Steve's Blog
Celebrating Saving St. James Hall with scintillating Celtic music from Cape Breton!
Wednesday February 10, 2016

Keep in Touch

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1. Còig, Saturday February 13th, 8pm (St. James Hall, 3214 West 10th Avenue)
The big news is that St. James Community Square has been saved from the developers! The United Church - the former owners - have sold the building, which houses St. James Hall, the venue for Rogue Folk concerts since 2004. The sale went through at the end of January. We are all very happy and relieved! Not only does the Square house Rogue shows, it is also home to the Vancouver Youth Symphony, Phoenix Gymnastics, a Day Care, a Japanese pre-school, and a host of other community groups. Over 500,000 "users" per year step inside the venerable venue, which has been operated as a Community Centre by the St. James Community Square Society (at break-even, with no operating funds from government) for over 22 years! The Society will continue to run the operation. We cannot yet say who has bought it, but all will be revealed this Saturday February 13th at 11am in the hall, with an official announcement by the new owners during a VYSO rehearsal. Feel free to drop by if you're in the neighbourhood - or just curious!
Later that day The Rogue hosts Còig - arguably Canada's finest Celtic band these days. We will have a special celebration - including cake - at the show. (I took these photos when Còig made their Vancouver debut at The Rogue in August 2014).
Còig is a trad. quartet from Cape Breton. The name means five in Gaelic, but they are now a four-piece, with a CD under the name Còig, so changing the name to four wouldn't make sense either! There are two fiddlers steeped in the tradition - Chrissie Crowley from Margaree and Rachel Davis from Baddeck. Rachel also sings in both Gaelic and English. Jason Roach from Cheticamp is the pianist, and Darren McMullen rounds out the quartet on a variety of stringed instruments - and vocals. He is also from Nova Scotia, although not from Cape Breton. He also plays in David Francey's band and is a renowned recording producer as well as a brilliant musician. The band released Carols - a Christmas CD in December, which is remarkable for the variety of musical styles and influences - everything from classical to Celtic with many innovative ideas along the way. It is most definitely not another in a long line of seasonal recordings released by all and sundry over the years; theirs is an inspired collection with meticulous attention to detail and fabulous musicianship and arrangements. This reflects their approach to traditional music as well. While staying true to their Cape Breton roots they continue to absorb influences and ideas from ground breaking string ensembles like The Punch Brothers and Scotland's Treacherous Orchestra. One of the finest sights - and sounds - in Canadian Celtic music is witnessing the two women fiddling and stomping, hair flying every which way, as they soar into the tunes - driven by McMullen's guitar and Roach's inspired piano accompaniment. We will leave plenty of room for dancing! For more information about the band, visit Tickets and concert information are to be found here 

2. Folk Alliance
We're off to Kansas City next week to attend the Folk Alliance Conference. This annual event is part Music Festival, part Seminar, part Networking Extravaganza, and it's a great way to hear new music and connect with other Folk DJs, concert presenters, festivals, record labels, agents, and other folks crazy enough to make this wonderful music a way of life! Heaps of Canadian performers are showcasing - including The Rogue's very own singer / songwriter - and host of the new Songwriter Series at the Yale - Lydia

