Season 3: Here We Go Again

In this newsletter:

  • Rasputin’s Beard this Saturday
  • The Next Stage October 2
  • What did you think of the Folk Festival?

This Saturday
Season #3 Concert Series Launch Arrives

What: Rasputin’s Beard
When: 8-10pm Saturday, September 17
Where: Westboro Masonic Hall, 430 Churchill at Byron
Who: Fumblin’ Fingers, Steel Moon, Pouch Cotätoes, and Lost Colt.
NO COVER!! Pass-the-hat/pay-what-you-can to defray expenses.

While the weekly Open Stage (Mondays at Whispers) and the Folk-along Jam (Tuesdays at the Georgetown) continued unabated all summer, the monthly Spirit of Rasputin’s concerts took a break for July and August. The 2011/2012 Spirit Concert Series launches this Saturday at 8pm at the Westboro Masonic Hall with our traditional season opener, Rasputin’s Beard. The four ensembles Beard host and organizer Carol Noel has lined up is the most diverse offering so far. Starting off with the eight members of the Celtic group Fumblin’ Fingers; followed by the folk-pop duo Steel Moon; then the a cappella quintet Pouch Cotätoes; and finally the alt/country sounds of quartet Lost Colt.

There is more info about Rasputin’s Beard and the bands on the Spirit website.

15 days later
Rasputin’s Next Stage is reborn

What: The very first SoR Next Stage
When: 7-10pm Sunday, October 2nd
Where: Whisper’s Pub, 249 Richmond Rd., upstairs room
Who: Dan Arnott, Rick Hayes (, Shannon Eddy Smith (
NO COVER!! Pass-the-hat/pay-what-you-can. All proceeds go to the performers.

Based on a concept developed by Dean Verger for the Café, the Next Stage is an evening showcase of three hand-picked acts at our cosy Whispers Location. Each performer will have a 40-minute set in which they will surely dazzle us with their musical prowess. Host Wen-Jeng Chen, a.k.a. Blue Blue Satellite, promises the performers “will surely dazzle us with their musical prowess.” I agree. The Next Stage honours Spirit of Rasputin’s commitment to the development of local artists. More info here:

Thoughts on the new Ottawa Folk Festival

Once again I hosted the Jam Sessions at the Ottawa Folk Festival, this time at the new Hog’s Back location. So I was at the Festival pretty much from start to finish. This festival has taken a new direction so I have taken a few weeks to absorb it and to integrate my thoughts before pronouncing my verdict on this edition. So here is my very personal assessment.

With its new management structure and leadership style, this year’s Festival had quite a different feel. But, in my view, it remained solidly “folkie” during the daytime events. There was a lot of great daytime participation: the jams, the Kids Zone, the workshops, the dance tent. And most of the evening programming on the two smaller stages fit my definition of great folk/roots entertainment.

All-in-all the Festival appeared to be a commercial success with robust attendance. That was an important achievement this year since we all know it has teetered on a fiscal knife edge recently. The main stage was a big factor in drawing a newer, younger audience to a Folk Festival. So it’s clear much of the credit for balancing the books goes to the main stage programming. We all know the Blues Fest main stage isn’t always bluesy; and the Jazz Fest main stage isn’t always jazzy; so I wasn’t surprised that the Folk Fest main stage wasn’t always folky. But that’s what seems to work to sell the required number of tickts.

So all that is fine, but this rose had some thorns.

My main irritation was the aggressive, boomy leakage from the main stage into the other two stages. For a lot of people, and for a lot of the performers, the boominess from the main stage spoiled any effort at maintaining a semblance of folkiness at the Dance Tent or Ravenhill stages. Die-hard folkies like me listen for the well plucked string and the well crafted turn of phrase that touches the heart. This is an approach to entertainment that requires a quiet, attentive audience…exactly what the Spirit of Rasputin’s is all about. The audience did their part, and the performers did their best, but the arrangement of stages and the timing of the programming worked against us. I’m sure the Folk Fest boad has heard all about this from the audience and volunteer surveys. It was a programming style that may work for the Blues Fest, but not for the Folk Fest. I hope they fix it.

Here’s hoping they get the message. I would love to hear your impressions. Just reply to this newsletter. And if you were there, go to the Folk Fest website and fill in their survey here: (http://ottawafolk


Hollis Morgan
Spirit of Rasputin’s Arts Society

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