Joni and Ancestors

 On an mp3 collection I have by Joni Mitchell: Live at Club 47 – 68, Clouds, Ladies on the Canyon, Blue, The Hissing of Summer Lawns, Hejira. as well as: Mimi & Richard Farina: celebrations for a grey day; Malvina Reynolds: Sings The Truth (Little Boxes): Melanie: Candles in the Rain. As Joni stand alones: For The Roses, Court and Spark, hits 1. Plus Herbie Hancock’s jazz homage – The Joni Letters.

I enjoy Joni Mitchell but I am not a huge fan. I certainly respect her as an artist & love her willingness to follow her musical muses regardless of commercial appeal. But if I never hear ‘Both Sides Now’ again I’ll be fine 🙂 As I look over the rack listings for the lps I have my favourite remains ‘Songs To Aging Children Come’ which, as I age, becomes even more pertinent.

I never really followed her career’s ups & downs, or her private life so I hear her songs without that baggage. There are cuts on each of these lps I love, some lps that I can’t name a track from. I find that one of the lps suffer from a mix that buries her voice in such way that it is lost, to my ears. Tracks slip into one another – if there were no silence between them I wouldn’t know when one ended & another began.

Unlike similar female artists, such as Laura Nyro, she survived in the  male-dominated & dictated music industry. She didn’t get buried for forging her own path or for not selling zillions of singles. 

On this mp3 collection I put her into context with other California folkies. Mimi & Richard Farina: celebrations for a grey day – this is sweet, folk-rock with a tinge of jazz, bluegrass. Richard’s early death turned him into a legend. 

Malvina Reynolds: Sings The Truth. Best known for the hit Little Boxes (the precursor in a way to Big Yellow Taxi) this is protest music in a fun 60s way. Almost traditional folk this a lost treasure full of sharp social commentary. The New Restaurant is timeless, as is Little Boxes – some things never change. 

Melanie: Candles in the Rain. Melanie owes a lot to all the above. She managed some top ten hits then sort of faded away.  Lay Down owes much to the Edwin Hawkins Singers for its success. ‘Look What They’ve Done To My Song’ is a classic but in her case it’s also come ‘’Look What They’ve Done To My Career’ when her label dropped her for refusing to produce lps on demand.

The Grinding

Festive readers, I am pleased to bring you a wrap up of the week-end’s events.  The highlight of which has to be the annual Lighting of the Trees. Held in several locations in the hills about Crab Apple Corners the horizon is illuminated by the first official rite of the season.

I choose to attend the ceremony at Hijil’s Farm – they had obtained two of the remaining stand of ancient red wood sycamores and had them flown in for the occasion. Trees so large they needed two helicopters to carry each of them.

The first flame was applied to them by our local Miss Pig Driver, Tanis-Lotus Flatly. The trees did us the great honour of being slow to ignite, but once they had been engulfed in flames the look of joy in the faces of the children was worth the wait.

Once these two trees were in flames, burning torches were taken to the sites where other trees were ready for the ceremony. The Great Maple at McCracken’s of Daw Hill was the next to be torched and quickly one could see similar fires all across the country side. Hijil’s Farm perched atop Green Bluffs gave us a splendid view of the various tributes to the season.

Once the first two trees had been burnt to cinders our parish Vicar Father Frank did The Grinding and was quickly joined by the other men who were of age, to participate in this ritual.

I was thrilled to be offered by my one and only Hank Grebly the fruits of his grinding. A jar filled with these delicate ashes and moose fat can sit proudly on any mantle piece. There will be enough here to guarantee me a year of fertility and good weather. After all, it only takes a pinch a day, tossed into the wind to catch the eye of the spirits for protection.

The carolling at St. Sufferer’s Cathedral was once again a thrill, especially now that the bells have almost been tuned. The climax of each verse is a ringing of these bells that echoes though our happy valley and shimmers through the fragrant smoke produced by the Lighting of the Trees.

