Review by Hollis Morgan
Amidst 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.
Before the music began, Pat Moore reminded us of the Razzie Awards (of which she is a multi-winner) by reciting her poem about them composed way back in the 80’s. Then Tom Lips celebrated the Open Stage by singing acapella an almost finished song about performing almost finished songs at the Open Stage…a wonderful and logically circular composition. After the intermission Chris White, with help from the audience, recalled all the initiatives begun by Dean that are still carried forward by Spirit of Rasputins. Missy Burgess, in full regalia, recalled how Dean had ruined her life by encouraging her to become an accomplished singer songwriter and musician. Finally, president Hollis Morgan presented a certificate of Honourary Lifetime Membership to Dean followed by the proverbial official photo op.
The music for the evening was absolutely appropriate. Sheesham Crow on violin, harmonicas and kazoo, and Lotus Wight on banjos, jaw harp, harmonica and kazoo have polished their show and talent over the years. They too had fond memories of playing at Rasputin’s Folk Café. With their array of home-made musical accoutrements — including the remarkable contra-bass harmoniphoneum — their performance ranks with the best of vaudeville acts combining accomplished musicianship with hilarious schtik. With Dean, his wife Ruth, and many others dancing along, the evening was truly a barrel of fun. One of many highlights was the five minute hambone duet, involving only the rhythm of hands flailing on thighs and other body parts. You had to see and hear it to believe it.