The “Reel” Deal – Caladh Nua


This is the real deal – check the  Caladh Nua Documentary
and the YOUTUBE clips The Cruel Lowland MaidThe Templehouse Reels,  The Banks of the Lee, and Richard Thompson’s Beeswing
 Stage set
The East Kootenays are not exactly the center of the Celtic universe, and yet, over the years we have been treated to some of the finest Celtic musicians that the planet has to  Lisa's fiddleoffer. We have seen the likes of Andy Irvine (a legend in Irish music), Ron Kavana, the Irish bands Dervish, Four Men and a Dog, and Danu ; the Alberta band Celtara; The Harbour Trio (with Don Ross) from down east; Cape Breton fiddlers Natalie McMasters, and in a week or so, Ashley MacIsaac. This list does not include those musicians that have a little bit of green in their repertoires and performance styles. The ones who immediately come to mind are Dehli to Dublin (D2D) and that incredible acoustic guitarist  Martin Simpson. Now we can add to the list the band that has just performed at Centre 64 – Caladh Nua (“new harbour” or “new sheltered place”). This quintet of musicians include Lisa Butler (vocals and fiddle), Paddy Tutty (fiddle, viola and bodhran), Derek Morrissey (button accordion), Colm O’Caoimh (playing a beautiful cedar top Lowden guitar) and on Irish tenor banjo and Irish whistle, probably one of the tallest Irish speaking men on the planet, Eoin O’Meachair. Just to set the mood and get the feet tapping the band kicked off a night of brilliant music with a set of reels followed by a set of jigs. For the first traditional song of the evening Colm provided some light opening guitar textures for The Cruel Lowland Maid  followed by Eoin joining in with some nice chugging banjo rhythm behind Lisa Butler’s vocal. Colm’s guitar playing threw me for a bit. At the beginning I thought he may have been using an open tuning. As it turns out he plays in standard tuning and uses an unorthodox “baseball bat grip” technique that guitar teachers warn you against. They claim it is awkward and inefficient. Yet it works well for Colm and his playing is a study in how to add magnificent bass lines to highly rhythmic accompaniments.  By the way, Lisa’s voice is very reminiscent of Dervish’s Cathy Jordan and Eoin’s banjo playing brings back echoes of the legendary Dubliners. That pretty well set the pattern for the evening. Lots of dance sets, solo pieces and great songs scattered in between. For me the standout performances of the evening were the reworking of Bill Monroe’s The Goldrush coupled with the tune Terry Teagan; My choice of the vocals was Lisa’s The Banks of the Lee and Colm O’Caoimh’s outstanding outstanding interpretation of Richard Thompson great narrative song Beeswing.
Lisa Butler   Paddy Tutty    Lisa Butler   Eoin O'Meachair   Derek Morrissey   Paddy Tutty   Colm O'Caoimh  Eoin O'Meachair  Paddy Tutty   Lisa Butler
For the last set of dance tunes the band offered a free CD for the best dance performance in front of the band area. A young dancer responded with a spontaneous performance that was out standing. I only know her as “Joe the Plumber’s Daughter”. I always hope for at least one “Money Shot” from each performance I cover. Here it is for the Caladh Nua concert and an outstanding shot it is, if I do say so myself.
Joe the Plumbers DaughterHere are some more images from the evening.
 Eoin O'Meachair    Lisa Butler   Derek Morrissey Paddy Tutty Eoin O'Meachair 308. Paddy Tutty 430. Derek Morrissey     Derek Morrissey and Colm O'Caoimh    Joe the Plumber's Daughter   Colm O'Caoimh
Thanks should go, first of all to the musicians, then the volunteers and staff of Centre 64 and the Kimberly Arts Council. Thanks to the sponsors Pedal and Tap for feeding the musicians and Mountain Spirit  for the accommodations. Thanks to Terry for the lights and thanks to Ray and Marty for the sound and also to Keith Nicolas for the being the MC and chief organizer.
Keith Nicolas       Eoin's banjo      Paddy's fiddle  Bodhran       Lisa Butler   Paddy Tutty Derek Morrissey and Colm O'Caoimh   Paddy Tutty   Derek Morrissey  Colm O'Caimh   Joe the Plumber's Daughter  Colm O'Caoimh
After Thoughts: Have you ever wondered why Bluegrass, Old-Timey and Celtic musicians, while reworking essentially the same common ore body of traditional material, come up with such distinctly different outcomes? Some of it has to do with the instrumental configurations employed. Bluegrass with its standard instrumentation of guitar / banjo / dobro / standup bass/ mandolin and fiddle approach the music in a different way to the Celtic reliance on fiddle / accordion / flute / Irish Bouzouki / bodhran combinations. In fact there is no standard Celtic configuration. Often musicians just take what is available and blend  or bend it into the notion at hand. Even the guitar (not a traditional Celtic instrument) is approached in a different way with the use of odd open tunings ( DADGAD, Dropped D or open G) that enable accompaniments that would not work in a Bluegrass setting. The banjo in Celtic music is an entirely a different beast to its American cousins. It’s a four string instrument tuned like a mandolin (GDAE) and played with a plectrum to duplicate or enhance the melody line of the tune. Old-timey music is closer to the Bluegrass tradition in material and temperament than to its Celtic roots. The vocal traditions are similar but, of course, reflect their own specific cultural and geographical conditions. I think the big difference is how each tradition handles the instrumental music. Celtic music is more emphatically dance music  so therefore there is a tendency to string together a whole “swack” of tunes to keep the dance momentum going and that imposes a different set of conditions. Bluegrass and Old-timey music tends to stay with a single tune that allows for the performers to indulge in more significant variations and solo opportunities. The end result is that the these traditions favor more “open” tunes with lots of space in the melodies for altering the melodic line and a reliance on standard chordal cadences (IV-V7-I) to keep everybody on track. In Celtic music the melody is king and very few Celtic musicians will tamper with the melody on the fly. The only musicians who immediately comes to mind who willing favor melodic variations are the American fiddler Liz Carroll and Cape Breton’s Ashley MacIssac. Because of the harmonic modal nature of Celtic music the standard IV-V7-I cadences may not work (a dominant 7th chord may lead you in the wrong direction). As I said melody is king in Celtic music so that it is imperative that the performers know the tunes inside out so that when one melody ends the new melody is picked up immediately. There is no reliance on the chordal cadence to keep you on track. The secret of a good performance lies in how smooth the transitions from one tune to the next is a accomplished. It can be so smooth that the audience may not be aware or it can be like a racing car shifting gears. Maybe that’s what drives the dancers.

