Wow! Terry Sells Out!

Yes, the headline above could be taken two ways, but those who know guitar wizard Terry Tufts and the strong life-affirming, healthy planet values he holds dear know I’m talking about a packed house at the Westboro Masonic Hall. No one was turned away and every seat was filled. That’s the kind of magic that Terry brings to his shows. We missed Kathryn Briggs who stayed home with the flu but Terry (also suffering but persevering) along with Ken Workman (bass and guitar) put on two great sets that earned a standing ovation and encore. Click on over to the Spirit of Rasputin’s Facebook page (https://www NULL.facebook to check out Kate’s photos and leave your comments. Don’t forget to Like us while you are there.

Lynne Hanson’s “Genuine and Warm” Performance with her New Red Gretsch Guitar

Lynne Hanson
Lynne Hanson’s performance, enhanced by Ottawa’s finest mandolin player, Gilles Leclerc and bass player Jonathan Ferrabee, was warm, inviting and highly entertaining for all.
Gilles Leclerc, Lynne Hanson and Johathan Ferrabee
Her easy, Texas red dirt delivery with many toe tapping rhythms interlaced well with her humorous anecdotes.  Many audience members commented on her “genuine” and “easy” style on stage.
Gilles Leclerc, Lynne Hanson
Lynne was a true performer as she had to strum her guitar with a finger that just lost a nail.. ouch.  Thanks Lynne for a fine show!

Claytones Video (Anders Drerup, Kelly Prescott and Adam Puddington)

If you missed this concert here is a taste of the evening.

Missy’s New CD a Sweet Success

Review by Lynn Stevenson

Missy Burgess wrapped a highly supportive crowd at the Westboro Masonic Hall in a warmth as special as her famous blue sweater to launch her new CD, Play Me Sweet on Saturday.  The evening was a lovefest for Missy with the audience singing along to many of her better known tunes as well as old standards. Fans gave her a standing ovation and left happy and humming into the November night.

Keith Glass, Alrick Huebener and Missy BurgessMissy’s guitar work stumbled in spots, but that hardly mattered as it is her unique voice and larger than life personality that folks were there to see – and they were rewarded with beautiful servings of both.  Down to earth and funny as hell, Missy Burgess is a joy to watch.

Alrick HuebenerWith the talented Alrick Huebener on upright bass and simply outstanding Keith Glass on guitar and electric guitar, there could be no doubt the evening would be a success.  “It could go one of two ways from here,” quipped Glass at the start of the show; it definitely went in the right one. Continue reading

Oooo weee…hambone and all!

Review by Hollis Morgan

Hollis (president), Dean VergerAmidst outragious hats, colourful shoes, and folkies waltzing in the aisles, Dean Verger was inducted as Spirit of Rasputin’s first Honourary Lifetime Member on October 22, 2011. The celebration was both lighthearted and heartfelt. Dean, always thoughtful and generous, has never been one to take himself too seriously. So it was suitable that Sheesham & Lotus were there to counter the serious presentations with their comic brand of old-time music. Their tongue-in-cheek motto, old-time music — better than it sounds, set the tone for evening.
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All this for pass-the-hat?

A review of the September 17,2011 Rasputin’s Beard

by host and organizer Carol Noël

Well THAT was an exceptional evening of entertainment! Lucky us to be part of this full house, packed-to-the-walls energy! The fiddles and jigs of celtic big-band Fumblin’ Fingers put big smiles on faces and got toes tapping! Steel Moon’s romantic pop ballads – Lise’s vocals and Dave’s creative guitar, tasteful looper-use and harmonies – were soulful and beautiful; their upcoming CD will be the stocking stuffer! The intricate a capella harmonies, joyous energy and comedy of the Pouch Cotätoes quintet earned them an encore! Lost Colt’s alt-country originals were authentic, their lead-vocals outstanding and acoustic guitar solos all came straight from the heart! All this for pass-the-hat? Rasputins Beard is absolutely the best music deal in town! All these local groups have websites; check them out for gigs and CD-orders.Next Beard: December 17th…be there or be square! 

