John Showman, violin, Toronto
Showman just released his first CD
(Showman) this fall, fronting an armada of great musicians. Stands to reason
though: he’s backed up so many others. From his tenure with the Foggy Hogtown
Boys bluegrass band to Chris Quinn, playing in the Creaking Tree String
Quartet or Kim Beggs, Jory Nash, Corin Raymond or Chris Coole. He’s just
one of those indispensable guys and plays whatever is required, improvising
or straight – he’s the consummate musician’s musician.
Margaret Stowe, guitarist, Toronto
For Margaret Stowe it’s like painting
rainbows: tonality, understated playing and a wonderful ability to whip
the notes onto the canvas. She’s attended Robert Fripp’s guitarist retreats
in Spain and has backed up many wonderful musicians. Her playing reminds
me of Lenny Breau in oh so many ways! Her latest CD, Mello Jello, is an
amazing collection of wonderful instrumentals, covering Dylan, The Beatles,
Donovan, Leonard Cohen as well as her own brilliant compositions. She’s
an amazing player.
The Undesirables:Corin Raymond and Sean Cotton, Toronto for Northern Girl
Did a lot of searching but found very
few Real Canadian songs this year, then I remembered this one. Not only
do the Undesirables have a fantastic sound, but they take it across Canada,
Australia and the UK. Songs like these tell of the Canadian experience
and fall on welcome ears wherever they are performed by this awesome twosome.
From their recently released CD Travelling Show.
ELENA YEUNG, Creston BC, banjo
What a treat to receive such a great
CD like "Gravedigger’s Daughter": 11 great songs and a total running time
of 37:05! From the deeply personal to story-telling ballad songs, songs
that can transport you places in an instant. Her banjo playing is lovely,
the use of musicians bring her to the fore. Her influences – from The Beatles
to Bill Monroe, Joni Mitchell to Bach – all come through in her music.
And to think that this is only her first album!
NJACKO BACKO, kalimba, djembe, Toronto
Originally from Cameroon, Africa, Njacko Backo emigrated to Montreal in 1989 and immediately immersed himself in music. He sings in French, a bit of English and African dialects about world conditions like pollution, peace, prophets, love and dance. He’s performed at Harbourfront Centre, mixing modern musical sounds and deeply ancient ones into his repertoire. He befriended Anne Lederman many years ago and they continue to perform together from time to time. His band, Kalimba Kalimba, play a more modern sounding music. He’s a joyful presence, incredibly friendly and totally musical. We are lucky to have such a person!
THE TIM POSTGATE HORNBAND, Toronto,
Tim Postgate, Howard Johnson, Lina Allemano and Quinin Nachoff
Based around banjo / guitarist Tim
Postgate and his original compositions are the sounds of the horns: trumpet,
tuba and clarinet being widely used. This one really pushes boundaries.
From old time jazz and blues to stuff that’s just way, way, way out there,
the musicianship is impeccable, the trip is wonderful and the production
is beautiful. But the music: like nothing you’ve every heard before. Banjo
THE HAINTS OLD TIME STRINGBAND, British Columbia
Erynn Marshall (Galax, VA / Victoria, BC) Pharis Romero (Cobble Hill, BC / Horsefly, BC) Jason Romero (Cobble Hill, BC / Arcata, CA)
When Erynn Marshall (2006 Porcupine for Gem of Canada Album: Calico) teamed up with the Romeros, Appalachia invaded the Rockies. Marshall knows more about Appalachian old time music than anyone else I know and she can play it just as good as anyone can. Add to this the banjo and guitars of the Romeros and the music just springs to life, right off the platter. Haints, by the way, means spirit or ghost in the far south.
JASON SCHNEIDER, Waterloo On
– WHIPERING PINES, ECW Press, Toronto
This is a really well researched and well written book about Canada’s huge and largely ignored contribution to popular American music. It follows The Band from The Last Waltz and detours through Wilf Carter, Hank Snow and Bob Nolan through Ronnie Hawkins, Ian & Sylvia, Leonard Cohen, Great Speckled Bird and Neil Young, shedding new light on their well told tales. Wonderfully woven together, an easy read that you just don’t want to end. The second Porcupine for Schneider, who co-authored 2001’s Have Not Been The Same: The CanRock Renaissance with Michael Barclay and Ian Jack.
