Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Pete Seeger

I just got the news of the death of Pete Seeger this morning from yahoo news on my computer. So sad but he went peacefully and was 94 years old. He influenced so many people, musicians, singers and others including myself. I remember him when I was a lot younger when he was with the Weavers and sang Good Night Irene. 
I first came to Canada in 1961, and it was during that time, or maybe 1962, that I went to a Pete Seeger concert. I didn't really know much about him then or even what he looked like, for he was banned on television for a long time and I don’t think anybody readily recognised him. The concert was a sellout in the high school auditorium in Fort William, Ontario. In the middle of the stage sat a chair and a table with a jug of water and a glass. A big, tall skinny fellow came ambling onto the stage, carrying a guitar and banjo. He leaned them up against the table started to take off his sweater. I thought this was a stagehand bringing the instruments on for Pete Seeger and I thought it was kind of unprofessional to come wondering on the stage as a stagehand and commenced to take the sweater off before leaving. He threw the sweater onto the chair picked up the banjo approached the microphone and started playing. At that point we all realized this was Pete Seeger, who had come on without an introduction. 
What a performance that was; for two hours he held the audience in the palm of his hand with stories and songs and sing-a-longs and the playing of his 12 string guitar and longnecked five string banjo. I was fascinated. I had been playing guitar and singing folk songs for maybe a year and I thought to myself that night the how wonderful it would be if I could ever reach the stage of my life where I could go on stage like that and entertain an audience the same way. 
I did become a full-time musician in 1964, while living in Edmonton, Alberta. I spent time with the rock groups and folk groups, made recordings, got radio airplay, did TV shows and toured the country of Canada from coast to coast. Eventually went solo in 1972 I did eventually accomplish my dream as a solo performer and singer and entertainer. I was signed by Community Concerts of New York around the end of the 1980s and for the next five or six years I toured across the United States and Canada. The only province in Canada I did not get to go to was Prince Edward Island, and the only two states that I never sang in were Alaska and Rhode Island. 
I learned from many other performers the importance of stage presence, telling jokes, telling stories, song introductions, mixing humour with serious songs, but I will always remember my first inspirations were from Burl Ives whom I was later to meet in my life and the one concert of Pete Seeger that I attended. I did meet and become friends with his half-brother Mike Seeger years later. I think I have every recording of Burl Ives and Pete Seeger with and without The Weavers. 
Tonight, Tuesday the 28th of January 1014 I will raise a glass of single malt whiskey to his memory. 
Thank you Pete Seeger.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Happy Birthday Robert Burns!

Warlocks and witches in a dance:
Nae cotillon, brent new frae France,
But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels,
Put life and mettle in their heels

From Tam O' Shanter, A Tale (1790)

Go kick up your heels for Robert Burns, Scotland's national bard.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A New Year and a New CD

Well here we go again, a new year and a new CD.

This is not really a "new CD" but a compilation of songs from my double CD (Pirate Songs-Sea Songs-Shanties) with some fresh songs, Caller Ou (Fresh Oysters, frae the North Sea), The Sea and The Ballad of Sam Hall ( from an older 1970s recording of mine). The double CD collection of sea songs has been my most successful recording ever so we decided to take the best of them and whittle them down to a single CD. The double CD is still available, of course. I am also working on volumes 3 and possibly 4 with more great pirate songs, and songs of the sea. It should be available by mid 2014.

I'm preparing once again for Robert Burns Night, for The Scottish  Society of the Lehigh Valley, their 40th to be exact. This will be a return engagement for me and I'm thrilled because I had such a great time last year!

I know it's only halfway through January but Spring and Summer are fast approaching and that's exciting and I'm ready for a new season of festivals. I will be posting some dates soon but once again I choose to limit them to certain ones so I can enjoy other Summer activities. There's more to life than Scottish festivals!

Yes I'm still writing my book about Ewan Colin Coupar and his Faerie friends, it's almost there, looking for an editor soon. These things do take time.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Robert Burns: Poems published.

In 1786 the first edition of Burns’ "Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect" is published in Kilmarnock, by printer John Wilson. Burns was 27 years old.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Robert Burns: Early Song

As we approach the birthday of Robert Burns, on January 25th, lets learn some tidbits about his life.

We'll start off with an early song that Burns wrote.

In 1774  Robert Burns wrote "O once I lov’d a bonnie lass". Also called "Handsome Nell", this song was about Nelly Kilpatrick, Burns' first love, whom he met when he was 15. The song was set to the tune of Nelly’s favourite reel: "I am a man unmarried"

Burns added this footnote to the song: "The first of my performances." leading us to think it may have been the first song he wrote. The song was not published during his life.

O, once I lov'd a bonnie lass,
An' aye I love her still,
An' whilst that virtue warms my breast
I'll love my handsome Nell.

As Bonnie Lasses I hae seen,
And mony full as braw,
But for a modest gracefu' mein
The like I never saw.

A bonny lass I will confess,
Is pleasant to the e'e,
But without some better qualities
She's no a lass for me.

But Nelly's looks are blythe and sweet,
And what is best of a',
Her reputation is compleat,
And fair without flaw;

She dresses ay sae clean and neat,
Both decent and genteel;
And then there's something in her gait
Gars only dress look weel.

A gaudy dress and gentle air
May slightly touch the heart,
But it's innocence and modesty
That polishes the dart.

Carl Peterson: There Was a Lad CD

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

For auld lang syne, my jo,
For auld lang syne.
We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.