Chrysalis: A Beautiful Happening

Review by Lynn Stevenson

“Shall I do it in E? No maybe in G? Okay let’s try it in C…” and so John Lloyd, in spiffy attire and a lopsided grin launched into his very fun performance. In any key, “Blue Sweater” by Ottawa’s Missy Burgess is a joy to listen to and much admired by her fellow performers. The audience at the Westboro Masonic Hall were treated to two very different versions of Missy’s classic tune on Saturday, May 28th at the annual Chrysalis event – a unique celebration of Ottawa singer songwriters hosted by the Spirit of Rasputin’s.

“Chrysalis” refers to the fascinating transformation from cocoon to butterfly. In the context of this event, it symbolizes the rebirth of a song and the magic that happens when someone other than the writer performs it. Now in its 8th year, Chrysalis has provided Ottawa singer/songwriters with rich opportunities to re-invent, re-imagine and just enjoy the tremendous songwriting talent that exists in Ottawa – in all its varied forms and vibrant colours.

The dominant colour of this particular evening was clearly blue – not only the shade of that much loved old sweater, but “Missy’s Blues” sung with gorgeous depth by Carole Trepanier (wow what a voice!) and “The Blues Will Always Be the Blues” written by talented newcomer to Ottawa Wen Chen (aka Blue Blue Satellite) with which Missy concluded the show. The highlight in that hue for me was Jeremy Owen’s rendition of Missy’s “Blue Dog Man” – a simply sublime performance that caused Missy to comment, “One thing I really love about Chrysalis is when you get to hear your song performed even better than you do it yourself!” Continue reading

The Echo Hunters with Ball and Chain

Review by Serena Williamson

What a delight to be introduced, by the Spirit of Rasputin’s Arts Society, to The Echo Hunters. These five men from Montreal brought their unique, smooth, folk/rock/blues sound to the Ottawa stage and wowed us all!

The Echo Hunters feature the collective writing and performing talent of longtime friends Larry Cassini (lead guitar, vocals, harmonica), Gordie Fleming (lead vocals, 12-string guitar, harmonica)–who jokes about being Larry’s brother) and Rob Couture (drums, percussion). Carl Rufh (vocals, bass), and Sylvain Dancausse (violin) complete the group. The band has played concerts, festivals, clubs and showcases across Canada, the United States and the UK.

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Gil’s Hootenanny: Songs of Protest, Songs of Hope

Review by Serena Williamson
May 1st, 2011

“Workers of the world unite” rang through the packed hall as folk music lovers, many wearing orange or red to reflect their political perspective, gathered to celebrate May Day, a time when working people everywhere get together to speak up and sing out. Red diaper babies now in their fifties and sixties, socialists in their twenties and people who may be neither communist nor socialist but just enjoy a good sing-along, filled the Hall in Ottawa to have a good time. Continue reading

Fearing and White – a Mixed but Splendid Brew

by Lynn Stevenson

Stephen Fearing with Andy WhiteStephen Fearing fans hoping for a taste of the heaven and heartache he is known for were destined for disappointment, as Fearing, together with long-time friend and fellow singer-songwriter Andy White, delivered a distinctly different brew to a sold-out crowd at the Westboro Masonic Hall in Ottawa. The two insisted on a bass heavy sound that, in this reviewer’s opinion, did not do justice to the gorgeous guitar and rich vocals Fearing in particular is known for.

