Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem! Wow! I knew Rani from her wonderful stringband Salamander Crossing. This was something else again! Shortly thereafter they released their first CD, Cocktail Swing, with plenty of those classic songs. A couple of years later they came to the Vancouver Folk Music Festival with a new CD, Gambling Eden, which combined original compositions with amazing versions of folk songs like Turtle Dove (from the Georgia Sea Islands) and Stewball. A couple of years ago they were a big hit at the Mission Folk Music Festival, and last year they wowed the main stage audience at Vancouver once again - with a hot new CD, Big Old Life, in tow. We are delighted to be able to bring them to town for their first concert appearance. This Sunday, at St. James Hall.

All of roots music is a stage for daisy mayhem, and this four-piece string band loves nothing more than choreographing a jubilant mix of traditional, original, and contemporary sounds. With Rani Arbo's bewitching alto at the helm, stunning vocal harmonies, a 100% recycled drum set, fiddle, guitar, and bass, daisy mayhem "has a grand knack for pumping new blood into old music" (Boston Globe). [Imagine, for example, a pre-civil war song from the Georgia Sea Islands sung over a New Orleans style groove. Or, an old Irish fiddle tune with new lyrics, capped with a solo on a South American box drum. A Sondheim tune done jug band style? An original Unitarian funk gospel song? You begin to get the idea.] With influences from Doc Watson to Django Reinhardt, from Ghanaian drumming to the funky Meters, and from Fiddlin' John Carson to Bob Dylan, daisy mayhem celebrates America's rich musical past and brings it into the present with good humour, impeccable musicianship, powerful songwriting, and a clear love of playing together. Here are four musicians who pick up what's lying around