JORY NASH, Toronto
I first met Jory in the mid-90s, singing
in the Nash Sairin Band. Since then he’s put out a few CDs, having just
released New Blue Day, his sixth solo, of mostly original songs. He’s inventive,
personable, and puts on a good live show. His song moods range from freaky
to melancholy blue; he can rock it up, jazz it up or do it straight up
folk. Jory has matured into a veteran singer/songwriter. That all said
and done, his most poignant song, the song that shows just how good he
has become, from New Blue Day, is Elegy (how will I?). A song about losing
one’s parent to Alzheimer’s, spoken from first hand experience in a most
loving, eloquent way.
KATHERINE WHEATLEY, Toronto, for HALLELUJAH
One of the most difficult Categories to adjudicate, this song won, hands down! So many great songs and yet this one stuck out like an orange rabbit. After playing it once on my program, Back to the Sugar Camp, several people wanted to know how to get hold of it. Unlike Leonard Cohen’s song of the same name, Hallelujah is a brisk paced cry of hope and happiness. With backing vocals from the likes of Suzie Vinnick, Lynn Miles, Tannis Slimmon and others, it’s a song you’ve got to hear to really know what I mean by calling it The Porcupine Song of the Year. From the recently released album ‘Landed’.
SEAN COTTON, Toronto
Not only is Cotton an exceptional guitar player (Undesirables) and songwriter, he’s also got a deft hand at producing others. His work, on both The Undesirables and the Corin Raymond CDs produced this year, show a maturing mark of excellence
THE WESTERN STATES, Winnipeg MB – BYE AND BYE
The Western States is a country music infested acoustic-based album with a fabulously refreshing, gutsy band making all the tracks come alive. The sophomore release by this Winnipeg band featuring the playing of Sean Buchanan - Nicole Marion - Ashley Roch - Jarrod Falk - Chris Carmichael. Great variety, a range of moods, from soulful to joyful – an excellent listen all the way through.
THE KEATNIKS by The Keatniks, Newfoundland & Labrador, 1965
William Keating, Pierre Lajeunesse,
Maurice Caines, Basil Haire, were all working in the brand new boomtown
of Labrador City in 1964 and formed a band around Keating. Little did they
know then that they would go down in history of recording the first all
Rock n’ Roll album by Newfoundlanders. The record was recorded in Montreal
and spawned a mini-hit, ‘That’s My Girl’ across Canada and, oddly enough,
in Japan. But being from The Rock, the boys decided to stay put in their
day-jobs and declined the offer of touring. All these years later their
album stands up as a fine example of the kind of rock music being played
in their province at that time.
LE VENT DU NORD: La Part Du Feu, Borealis Records, Montreal QC
Le Vent du Nord are currently Simon Beaudry, Nicolas Boulerice, Rejean Brunet and Olivier Demers. This is their fifth album of chansons Quebecois and folk tunes. It’s a superb recording from a band that gets better and better. If I were to enquire: have any of you got any CDs Quebecois music, the answer would probably be a blank – no. And that speaks volumes about Canada. So if you aim to fix that problem, this would be an excellent CD to consider for your collection.
Lifetime Achievement award
Ritchie Yorke – music journalist, author – Toronto/Brisbane Aust.
left Australia for Britain in 1966 and talked his way into a job working
for Island Records. A year later he moved to Toronto where he started cover
the rock music scene for the Toronto Telegram. Within a year he was spearheading
a campaign that would culminate with the CRTC legislating a Canadian content
(CanCon) quota for Canadian broadcasters. Yorke was aghast when he discovered
how Canadian media continually kicked Canadian music in the teeth. It took
an Australian to finally get Canadian acts recognized by the industry.
His book, Axes Chops & Hot Licks (The Canadian Rock Music Scene), Hurtig
Publishers, 1972, was the most critical expose of cultural genocide of
our own music. Yorke befriended John Lennon and Yoko Ono and became their
roving peace ambassador for the Give Peace a Chance mission. He has since
written several books, including what critics call ‘the best book ever
written about Led Zeppelin’. He still comes to Canada from time to time
but resides back home in Brisbane, Australia.
and Claude Caines are both pioneer’s of Newfie Rock. Caines* was one of
the first NL Rockers to record, when he was still in his teens, in the
Port-aux-Basques based band The Du-Cats in 1965. Bishop worked his way
through bands as well with his stunning guitar-work. They eventually joined
forces, in 1975, in TNT. To record their songs they pooled their money
and applied for a government grant to build a recording studio: Clode Sound,
in Stephenville; they also started a record company: Quay Records, which
released legendary albums (the first Wonderful Grand Band, Emile Benoit,
Gordon Quinton and Simini, to name a few.) It was the first independent
record company and studio in Newfoundland. Both musicians are still active
in music today.