3. Coming Soon to The Rogue

We get back from Kansas City just in time for three successive nights of superb concerts at The Rogue! We kick off this mini-festival on Thursday February 25th with Washington DC sextet The Bumper Jacksons, making their Vancouver debut - en route to Wintergrass in Tacoma. Their infectious blend of early New Orleans jazz and country blues features trumpet, clarinet, trombone, resophonic guitars, banjos, washboard, and the sultry, playful vocals of Jess Eliot Myhre. I have been listening to their two CDs (Sweet Mama Sweet Daddy Come In, and Too Big World) obsessively for the past 12 months or so, and am very excited about their show. I hope Vancouver will give them a warm welcome. Check them out on
Then on Friday February 26th, one of my favourite singers returns after a two year absence: Eilen (pron: Eel-uhn) Jewell. The Iowa singer / songwriter has a uniquely gripping voice and style - part Loretta Lynn, part Bessie Smith, but quintessentially her own. Her music could be described as alt. country but that would miss the heavy influence of country blues, and would tend to overlook the amazing guitar work of Jerry Miller - one of the best rockabilly guitarists on the planet. Check out their live, extended version of Shakin' All Over to feel the power and humour in his playing - with tips of the hat to Chuck Berry, Keith Richards and more in his style.
On Saturday February 27th, Victoria's remarkable singer, bassist, and banjoist Oliver Swain brings his Big Machine band (featuring Richard Moody and Adrian Dolan of The Bills and guitarist Adam Dobres) and a brand new collection of songs - Never More Together. Ollie has a three-octave vocal range, and a unique songwriting style replete with catchy riffs and memorable melodies and lines. A former member of bands like The Duhks, Red Stick Ramblers, and Outlaw Social, Ollie has a solid grounding in Celtic, Cajun, Folk, Bluegrass and gypsy jazz. Come and hear what he and his fine band have to offer. The opening act is Twin Bandit, two young women from Vancouver with a distinctively harmonious folk-based singing style.
The beginning of March sees two of Canada's most celebrated folk acts: BC stringband extraordinaire The Bills (Thursday March 3rd), and PEI singer / songwriter Lennie Gallant (Friday March 4th). The Bills have a new CD, Trail of Tales, coming out this month on Borealis Records. Fabulous harmony vocals, and virtuosic musicianship (Marc Atkinson on guitar, Adrian Dolan on fiddle, accordion, etc., and Richard Moody on fiddle are three of the best players you could wish to hear) are trademarks of this band 
Lennie Gallant has 11 albums to his name, two in French and the rest mostly in English. He is one of the country's finest storytellers in song, and will be backed by his trio.
All these shows - and more - are at St. James Hall. For more details visit
4. Fundrive at CiTR
The annual Fundrive at CiTR runs from Thursday February 25th to Friday March 4thThe Edge On Folk on Saturday February 27th will be the Special Fundrive Edition of my show. If you enjoy listening to my show, please consider pledging to CiTR to help keep this show and this unique radio station on the air and on the (cutting) edge (no relation!) You will either receive a Tax Receipt for your donation or special premiums / gifts. As well as the "swag" listed on the CiTR website below, I'll have Rogue Concert Tickets, Parcels O'Rogues, Memberships, and a Selection of Limited Edition CDs, personally-selected "Mix Tapes" (OK, CDs!) For more information about Fundrive - including the CiTR "swag" offers - click here

5. Celtic Connection
The latest issue of The Celtic Connection newspaper was printed this week. Click here to read it. Please scroll down to read my monthly column - with details of the rest of our February and March concerts, as well as Festival du Bois and CelticFest Vancouver - on page 6. There's loads of music coverage in the paper besides my column. Enjoy!

6. Radio Waves

On this week's edition of The Edge On Folk (Saturday 8am to noon on CiTR fm 101.9 and  I'll feature the music of Cape Breton Celtic band Còig  and look ahead to Festival du Bois (March 5-6 in Maillardville) and CelticFest Vancouver. I'll pay tribute to Dan Hicks - who passed away the other day (pictured above at Island Musicfest in 2010. Photo by me), and speculate whether 74 is the new 27 (for all you rock trivia buffs.)

I'll also have new music from The James Hunter Six (English R&B), Sidestepper (a unique English take on Colombian roots music with modern pop beats), Rhiannon Giddens (stunning new EP by Carolina Chocolate Drops founder), Colin Linden (Canada's King of the Blues and Country and Folk), Idan Raichel (Israeli singer / keyboardist / pacifist), Show of Hands (English folk duo), Solas (Irish-American Celtic band with new singer Moira Smiley), Tim O'Brien (West Virginia's finest renaissance man of the folk), Aoife O'Donovan (the former Crooked Still singer's stunning second solo CD), and much more. I hope you can join me!
Radio Rogue is available all day and all of the night with a huge playlist of music by Rogues past, present and future, plus some classics and some tasty new releases. Click here to access this unique music stream.