Death of another Hero – Pete Seeger dies at 94

Pete Seeger Wikipedia entry


“PeterPeteSeeger (May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014) was an American folk singer and left-wing activist. A fixture on nationwide radio in the 1940s, he also had a string of hit records during the early 1950s as a member of the Weavers, most notably their recording of Lead Belly‘s “Goodnight, Irene“, which topped the charts for 13 weeks in 1950. Members of the Weavers were blacklisted during the McCarthy Era. In the 1960s, he re-emerged on the public scene as a prominent singer of protest music in support of international disarmament, civil rights, counterculture and environmental causes.” (wikipedia entry). He died peacefully in his sleep January 27,2014. He survived his wife of 75 years by a mere 6 months. There will never be another like him or at least that is the wish of most right wing reactionaries.

I was fortune to be able to hear Peter Seeger live in Australia in 1963 at a concert held at Sydney University. Because of his left wing views Seeger had been prevented from leaving the USA (“land of the free”) to tour and, I suspect, the Australian tour was one of his first appearances outside the USA. I am not one to be celebrity struck but that concert left an indelible mark on my memory. Pete strode onto the stage with a banjo in one hand and a 12 string guitar in the other. With only his voice and those two props he gave us a memorable night of mostly traditional songs and counter culture attitudes. It was a portrait of an America that we hardly knew. Before that concert I had never heard banjo played that way; nor seen a 12 string guitar; and I had never heard of Huddie Leadbetter (Leadbelly). Since that time I have not heard a performance that matched the one on that night. The nearest I have come to it was the concert by Chris Coole at the Clawhammer in Fernie a year or so ago. The wikipedia entry suggests that the Peter Seeger tour initiated a folk boom  in Australia and was responsible for the explosion in folk clubs and folk music in general in Australia. I would contest that notion. I further suggest that the Seeger tour was a response to an already significant ground swell of traditional music, and specifically Australian folk music,  that was well under way prior to the tour. I suspect the folk boom got under way in Australia because of the influence of the new British immigrants to the country who were already well versed in traditional music back in the old country. Be-that-as-it-may, I am forever thankful for the concert and the life of Pete Seeger.


One Act Plays

Two One Act plays at the Studio / Stage Door: rehearsal Wednesday, January 22, 2014, 8pm.

EH & Next posterThe Exquisite HourA one act play written by Edmonton playwright Stewart Lamoine (hurrah for Canadian content), Directed by Elizabeth Ross, staring Jennifer Inglis as Helen Darimont and Patrick Baranowski as Zachary Teale.

Helen Darimont and Zachary Teale“He’s a big galoot” ! It is an expression that probably goes way back to the days of Mark Twain and it is a perfect descriptor for Zachary Teale. It is usually meant to describe some one who is socially awkward and clumsy. It’s not usually meant to be malicious. In in an appropriate context, such as in this play, it can be  term of endearment. Helen Darimont probably thinks of Zachhary Teale as a “big loveable Galoot”. Helen Darimont is a kind of Patti Page / Doris Day character straight out of a 1950’s TV sit-com. The setting of the play and the musical prelude to the play re-enforces that Dejavu notion. It appears to be set in the days when ladies wore dresses and colored co-ordinated ensembles. It is a tale of infatuation and shyness. Helen poses as a door-to-door encyclopaedia sales man (sorry, sales person) and, in developing a sales-pitch rapport,  proceeds to smooth away some of Zachary’s social awkwardness. The play is nicely paced as the characters, with some humor, navigate their way to a point when all is revealed. They are not exactly perfect strangers after all. The cast is perfect; Jennifer Inglis looks and acts like  she is straight out of a 1950’s sit-com; Patrick Baranowski has the right amount of awkwardness for the character he portrays. This is a play well worth giving up a night of television hockey.  Here are some more images from the play:

Helen Darimont played by Jennifer Inglis    Helen Darimont and Patrick Teale   Zachary Teale played by Patrick Baranowski  Helen Darimont and Zachary Teale     Helen Darimont played by Jennifer Inglis Helen Darimont played by Jennifer Inglis   Zachary Teale played by Patrick Baranowski   Helen Darimont played by Jennifer Inglis Helen Darimont and Zachary Teale      Zachary Teale and Helen Darimont   Helen Darimont played by Jennifer Inglis Zachary Teale played by Patrick Baranowski      Zachary Teale and Helen Darimont

NEXT  a one act play written by the American actor and playwright Terrence McNally, starring Peter Schalk as Marion Cheever and Melodie Hull as Sergeant Thech and directed by Bob McCue.

