by Lynn Stevenson
Welcome to our first Annual General Meeting! It is hard to believe that just over a year ago – we had our official launch on February 7th, 2010 with Lynn Miles at the Elmdale Tavern. So much has happened with our organization since then – we all have so much to be proud of!
The launch or “re-launch” to be more accurate, was a huge success – with a capacity crowd and lots of fond memories of the original Rasputin’s Café on Bronson from both the performers and the audience.
From there we went on to organize a blistering series of events:
- concerts every 1st and 3rd Sundays
- CKCU fundraiser courtesy of Pat Moore every 2nd Sunday
- “Rasputin’s Beard” – new open stage for bands 4th Sunday
And if that was not enough, we hosted an Open Stage every Monday night and a Folk Jam every Tuesday night.
February concerts featured: Mike O’Reilly and Peter Dawson “warming up our winter” with fine vocals and awesome fiddle. Our own Missy Burgess concluded the month with another sold out plus show.
March came in like a lion with Michael Jerome Browne & the Twin Rivers String Band with special guests Ball & Chain and went out with several “lambs” with the splendid voices of Lindsay Ferguson and Emily Fennell. In the middle of that month we featured one of my new favourites – Chris Maclean – whom I had the great pleasure to interview and write about in more detail.
In April we not only packed in music legends Ian Tamblyn and Terry Gillespie, but hosted the Great Canadian Song-Along organized by our own Greg Kelly and Tony Turner.
Tony took the stage again in May along with Tom Lips and Rob Heath. Later we enjoyed Meredith Luce with Eric Vieweg and very interesting opener Rio Sama. The month also included Chrysalis – a terrific initiative spearheaded by Missy Burgess to encourage collaboration an engage the music community.
June started off on a wonderful high note with “Songs of Protest, Songs of Hope”, A Tribute to the late great Gil Levine. I think this may have been THE favourite for many in our group among a long list of highlights. Thanks go to Chris White and Tony Turner for their leadership in organizing this event.
Terry Tufts along with Mark Ferguson & John Geggie made Father’s Day very memorable. I had the honour of interviewing Terry as well and his album The Better Fight has gotten steady airtime in my home ever since.
Our 2010 season closed June 27th with a fine Rasputin’s Beard – I don’t have time to list all the amazing new performers we hosted during these great new events – but I must thank Hollis and Kate Morgan for pulling these together and ensuring a great show to end each month of our first season.
We had a great run at the Elmdale – but alas folkies like to listen to music more than drink beer – so we had to find a new home for the fall of 2010. We are very happy to have found it in the Westboro Masonic Hall where we not only enjoy fabulous acoustics in an amazing vintage space, but great food and drink courtesy of Sylvia Bogusis and our hard working hospitality team.
The Open Stage also moved to new digs at Whispers on Richmond Road. And the Folk Jam took its tunes to the Market and Xpresso Café on George Street. Kudos go to Sjef Frenken as well as Heather and Mark Evenchick for keeping the Open Stage alive and well and to Rick McGrath for keeping the Folk Jam humming.
During the summer months, with much hard work from Edgar Schmidt as well as our outgoing General Manager George Laing, we negotiated the legal labyrinth to achieve our current not-for-profit corporate status, developed and adopted the corporation’s first by-laws. We also made a splendid showing at the Ottawa Folk Festival – with a great booth and various fine activities throughout that rainy weekend.
Our new concert series started off with a fabulous Rasputin’s Beard featuring: The Cheapest Thrill, Lost Colt, The Overcasters, and Pat Moore’s recently reunited Maple Hill. [Man, can that woman play stand-up bass!] Julie Element took over the role of Beard host for this fine event.
Continuing our tradition of supporting the community – October featured a fine fundraiser for USC with Missy Burgess, Kate & Hollis and Greg Kelly.
While the attendance wasn’t what we hoped, Kaylen and Kelly Prescott raised the roof on the WMH with amazing harmonies that were glorious to hear. The brother and sister duo was joined by mother Tracey Brown, father Randall Prescott and Kelly’s husband Adam Puddington – who added incredible talent and texture to what is my favourite show to date in our new venue.
December saw the start of a new collaboration – the OFC Folkcast. Hosted by John Lloyd, mandolinist extraordinaire and baker to the stars – this was a new initiative for the Spirit with performers invited to come to the Ottawa Folklore Centre to videotape a song of their choice which we then upload to the internet. George Laing, Kathy Kennedy, Greg McGillis, Julie Element and I had fun coming up with a new name for this neat addition. Sincere thanks to Arthur McGregor and OFC for their guidance and support in getting this going.
