My neighborhood and Eliza Gilkyson, bridged

One of the things that I enjoy about living next to Riding Mountain National Park is the exposure to nature’s wildlife, daily rhythms of hoarfrost, sunshine, winds, and moisture conditions. They are the local weather sensors that I use to monitor what it’s like “in my neighborhood” each day. I use these sensors in addition to the weather report.

As I drive into the park, up to Dauphin, or out to Erickson, I regularly see muskrat, deer, moose, coyotes, and sometimes elk and the odd Cooper’s Hawk, Bald Eagle, or Great Gray Owl (Manitoba’s bird). This video is one that I recently shot of muskrats over a couple of days. Their area of swimming and movement was being reduced daily by colder temperatures and the formation of ice.

This is an important two-week window in 2010, when over 15,000 people are gathered in Cancun, Mexico for COP16 (The Conference of Parties and Climate Change) to discuss, develop policies, and share new information about the impacts of human activities that are creating climate changes at an unprecedented rate.

I was looking for a music track to fit to the muskrat behaviour captured in the video. Eliza Gilkyson recently offered up a CD of rare quality called Beautiful World, about our planet. I used her song Unsustainable, as the background track for this video. I hope that you enjoy the bridging of my neighborhood with that of Eliza Gilkyson’s song, the planet. She muses about our pathway to “unsustainability”, and wonders how we go back to the drawing board to engage humans in making our communities, economy and life support systems truly sustainable. I have reproduced the lyrics to her song below.

Unsustainable, by Eliza Gilkyson

unsustainable, unmaintainable
we’ve gone too far and now it’s uncontainable
let’s tear it down and start all over again
reprehensible, indefensible
the way we are is truly incomprehensible
back to the drawing board
start all over again
madly, we loved you madly
we would have gladly maintained the status quo
badly, we’ve behaved badly
and now, sadly, we’ll have to let you go
you’re so
unforgivable, results unriddable
to make a perfect garden so unlivable
back to the drawing board
start all over again
madly, we loved you madly
we would have gladly maintained the status quo
badly, we’ve behaved badly
and now, sadly, we’ll have to let you go
you’re so
unsustainable, unrestrainable
our rationale is simply unexplainable
let’s tear it down and start all over
back to the drawing board
start all over
let’s tear it down and start all over again

An Austin, Texas songwriter, I invite you to listen to Eliza’s songs.

Valdy House Concert Video

I’ve posted the live Valdy Home Routes House Concert in two segments. Shot in HD video, this house concert in Onanole, Manitoba was sold out, with many folks going down memory lane. Valdy was a part of our growing up, our many years at the Winnipeg Folk Festival’s kid’s stage with our children, and he continues to perform almost 200 live concerts a year.

As you will see in Valdy House Concert – Part 1 and Valdy House Concert – Part 2, the evening was full of new and old songs, audience participation, and lots of great laughter. He is a Canadian treasure and as a fellow folkie on the house concert circuit suggested recently, he should be nominated for an Order of Canada. I agree!

Here is Part  1 of the house concert, to tease you..Enjoy!

Valdy-A smile, many songs, and a whole lotta wisdom

Valdy Home Routes House Concert, Onanole, ManitobaValdy skated into Onanole, stayed a night, delighted 48 odd fans, went for a walk, and blew out the next morning to Ashern, where 58 fans were delighted.  As Tim Cameron, the Ashern Host on this Home Routes House Concert Yellow circuit shared with me recently, “this man should get the Order of Canada“. I agree.

When we sat down over our morning coffee before he departed for Ashern, Valdy had a few really neat things to share…He speaks of his red shoes, continuity, and traditions and why “top down” won’t work. He has, through his travels, seen the seasons changing, lands changing under human hands, and honestly addresses some of our collective deficiencies in ways that are thoughtful and full of caring. He gives us his many years of experiences as a performer, and as a craftsman … Music has power in the hands of such a man.

I hope you enjoy this wonderful interview with our Canadian bard.

Rarely do you find a troubadour whose songwriting skills, mastery of the political sphere, sheer talent in musicality, and self-effacing manner come together into songs that you can’t help singing.

For almost two hours, we sang, laughed, and were treated to songs that took us into the heart of the most human of situations – from “That’s An Odd Way to Do Things” about the police working east side Vancouver to help the down-trodden, to his classic “Yes I Can”, or the delightful tribute to the very ordinary people on our planet “Stars”, this man can tell stories like very few others. In doing so, you feel like you are a canoe that’s being portaged…somewhat handled, definitely not dropped, and moving through a country-side that is full of quintessential Canada.

Folk history with Cara Luft

It is one thing to entertain. It is another to educate. But, when a good songwriter and musician bring a sharp focus to both entertain and educate, you are in for a treat. Cara Luft did just that last night at her Home Routes House Concert in Onanole, Manitoba. Having been raised in a home in Calgary, where folk-singing was part of the family repertoire, Cara was exposed to traditional British folk-songs, the songs of family friend James Keelaghan (who has since moved to Winnipeg, and won Juno), and many other styles and genres of music. Her guitar playing and songwriting started at an early age.

Cara Luft Performs at Home Routes House Concert in Onanole

Just before Cara left for Ashern, Manitoba, another stop on her Home Routes house circuit this November (2009), I asked Cara to respond to a few questions about her artistic performance last night with about 35 people present for a Friday night in Onanole. I am sure that you’ll be delighted with some of her reflections in her interview below.  Enjoy!