 Marion Cheever and Sergeant Thech Marion Cheever, played by Peter Schalk, is a man who is unfit, fat and 58 years old. He considers himself unsuitable for any role in the army. His task is to convince the Army Induction Centre examining officer, Sergeant Thech played by Melodie Hull, of his unsuitability. Peter Schalk, in a manner that he does so well, does that in a maniac tour-de-force. Melodie, in contrast, is a solid sea of stern calmness. During the Vietnam war era I am sure the army examiners were exposed to all manners of the absurd behavior by conscripts trying to avoid the draft. This scene reminds me of a scene in the classic cult  movie Big Wednesday when all the local surfers, in their efforts to avoid military service, show up as physical and mental head cases. All this in an effort to prove they are unsuitable material to serve in the army. For Marion, in the end,  the evidence is overwhelming but once declared unsuitable the outcome is a little unsettling for Marion. He has achieved what he set out to do but he seems to have some trouble accepting the rejection. Here are some images from the play.

Marion Cheever played by peter Schalk  Sergeant Thech played by Melodie Hull  Marion Chever played by Peter Schalk   Marion Cheever played by Peter Schalk  Marion Cheever Played by Peter Schalk  Marion Cheever played by Peter Schalk Sergeant Thech played by Melodie Hull  Marion Cheever played by Peter Schalk  Marion Cheever played by Peter Schalk Sergeant Thech and Marion Cheever  Sergeant Thech and Marion Cheever  Sergeant Thech played by Melodie Hull Marion Cheever and Sergeant Thech     Melodie Hull and Peter Schalk

This play is another good reason to miss a TV hockey game.



The Robbie Burns Bush Dance

The Masons Robbie Burns Celebration, Saturday January 18, 2014 5:30 to 10:30pm at the Cranbrook Anglican Church. Music By Angus MacDonald (fiddle) and Rod Wilson (Irish Bouzouki and Irish Cittern), and M.C. Wally Smith. The following is  a brief story offered as entertainment by Rod Wilson, Angus MacDonald and Wally Smith.


On the Western plains of New South Wales at this time of year it is hot, hot, hot. Far different from the cooler climes of a traditional Robbie Burns night celebration. Never-the-less, the farmers and their families from miles around travelled to the local school house  to celebrate “The Bard”. At this particular Robbie Burns celebration it was no different from the usual and yet……….

Up to this point things had gone well. Glasses had been raised, drinks had been drunk, food had been consumed in copious quantities and the speechifying was over. Trestles, The Dancerstables and chairs had been pushed to the wall and every body was ready to dance. On stools running end to end along one side of the room sat twenty more or less blooming country girls ranging in ages from fifteen to twenty odd. On the rest of the stools running end to end  along the opposite side of the room sat more or less twenty robust lads. But it was evident that something was seriously wrong.

None of the girls spoke above a hushed whisper. None of the men spoke above a hushed oath. Now and then two or three of the men would sidle out into the darkness to vent their frustrations.

‘TAP, TAP, TAP ……..

The rows moved uneasily and some of the girls turned pale faces towards the side door and the mysterious sounds.

‘TAP, TAP, TAP ……..

The tapping came from the kitchen at the rear of the teacher’s residence and was uncomfortably suggestive of a coffin being made: It was also accompanied by a sickly, indescribable odour – more like that of a warm cheap glue than anything else.

