Once more with feeling ….. and a new chapeau

LONESOME JIM (aka James Neve) AT BJs CREEKSIDE PUB, Saturday February 20, 2016, 8pm

As usual James (vocals, Cojon, guitars and pedals) was in top form for this marathon solo engagement that ran through to midnight. The crowd did thin out mid-stream but swelled again when the patrons from the Home Grown Music Society decided to make a night of it by moving over to BJs. Dave Prinn and Jon Bisset stepped in with some backup vocals; Bill Renwick (guitar, vocals and harmonica) performed a short intermission set and Rod Wilson, with his percussion compadres “Stella” and “Bud”, joined forces with James for his driving masterpiece Rainland.

100. Lonesome Jim128. Lonesome jim and Bill Renwick   020.


“Canadian Folk Sketches” – World Premier Rehearsals

SOTK Lizzy Hoyt 2016_02_13

In the past there has been a well recognized tradition where classical composers have dipped into folkloric waters to refurbish and re-invigorate their music. In fact there are  whole national music traditions that have come into being as a result of that process. Every now and then folk musicians, rock musicians and jazz musicians have turned that process on its ear by enlisting classical musicians, most notably, symphony orchestras in support of music that is outside the normal symphony repertoire. Over the years The Symphony of the Kootenays has been involved in a number of those type of projects. Lizzy Hoyt’s Canadian Folk Sketches World Premier is the latest in that ilk. Lizzy Hoyt (vocals, guitar, fiddle, and harp) and her trio, Keith Rempel (upright bass and back-up vocals) and Chis Tabbert (guitar and Russian Soviet era mandolin) joined the Symphony and shared the solo spotlights with a number of the Symphony’s outstanding musicians. The rehearsals were on Saturday afternoon, February 13, 2016 in preparation for the premier concert later that evening. Here are some images from that rehearsal.

505. Trio plus Orchestra 100. Lizzy Hoyt    200. Keith Rempell    300. Chris Tabbert  132. Lizzy Hoyt   312. Chris Tabbert    212. Keith Rempel  310. Lizzy and Chris050. Harp  320. Chris Tabbert   408. Wendy  422. Jeff Faragher 144. Lizzy Hoyt  118. Lizzy Hoyt  316. Chris Tabbert 532. Nicola   140. Lizzy Hoyt   146. Lizzy's feet

I know the instrument doesn’t make the music. It is the musician who makes the music. However, having said that, I think it is worth focusing some attention on Lizzy’s magnificent Collings small bodied guitar (probably a Collings OM1). This a truly beautiful example of modern luthiery and it further demonstrates that we are living in a golden era of hand made instruments.050a. The Collins Guitar 126a. Lizzy and the Collings guitar

As for the repertoire it always gives me great pleasure when a Canadian musician stops looking south for musical inspiration and decides to explore the rich, varied, and largely unexplored traditions of Canada.


The Tradition Continues ….. COIG


“The Highland Clearances were horrific events in Scottish history. In the 19th Century Crofters were forcibly evicted from their homes in the Highlands of Scotland and those that survived starvation and death ended up scattered all over the world. “It was an ill wind that blew some good” and this “ill wind” was responsible for the Scots settling in Cape Breton. With the new settlers came all the elements of the Scottish Highland Culture. It included the Gaelic language, music, dancing and story telling and some say this transplantation of the culture is responsible for the very survival of the Scottish Fiddle tradition, not only in Canada, but in Scotland itself. By the time the CBC aired a TV show called “The Vanishing Cape Breton Fiddler” in 1971 the Cape Breton style of fiddling had been in existence for well over a hundred years. The CBC show lamented the decline of the tradition and predicted the inevitable demise of the Cape Breton fiddler. Boy, were they ever wrong with that conclusion. Within a few short years of the airing of the show the tradition became revitalized and went though a period of explosive growth. As well as a whole cadre of older and younger fiddlers,  part of the positive change can be laid at the feet of at least two master fiddlers, Jerry Holland and Buddy MacMaster.”   Both of these musicians have since passed away but their children, grand-children, students and disciples have continued to re-invigorated the tradition. COIG (Gaelic for Five) is part of that on going process. Originally this was a quintet formed to promote the Cape Breton Celtic Colours Festival. The original members were all basically Cape Bretoners who have grown up in the tradition and are thoroughly familiar with the traditional fiddle and piano music of the region. The original members were Chrissy Crowley (fiddle and viola), Rachel Davis (fiddle and viola), Jason Roach (keyboards), Darren McMullen (tenor banjo, bouzouki, mandolin, guitars, and Irish Whistle), and Colin Grant (fiddle). Coig performed as a quartet at the Key City without Colin so  I am not sure if he is still part of the group.