West End Cultural Centre Canada’s greenest music venue

Main concert venue at WECC

Main concert venue at WECC

What does that mean – Canada’s greenest music venue ?  Since when does responsible environmental policy meet the music industry in terms of venues, infrastructure and building operations?

Does this mean that the building is painted green on the outside, or that a smart approach integrating sound business management with sound environmental policy has been achieved?

Listen to the artistic director of Winnipeg’s West End Cultural Centre as he weaves a fascinating story – Dominic Lloyd Interview about this west end cultural facility and its connection to community, its restoration as a viable and relevant community performing arts venue (particularly music), and the innovative use of environmentally sound management practices that have reduced its carbon footprint.  This is leading edge stuff.  Someone nominate them for an award – they are going after LEED Silver in Canada as a performing arts venue.

Small concert venue at WECC - seen through re-used glass windows

Small concert venue at WECC - seen through re-used glass windows

Thanks Dominic – I’m looking forward to hearing Harry Manx at the West End Cultural Centre on October 27.  Tickets are available through the Winnipeg Folk Festival Music Store.  You’ll notice that I said that the Harry Manx concert is through the Winnipeg Folk Festival, but the performance is at the West End Cultural Centre.   This is part of their revenue strategy.  There are two concert spaces (one large, one small)

Diseased elm processed and used as flooring in the restored West End Cultural Centre

Diseased elm processed and used as flooring in the restored West End Cultural Centre

that are available for rent for a variety of community and public events.   Creating spaces for community that are culturally relevant, smart examples of business operations, and wonderfully rich in artistic diversity.  Great to see!

David Bradstreet at Home Routes house concert in Onanole

It is wonderful when you can be completely surprised by artists whom you know very little about. And, so it was with David Bradstreet. His great songwriting, genuine love of music and songcrafting, and his professionalism were a delight to experience. Yet another Home Routes House Concert.

David also did a pretty nifty interview with Celes Davar, on the morning after the house concert.  He performs a couple of additional short riffs and gives a really great insight into a wonderful person, musician, and songwriter by performing an “as yet” unfinished song.  Have a listen to this delightful………….

Sonics and Sojourns Festival Countdown

15 days and counting….

We are getting very excited about the upcoming Sonics and Sojourns Fall Festival of Learning & Music happening in Onanole and area from September 18 – September 26, 2009.   Musical experiences, workshops, family events, an amazing new underwater escape stunt by the world’s greatest escape artist Dean Gunnarson, a Home Routes House Concert with David Bradstreet, and a closing concert by Bill Bourne & Bop Ensemble.

Opening the festival on September 18th  is a great community potluck supper and global drumming circle with Navaro Franco – fun, learning, and community experiences.

New this year – The Missoula Children’s Theatre has a one-week residency at Onanole School from September 14 – 19.  The students of Onanole will perform King Arthur’s Quest on Saturday, Sept. 19th We hope to see you there!

Christina Martin House Concert Friday August 28

We are excited to host 2009 East Coast Music Award Winner Christina Martin and Steven Bowers at a house concert in Onanole on Friday night, August 28th.  Call 848.7443 for tix ($15pp), or email sue.davar@earthrhythms.ca

Listen to Christina on MySpace

Listen to Steven Bowers on MySpace

Better yet, come to the House Concert and meet them personally..you’ll love it.

Matt Epp mellow and full of feeling at Poor Michaels

While Independence Day was being celebrated in the US, Onanole residents were treated to a double concert evening hosted by Poor Michael’s BookshopThe Concert on the Patio Series.  The 1st half featured Michelle Bouchard (Cellist) and Crystal Tait (bassist) performing Mozart and Bach pieces as a cool breeze from a rain cloud just missed us.  As the sun returned, Manitoba singer/songwriter Matt Epp picked up his well-traveled guitar and took us on a journey through his poetic songs.  From This Old House to Orphan Horse, we were treated to moments of quiet reflection to two songs in which Matt encouraged everyone to sing along.  Matt personally introduces us to this video montage from his concert, from July 4th in Onanole, Manitoba.

Matt’s music and performances can be seen in a number of places.  I like this one on YouTube, of Matt performing a Dan Frechette number, Sweet Little Things with Matt’s band.

Ken Hamm’s blues soothing and filled with stories

Ken Hamm

Ken Hamm

Poor Michael’s Bookshop & Café is our local meeting place in Onanole.  Here is where you can find an old, original copy of one of Grey Owl’s first books (signed) and under glass, ready for the collector.  Or, you can have a great fair trade coffee which you can take out into the courtyard with your lawn chair to set up for an evening concert like the one we had last night.Murray Evans, co-owner of Poor Michael’s introduced Ken Hamm (Juno award winner) last night.

Singing and playing delta blues

Singing and playing delta blues

A very personal evening of unique blues and roots from the deep south to more contemporary.  You can learn more about Ken Hamm’s music and his bio, or purchase his music online through iTunes.

Playing with a unique finger-picking style and slide on his 1930 National steel guitar combined with a throaty blues-style voice, or picking an instrumental on his Martin, Ken gave us a delightful set of music, stories, and lessons about the blues, much of it in the traditional Delta blues style.  Finishing off with a stand-up banjo was a treat.  No wonder he is a guitar teacher, and teaches guitar workshops across this country.

A great local crowd turned out on a clear night, with the sun setting, and tucked into the courtyard.  We picked a few video highlights to share with you.  Enjoy!