In the schoolroom there was a painful scene of strained listening. Whenever one of the men returned from the outside, or put his head inside the door all eyes were fastened on him in a flash forcing him to withdraw. At the sound of a horse’s step all eyes and ears were on the door ’till some one muttered “it is only the horses in the paddock”.

Some of the girl’s eyes began to glisten suspiciously and at last the belle of the evening – a great dark haired pink-and-white Blue Mountain girl, who had been sitting for a full minute staring before her, with blue eyes unnaturally bright, suddenly covered her face with her hands and started to sob. She rose and blindly stumbled from the room, from which she was steered in a hurry by two sympathetic and almost equally upset girl friends. On passing she hysterically sobbed…..

“I can’t help it. I did want to dance. It’s a sh-shame !. I can’t help it. I rode twenty miles and I want to dance.”

A tall strapping young bushman rose, and without disguise, followed her from the room. The rest started to loudly discuss stocks, dogs, horses and other bush things; But above all the chatter rang the voice of the distraught girl. “I can’t help it Jack! I did want to dance. I had such a job getting father and mother  to let me come  – and – now – …. ” The two girl friends came back into the room  and whispered to the school mistress “he sez to leave her to him while he tries to calm her down. ” It’s no use Jack!” came the voice of grief “You don’t know what it is like with father and mother. I, I won’t be able to g-get away – again for – for-  not until I’m married perhaps.” The school mistress glanced uneasily along the row of girls – “I’ll take her into my room and get her to lie down and maybe that will calm her.”

A final ‘TAP, TAP, TAP from the kitchen and then a sound like a squawk of a hurt or frightened child. All faces brightened and turned expectantly in the direction of the new sound. And then there came a bang and the sound of “dam” and everybody settled back down in a depressing funk.

Then there came a shout from the darkness and most of the men and some of the girls hurried out to investigate. It sound like the paddock gate rattling and the snort and plod of more horses. “Who is it Tom?” There were voices from the yard yelling “I think it is young Angus MacDonald”. And then were cheers all around because young Angus never travelled anywhere without his fiddle.

Out in the kitchen Wally Smith was still struggling with his button accordion. He had just retrieved the battered and bruised device from the opposite side of the room where, The Kickafter an hour of struggling to patch the bellows, he had despondently thrown the instrument. Finally he picked it up and headed towards the door and holding it forward between the palms of his hands, as a football is held, he let it drop, and neatly fetched it on to the toe of his riding boot. It was a beautiful kick out into the darkness where upon it was immediately greeted with a yelp of pain as it collided with some one’s head.

But from the school room the M.C. yelled “Yes, yes , yes  it’s Angus MacDonald with his fiddle. Every body hurry up and  take your partners for the first dance ……..”

(In the movie version there would be a joyous scene of dancers flying around the room to the sound of Angus MacDonald’s fiddle belting out a very lively reel and then, in true Hollywood fashion, the scene would fade to black)

Bush Wackers Dance Book(Stolen and freely adapted from the BushWacker Dance Book (published in 1980) who in turn lifted it from Henry Lawson’s Collection of Short Stories Joe Wilson’s Mates.

Bush Wackers Dance Book - cover@@@@@@@@@@@@

LOCALS COFFEE HOUSE – January 11, 2014

Bill Cleland - MC

Bill Cleland – MC

The original “Maddy” was the English singer Maddy Prior who, along with Sandy Denny,  virtually defined the female voice role in the British Folk Rock genre of the 1960s. Sandy Denny may have had the looks and the rock persona but Maddy had the Maddy and Dave Prinn voice. Young local singer Maddy Prinn has a voice that does not suffer from any comparison with either Maddy Prior or Sandy Denny. Miss Prinn, accompanied by her father Dave, made her first appearance at the Local Coffee House on Saturday. It was a stunning performance. She dipped into the recent rock repertoire to sing U2’s With You or Without You, The Dixie Chicks Easy Silence, and, for me two unfamiliar tunes, Sky Scrapper and Love your Memory. Maddy played Ukelele and guitar and, off to one side her father sang harmony and played some really beautiful back up and lead on his vintage Martin D-28. Dave looked so happy I thought he was going to burst. As they say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and Maddy sounds like she will continue the Prinn legacy and in all probability out shine her dad. Here are a couple of links worth checking: Maddy Prior singing Gaudette and Sandy Denny singing “Who Knows Where the Time Goes”.