112. Coig It goes without saying this was a night of brilliant music with lots of foot stomping fiddle duets, tenor banjo, bouzouki and mandolin leads all backed by Jason’s thunderous Cape Breton piano. The band performed a selection of tune sets from their album Five. Tunes included Bad Day at the Beach, The Oak Tree Set, Choufflé Soufflé, SR (Strathspey/ Reel) Set and others. Rachel Davis sang Bob Dylan’s classic ballad  Tomorrow is a Long Time and Dougie MacLean’s She Loves Me when I Try. On keyboard Jason Roach performed an extended solo set that included Sleepy Maggie. Here are some images from the evening.

206. Chrissy Crowley  204. Chrissy Crowley  202. Chrissy Crowley302b. Rachel Davis  600. Darren McMullen  514. Jason Roach  408. Darren and Rachel  228. Chrissy Crowley  412. Rachel and Chrissy  406. Rachel and Chrissy214a. Chrissy Crowley  300. Rachel Davis   304a. Rachel Davis   311. Rachel Davis               428. Chrissy and Darren        430. Chrissy and Darren

Musical Notes (pun intended). Darren McMullen is a “highly sort after multi-instrumentalist, switching between, guitars, mandolin, bouzouki, banjo and whistle”. His arsenal of instruments is only restricted by travel requirements. In this instance he did not play guitar. For most of the audience that may, or may not have passed unnoticed….. when was the last time we have heard a musical ensemble that was not 602. Darren McMullenguitar based? Actually it was refreshing not hear a batch of guitars thumping away. After all there is more to music than three guitars and a thudding back beat. Without guitars and with the addition of bouzouki, banjo and mandolin the music had a whole different sonic ambience. On this trip his arsenal was restricted to just the Irish tenor banjo, mandolin and Irish bouzouki. There is only so much excess baggage that you can cram onto a plane. Darren plays a 19 fret Irish tenor banjo tuned GDAE played mandolin style with a pick. It requires a different musical approach to the usual Bluegrass and Clawhammer styles of banjo playing. This instrument is not necessarily a chordal instrument. Rather its strength is in single linear melody lines and 612. Darren McMullenleads. When played solo it does not have a pleasant sound. However, in ensemble situations its loud percussive notes adds rhythm and punch to melody lines. It is particularly effective when played in unison with other melody instruments such as fiddle and accordions. Darren also plays a Bruce Weber Irish Bouzouki. For those unfamiliar with the Irish bouzouki it is a mandolin styled instrument (“a mandolin on steroids”) that  originally started out as the Greek Bouzouki before Irish musicians adopted it in the mid-1960s. Darren’s instrument is a custom built instrument designed to have a high tight sound that doesn’t conflict with the bass register of Jason’s Cape Breton style piano. Last but not least is his  Mark Franzke Dog Boys  custom built A- style mandolin. 608. Darren McMullen  626. Darren McMullen         632. Darren McMullen 616a. Darren McMullen

This was a night of exciting Canadian Music and one that may be repeated in the future. There are already rumours that the band will be back. If so Coig is not to be missed.


Here is a YouTube clip just to give us an after taste of the concert:


Oh, What a Party……..”

Midwinter Beach Party

A fine way to kick the winter blues out the door is to have a party. The local band Hot Muck (Brian Morris – lead; Ryan Person – banjo and guitar; Rick Krewwnchuk – drums; Sean Downey – bass; Ally Blake – fiddle) was invited to open for the Ska / Reggae band Sweetleaf from Victoria. As well as being motivated by the will to have a good time there was the added notion that the funds raised would go to the installation of a stage in the Stage 64 performance area in Centre 64. From among the mirth, mayhem and fun times of the evening here are some snapshots of the musicians working up a sweat……

004, Hot Muck Header100. Ally Blake  122. Ryan Peterson  110. Sean Downey136. Brian Morris130. Ally Blake  132. Ryan, Brian, Sean134. Sean Downey

and the main event – SWEETLEAF

500. Sweetleaf504.  512.  518514.510.528.516.  532.  534.522.  544.  506.542.



“I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound” – Buffalo Springfield

Saturday January 30, 2016, 7:30 pm at Centre 64 in Kimberley: Noemi Kiss and Rita Deane – Voice and Classical Guitar

We live in an era of complete sensory overload so it is nice to stop, step back and listen to sounds that are entirely human scale. There are no Marshall stack amplifiers with three guitars and a thudding back beat here. No fifty member symphony orchestra going full blast. No bar room high level back ground noise. No overhead TV sports distractions. Just a duo of voice and classical guitar performing music from across the musical spectrum. And the best thing yet….. an intimate venue where you can actually hear the music. That just about describes the concert by Rita Deane (Classical Guitar) and Noemi Kiss (Soprano) on Saturday night at Centre 64 in Kimberley.