Music, Music, Music

Maybe it is the first real sign of spring. Who needs a ground hog looking for his shadow? A jam packed weekend of live music may just be a better indicator. I attended three venues of live music over the weekend and who knows there may have been more spread around town. The Heid Out in Cranbrook (Friday), The Creekside Pub (Saturday) in Kimberley, and The Stemwinder Bar and Grill at the Kimberley Ski Hill (Sunday) were all alive with “live” music.


Dave Prinn, at the Heid Out in Cranbrook, Friday March 21, 2014, 7-10pm

Dave PrinnThe Heidout is a noisy room but one with great ambience, great food, superbly crafted beers and, on this particular night, graced by one of Cranbrook’s finest interpreter of classic rock and folk/rock. Dave ripped through two sets for a very responsive audience  before inviting his partner in Vested Interestscrime from the duo Vested Interests, Bill Renwick, to join him for some bluesy classic tunes and originals. Bill has one of those voices reminiscent of Neil Young but much better. If Neil Young had a good voice he would sound like Bill Renwick. It seems that Heidi’s intends to make live music a staple on the Cranbrook scene and it it most welcome. Let live music rule!!

112. Dave Prinn   Bill Renwick  Dave Prinn  Bill Renwick   Dave Prinn  Bill Renwick Dave Prinn  Dave Prinn  Dave Prinn  Vested Interests  Dave Prinn guitar   Chains


TUCKERS TROUBADOURS, at BJ’s Creekside Pub in Kimberley, March 22, 2014 7-11pm

I’m not a big fan of “star-spangled Nashville” country music but I do like the rolled up sleeves down to earth country music that favor great songs and great tunes delivered with  impeccable musicianship and style. Tuckers Troubadours fills that criteria to the nth degree. The usual line up (Larry Tuck- bass ukelele, Doug Simpson – rhythm guitar, Dave Carlson – mandolin, and Bud Decosse – lead guitar) was on stage at BJs, and a fine group of individuals they are, but for this evening they were outshone by the guest appearance of Bud’s daughter Stacey. She has been kicking around the local music scene for many years, in fact ever since she was a teenager, and it was good to see and hear her in such a pleasant setting. Let’s hope we see and hear more of her at BJ’s Creekside Pub in the future

Stacey  Stacey   Stacey Stacey and Dave CarlsonStacey


APRE SKI JAM SESSION, at the Stemwinder Bar and Grill (Kimberley Ski Hill), Sunday,March 23, 2014, 3-8pm. This was part of the ski resort’s regular apre live music session. There was a great turn out of local musicians in age groups that spanned the spectrum from teenagers to the geriatric. The music was mostly classic rock with some folky stuff and a few Irish tunes on Cittern thrown in for good measure.

