Once again, Eaglewood Folk Festival provided a place to engage with live music in many ways. In addition to 2+ days of concerts and workshop stages (Susie Vinnick, The 24th Street Wailers, The Strumbellas, The Bombadils, Danny Michel, and Steve Poltz just a few of the inspiring artists who performed) there was a songwriting tent and two open stages.
In the songwriting tent, I gleaned some good advice from Steve Poltz and Keith & Renee about the songwriting process. Knowing you are writing for, knowing yourself, discipline and banishing the spectre of writer’s block were just a few of the themes that performers and festival-goers explored.
The Saturday acoustic open stage was hosted by the oh-so-welcoming Shaman Ayerhart. It was such a popular event that there was only time for one song each and it still went half an hour over time. There were familiar faces from other years (including Shaman’s parents) as well as some lovely surprises. I wish I knew who the spoken word performer was – he only went by the handle “IF” – he blew our socks off with his poetry and presence. A second opportunity to play the little stage in the woods was offered on Sunday afternoon.
The icing on the cake for an already full and fulfilling Saturday was the late night campfire. Hours slipped by like minutes as we went around and around, sharing old favourites, originals, accompanied by the occasional train passing through (often at very fitting moments). It was hard to pull ourselves away from such great company and music, but the promise of one more day of music at Eaglewood was the incentive to get a few hours of sleep. As we wove our way back through the dark paths we heard strains of music playing, saw glimpses of other fires through the trees.
Thanks, Eaglewood, for weaving some musical magic.
Callisto with Shaman Ayerhart on the dobro
Since October, Guelph has yet another venue to satisfy the appetite for sharing music. The Two Rivers Song Gathering meets twice a month at the Army, Navy & Air Force (ANAF) Club 344, hosted by Jack Cooper and Debby Moon.
I visited for the first time this month and enjoyed the songs everyone brought – lots of originals seasoned with a few folk songs people could join in on. However, it took some dedicated powers of concentration to tune out the TV just behind me that was broadcasting a soccer game – too bad considering how great the music was. I imagine that once the song gathering becomes a longer running tradition that there might be less competition for the soundspace.
[Two Rivers Song Gathering, ANAF Club 344,32 Gordon Street, Guelph, twice/month on Thursday 7:30-10:30 pm, no cover, licensed] FYI – THIS EVENT NOW TAKES PLACE ON THE 2ND & 4TH WEDNESDAYS OF THE MONTH
Once again, Eaglewood Folk Festival in Pefferlaw, Ontario scheduled a one hour slot each day for festival listeners to become festival performers. This year’s open stage was hosted by Shaman Ayerhart and included mostly original tunes with a little Neil Young thrown in for good measure.
In addition to the open stage, Eaglewood boasts a fine tradition of musical campfires that get going as the last performance winds down and carry on through the night, some stalwart singers still going as the sun comes up. There are several to choose from so some musicians make their plans to meet up with friends later on while others just follow the sound through the trees until they arrive at the source. I think I hit the jackpot this year: mandolin, trumpet, guitars, harmonies, exquisite songs – as well as a roaring fire and good company. Thanks to all of you!
Not ready for microphones, stages and crowds? This may be the place for you. “The Sandbox” is intimate, not intimidating – all acoustic and very relaxed, held in the community room of the First Unitarian Congregation of Waterloo (which is actually in Kitchener).
We (fellow jamchasers Pete & Trish & myself) were particularly interested in catching up with the hosts: Ken Brown and Jay Moore. Ken & Jay invite people to share songs, laughter – and a cup of tea. This week there were 6 players and up to 5 listeners over the course of the evening, and plenty of stories and conversations interspersed with music.
If you come to listen, Ken’s voice, accompanied by his own bass or guitar will keep you mesmerized while Jay’s original songs are engaging. You are welcome to bring your voice, instrument, covers and compositions. Don’t be surprised if you find your music enhanced by warm harmonies and brilliant bass lines.
[This venue is no longer hosting a song circle. The Sandbox, First Unitarian Congregation of Waterloo, 299 Sydney St W, Kitchener, Thursdays 8-11 pm]
For 21 years Eaglewood Folk Festival has been bringing together music lovers and performers – and knows that they are often one and the same. At the end of August, a campground in the hamlet of Pefferlaw, Ontario, is the site of 2 ½ days of folk music. Eaglewood vision of “folk music” is very inclusive, including singer-songwriters, bluegrass bands, political satirists and world music.
But why write about a festival in a blog about open stages? Eaglewood also understands that folk music has an essential participatory element: songs of celebration, of protest, family singalongs, choruses that everyone can join in on. In addition to the thriving campfire jams that come alive at night, Eaglewood includes an open stage in its daytime programme to allow festival patrons to share and showcase their own music. This tradition is as old as the festival itself. Arthur Renwick hosted Saturday’s event which attracted 17 different players and singers to the little stage in the woods. We were treated to original compositions and covers and – best of all – impromptu collaboration. Magic amid the trees.
The ukulele workshop on Sunday furthered the cause of open music spaces. Host David Newland reinforced the importance of making music accessible to people and providing public places for sharing music. He challenges us all to ignore the voice that says we aren’t musicians and to explore ways to express the music we have in us.
So, as the summer draws to a close, festivals and campfires are done, I invite each of you to find a song circle, open mic, or jam where you can carry on sharing music through the winter. And maybe we’ll see you next year at Eaglewood.