What is a Beannick?

Well may you ask. In “days of olde“ when Jill and Gordon Johnston ran the Swing Street Coffee shop there was a paper mache beatnick like figure that bestrode the building. Aptly named Beannick he had to come down from his perch when Jill and Gordon sold the business. For many winters he sat under piles of snow biding his time for some future role in the life of the community. During their tenure at the Swing Street Cafe Jill and Gordon ran a subscription series of concerts every winter at the Studio Stage Door that, for years prior to the Key City Theatre, was pretty well the only concert venue for live music in Cranbrook. During that time we were treated to outstanding performances by the likes of Martin Simpson, Garnet Rodgers, Stephen Fearing, Alex Houghton, `Four Men and a Dog`, Ron Kavna and Andy Irvine.   Jill and Gordon had the incredible knack of finding performers of tremendous ability and talent. They established a concert standard for the relatively unknown performers who were, in reality, music legends. Well all things come to an end and so did the concerts series. However, with some recent prompting from Terry Miller of Cranbrook Community Theatre fame they have, under the patronage of the once famous Beannick,  resurrected the subscription concert series. This winter will be the fourth series of concerts in this the modern Beannick era.  Over the recent past I have been fortunate to hear and photograph some of the outstanding performers in the series. Here are some images to stir memories of great music:


(The above images are  from a few of the concerts in the series. A number of the concert reviews have been published in The Townsman and over the next little while I will transfer them from my archives to the JOURNALISM tab in this blog).

The Winter 2012 subscription series is already under way with a performance by Garnet Rogers a little while back. The blues guitarist Sue Foley and her musical  partner Peter Karp will be performing on Tuesday October 16, 2012  and the blues slide guitar legend Kelly Joe Phelps will be performing on Wednesday December 5, 2012. The subscription series is sold out in advance but occasionally tickets are turned in for resale on the night of the performances. For more information contact Terry Miller at  tmiller@cintek.com             .


The Good Ol’ Goats CD release


THE GOOD OL’ GOATS – THE TRAIN: The CD release concert and party at the Studio/Stage Door, September 15, 2012, 8 pm. This highly original band of young musicians have been together for probably less than a year and seem to be rolling from success to success. It is not often that young musicians step completely out of the box, bypass the standard rock and roll quartet and write and perform original music. When was the last time you saw two banjos on a stage? The band consists of the principle writer Nolan Eckert (vocals, banjo, guitar), Julian Bueckert (drums), Angus Liedtke (vocals, banjo, guitar, harmonica and accordion), Angus MacDonald (vocals, fiddle, mandolin), Theo Moore (upright bass and vocals) and Joelle Winkell (vocals, Shaker, tambourine, guitar, autoharp, mandolin, charm, good looks and the feminine touch).                                                                                                          

Click on images for a larger view



Quote of the Week

“Ten billion beetles can’t be wrong – buy BC pine”


Considering the havoc the beetle infestation is having on forestry communities this quote is probably in poor taste. It comes from a book by Calgary writer Andrew Nikiforuk called “Empire of the Beetle – How human folly and a tiny bug are killing North America’s great forests”. This book is a comprehensive look at the  historical records of beetle infestations all over the world. Although we tend to think of the current situation as a recent manifestation precipitated by climate change that is only part of the story. While climate change is a factor it is not the only one. The author also implicates logging practices and over zealous fire control. One of the hypothesis of the book is that the beetles are only doing what beetles are meant to do – manage the forest to ensure regeneration and healthy diversity. The beetles do this by attacking old an unhealthy trees to make way for new growth. The beetle is not the bad guy in the current scenario. Forestry practices, fire control and, now, climate change have interfered with the essential environmental niche that belongs to the beetle. Things are now out of balance to the point where the beetles are attacking younger and healthier trees. And, based on the historical record, there is not much we can do about it.  Clear cutting, poisoning, hormone therapy, electric shock and even music therapy (yes Martha, there is such a thing) have little effect on outcomes. In fact most measures do more harm than good. Clear cutting destroys watersheds and fish habitats and does very little to foster diversity in the forest. The piles of slash left behind harbour beetles that have nothing better to do than continue to chow down, cohabitate and multiply on the free meals left by the logging companies.  Attempts to poison the bugs end up taking a huge toll  on the beetle’s natural predators (woodpeckers and the like). The application of hormone therapy has met with some limited and diminishing success and electric shock is too impractical to consider on a large scale. Music therapy, using the beetle’s own arsenal of sounds, still sounds a little hair brained and is some what experimental. In the past the most successful interventions have been masterminded by mother nature herself. In the past a few good forty below winters have stopped  infestations cold (pun intended). In this era of climate change cold winters of the required intensity may be a thing of the past. All told the prognosis is pretty grim. There is nothing we can do but watch the destruction of the forests and decline of communities and industries as timber resources rapidly disappear. There is even a fear that now the beetles have crossed over to the east side of the Rocky Mountains the infestation could  invade the Boreal forest and, if that happens, why not go all the way to Labrador?