On this Fearing was unapologetic, stressing that the job of the artist is to grow and change even if your audience has not moved with you. He adds, “As Elvis Costello says, if you are not pissing somebody off, you are not doing it right.”  Continue reading

Hammond makes stage a home again

Marie-Lynn Hammond and Tom Leighton, March 19, 2011

Click images to enlarge

Review by Greg McGillis

Marie-Lynn Hammond tells stories of ache and inspiration with songs of tribute and tribulation that evoke multiple levels of understanding even in a first listening. She is a natural and easy storyteller who draws her audience into her confidence. Her concert with Tom Leighton on March 19th at the Westboro Masonic Hall as part of the Spirit of Rasputin’s concert series seemed to shrink the small venue with its intimacy. Wit, humour and irony suffused the songs and the delivery, all performed with the light, bittersweet touch of a woman who has had to find her irony in the pain of a sometimes tragic life. She contrasted her deeply personal and touching songs with highlights of her humorous repertoire, the topics ranging from her beautiful horses to her personal roots in the Outaouais. Continue reading


by Lynn Stevenson

Cedric Smith and David WoodheadWho else could make socks seem so salacious? Cedric Smith is larger than life and over the top – with his arm in a cast and high on medical morphine – he added his amazing voice and huge personality to the unique musical conversation that is David Woodhead’s Coffee House Confabulation. “Spirits of Rasputin! Spirits of Raaaassputin!!!” bellowed Smith. In frigid Ottawa – home of “Winterlewd“… “Women shall be raaaavished. There will be VODKA!”

Anyone unfamiliar with the singular blend that is the Confabulation became quickly aware this would be a very different evening – a night indeed to remember. For there was not only Cedric Smith – actor, performer, poet extraordinaire and the multi-talented David Woodhead on fretless bass and various other instruments, but stylish Doug Wilde on keyboards and the simply wonderful Anne Lindsay on violin. Continue reading

A Full House for Jenny Whiteley

SoR Concert Jan 15, 2011

Photo by Kate Morgan

This past Saturday, a full house at the Westboro Masonic Hall was privileged to listen to beautiful voices singing well-crafted songs, accompanied by superlative guitar lines and virtuoso mandolin.

The Spirit of Rasputin’s presented Juno award winner Jenny Whiteley January 15th, to a sellout crowd at our new venue. There she lived up to the hype and then some. We who had hyped her were grateful for this, though not surprised. Accompanied by husband Joey Wright (armed with a tasteful array of FX pedals) on electric guitar and mandolin, the duo held the room for two full sets of music, ranging from country, to bluegrass, to something else altogether. And that something else was very, very special indeed.

All told it was yet another memorable chapter in the Spirit of Rasputin’s Concert Series, and a perfect reminder of why we do what we do.

Submitted by your intrepid reporter,

Jeremy Owen

This is a song I love
A review of Spirit’s USC Canada fundraiser

Jeremy Owen

Missy Burgess & Ken Voita

Missy Burgess & Ken Voita

“This is a song I love,” said Missy Burgess, more than once, as she introduced songs in her set. The sentiment was shared by many at Spirit of Rasputin’s first concert of the season: a fundraiser for the Unitarian Service Committee of Canada.

Preceding Missy in the first two sets of the evening were Kate and Hollis Morgan, and Greg Kelly and the Broken Windows Philharmonic, both well-known local folk acts.

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A Thrilling Start to a Great Season

By Lynn Stevenson

The Spirit of Rasputin’s 2010-11 Season got off to a “thrilling” start with a “Rasputin’s Beard” – our open stage for bands and the first event in our new location. (Check out the Photo Album!!)

The Cheapest Thrill

Under the soft glow the Westboro Masonic Hall’s vintage chandeliers, The Cheapest Thrill’s Carol Black, in vintage dress, “bangs and spit curls” and electric stand-up bass, cast a magic spell of her own. Together with Karl White on a stunning resonator steel guitar, this very cool duo took the audience back to another era. Singing of lost love and travelling carnivals from days gone by, Black sighed “It’s only here for one night.” I am certain that will not be the case with this talented couple whose fabulous stage presence and “music for the contemporary speakeasy” would be right at home on the set of HBO’s new series Boardwalk Empire. Go to: (http://www NULL.myspace to find out more.