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We Insist!

A link to a YouTube video of We Insist! an amazing 1961 jazz lp by Max Roach that featured wife Abbey Lincoln lead me to download that lp along with a couple of other lps by Abbey: That’s Him; Golden Lady. We Insist! is a powerful black rights statement backed with dynamic music & vocals. When I think of 60’s protest music sweet folk songs like Blowin’ In The Wind comes to mind but We Insist! is not folk music – the sense of struggle & urgency dominates & propels the music in a way that most protest music of the time never managed. Lincoln’s voice is strong. Him & Lady are not as ‘revolutionary’ but are great introductions to anyone stepping into jazz vocalists for the first time.

On this mp3 collection there is a mix of female vocalists – all different styles, eras, fames & countries. Staring with Mireille Mathieu’s Les Grandes  Chansons Francaises. Mireille has a wonderful resonant emotional voice. As the title suggests this is a set of ultra-famous French songs i.e. ‘Non je ne regrette rien’. Her version of La mer is astonishing – search it out on YouTube. I want her version of ‘Ne me quite pas’ played as people leave my memorial service.

The totally unknown folk singer Michele is here with her Saturn Rings. A pleasant voice, some unexpectedly psychedelic accompaniment for a set of love songs, pleas for Mother Earth that got lost in the shuffle of the likes of Joan Baez & Judy Collins. Another lost in the shuffle is Barbara & Ernie’s Prelude To. This is a gentle, relaxing but sexy r’n’b duo making good massage music.

 

Finally I added Laura Nyro’s New York Tendaberry to this compilation. I love Laura Nyro & have nearly everything so I won’t say much more than this a great lp by her, not one of her strongest – but even at her weakest she is worth hearing. More about her when I get to ’n.’

The Circle of Strife

John sneered at Betty. Betty flipped Jasmine the bird. Jasmine gave Frank a dirty look.Frank didn’t leave a tip for Gwen. Gwen short changed Bill. Bill called Abdul a terrorist shit head. Abdul told Fatima to shut the fuck up. Fatima pinched Ryan. Ryan shoved Rachel getting on the subway. Rachel went home and smacked the baby Patrick. Patrick cried and cried and woke up Ted. Ted kicked his dog Rover. Rover chewed up Barbara’s favorite shoes. Barbara didn’t feel Gary’s work was up to snuff and told him. Gary spilled his coffee at lunch at Maria’s del

Maria shouted for Paco to clean up that mess. Paco wanted to kill Delorosa his mother. Delorosa didn’t wait for Greg. Greg was rushed and slammed the car door on Tina’s coat. Tina didn’t show up for her date with Mike. Mike waited and waited and bought drugs from Carla. Carla needed more money from Jeff. Jeff took an extra twenty from Deb’s purse.  Deb didn’t have enough to pay the bar bill . Larry felt she was playing him

Larry barked at Gina. Gina went crying to her boyfriend Philip. Philip punched Marg the bartender in the face. Marg pulled out a knife and cut Phil’s brother Brian. Brian pulled out his gun and shot Sgt Tracy O’Brian, one of the cops who came to quiet things down. John sneered at Betty for being afraid of guns.

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April
April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

May

Richard III – Stratford Festival

June

June 25-26-27 – Capturing Fire 2020 – Wooly Mammoth Theatre -Washington D.C.
 capfireslam.org 

July

All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee

at Ted’s Bulletin in Washington DC

at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

What the L

Jens Lekman is a Swedish singer who sings in English. I picked up couple of his cds back in 2008: Oh You’re So Silent Jens, Night Falls Over Kortedala. Have some Swedish roots I wanted to reconnect with that part of my heritage. I’d read a few reviews of him & was quite happy with his music. He is low-fi nearly folk like Postal Service. Sweet, slightly ironic songs about love & life. 

