Steve's Blog
Don't miss our very special shows in November!
Wednesday October 25, 2017

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1. Russell deCarle, Thursday October 26th, 8pm, St. James Hall (3214 West 10th Avenue) 

It’s late, and the bar is crowded. The music is loud, and people are dancing. The bartender needs a smoke, and you could use a smile, a conversation, a moment of recognition… But you are alone in this crowd, along with the singer Russell deCarle.  Like him — and his music — you are holding it together with equal measures of heartbreak and hope. So join Russell; sink into his third album of songs that touch the heart, celebrate the truth, and provide warmth and company in the noise of the crowd.

Alone in this Crowd is the title of Russell deCarle’s third album; it feels like the soundtrack of a movie in the days just before they invented Technicolor. And, even more than his two previous albums, it may surprise those who remember deCarle as the lead vocalist and bassist of the iconic Canadian country roots band Prairie Oyster. He is no stranger to awards and accolades — his “Oyster years” were rewarded with six Juno Awards, more than a dozen Canadian Country Music Awards and enough gold and platinum records and #1 singles to fill a living room wall. The truth is, though, that Prairie Oyster was always more than a “country” band, and deCarle’s warm, burnished and intimate voice has always honoured an eclectic range of songs. True to form, Alone in this Crowd offers a fluent collection of songs that mix southern soul and restrained balladry, with obvious touches of jazz, blues, old-school country, and western swing.

Russell deCarle’s songwriting has absorbed all those influences, and he avidly listens to smooth soul singers and the men and women who made early country music so compelling. Like his previous (debut) solo album Under the Big Big Sky, there are eight original songs here, and three covers. This third record is a perfect example of what you get when you hear this artist live — in a club, in a concert hall, or at a festival.
“I want people to be emotionally invested in these songs, whether I wrote them or whether they were created by others,” he says. “If they touched audiences in some way — well, that would be the best thing that could happen.” It’s his personal objective whenever he performs. “I’m a music lover first and foremost — a product of all the stuff I’ve ever listened to — and my tastes are very broad. To me, this is a torchy, bluesy record more than anything else. And I know in my heart that it’s something that people who hear it will understand immediately….”

Russell will be joined by Steve Briggs (lead guitar and vocals) and Jeremy Holmes (bass and vocals) for this special CD launch concert at The Rogue. For tickets and more details click here.


2. Twin Bandit, Friday October 27th, 8pm, St. James Hall (3214 West 10th Avenue)

Something very special happened one day, four years ago in the kitchen of Vancouver’s St. James Music Academy, a non-profit that nurtures the musical souls and tummies of neighbouring inner city kids. Academy cook Hannah Walker was frazzled trying to prepare and serve a hundred quesadillas to a mad rush of children. She also had to deal with a well-meaning, but untrained, volunteer. In a strange moment of serenity, she discovered that the greenhorn in question, Jamie Elliott, was her musical soulmate and would be her future counterpart in the folk duo, Twin Bandit.

“It’s a profound and confusing time being a young adult, and there is something universal and timeless about folk music because it’s about life lessons like forgiveness, having your heart broken or finally falling in love,” Hannah explains. “Telling and sharing stories is therapeutic.”

At the core of the East Vancouver based band’s aesthetic is the vocal harmony and spare instrumental accompaniment evocative of traditional North American roots music. The day they met they sang almost every old chestnut they knew and excitedly rattled off favourite songs and artists from bygone eras. And yet if you listen closely, there are textures and nuances conjuring up contemporary soundscapes and the weeping of pedal steel straight from traditional country music.

Prior to joining forces, Jamie had been playing in country and bluegrass bands for seven years, harmonizing with other female vocalists. Hannah grew up with five sisters, and has been singing with her siblings since before she can remember. Both are equally strong instrumentalists, singers, songwriters, and co-songwriters. They’re twin creative souls with a compelling underpinning of darkness to their work, hence the name Twin Bandit.