The Overcasters were up next. This brand new band overcame a few stage jitters to put in solid performance highlighted by excellent guitar work and very fine banjo at the hands of leader David wood. Lost Colt, with Rick Fry, Conrad White, Dan Jette and Bruce Wozny got things moving with their great country sound spiced with shades of Roy Orbison.

Lost Colt

I liked the smoky song “Ocean Wind” and “Dance Me” – their tribute to Ottawa’s The Hilotrons, but my favourite tune was “Mamma’s Not Been Well” – just made you smile (and tap you’re your feet!) Lost Colt are not just a fine country band, they’re also terrific contributors to the community, giving freely of their time and energy in support of many worthy local causes. Check out Lost Colt at: (http://www NULL.myspace

But the highlight of the evening for me was Maple Hill – a resurrection of Pat Moore’s and Gary Greenland’s popular bluegrass band from the 80’s and 90’s. Gary has been described as being to “Canadian banjo picking what maple syrup is to Canadian pancakes”.

Photography by Kate Morgan

Maple Hill

And Pat Moore, whose tremendous contributions to Ottawa’s music scene include The Vinyl Frontier as well as her charitable efforts such as Christmas Goose and the Ottawa Opry – can play one mean stand up bass! We need to see more of that Pat! Pat and Gary thanked Jonathan Ferrabee of Ottawa’s Concession 23 for putting away his own excellent bass and picking up the guitar to support Maple Hill for the evening – and he did a great job! As Gary said, bluegrass is a genre in which “the words are sad but the music is happy.” Hearing this band again definitely made me happy. The only sad thing was that more of Sunday’s audience didn’t stick around to hear them too. Maple Hill’s excellent set included: “Teardrops in my Eyes”; a fine version of Emmylou Harris’ “If I Needed You”; beautiful harmonies on “Making Plans (To Be Lonesome)”; and ending with a gorgeous rendition of “Golden Ring”. Hopefully Maple Hill is back to stay!

Plenty of “Spirit” at 2010 Ottawa Folk Fest

by Lynn Stevenson

If the test of character is how you function under pressure, then the people behind this year’s Ottawa Folk Festival passed with flying colours.  Facing weather one fan called “biblical”, organizers quickly shuffled acts and rearranged venues to turn a bad situation into something very special.  Much credit goes to Folk Fest organizer Dylan Griffith and his core team – but also to the many rain-soaked yet still smiling volunteers who made sure that the bands played on.

And play they did!  Anywhere and everywhere shelter could safely be found, musicians jammed to the delight of a wet but enthusiastic audience.  When the skies opened on Sunday and lightening forced most outdoor stages and tents to close, musicians found themselves in close quarters with artists they had never played with before – the results were always interesting and at times magical.

I am pleased to report that the Spirit of Rasputin’s rose to the occasion as well with great activities throughout the festival.  SoR performers and volunteers were not put off by the weather or any other obstacles. For example, when sound-bleed from the main stage threatened to drown out our Open Stage in the OFC tent, our supportive audience came to the rescue clapping along with such energy that it seemed we built a sound-wall around the stage. The SoR info table came together nicely and the fridge magnets were a hit!  While weather prevented having the table on Sunday, Spirit volunteers, in distinctive red Rasputin’s t-shirts, roamed the grounds sharing as much information and enthusiasm as possible. Continue reading

Tufts Brings Outstanding Close to Sunday Concert Series

A review by Lynn Stevenson

Terry TuftsTerry Tufts has a thing for Julie Andrews – well at least the one with a spoon full of sugar in hand. “I liked that she could hover,” said Tufts who by that point had the entire audience floating – high on hope and the passionate lyrics of a man who believes to the core in what he sings. Accompanied by the blissful upright bass of John Geggie and flawless piano of Mark Ferguson, Tufts sailed through two perfect sets that began with a wake-up call and ended with a plea for the earth. In between were tales of adventure, of people who dreamed and saw no limit to imagination, dad’s wisdom, a beloved’s arms, precocious children and a wild ride on a fabled toboggan. I could not stop smiling. Song after song – each different yet perfect – fueled by the flying fingers of Terry Tufts. Continue reading

Spirit Rising! A Tribute to Gil Levine

by Lynn Stevenson

“I can feel the spirit building. Soft as a whisper. Loud as a roar.”