Peter LeMarc is a Swedish singer who sings in Swedish. I picked this cd, Bok med blanka sidor, up in 1997 at the Vinyl Museum in its reduced pile. Bruce Springsteen, Chris Rae come to mind when I listen to him. Gravel voice & rugged guitar playing & I have to idea what he is singing about 🙂 He’s still alive & recording.

Lifehouse’s No Name Face features their hit ‘Hanging By A Moment’ which I did like. The lp is good pop rock on the heteronormative type.  Also on the on the heteronormative  side is Gordon Lightfoot, a Canadian icon. It was only right I should have a few tracks by him. As stand alone I have Gord’s Gold; tucked away in an mp3 collection is his first lp with songs like Ribbon Of Darkness. I hate to admit it but I was never a big fan though I do enjoy what I have.

The last ‘l’ in this post is cd Load Of Wood: 3 Dollars at the Door. The third (hence 3 Dollars) in a series of compilations of Cape Breton performers. The music runs from tradition to experimental to spoken word. A friend of mine is on one of the tracks. I bought it on a visit to Sydney Aug 1999. I went to the third floor apartment of one of the performers to buy it, almost like a dope deal in the old days. I haven’t been able to track down the earlier two though. What the L.

Daddy

You can’t make it stick coppers. I was never at Hollywood and Vine at anytime. yeah, right, so don’t be giving me no hard time but if you do I can take it. I ain’t got no dna anyway so as you can tell. People say I’m bloodless as a stone and that is the truth. God’s own truth so you aren’t going to tie that rap on me I ain’t even been there and done nothing. You hear I ain’t done nothing and since when is doing nothing a crime, see. So get off my back. Cut me a break while you got time. 

No, I’m not threatening you Sgt. O’Malley, just letting you know you’re barking up the wrong hydrant. I keep my nose out of other people’s problems. Gave that up long ago. Do I look like some sort of super hero or trouble maker to you. If I do you better take closer look. 

Okay that’s close enough. 

I’m not the one. You guys know that, don’t you. So why are you giving an honest man such a hard time. I wasn’t near there. Sure I got an alibi. I was shacked up with some sharp looking piece of grade a tube stake. We was sinking our teeth into each other’s loin chops and enjoying the taste of man flesh. If you get my drift. Now, that is something you can pin me but that’s not against the law. Is it Sgt. O’Malley. 

Sure I got his name right here and more than his number on my cell phone. All time stamped and dated so you see that couldn’t of been me. Yeah the pics are a bit under lit but if you want I’ll drop my pants if you want to compare. So you can’t stick nothing me except maybe having a good time with your Dad, Sgt. O’Malley.

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March

March 5 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

April
April 3 – Hot Damn! It’s Queer Slam – Season 6 finales Buddies and Bad Times Theatre

May

Richard III – Stratford Festival

June

June 25-26-27 – Capturing Fire 2020 – Wooly Mammoth Theatre -Washington D.C.
 capfireslam.org 

July

All’s Well That Ends Well – Stratford Festival

Hey! You can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee

at Ted’s Bulletin in Washington DC

at 2020’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

The Incredible String Band

 

 

The cover of The Incredible String Band’s The 5000 Spirits (by The Fool) is the epitome of 60’s psychedelic art. Iconic & instantly defining the best of the era. I didn’t have to hear the album to know I would love it. To be honest I was expecting something of the Jefferson Airplane style of psychedelic but instead got almost straight-ahead folk music.

 

A sort of gothic, renaissance sound of dulcimers, lutes, tambours with slightly off-kilter sing-songy  songs full of Yates type lyrics. On my first listen it sounded like something anyone could perform. I loved it. As I listened more it became layered, more complex & emotionally involving. No Sleep Blues, First Girl I Loved … so sweet & with a twinge of humour. Way Back In the 1960’s is a time-capsule of that era. I may still ahi emu regional lp saved because of that album art. It was one of those lps that a actually made it to Cape Breton.