152. Rita and Noemi

Both musicians  currently reside in the West Kootenays. Rita was raised in Rossland and has been studying guitar and piano since the age of six. She went on to study in Cordoba (Spain) and Salzburg (Austria). Noemi was born in Hungry and studied in Budapest and London. Noemi now resides in Agenta (it’s a long way from the centers of Euopean music to the jungles of British Columbia). Both musicians are fully fledged professional musicians who mostly teach and perform in the West Kootenays. The Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance  has made it possible for the duo to tour though out the East and West Kootenays and perform the following program.

Kiss and Deane program-ed_edited-1

To truly listen and appreciate this music, as in the words of the Buffalo Springfield song, one does have to stop. Then take a moment to re-calibrate  one’s senses to actually hear the sounds. Once done, a different aural universe becomes evident. The old saying “less is more” is very true in this instance. The concert space literally filled with sounds that would be completely lost if the music was amplified. As you can see from the above program of love songs the music covered in this concert is a broad spectrum of styles. From the music of the Elizabethan Lutenist John Dowland, through the Classic Era music of Mauro Giulani and Fernando Sor; the modern Classical composers, Joaquin Rodrigo, Heirto Villa-lobos and Benjamin Britten, to some traditional Irish and Hungarian folk songs and onto some arrangements of Eva Cassidy, including Sting’s Fields of Gold.
My pick of the music performed would be the Villa-Lobos piece, the John Dowland song and Sting’s Fields of Gold and that maybe because they are my favourite composers. In addition to those particular pieces the Hungarian folk song Volt Nekem szeretom   had a very special appeal to me for no other reason that it reminded me of the Agnes Baltsa 1985 album of Songs My Country Taught Me (a marvellous collection of Greek songs).

Here are some images from the Green Room (trying to keep warm)

100. Rita Deane  102. Noemi Kiss  106. Rita Deane 106. Noemi Kiss        104. Rita Deane

022. William (Grit) Laskin guitarSome images from the concert:116. Noemi Kiss  124 Rita and Noemi   130. Rita Deane   134. Noemi Kiss  136. Noemi Kiss  142. Noemi Kiss  150. Rita Deane  166. Rita Deane    168. Rita Deane  174. Rita Deane   244. Noemi Kiss  300. Rita Deane   300a. Rita Deane   302. Rita Deane 176. Rita Deane  246a. Noemi Kiss  310. Rita and Noemi

There was a third partner in the room – Rita’s magnificent William Laskin (“Grit”) Guitar with its distinctive arm rest bevel. That particular feature improves player comfort and has been adopted by a number of other luthiers. Rita has had the instrument for over 10 years and it was originally purchased at a price equivalent to that of motor vehicle. It is Rita’s baby and there is not a scratch or a bump on it. The standard features of a William Laskin classical guitar these days include Indian Rosewood back & sides, Sitka Spruce soundboard, Spanish Cedar neck (with Carbon Graphite reinforcement), Ebony fingerboard (w/ Ebony binding), Rosewood bridge w/ Ebony & Bone tie block, Ebony binding, Bone nut and saddle, Sloane tuners (bronze plate with ebony buttons). He offers enough non-standard features and custom options to please the most discerning musicians.

020. The Grit Laskin arm rest bevel   064. Rosewood Back

In a nutshell this was a “deliciously delicate” performance and I suggest that when they play again in Cranbrook next Saturday they should not be missed.

Feb6 Cranbrook


Saturday February 6, 2016, 7:30 pm at the ROYAL ALEXANDRA HALL in Cranbrook: Noemi Kiss and Rita Deane – Voice and Classical Guitar

100. Royal Alexandra Hall402. Noemi and Rita

Synchronicity is a concept which holds that events are “meaningful coincidences” if they occur with no casual relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related (Wikipedia). Is that what this was? If so then bring on more of the same. The meaningful coincidences could be the musical collaboration of a Classical Guitarist from Nelson, BC and a magnificent Soprano from Hungry coming together in the acoustic environment of the Royal Alexandra Hall in Cranbrook. It was evident within minutes of the musicians entering the room that they were were enthralled by the acoustics. For the audience it was a chance to hear live music without any of the sonic distortion of added amplification. It was a real treat. I have been to a number of concerts in this hall and I have found that any artificial sound re-enforcement has had a negative impact on the music. For me there was only one drawback and and that was the natural prohibition on taking photos during the performance. The click of a camera shutter would have destroyed the musical ambience of the evening. I had to settle for some pre-concert shots  during the sound check. I can live with that………………….. The program was a recap of the sold-out concert in Nelson and the follow up performances in Fernie and Kimberley with the added zest of a unique acoustic environment

334. Rita Deane   202. Noemi Kiss   418. Rita and Noemi450. Rita and Noemi422. Rita and Noemi412a. Rita and Noemi436. Noemi and Rita

Thanks must go to the Kootenay Cultural Alliance for making this very special performance possible.