*Caines’ brother, Morris, played in Labrador in The Keatniks.
John Borra – singer/songwriter – bass – Toronto ON
John Borra shines
his heart on the heartbeat of Toronto. playing He comes from the punk /
new wave world of the late 1970s and has centred himself around Kensington
Market, the nucleus of the music scene. He played bass in some great bands:
Change of Heart, A Neon Rome, Scott B Sympathy & Groovy Religion. As
a singer/songwriter with guitar, he performs in the John Borra Band and
lately fronting The Rattle Snake Choir. The Cameron House, The Communists
Daughter, The Dakota Tavern, these are some of his haunts. He sings a dark
blue streak through alt-country sounding songs like Blues Mama.
– Producer / singer/songwriter – Toronto ON
Corin Raymond – Singer/songerwriter – Toronto ON
Sean Cotton Corin Raymond
in Georgetown grow up and move down to Toronto to join the music scene.
Two lanky guys, one guitar. They blend their soulful voices in a silky,
smoky velvet Crown Royal bag of tunes, great songs with lots of theatrics.
Apart they grow alone: Cotton getting into production work and playing
in other bands; Raymond working fiendishly fronting The Sundowners with
his country folk-rock songs that are singable. They support other traveling
musicians, from Manitoba, Texas, North Carolina or Australia. They travel
the globe playing Canadian songs and since both of them have already garnered
three Porcupines apiece, they are hereby promoted into the ranks of the
Order of the Porcupine Hall of Fame.
– rock musician, historian - Saint John’s NL
Wayne Sturge – rock musician, historian - Saint John’s NL
in rock bands since the mid-1960s, these middle-aged guys started noticing
that their past was beginning to disappear. Every year the memories faded;
every year there are fewer survivors. And with the fading lights of the
60s & 70s there grew gaps of emptiness of forgotten lore. But these
guys decided to do something about it. They started collecting and collating
vital photos, articles, and other relevent information, tracking down and
interviewing those that were still with us, piecing together the fabulous
rock music scene that had taken NL in a gale of music. After a decade of
working on it, little known bands who had loyal followings were put together
with the well known ones in a book and DVD/CD box set entitled “Rock &
Roll comes to Newfoundland and Labrador – An Archive”. They did it because
they cared, they did it with their own funds, they did it because of the
love of a time that was fading into a fog. The success of their project
made an entire generation sigh in relief, and it is their hope that others
will decide to research and preserve other parts of the recent past as
well. Truly great guys!
- singer / songwriter, festival founder
Nova Scotia / Mexico
came to Toronto in the early 80s and wound her way through the open stages
singing her own songs. Over time she learned the mechanics of good songwriting,
putting her heart into every note she plucked, strummed or sang. In the
late 1980s she began broadcasting in Toronto at CIUT and thinking about
starting a new folk festival. She chose the Eaglewood Resort in Pefferlaw
because it was close to the city and was accessible to those with handicaps.
She called it The Eaglewood Earth Festival and it premiered in 1989. A
few years of struggle later, Cheryl decided to move to Nova Scotia and
gave the festival away – it became the Eaglewood Folk Festival. Some 20
years later Eaglewood is a budding folk festival, still in Pefferlaw at
the Eaglewood Resort – just as she envisioned it. She continues her recording
and performing career.
The Keatniks – Pioneer Rock band – Labrador City – NL
(See the Classic Canadian Album Award - above)
In 1987 a very
young James Keelaghan was on the rise. Having completed his first recording,
Timelines, he was suddenly in hot demand by folk festivals across the country.
He writes songs carefully, articulately, songs peace and protest, songs
with a sense of history and love, with melancholy awareness of where they
are from. By the mid-90s he was one of Canada’s best known singer-songwriters.
He joined forces with another Calgary based guitarist, Oscar Lopez, and
together they formed The Compadres, blending their styles into a lavish
texture which revitalized both their careers. Over time James Keelaghan
has released 7 albums of original songs, one of traditional songs and two
To country music
fans of her generation she was known only as ‘Marie’. They called her La
Riene du Country in the francophone parts of the continent. She was married
to Ottawa Valley music star Bob King*, who played in the Happy Wanderers
with the late Ward Allen. She sang country songs in her native French throughout
Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, as well as into the New England states.