Mark Casey – “a folk singer with attitude” (guitar and vocals) is a big fan of the 60’s British invasion band The Kinks. His special treat for the evening was a collection “Kink” 334. Mark Casey and Barry Coultersongs. He was joined on a couple of tunes by Barry Coulter on blues “harp”. The other “Mark”, there are many “Marks” around this town, Mark Rosini and his partner Krista  Mark and Kristahave recently returned to the area and this was their first exposure at Locals. Mark on  guitar and vocals backed up Krista on some songs that include Smokey Robinson’s You’ve Got a Hold on Me. “Mr. eclectic” (Barry Coulter) on such diverse instruments as blues harp, guitar, 12 string guitar and amplified dulcimer is a frequent performer on local stages. His special treat for the evening was a full-on “Nic Drake” experience. For those who don’t know Nic Drake “he was an English singer-songwriter and musician known for his acoustic guitar-based songs. He failed to find a wide audience during his lifetime but his work has gradually achieved wider notice and recognition” (from Wikipedia). He suffered from chronic depression and towards the end 370. Barry Coulterof his life was smoking what has been described as “unbelievable amounts” of marijuana and exhibiting “the first signs of psychosis”. By the winter of 1970, he had isolated himself in London and in 1974 he died from an apparent suicide. The resurgence of interest in his music may be due to the use of Pink Moon in a 1999 VW Cabrio commercial. Drake tended to use open tunings in his guitar music. So, to achieve the full “Nic Drake Experience” Barry has opted to use some of Nic Drake’s tunings such as B E B E B E (alternating 4th and 5ths), E A D F# B E, and C G C F C E (? Csus) and, rather than haul a number of pre-tuned guitars on stage, he felt the experience demanded the full visual and aural sensations of re-tuning the guitar for each song. Barry is not only eclectic he like to be authentic as well. His final piece of the evening was Pink Moon. Darin Welch is a local singer / song writer who runs the  Darin WelchDriftwood Concert House in Kimberley. Darin and his family (Jen and Silas) are dedicated to promoting intimate and sustainable music in a house concert setting. To read reviews and see images from recent Driftwood Concerts do a “Driftwood search” in this blog. He performed three of his original songs that included Wilderness, Pretty Water and Simple City. Darin writes great songs for his own unique voice and his guitar finger picking technique on an outstanding instrument. His performance strength is in his sensitive use of dynamics. RedGirl (Anie and Mike Hepher and Steve Jones) need no introduction. They have been staples on the local music scene for years and during that time they have continued to grow and evolve. Each performance is a fresh look into their musical world. They were joined on guitar by 554. RedGirlKeith Larsen. Prior to the show they were busy in the “Green Room” pulling together the material for this performance and the result, as usual, was smooth, polished and flawless. For RedGirl there is no other way to perform. For the evening they performed a few bluegrass and “old-timey” tunes (with the emphasis on “old-timey”). Keith was given ample opportunity to display his flat picking talents on Lazy John. Their encore was the old American bluegrass favorite Darli’n Corey.

Once again the Stage Door was sold out and thanks should go to Lorraine Casey and all the volunteers that make this wonderful institution such a joy. Here are some more images from the evening.

Maddy Prinn  Bill Cleland   Dave Prinn Mark Casey  Barry Coulter  Maddy Prinn  Anie HepherDavid Prinn   Krista   Barry Coulter  Mark Casey  Maddy Prinn  Mark Rosini  Keith LarsenBarry Coulter  Mark Casey  Maddy Prinn Mark Rosini   Barry Coulter  Darin Welch  Mark Casey  David Prinn  Anie Hepher  Keith Larsen  Barry Coulter  Mike Hepher  Barry Coulter   Anie's Feet  KristaMark and Krista Krista's feet