January saw a sold-out show with Jenny Whiteley accompanied by husband Joey Wright. No other word for it – it was simply excellent!
And next week we will host David Woodhead’s Confabulation with special guest Cedric Smith – it should be well, “fabulous” – so if you don’t already have a ticket – please see Heather and she will set you up. You can also purchase tickets for our next three events:
- March 19, 2011 Marie-Lynn Hammond with Tom Leighton
- April 9, 2011 Stephen Fearing with Andy White
- May 14, 2011 The Echo Hunters
Note the Stephen Fearing concert was listed as one of the “Top 11 for 2011” by The Citizen’s Lynn Saxberg – the event is already 1/3rd sold out – so get your tickets soon!
To conclude, the Spirit of Rasputin’s is a unique and amazing team effort – with many people to thank. I am personally very grateful to those who helped with communications – including Dan Arnott and Hazel May Lebrun last season, Greg McGillis and Kathryn Gunn this season. I have to thank Jeremy Owen for his many fine reviews, Kate Morgan for her gorgeous posters to promote our events and Hollis Morgan for everything he does on the Rasputin’s website and so many other areas. Considerable appreciation goes to our outgoing board of directors: Arthur McGregor, Rick McGrath and Chris White.
But there is one person I particularly want to thank – who is not unfortunately here to hear it. I think it is safe to say that the Spirit of Rasputin’s would not be where we are today without the hard work, leadership and determination George Laing provided. From his first conversations with Dean Verger almost 2 years ago to the sold out Jenny Whiteley show last month, George has worked incredibly long and hard for the Spirit. He was always thinking about ways to improve what we do and to support and encourage the folk and roots community in Ottawa. On a personal note, I would not have heard about the Spirit nor been part of it if it was not for George – for which I am very grateful. While George has moved on to other challenges, he has left us an amazing foundation to build upon. Hence I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank him for everything he has done for the Spirit of Rasputin’s. George, it was an honour to work with you! Everyone, please raise a glass (or a cup) to George.
|Spirit of Rasputin’s Arts Society’s First Directors and charter members leave office on February 13 when the not-for-profit corporation’s members elect a new board of directors for 2011 at their first Annual General Meeting. All the members, and the incoming board, express our sincere appreciation for the efforts and achievements made by our first board of directors during our fledgling organizational months. The first directors provided the guidance, credibility and substance necessary for the Spirit of Rasputin’s volunteers to develop the necessary connections and respect across the local and regional folk music scene to fulfill our mandate.
Following the closure of Rasputin’s Folk Cafe after the fire of 2008, what began as a herd of lost souls wandering the Ottawa folk wilderness became a forward looking society of like minded volunteers and members with a strong financial base and a long list of successful events and future plans.
The mandate adopted by the first board of directors is expressed simply but eloquently in the corporate mission statement:
To create a home for the Ottawa folk music community where we celebrate and promote folk and folk-related music, provide an opportunity for participatory music, and create a launching pad for developing talent.
Under the operational leadership of George Laing, and some key volunteers, many achievements have been realized over the past 18 months. They include:
|On behalf of the membership, thank you to the outgoing Board members George Laing, Rick McGrath, Arthur McGregor, and Chris White for your advice, support , and contribution to these achievements.|
Which is to say, what a great show. Here we run into the futility of the written word in describing a musical moment, but Prescott’s performance at the Westboro Masonic Temple was, for all intents and purposes, perfect. The up-and-coming brother/sister duo shared the stage with parents Tracey and Randall of Prescott-Brown, as well as Adam Puddington, to create an unforgettable night of music.
Opening the evening was Kelly Prescott with her husband Adam, and the playful energy between them infused an already superlative performance with pure joy. They played several songs from Kelly’s forthcoming solo album leaving me eagerly awaiting the arrival of January so that I could hear those songs again and again.
Randall and Tracey joined the pair for a song before taking over stage duty, gifting the audience with some gorgeous traditional fare and joined by friend of the family, ‘the guitar playing drummer’ Kenny Post. Before the end of the first set the entire family was back on stage, 6 players in all, building a glorious edifice of harmony and song. The second set was more of the same, by which I mean more of the same amazing performances, crafted songwriting, and a stage-swapping whirlwind tour through the genres of country and western, alt-country, bluegrass and rock n’ roll.
Simply amazing. On their own, Prescott (composed of Kaylen and Kelly) is an exciting addition to the acoustic pantheon, and watching their career develop over the years is sure to be a rewarding experience. Combined with Randall’s expressive harmonica, Tracey’s pure and authentic Grand Ole Opry vocals, and Adam Puddington’s own wealth of talent however, and something is made which is greater than the sum of the individual parts. More than just a band, a bridge; strong and beautiful and leading to even greater things.
