A review by Lynn Stevenson
Terry 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.
There is no doubt that Tufts is an incredible finger style guitarist – his technical ability is amazing – but the message in his finely crafted lyrics is more inspiring still; it is the element that transformed a fine performance into something golden. Days later I am still hearing Tufts heartfelt words in my head. As we all stand sickened by the catastrophe in the gulf that cannot, it seems, be solved by the power of presidents or the might of multinationals – it is artists like Terry Tufts we need to listen to again. The Earth has indeed paid dearly for our neglect in pursuit of profit. Lets hope Tufts is right when he sings, “And still despite my growing fear/I find I’m counting on rebirth/And a prayer for willing hearts to hear/My Open Letter to the Earth”. Other issues close to Tufts heart include the need to bring home our soldiers, to stop fighting and try to heal the wounds we have already inflicted.
But I would be amiss to paint a picture of gloom and dire consequences. This was a thoroughly enjoyable evening that showcased the talent and versatility of Geggie, Ferguson and Tufts, as well as their sense of humour. The trio’s tribute to Pete DeRose’s 1934 hit “Deep Purple” was inspired. “Where did that come from?” said a friend next to me. Equally pleasing and funny was Tufts tale of unrequited lust in “Marylou in Burgundy”, his “Black Velvet Elvis” and the image of 5 kids and 3 dogs flying through the air on dad’s “Big Ol’ Toboggan”. Slipping easily from folk to funk to jazz, each demonstrated their expert skills. Ferguson, who Tufts says “learned to play piano to support his trombone habit” never missed a beat and Geggie’s upright bass simply smiled. The audience smiled too when after a particular solo that solicited a “wow” from someone close to the stage, Tufts said, “Well Mark got a ‘wow’ so he can go home now.” To everyone’s surprise Ferguson got up and left the stage and Geggie followed. Both moved to the side and left their amused friend to wow the audience again all on his own. His father’s day tribute “My Father Would Say” had already done that, but this last solo proved that, like that great toboggan, Tufts too is “still king”. Geggie and Ferguson helped Terry perfect his sound on his most recent album “The Better Fight”. Lets hope we see these three talented musicians together again very soon.
It was a great night and a glorious conclusion to the Spirit of Rasputin’s Sunday concert series which began back in February with Lynn Miles playing to a packed house and featured folk legends such as Ian Tamblyn. Other outstanding performers included: Missy Burgess with Keith Glass; Mike O’Reilly and Peter Dawson; Michael Jerome Browne and the Twin Rivers String Band; Chris Maclean with Fred Guigion and Beth Cahill; Lindsay Ferguson and Emily Fennell; Terry Gillespie with Terry Owen; Tony Turner (also our excellent MC), Tom Lips and Rob Heath, and Meredith Luce with Eric Vieweg (Withering Pines). One special Sunday witnessed a magical tribute to the late Gil Levine with over 12 artists singing songs of “hope and protest”. Although not part of the Sunday series, Chrysalis and the 18th Annual Great Canadian Song A Long added colour and many more voices to a wonderful season.
The Spirit of Rasputin’s Sunday Concert Series will break for the summer but will be back again in September. Look for details at www.rasputin’s.ca