With husband Bob, she was part of The Family Brown, a large ensemble of
Ottawa Valley musicians. Wherever there were French country music fans,
she went to perform. She was like the Kitty Wells of French Country and
Western, forever touring and recording many disks. *Bob King was inducted
into the Hall of Fame in 1999
has accomplished so much, musically, in one lifetime. Born with very poor
eyesight, Losier was given a classical music education as a kid. That,
blended with his love of folk music and melodies and the seamless ability
to play several instruments; blessed with perfect pitch and a mathematical
mind that can deconstruct the most difficult of musical passages. He backed
the legendary Jean Carignan (on bass fiddle and piano) for over 20 years;
composed music for films; tuned the pianos at Place des Arts in Montreal
for over 22 years; recorded several albums with incredible musicians, and
played with the likes of The McGarrigles, Ritchie Havens, The Chieftains,
Philippe Bruneau and Graham Townsend. He received the Stompin’ Tom Connors
award from the ECMAs for his outstanding contribution to traditional music
– musician / composer – Joliette QC
a no-nonsense kind of guy, a bit brusque at times but totally loveable.
As a composer of traditional sounding tunes, he was superb. As a picker
of guitar and banjo, he was forever a venerable student. From his first
commercial recording in the 1980s with Hommage-aux-Aines he forged an everlasting
friendship with fiddler Jean-Claude Mirandette and along with André
Marchand (an original guitar / pieds canadienne star with La Bottine) and
Normand Mirón (accordion), performed as Les Fréres Labri.
In 1995 he put together and recorded OJNAB: The Messenger to great acclaim.
He made friends across Québec and the rest of Canada: James Keelaghan,
the late Oliver Schroer, Suzie Schlanger, Peter Jellard and myself. He
was planning on releasing his latest works just before he succumbed to
cancer in October, 2009.
– singer / songwriter – Toronto ON
She didn’t do much to get into the Hall of Fame – she didn’t live long enough to give us any more. But when someone, so promising, is taken from our community of Canadian talent we all grieve. Just turned 19, Taylor was attacked and killed by coyotes in Cape Breton on her first East Coast tour. She leaves us with just one album, her CD entitled: “For Your Consideration”. Well I considered it for about a minute before deciding to add Taylor Mitchell to the Hall of Fame.
From Northern Ontario, Morris Rainville has been plying his trade – singing country music – in bars, clubs and theatres for nearly 60 years. It all started out in Sudbury when he teamed up with his wife, Dot, and they toured as The Rainvilles. His song, Polar Bear Express, is legendary. When Dot decided to pack it in to look after their kids in the ‘70s, Morris continued writing and performing, solo. His songs are almost always in the country music vein, but they vary. Many have a distinctive Canadian reference and feel. He is still recording and producing songs.
was claimed as a hometown hero in the New Brunswick, Montreal, Toronto
and Calgary for he performed for years in all of those places. His songs
were truly Canadian, with titles like “12 Foot Davis”, Take Me Back To
Old New Brunswick, Canada’s Song, Oilman’s Lament, Montreal Scene ’67,
or “I Can’t go back to Winnipeg.” His main band, The Canadian Night Hawks,
were put together in Montreal and recorded several LP’s. He recorded over
14 albums of music since he first signed with London Records in 1960.
Tanglefoot began as a duo: Joe Grant and Bob Wagar, singing and playing traditional songs of Canada. At first they mostly played in museums and parks since most of their material was historic. Along the way they went through personnel changes, from a duo to a trio with the addition of Joe Grant; to a four piece with Steve Ritchie and to a five piece with Al Parrish. That’s when they started writing their own song but still steeped in the tradition of their home and native land. Their live performances were always lively with hopping and jumping, ripe with the kind of nationalism that existed back in the 19th Century. They recorded 8 albums of great Canadiana over the 30 years of their existence. Members of the band have been: They’ve toured the world tirelessly and have been wonderful musical ambassadors for us all. Their music even made it into outer space when Chris Hadfield took their CD aboard Space Shuttle Endeavor in April of 2001.
Wayne Tucker and Steve Fruitman - Cape Spear, Newfoundland - July 2009
One person can make a huge difference! Dick Nolan was one of the first Newfoundlanders to make records, some of them legendary, in the country and folk music world. Over the years he tasted success but eventually fell victim to the system. When he died in 2005 he was an unsung hero; it was Wayne Tucker who helped pick up the pieces and keep the spirit of Nolan alive. He tracked down as much information as he could, collected all the music of Nolan’s catalogue, even got RCA to re-issue some earlier LPs on CD. In a way, Wayne Tucker was one of Nolan’s biggest fans. Last Spring Tucker decided, at the age of 60, to apply for a campus radio show of Newfy-made music over CHMR, Memorial University of Saint John’s, and always features at least one of Nolan’s songs in every broadcast.