Their new CD - their 2nd - is entitled Full Circle (Nettwerk Records). “The concept of a full circle spoke to us,” admits Hannah. “When we started writing, Jamie and I were in not in very good places. Jamie was dealing with mental health issues. I was struggling with depression and the loss of family members and friends. There were a lot of funerals at the time. We sat down and made a decision to write music that’s positive and encouraging. When you focus on practicing positivity and gratitude, it can really change your outlook. Even though we began in a tough place, it was an exciting and beautiful experience. Everything came back around. We acknowledge that it will be difficult again down the road, but there’s always another day to keep trying.”

They will be joined by the amazing Scott Smith on pedal steel and guitars, Ollie Swain on bass, Richard Moody on fiddle, and Kenton Loewen on drums. Ollie will perform the opening set with the band before Jamie and Hannah melt your heart and enrich your spirit with their sublime sound.

Tickets and more information here


3. Beòlach, Friday November 3rd, 8pm, St. James Hall (3214 West 10th Avenue)

It's always a treat when these musicians get together on the same stage. They are among Cape Breton‘s most respected musicians and they are teaming up for a rare performance together at The Rogue. Last year's sold out Cape Breton Kitchen Party was a highly memorable evening, so please don't delay and miss out this time around! Especially since the three musicians who played here last year - Mairi Rankin and Wendy MacIsaac (fiddles, step dancing) and Mac Morin (keyboards, step dancing) - will be joined is time by Matt MacIsaac (highland bagpipes, whistles, guitar, banjo). Collectively, this band is better known in Cape Breton and across the Northern Hemisphere as Beòlach.

Since getting their start at a late night session during Celtic Colours in 1998, Beòlach has established itself as one of Cape Breton’s most exciting and innovative traditional bands. Performing a lively mix of Cape Breton, Scottish and Irish tunes, the group presents original compositions as well as unique, dynamic arrangements of classic traditional tunes. 

These artists rarely get a chance to play together in front of an audience, thanks to Mairi now living on the west coast and touring with her amazing band The Outside TrackMac and Matt touring with Natalie MacMaster‘s band and Wendy touring with Mary Jane Lamond and her own music. So, they love it when dates align and a night like this is possible. After touring extensively throughout North America, the U.K. and Europe for 11 years, they have loads of great arrangements - and they are consummate entertainers too.

Get your tickets here - while you still can! This show is sure to sell out.


4. Tom Paxton & The Don Juans, Thursday November 9th, 8pm, St. James Hall (3214 West 10th Avenue)

Tom Paxton’s career has taken him from his days as a drama student at the University of Oklahoma to thousands of concerts in venues ranging from coffee houses in Greenwich Village to the Albert Hall in London and Carnegie Hall in New York. He has recorded more than fifty albums of his own songs. Hundreds of other artists have recorded his songs, including Bob Dylan; Johnny Cash; Willie Nelson; Dolly Parton; Judy Collins; John Denver; Joan Baez; and Peter, Paul and Mary. 

Paxton has proven to be one of the most durable of the singer/songwriters to emerge from the Greenwich Village folk revival scene of the early '60s. Like Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs, Paxton was a songwriter caught up in the left-wing political movements of the time and inspired to compose topical and protest songs. In general his tended to be more lighthearted than theirs (the musical satirist Tom Lehrer was at least as much of an influence on him as Woody Guthrie), though he could be just as witty and just as harshly critical of his opponents. Like such mentors as Pete Seeger, and unlike Dylan, he never cared to make much of a transition to the mainstream, and he never picked up an electric guitar to play rock & roll. (None of his many albums ever reached the Top 100, and he never scored a chart single as a recording artist.) Instead, he has kept on, year in and year out, writing and singing songs that comment - often humorously - on the state of the body politic. He has also contributed more than a few love songs, some songs of joyous celebration, and many children's songs. In fact, his biggest successes as a songwriter, the songs that became hits for others and were covered over and over include The Last Thing on My Mind (by far his most popular work), Bottle of WineRamblin' BoyI Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound, and The Marvellous Toy. Tom's latest recording, Boat In The Water, is proof that his songwriting is still as topical, insightful and relevant as ever.