Gil Levine Tribute

Helen Levine and friends

So sings Tom Juravich, one of a dozen amazing performers who raised their voices in honour of Gil Levine – union leader, social activist and folk music enthusiast who lost his battle with cancer last November. If the measure of a man is the love he inspires in others – then Gil Levine was clearly larger than life. The Elmdale Tavern on June 6th was filled to capacity with countless friends who came to share their affection for this fine man. “Songs of Protest, Songs of Hope” organized by the Spirt of Rasputin’s was not a goodbye, but a profound expression of hope and enduring gratitude for a person who meant so much to so many and whose influence continues to be strongly felt.
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The Legend of Meredith Luce

A review, by Jeremy Owen

Meredith Luce

Meredith Luce

The first season of the new Spirit of Rasputin’s is drawing to a successful close (with just four Sundays left before the break -including the Gil Levine tribute on the 6th and Terry tufts on the 20th). It was both poetic and appropriate, therefore, to feature Meredith Luce this past Sunday night, since Meredith – by her own admission – got her start at the original Rasputin’s several years ago.

I didn’t have the pleasure of seeing those first sets, but catching Meredith’s show on Sunday showed me that the longevity of female singer/songwriters in Canadian Folk Music is assured. She is already leaving her mark upon the landscape, and I look forward to seeing in totality the legacy that is sure to follow in her wake. Continue reading

A Cautionary Tale

by Jeremy Owen

A non-review of Rasputin’s Beard – 5/23/10

I knew I was going to be late to the Beard last night; I knew that much. I was already cursing those circumstances that had conspired and reared their ugly heads at once to mire my day down in non-musical minutia. But even so, I had hoped to catch the latter half at least; 2 out of the 4 bands. I was hoping against hope that one of those bands would be Greg Kelly’s.
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Beard #3: Country in the City

by Hollis Morgan


The Shard's Andrew Snow

On a long-weekend Sunday, while a lot of folks left the city, the country rolled into the Elmdale Tavern and the 50 or so patrons who stayed were glad they did. While not all of the music was twanged with country charm,  the opening and penultimate acts had that certain relaxed, comfortable feel that traditional country music exudes. The second band, however, exploded with youthful, pop-culture enthusiasm; while the closing act was an intriguing potpourri of jazzy, quirky folk.

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The Common Thread:
A review of Tony Turner, Tom Lips and Rob Heath

by Jeremy Owen

Tony Turner and Rob Heath

Tony Turner and Rob Heath

I’m stationed behind the CD table at the Elmdale Tavern and the anticipation is palpable: very shortly 2 local giants of folk will take the stage with a talented out-of-towner, like some sort of musical equinox, an aligning of the cosmos rarely seen and never to be repeated again.

There’s the scraping of chairs as their occupants maneuver for sightlines, the muted hum of a dozen conversations ready to fall silent at a moments notice. And you can just tell it’s going to be a good night for the Spirit.

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The Dusty Drifters @ CKCU Weekend Wrap-up

“Where else can you catch an amazing set by an amazing band
and play with them afterward?”

by Jeremy Owen


The Dusty Drifters

The CKCU Weekend Wrap-up is an event still in its infancy, but if last night was any example, that kid’ll be walking and talking in no time. The Drifters (6 in all) packed the stage and packed the room, to the point where this reviewer was obliged to scribble notes while standing against the back wall. This itself provided a unique opportunity to gauge the effect on the audience themselves, mind you; an effect that was immediately apparent in every tapped toe, slapped knee and clapped hand that kept time with the music. The Drifters brand of bluegrass –traditional music with a twist- was such that it compelled you to move; even the bartender was bobbing to the beat as she weaved her way through the capacity crowd. Continue reading