Kelly Prescott’s solo effort isn’t the only thing to look forward to in January, Rasputin’s will be presenting the Juno award winning Jenny Whiteley on the 15th at our beautiful new venue.
by Lynn Stevenson
“Sometimes the distance travelled is so great that only parts of you come home.”
It’s a cold wet morning in a West End Ottawa coffee shop. The weather as complex and changeable as the artist opposite me. Ian Tamblyn is a man of many faces – only a few of which grace his homepage: musician, adventurer, playwright. These words don’t come even close to summing up a person who has travelled as far and done as much as this man. Ian Tamblyn has written almost 2000 songs and recorded over 30 independent releases in a career than spans more than three decades.
His sailor’s heart has seen and sung about some of the most remote places in Canada and around the world. Ian’s face is weathered by countless days at sea and the freezing light of icebergs. His photographs are breathtaking. Interviewing him is more than a bit intimidating, but he quickly puts you at ease – revealing yet another face – an everyman – and a wise one – with no delusions about himself or world he moves in.
And move he does! At 62, Ian Tamblyn spends 5-6 months a year on the road - performing for audiences large and small in all corners of the country – more often now in his beloved North. Some of his time has been spent as a teacher in music camps with Inuit youth. Such experiences have resulted in gorgeous songs such as the “Ballad of Mark Jarareuse” which tells the story of Inuit boy in Hopewell, Labrador. Time may go ‘slow on Sundays’- but not, it would seem, for this incredibly prolific, multi-talented artist who never stops working. He has released 10 CDs since 2000! Tamblyn also spends considerable time in Antarctica and other far flung places as a teacher, tour guide and musician.
While he flirts with leaving behind – not the music – but perhaps the “struggle” to reach a wider audience, there is no sign of slowing down in his most recent work including: Willisville Mountain (2009) issued as part of a Northern Ontario multi-disciplinary artists project and his latest and possibly best release, Gyre (2009). This CD includes compelling songs such as “Fool’s Revelation”, “Hurricane Heart”(a tribute to the late Willie P. Bennett) and “Lost in Afganistan”- an unsettling commentary on what many may feel is Canada’s misguided mission there. Gyre reunites Tamblyn with Scott Merritt who co-produced The Middle Distance (1994/95). The CD is a break from his epic Four Coast Project which includes Raincoast (2008) and Superior: Spirit and Light (2007) – the latter nominated for best CD at the Canadian Folk Music Awards in 2007.
Much of his music speaks of life away, of distant places in remote corners of the world. “I decided if I was going to write about the miles and the places, I should walk them, I should go there,” explains Tamblyn. There is no doubt that Ian Tamblyn is in love with travel, on water especially. My favourite Tamblyn CD, The Body Needs to Travel, helps explain the allure. Yet the cost of distance and time away weighs heavy. Despite his love of the sea, he is aware of its dangers; the ‘mermaids’ that would drag you down or steal your soul. “It’s what happens to all sailors,” says Tamblyn. “The ocean is a huge force…. Sometimes the distance travelled is so great that only parts of you come home.”
Yet despite all this roaming, Ian Tamblyn always finds himself coming back to his home, his sons and his partner, Amanda Shaughnessy, in Chelsea, Quebec. In “The Low Coast Road” from Gyre, he laments,“I used to think I’d learn from lost. I see that’s not true. What I’ve found is but the cost. Of being far from you.” Tamblyn’s journeys are more inward these days. While his latest collection of songs on Gyre were written around the world – Prague, Norway, Ireland, or Antarctica, he notes “the map on this CD is less marked and more imaginary.”
Tamblyn’s internal travel is between what he describes as two “worlds” – the first shaded with a weariness from the struggle to attain the level of audience recognition his work clearly deserves. The second, coloured with a sense of incredible good fortune from having been able to do what he loves and make a living from it without compromise or having to leave. “I have gotten away with murder!” says Tamblyn smiling. In a country where success is measured by moving elsewhere (“if you are so good why are you still here…”), Ian Tamblyn stubbornly stays. It’s a choice he does not regret making – and fans here are fortunate for it.
Often described as a folk music “icon” and a “national treasure”, Juno Award winner Ian Tamblyn has deep roots in both Ottawa’s music and theatre scenes. He has written a dozen plays, many for the GCTC, founded the Acoustic Waves concert series in 1981 and co-founded Writer Bloc, which recently presented the 18th Song-Along together with the Spirit of Rasputin’s. He’s produced CDs of many Ottawa-area singer-songwriters including Tony Turner, Terry Tufts and Chris Maclean (not to mention local punk band Furnaceface!) A multi-instrumentalist, he accompanies his singing with guitar, piano, hammered dulcimer and synthesizer. In addition, his photographs were featured in February in an exhibit at Irene’s Pub titled “So Near & Far Away”.