Selkirk Students    Selkirk Students  Chris Datson   Keith   Selkirk Student  Shayne Rodrigues   Guest drummer    Meridee Heather and friend    Keith   Nick Rodrigues Sam    In the audience   Heather's friend  Heather Gemmell   George   Nick Rodrigues   Heather's friend                                                HeatherKeith, Shayne and George         Heather and friend


Social Cement

WardnerPoster-dance-“T’was a dark and stormy night”, and then some. The drive out to the metropolis of Wardner was like driving on the inside of a black hole. Every glimmer, every reflection, every photon of light seemed to be literally sucked up in the black void of night. Staying on the road was a matter of keeping one’s eyes glued to the white line on the edge of the highway and adjusting one’s navigational skills accordingly. Strangely enough this was my first visit to Wardner and I didn’t know what to expect. Although I have only had a passing acquaintance with the notion of traditional dancing this trip to Wardner was a chance to enlarge my experience. The town was so small that I was through it and out the other side of the “city limits” before I even ventured to look around to see if I could find the Community Hall. As it turned out it was on a side street, there is only one, and once on it there was no mistaking the Community Hall. The street was jammed packed with vehicles and finding a spot to park was a challenge (parking difficulties in Wardner on a Saturday night who would have thought it was possible).  In this black void of night the hall was a blaze of light, with the walls pulsating to sound of stamping feet, laughter and the wail and screech of fiddles, mandolins, guitars and banjos. To use an old jazz expression – the joint was jumpin’. And, as such, for most of us, it was not a normal situation. It was a reflection of  circumstances and situations of a time long gone.  By that I mean there was a time when music had a social context and a lively night of live music was a more normal thing. It was a time when music was a social cement that bound together families and communities. It was different to our modern concept of music in clubs, discos and pubs.  Although even those situations, for most of us,  also seem to be fading into the past. There was a time when music was more entwined with our daily lives. A time for friends, family and straight forward socializing. A time when  a night out at a dance or picnic meant a trip to the local school house or community Centre and, heaven forbid, LIVE MUSIC. It was a time for friends, family and heaven  Leslie Gotfritforbid (again) a night of fun unadulterated by the commercial motives of image and spectacle. The Square Dance at Wardner Community Hall was a throwback to those simpler times of music, dancing and socializing. The actors in this grand mish/mash of fun were the dance caller Leslie Gotfrit from Calgary, the dancers (of course) and a collection of local musicians collectively known as  Mike and Anie HepherThe Kootenay String Benders that appeared to be led by Mike and Anie Hepher. The band also included Van and Shelagh Redecopp, `Gus`  MacDonald`, Shauna Plant, Drew, `PotLuck Steve`, MusiciansSteve Jones, Rod Wilson, Reg Parsons, Heather Gemmell (trying her hand on fiddle) and many, many more. The large number of young musicians in the ensemble proved that the fate of acoustic music, particularly mandolin players, in this area is in good hands. The musicians kept dancers on their toes with lots of those familiar melodies that must be encoded in our DNA. Such tunes as The Soldiers Joy, Blackberry Blossom, Swannoa Waltz, Big Sciota, Whiskey Before Breakfast, Old Joe Clark, Squirrell Hunters, Nail the Catfish to the Tree, Liberty, etc. The steady pulse of familiar melodies and rhythm kept the feet moving.  The flow of bodies was controlled by the deft instructions of caller Leslie Gotfrit. The dances may not have been familiar but that didn`t matter. Just follow the shouted instructions  to avoid the traffic hazards of dances such as The Torpedo and  after that just have fun.

Caller - Leslie Gotfrtit  Angus MacDonald  Van Redecopp Dancers             Dancers   Fiddlers      Angus MacDonald  Anie Hepher                  Dancers  Shauna and Heather  Angus MacDonald  Young Mandolinist Dancers      Dancers    Drew  Dancers  Finn, Mike and Anie Hepher  Dancers            Dancers    Fiddlers   Leslie Gotfrit  Heather Gemmell

Apart from the fun objective the dance was a benefit to raise money to support 14 year old Jenna Homeniuk  in Calgary’s Childrens Hospital. Jenna is receiving treatment for Leukemia. So apart from the good cause it was a chance to re-establish something that has been long lost. The chance to give music it’s true value as a social cement in our daily life. And, you never know, it was just so much fun that we will want to do it again.


ps. Need a dance caller contact Leslie Gotfrit at 403-200-3300 or


Today’s Trivia (#1) – Guitar Heroes

“A real acoustic revival is going on now ………. guitars, mandolins banjos and ukeleles are making a comeback. The sales of high-end and custom acoustic guitars have risen by 39 percent since 2009 while electric guitar sales have plummeted, according to the National Association of Music Merchants. More than half of the guitar sales are now acoustic  as trends in popular music shift from rock to more acoustic-focused country, according to the Music Business Journal”. ……………..  Jenny Lee in the Vancouver Sun, Saturday March 8, 2014, pages D1 and D2.