Floating – An Intimate Evening With Terry Gillespie

by Jeremy Owen

Terry Gillespie

Terry Gillespie (Jeffery Grosvenor in background)

It was an intimate and most fortunate crowd that had the pleasure of enjoying Terry Gillespie’s transcendent performance last Sunday at the Elmdale Tavern. In some ways it was –possibly- too intimate; one had only to close one’s eyes to have the image of Terry’s golden vocals being sung directly into one’s ear. Continue reading

Beard #2: A Two-steppin’ Success

by Hollis Morgan



The Spirit of Rasputins Beard two-stepped its way into history after an evening of solid entertainment from a terrific line-up of four great bands. Most of the evening my attention was focussed on the energy generated by the entertainers on the new, wonderful stage at the front of the Elmdale House Tavern. But when I looked around half-way through the night, there were smiling faces right to the back of the room and every table was full. The Beard is having a good run.

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Surfing the Canadian Shield – an evening with Ian Tamblyn

by Lynn Stevenson


Ian Tamblyn

Crushed in a corner with a capacity crowd, I wondered why I’d worried.   Tickets hadn’t sold as quickly as expected, so new to ‘The Spirit’- I fretted.  But when the night rolled round, Ian Tamblyn had packed the place and completely enthralled his audience.  Despite the Sens game and the Junos, the Elmdale Tavern was jammed with devoted fans who hung on his words and laughed at his effortlessly delivered stories of places majestic and, well, less than so…  From the open doors of lousy hotels in the middle of nowhere to the heartbreaking beauty of the North – Ian Tamblyn sings of experience.  The man has been there and it shows.
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Song-A-Long – Wednesday April 7

by Tony Turner

The Wednesday edition of the 18th annual Great Canadian Song-A-Long gave birth to 18 new songs to a very attentive Elmdale audience. Songs were presented on one or more four themes – Lucky; I Wonder; The trouble with…; and Ghosts. The Lucky and I Wonder themes were particularly popular topics. Veterans of previous Song-A-Long events such as Greg Kelly, Rick Hayes, and Chrissy Steinbock performed as well as numerous first timers such as Jean Granbois, Kristine St.  Pierre. Chris White, who has participated in all 18 Ottawa Song-a-Along events, collaborated with Missy Burgess on a heartfelt song imagining a better world. The event not only unveiled new songs but helped raise money for the volunteer-run Spirit of Rasputins cooperative to help continue its work to build a strong local folk presence in Ottawa.

Lindsay Ferguson Easter Concert – Review

by Hollis Morgan

You never know who will show up for a concert on a holiday weekend. But Lindsay Ferguson drew both fans and family to an almost full house sponsored by Spirit of Rasputin’s at the Elmdale Tavern on April 4.  As the CBC says, “…born in Bermuda, raised in Prince Edward County & now living in the Ottawa area, [Lindsay] has a voice that can raise the hairs in places that you can’t even see.” And we sure found out all about that last Sunday. Performing solo with her guitar, she presented songs from her new  CD Sound, and took requests for favourites from the audience. Continue reading

Lynn Miles Concert Packs the Elmdale

The first Spirit of Rasputin’s Concert was a huge success with a packed house of dedicated folk lovers. Lynn, a consummate performer, was funny, thoughtful, and thoroughly entertaining. Backed by the rich and sophisticated guitar work of Keith Glass, the show ranged from tender to raunchy, and was filled with memorable songs from her recent CD’s. Lynn played guitar and piano with hilarious self-deprecating jabs at her piano skills…of course her former teacher was in the audience! Despite the playfulness, her piano skills were apparent.  This was the perfect launch for the new Spirit of Rasputin’s Concert Series. By the way, if you missed this show, you also missed learning about  HAD…High Altitude Dryness! The banter between Lynn and Keith around this “condition” had everyone in tears of laughter.

Keith Glass and Lynn Miles