But despite the strong connection, Tamblyn rarely plays in Ottawa these days. So don’t miss your chance to see Ian Tamblyn at his finest on April 18th at the Elmdale Tavern as part of the Spirit of Rasputin’s Sunday concert series. Tamblyn will be joined by singer-songwriter Andy Mason who shares Ian’s love of the North and respect for Aboriginal culture as well as the environment. Tickets are $15, available at the Elmdale and the Ottawa Folklore Centre. For more information about Ian Tamblyn go to www.tamblyn.com (http://www NULL.tamblyn NULL.com)
by Lynn Stevenson
How do songs get written? Where do the ideas come from? How does the process begin?
Ottawa singer/songwriter Missy Burgess wrote “Prayer for Haiti”after the terrible earthquake devastated that already impoverished country. “Like millions of others, I was deeply moved by the horrific suffering and sorrow,” says Missy. “Writing a song was my only way of expressing my feelings and offering some comfort – thus “Prayer for Haiti” came to be.” You can check it out on youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XP5vE74bHfE (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=XP5vE74bHfE)
Emotion can definitely drive the creation of a great song. But the process is more than feelings – and fabulous riffs rarely fall from the sky. Song-writing is hard work – demanding discipline, determination, and of course, talent.
Often ideas come from within – from personal experiences – or as with Missy’s recent song – from empathy for others. But sometimes inspiration can come completely from outside and the results can be both wonderful and unexpected.
Newfoundland singer/songwriter Rick Hayes who currently lives in Ottawa, wrote what he says is one of his best songs after participating in a recent “Song-A-Long” event. Rick’s song, “Take me Home” is about his home on The Rock and the fact that he would want to be back there when he passes on. “It is not something I would have chosen to write about,” says Rick. “Really it’s kind of morbid – but the process forced me to think about things I might not have or didn’t want to; the result is a great song that I am really proud of and love to play.”
The 18th annual Song-A-Long is designed to challenge songwriters and generate just that kind of unexpected magic. Participants are given a choice of four themes and a deadline to come up with a new original song - and perform it! The event is organized by Writers’ Bloc and presented by the Spirit of Rasputin’s. Performance dates are Wednesday April 7 or Thursday April 8, starting at 7:00 pm. at the Elmdale House Tavern at 1084 Wellington Street.
Says organizer Tony Turner, “I’ve been involved in Song-A-Long for many years. I am happy to give my time to it. The event is a terrific opportunity for veteran performers and new artists alike to explore ideas and collaborate in a very creative and supportive environment. I encourage anyone interested song-writing to check it out.”
This year’s themes are: “Lucky”, “I Wonder”, “Ghosts”, and “The Trouble With”. Over 30 performers have already signed up – but no one is turned away. Interested? For more info contact: Tony Turner/ 613-798-0365 firstname.lastname@example.org (tony null@null tonyturner NULL.ca) or Greg Kelly/ 613-680-6163 email@example.com (gregoryk100 null@null rogers NULL.com)
by Lynn Stevenson
“A lot of this entered Rasputin’s” says Missy Burgess - gesturing to a performer who, fiddle in hand, just left the stage, – to the audience enthusiastically clapping, to the row of waiting guitars piled up against a tavern wall. By “this” the veteran performer and singer/songwriter means the “spirit”, the enthusiasm for folk music that is vividly alive and well – and now hanging out at the Elmdale Tavern at 1084 Wellington West in Ottawa.
It’s a Monday night in December – just days before Christmas – and the place is packed with folk music junkies young and old. Among them, a generous helping of former “Rasputinites” - people for whom Rasputin’s Folk Café on Bronson Avenue was a haven and a beacon for over 25 years. The cramped cafe/open stage, and rec room for wandering musicians closed after a fire in July, 2008. Since then, a collection of self-styled “orphans” have been searching for a new place to call home. It looks like they found in at the Elmdale.
The “dale” appears the perfect haven for Rasputin’s ex-pats. Red the bartender certainly seems to think so, as he smiles, bringing another pint of Beaus to a group former Rasputin’s clientele. Under the careful management of Bruce and Nathalie Myles, the Elmdale Tavern has evolved from a somewhat seedy Hintonburg watering hole into “The Place” in Ottawa to see live music – everything from punk to country – and now folk. Natalie and Bruce have generously offered up Monday and Tuesday nights to the former Rasputin’s crowd – and now Sunday nights starting in February.