(That reminds me of when my son was a young teenager. He was cracking his neck to acquire an electric guitar. And yet by the time he was in university he had switched to an acoustic instrument “because you don’t have to lug around a heavy amplifier”)



Paco de Lucia dead at 66 years

Paco de LuciaIt always comes as a shock when a legendary musical figure suddenly passes away. More so when, in this day and age, 66 years is not considered old. Recently the news has been littered with the passing of a number of very significant musicians. Pete Seeger at 94 years passed away a few weeks ago. Jazz guitarist Jim Hall at the age of 83 years also slipped away a few weeks prior to Pete Seeger. Last year Dave Brubeck at 91 years passed away and not too far back in 2009 Les Paul also passed away at the age of 94 years. Unfortunately Paco didn’t have the longevity of his colleagues. Pete Seeger, Dave Brubeck and Les Paul were household names. Jim Hall maybe not so much and outside guitar circles Paco de Lucia probably would elicit the response ?Who. Paco de Lucia in the post Sabicas, post Carlos Montoya flamenco guitar eras was probably the most significant flamenco guitarist of the past thirty years. Paco de Lucia Wikipedia entry . For his innovations in “New Flamenco”  Paco was a towering figure in Flamenco circles but outside Spain he is probably better known for his collaborations with John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola in the The Guitar Trio. This was a very successful group on the international touring circuit in the 1980s. It was based largely on the marketing strategy that three incredibly fast guitarists would be a box office hit. On that basis it definitely was a success but from my perspective I didn’t find the music particularly attractive. John McLaughlin’s huge body of work in his East/West collaborations with Indian musicians is probably way more significant than his work with the Guitar Trio. Al Di Meola never figured large in my sonic universe. The whole idea of three guitarists playing super fast never really appealed to me. Even Paco expressed the opinion that he preferred “controlled expression to velocity”. In regards to Paco, his innovations in New Flamenco, including the introduction of the Peruvian Cojon (box drum),  far exceeded the musical values of the Guitar Trio. Outside of The Guitar Trio  one of the high points of his career was his performance of Joaquin Rodrigo’s guitar concerto Concierto de Aranjuez in 1991. Until asked to perform the piece Paco was not proficient at reading musical notation. Biographer Pohren, however, at the time of writing his biography in 1992, said that he was still not proficient and had found a bizarre way of learning the piece, locking himself away. His performance with the orchestra under Edmon Colomer was highly acclaimed, a sensitive, atmospheric rendition that composer Rodrigo himself praised, describing it as “pretty, exotic, inspired” … I might add that Paco plays it with a great deal of feeling, far more than is normally heard. And that goes for the orchestra that backs him up.”  – wikipedia. After having heard numerous recorded versions by some of the great classical guitarists, and having heard the piece numerous times in live performance I can only underscore the notion that Paco’s version is probably the most exciting. If you want to hear his version click on the following link  The Rodrigo Concerto  . While you are at it check out any of the hundreds of YOUTUBE entries in the side bar. Also of interest is Michael Meert’s documentary Paco de Lucia – Light and Shade (A Portrait) on YOUTUBE. Click on the following link Light and Shade Documentary  . It is also available on DVD.

On February 25, 2014, while vacationing in Mexico  Paco de Lucia died suddenly after complaining of chest pain.



Be There and Be Square


WardnerPoster-dance-For most of us it would be before our time. By that I mean a time when music had a social context.  And I don’t mean a time at the local disco, club or pub. Although those situations, for most of us,   also seem to be fading into the past. There was a time when music was more entwined with our daily lives. A time for friends, family and straight forward socializing. A time when  a night out at a dance or picnic meant a trip to the local school house or community centre and, heaven forbid, LIVE MUSIC. It was a time for friends, family and heaven forbid (again) a night of fun unadulterated by the commercial motives of image and spectacle.  Although I have only had a passing acquaintance with the notion of traditional dancing I do have a hankering for the experience. Well, this coming Saturday evening that hankering is about to become reality. A group of well known local acoustic musicians and friends have organized a  Square Dance. The event is a benefit to help raise money to support 14 year old Jenna Homeniuk  in Calgary’s Childrens Hospital. Jenna is receiving treatment for Leukemia. So there’s the motivation of a good cause but more than that there is the chance to re-establish something that has been long lost. The chance to give music it’s true value as a social cement in our daily life. And, you never know, it maybe just so much fun that we will want to do it again.

So, DARE TO BE SQUARE and come out to the Square Dance at Wardner Hall on Saturday March 8, 2014. There will be fiddlers, mandolins, banjos, guitars, dancers, callers, kids, families and fun. And,  to paraphrase and old saying, BE THERE AND BE SQUARE.