Need this have happened on such a scale? The urban myth is that “ground zero” was Tweedsmuir Park and an aggressive clear cut of the diseased trees in the park would have stopped the spread of the infestation. Or, at least that’s how the myth goes. It was the politicos who were unwilling to butt heads with the tree huggers and environmentalists and chose to do nothing and the result was the spread of the infestation. Well, as I said, that’s how the myth goes and, as usual with most urban myths, the truth is a little more complicated. The complete logging of Tweedsmuir Park would have done little to control the spread of the beetle. For years the beetles were  already out there across the province doing what beetles normally do.

There is a bit of déjà vu about the situation. It reminds one of the collapse of the cod fishery twenty years ago. In the immediate aftermath  of the collapse there was tremendous pressure on the politicians to open some limited fishing to ensure some livelihood for the unemployed fishermen and plant workers. It required tremendous fortitude to resist this kind of pressure. One of the heroes of the day was John Crosbie, the then Minister of Fisheries, who called “a spade a spade” and held his ground for a rational scientific approach. With the destruction of the Burns Lake Mill and one in Prince George there are calls to open the logging of marginal forest lands to try and increase inventory to enable the rebuilding of destroyed mills. The mantra once again is jobs! Jobs! Jobs! Despite the heart break and hardship that needs to be dealt with it is a call that should be resisted. As I said déjà vu. Like the cod fish the supposedly unlimited source and supply of timber has gone, or at least going, and the unimaginable is on our door step – a decline of forestry as a mainstay of the BC economy. If the cod fishery is any indication then there is a bleak prospect for many years to come. Twenty years have gone by and there is no indication that the cod fish are returning. How long does it take a tree to reach maturity? I am pretty sure it is way more than twenty years.

Two books well worth reading are:

Andrew Nikiforuk’s “Empire of the Beetle – How human folly and a tiny bug are killing North America’s great forests”.

Michael Harris’ “Lament for an Ocean – The Collapse of the Cod Fishery: a True Crime Story”.

Both of these titles are in the Cranbrook Public Library.

Shelagh and Van’s Wedding

Saturday, September 1, 2012. It couldn’t have been a better day. It was sunny, warm (not too warm) and the venue for the wedding of Shelagh Gunn and Van Redecopp at Mayook was perfect. Over the years the old Dougie Erickson property has been host to may gatherings of friends and families of the “Mayook Maniacs” but this one was extra special. It was a gathering of some two hundred friends and family to celebrate the marriage of Van Redecopp and Shelagh Gunn. They met about five years ago at one of the Sorento Bluegrass camps, became musical friends and the romantic partners that culminated in this day of celebration. A grand happy occasion, good friends, good food, good weather and the cream of local musicians. What more could one want.

Here are some images from the day of celebration (click on the images for a larger view).


Mayook always means live music. Although there was some DJ music on tap in very short order live music ruled the day. As usual for Mayook there was an entire spectrum of music. From bagpipe tunes drifting down from above the campsite, classic rock, country, Bluegrass, traditional folk, Cape Breton Fiddle Music and some mad bagpipe and percussion improvisational mayhem.

                                                            These are some of the images I managed to capture but if friends and family have images they would like to share send hi-res Jpeg files to me at parahaki@xplornet.com and I will add them to the post.


 and for those who missed it here is  The Wedding Song