The Don Juans are Jon Vezner and Don Henry. Grammy-winning songwriter Jon Vezner is a tunesmith of rare sensitivity and dry wit. His catalog of songs reads like a songbook itself, interpreted and recorded by some of the greats in the business, such as Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Faith Hill, Janis Ian, John Mellencamp, Nancy Griffith, and Judy CollinsDon Henry is another Grammy-winning writer whose songs have been recorded by Lonestar, Rosie Flores, the Thompson Brothers Band, Bryan White, Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, and many more. They will accompany Tom throughout this evening of nostalgic reflection and sage, poetic insight - and considerable wit and merriment! 

Tickets and information can be found here


5. Rogue Fundraiser, Saturday November 25th, 7:30pm, St. James Hall (3214 West 10th Avenue)

Looking ahead, we are holding a Fundraising Concert and Silent Auction. This has been a tough year for the music business in general, and The Rogue has struggled to keep afloat. I know that a lot (sadly, by no means all) of our shows are sold out or appear to be very popular, but our overheads continue to increase - while our two government grants have remained at the same monetary value for the past 15 years. Hotel rooms (for us) and travel costs (for touring musicians) continue to increase the cost of bringing these wonderful artists to Vancouver. There is way too much work for one full-time employee, and in fact we have no less than four part-time staff members, and a dedicated and wonderful core crew of volunteers and Board members who carry out much of the work at shows and between shows. Unlike a lot of arts organizations we feed our volunteers at the shows. Venue rental and office rental costs continue to rise. This Summer we presented almost no concerts, but some of our expenses are year-round, so we had nothing coming in to pay for rent and such. With St. James Community Square engaged in their own intensive fundraising campaign - to which we have contributed quite a bit over the past year or so - we found ourselves staring at a terrifyingly empty bank account in August. Fortunately we have had some excellent shows in September and October, and our latest grant from BC Gaming has just come in. However, Rogue Folk remains just a couple of disastrous turnouts away from oblivion.

Consequently we are asking you, our loyal supporters, to rally round and attend what will be our second-ever Fundraising Concert (Saturday November 25th). The last one was in October 2001, by the way.

This will be a concert with founding Rogue Stephen Fearing playing a solo set, young North Vancouver fiddle wizard Gabriel Dubreuil bringing a new trio to start the evening, and the sumptuous voice of BC singer Marin Patenaude (joined by Ben Rogalsky for a set) and her wonderful holy tonk outfit The East Van Country Band closing the night with a hoedown.

Interwoven with the great music there will be items for sale by auction - ranging from top of the line, custom-built guitars to weekend escapes in Whistler, and various Gulf Islands. There will also be numerous works of art, gift baskets of all manner of goods, special collections of CDs and so much more.

Tickets for this crucial event are $30. There are no discount prices, no Parcel O'Rogues, just a very much needed $30 from - we hope - 200 or more Rogue Folk fans and music lovers.

More details of the event - and the auction items - can be found here  If you have something you would like to donate to the auction - be it goods or services or good old cash - please contact us!

Please Help Save The Rogue!


6. Memories of Celtic Colours 2017

I've posted some photos from this month's amazing Celtic Colours Festival in Cape Breton on my FlickR page. I'll also include a review of the event in the next issue of The Celtic Connection newspaper, which comes out next week. 


7. Radio Waves

On this week's show I'll pay tribute to Fats Domino: Rock & Roll pioneer, who passed away yesterday. I'll also have new releases by the likes of Show of Hands, Railroad Earth, Sarah Jane Morris, Martin Hayes Quartet, Abigail Washburn & Bèla Fleck, Harry Manx, Jim Page, Twin Bandit, Little Miss Higgins, The East Pointers, Oh Susanna, Beppe Gambetta (Italy), Broom Bezzums (Germany), Phønix, Rannok, Basco, and Zenobia (Denmark), The Jeremiahs, and McGoldrick / McCusker / Doyle (Eire), and Chris Hillman, Sam Gleaves & Tyler Hughes, Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons, and Rachel Baiman (USA). Plus more memories of Cape Breton, and previews of concerts by Beòlach, Tom Paxton, and many more. I might even play some Pink Floyd, as I'm going to see Roger Waters on Sunday night.

I hope you can join me this - and every - Saturday from 8am to noon on CiTR fm 101.9 and for four hours of the very best in roots music.