The Spirit of Rasputin’s is a tribute to Dean Verger who for 27 years managed Rasputin’s. His tiny café hosted artists from around the world and helped launch the careers of many local musicians. According to George Laing, Manager of the Spirit the term “open stage” was coined there. While there have been many open stages since – Rasputin’s was the only place in the city where performers got to play for a quiet, attentive audience.
Dean decided to retire after the fire hoping others would take up where he left off. A dedicated group of volunteers took up that challenge, determined not to let that unique folk music community die. Says George, “much was lost when Rasputin’s closed – more than many of us realized. It may have been taken for granted. But there is no doubt Rasputin’s made a huge difference to the folk music scene in Ottawa.” George hopes the Spirit of Rasputin’s will make that difference once again.
Monday night is Open Stage. Tuesday night features Folk Jam. And starting Sunday nights in early February – a mixed musical offering of some big names and more less known musicians. The new Sunday nights will kick off February 7th with Ottawa’s own Lynn Miles who started herself at Rasputin’s many years ago. Every second Sunday of the month will feature CKCU Weekend Wrap-Up hosted by Pat Moore. The third Sunday of the month will feature more concerts, and the remaining Sunday evening will feature what is being loosely called “Rasputin’s Beard” – a showcase of new talent with bigger bands as well as individual performers. Check out www.rasputins.ca (http://www NULL.rasputins NULL.ca/) for a full calendar of events. Tickets for Lynn Miles can be purchased at the Elmdale and will also be available at the Folklore Centre.
Half way through Monday night’s third set a young woman named Skye McLeod comes forward to play. Her parents took her to Rasputin’s years ago when she was just a kid. She doesn’t remember much – the feeling of the place more than anything and how happy it made her parents to perform and just be part of something special. Now, at age 21, she has played in front of a live audience for the first time as part of the Spirit of Rasputin’s at the Elmdale Tavern.
Almost on cue, a small group of friends move up front to cheer her on. Skye starts to play and her soft voice floats around the room. Although quiet, the audience has no difficulty hearing her words – part of the tradition of Rasputin’s is a respectful “listening” environment – so no one has to compete with the hockey to be heard. Skye plays just two songs and departs the stage, as is the rule on Monday nights. When the last performer finishes, some in the audience get up to leave, but others stay, talking and sharing and hoping for just a bit more. They will all be back. There is no doubt that the Elmdale, reincarnated with the “Spirit of Rasputins” is also a special place, full of tradition and song and spirit. And this spirit is catching!
Originally posted (http://www NULL.apt613 NULL.ca/2010/02/09/audio-visual-podcast-rundown-feb-3/) on Apt13.ca (http://www NULL.apt613 NULL.ca) on February 9th, 2009.
Computer trouble was just the latest in a series of mini-crises at Audio Visual world HQ this weekend, and I apologize for the delay. As a hilariously annoying part of these same problems, this week’s episode is only 37 minutes long. However, it’s an awesome half hour as I sat down with George Laing and Pat Moore from the Spirit of Rasputin’s, a community group dedicated to keeping the spirit of the departed Bronson St. folk club alive. The group has been hosting open mic and jam sessions on Monday and Tuesday nights at the Elmdale Tavern (1084 Wellington St. W.), and they’re starting a Sunday night concert series that kicked off on February 7th with a performance by Lynn Miles.
George and Pat talked to me about the history of the original Rasputin’s, how the Spirit of Rasputin’s got together, and what the future is for folk music in Ottawa. George talked about the new Sunday schedule of events, which include concerts every second Sunday, a live radio show taping on the third Sunday of every month, and a new band showcase called Rasputin’s Beard.
And no, as we discuss in the interview, they don’t know why the old bar was called Rasputin’s in the first place. However, the discussion does let me geek out about my knowledge of Russian history and throw a shout-out to my Russophile older brother. This week’s show is capped off by a great acoustic performance by Pat, who is a regular performer at the Monday night open stage events.
The song you hear before the interview is by John Carroll (pictured), a local folk musician who will be the first performer & interviewee at the live radio show from Rasputin’s and the Elmdale, CKCU’s Weekend Wrap-up, on Feb. 14. The monthly event is a fundraiser for CKCU radio, and features Pat Moore as the host.
Audio Visual is taking a break this week because I’m getting a sweet robot arm installed, but the show will be back next week – bigger, better, faster, and stronger. We can do it, we have the technology.
Listen in a separate window (http://www NULL.apt613 NULL.ca/wordpress/wp-content/plugins/podcasting/player_popout NULL.php?file=http://zenforlunch NULL.com/audiovisual/podcasts/2010-02-03 NULL.mp3)