I picked up their First as a stand-alone CD, on sale, at Sam’s way back in 2003 – October Song is sweet; also as stand-alone a double cd set of The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion & The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter – this took some searching as I was replacing my Layers lp with the cd & I found it via eBay in 2003. Hearing 5000 crisp was a delight. Hangman I had never heard – it continues that psychedelic folk mood. Both sound traditional but lyrically combines trippy with almost renaissance folk lyrics.

 

They also had the classic hippy look of long haired, beaded, fringed & farm living commune minstrels. I didn’t really follow them though. Maybe too twee for me then & now a fond memory. There are lots of great folk/pop bands: Fairport Convention, The Pentangle, Kaleidoscope, Donovan – of the time but only The Incredible String Band had such a homespun feel. They were too gentle to become big stars. The band gained, lost members, split up, reunited, continued recording but became & stayed a folk mainstay.

Dream

The dish ran way with the spoon. The spoon had belonged to my grandmother and the loss of it became an insurmountable obstacle to progress. Several important scientific discoveries were put aside as futile gestures without the spoon. Mankind was bereft of the one key, the one object that was vital to intellectual stimulation and financial progress.

My sister wasn’t sure what to to tell me. I had been late, again, coming home from flying school. I had hoped to follow in my father’s footsteps and keep up the family name but the tragic news of the spoon put all that in jeopardy as well.

‘How could such a thing happen.’ I demanded of her.

‘I wish I knew. No one was expecting it. Least of of all I.’

‘And just where were you when this transpired.’

‘Asleep.’

‘Asleep!’ my voice rose. Two windows in the left wing were shattered by my explosive anger. I had to keep it in check and usually did, but occasionally I lost control. This was one of those rare occasions.

‘After losing two nights of sleep worrying over Gabriella, is it little wonder I drifted off. The afternoon was hot, balmy.’

‘You have a knack for making excuses.’ I set about packing my bags. ‘But this time you have gone too far, even for a sister.’

‘Ferdov please, please forgive me. I doubt if I can go on knowing you feel so strongly.’

‘Tell that to the spoon.’

I dashed down the hand-hewed alabaster stairs to the dock and leapt into my motorboat. I had longed to escape this island, this family trap of of the past but had hoped it would be an easy departure and not this sort of emotional break.

‘Wait! Wait!’ my sister stood on the pier waving her apron aimless in the breeze. I would not return. How could I? There was nothing holding me to them now. Now that the spoon had run away with the dish the next part of the prophesy would also come true. If I could somehow keep that in check perhaps there was hope after all.

The two-way radio on the dash sparkled to life. 

‘Reports have come in that the last of the three blind mice has perished in a disastrous fire in the east wing.’

‘God!’ I raised my fist to the sky. ‘This is all your fault. Why have you deserted me now in this moment of trial.’

I stopped the motor of my boat. I needed some silence. Some small dollop of calm before I could face what I knew remained to be faced. If this was to be on my shoulders I would need to be ready. A hand appeared at the side of the pea-green boat and two men pulled themselves aboard, one on either side. ‘So Ferdov this is where you skulk to when you are needed.’

‘Father,’ I was amazed at the beads of water that dripped like topaz diamonds from his thick black beard. It had never shone so in the afternoon sun. ‘I did only what I felt in my bones I had to do.’

His valet, Rudo, grabbed me from behind and yanked hard on my arms, clasping my hands and wrists together tightly.

‘You’re hurting me.’

‘You like that, don’t you?’ Rudo breath rosewater assaulted my senses.

‘On your knees,’ My father punched me in the forehead. I sank to the teak deck of the boat on my knees.

‘This is a fine mess and you are responsible.’

‘I? I’m not the one who fell asleep.’

‘Yes but it was you who fed those silly notions of freedom and adventure to the dish. It was you who convinced him that there was more to life than being convenient conveyer of our food stuffs. You made him question his basic sense of self and now you see the result of your interference.’

‘But Father, I was only repeating what you had told me so many times.’

‘Do not try to cast aspersions on the legends of our family. Never has such a thing happened. I will not allow you to escape punishments.’

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http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday 2019


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet 

Hey! Or you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2019’s capfireslam.org – sweet, eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

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Ian and Sylvia

I have more Ian & Sylvia than one might expect. I am a big fan of two of their mid-period recordings: Nashville and Full Circle but am sort of indifferent to their other work. There was a moment when they were to be Canada’s Sonny & Cher but Ian Tyson & Sylvia Fricker were musicians first & never became pop personalities.

They started as a sweet tradition folk duo on albums such as Four Strong Winds 64; Early Morning Rain 65. These consist of songs like Nancy Whisky, The Greenwood Sidie – given good but standard performances elevated by their harmonies. Their success inspired many folk groups in Cape Breton. On Lovin’ Sound 67 – they step into a slightly more pop sound & some original material – even some Dylan covers. They were stepping out of the narrow folk scene.

On Nashville 67 & Full Circle 68 they come into their own as writers & vocalists. I can hear some of these songs without having to listen to them 🙂 Ian’s voice is vulnerable, passionate and emotional on songs like Ballad of the Ugly Man, The Renegade, I Learned From Leah. Sylvia is amazing on Women’s World, London Life.

 

These two albums, to me, are underrated & forgotten masterpieces. The harmonies are sometimes slightly off-kilter in the best way. The work is labelled country-rock ,like the Byrds Sweetheart of the Rodeo, but they are not as slick, smooth or commercial. If you aren’t familiar with them, Four Strong Winds is a good intro to their early traditional work. Nashville is stunning. Full Circle is nearly as good & so either of them are worth hearing & owning.

The Blessing of Presents

The other event on the week-end that I had the great pleasure in attending was the Blessing of Presents at St. Sufferer’s Cathedral. That Blessing combined with the Lighting of the Trees is a sure sign that the festive season has broken loose upon us full force.

The most reverend Vicar Father Frank started the sacrament with a sermon on the Exulting Power of Wrap – he explained how the wrap of the gift is often more important than the gift it self, and that no matter how lowly a gift may be, it can be elevated by the wrapping.

There’s a lesson I wish I could bring into my own life – on those days when I, yes even I, your willing reporter, feels like the proverbial bed of broken pigs, she finds it hard to even raise her head from the pillow let alone wrap herself in a joyful raiment that would disguise the inner emotionlessness and despair she feels.

The Vicar went on to say that we shouldn’t allow the wrap to keep us from the gift, and that he finds many are so enamoured of that wrap they never get to the true treasure inside. He sort of lost me there, but that didn’t diminish my pleasure at the vast array of beautiful gifts that were brought up, one at a time to receive the sacramental dash of pine needles and moose ashes.

Like the gifts brought on that first Noel, we were brought into the constant and endless circle of presents that was started on that wondrous night.

The ribbon of history reached out and twined its tinselled ends around the hearts & necks of each us, as the children’s stuttering choir of St. Sufferer’s sang several holiday favourites. “Oh Burning Tree,” “The Ribbon and the Manger,”  “The Tinsel and the Camel” – to name just a few.

After the ceremony I was privileged to take a ride through the snowy wood with Hank Grebly in the parade of midnight runners. Skiers, families in sleds and even some on elephants were seen tracking through the wooded glens around our small town. Lanterns aloft and bearing gifts for neighbours. The true savour of the season was felt.

By the time I returned home I was too exhausted to even remove my boots (thanks Hank) and slept as soundly as I have ever slept. Disjointed dreams of a clown’s childhood danced through my head till I woke in the morning. The windows were covered in reddish swirls of frost and the fresh jar of ashes on my mantle sweetened my dreams.

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January 10, Thursday: 8 p.m. Hot Damn! Its’ a Queer Slam – Buddies in Bad Times Theatre: feature Regie Cabico

http://www.queerslam.com

returning every Tuesday 2019


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2019’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet