WINSTON 'SCOTTY' FITZGERALD AWARD
Joe Cormier is widely acknowledged for his lively playing of traditional Scottish music. Being born Acadian French, Joe was inundated with Scottish fiddling from a very young age. He began playing when just a boy. Often, after retiring to bed, his parents would drag him into the kitchen to play fiddle for guests. His music has influenced others, from New England where he was proclaimed 'Man of the Year' in 1985 by the Massachusetts Federation of Franco-American Clubs; in Quebec where musicians like La Bottine Souriante learned his versions of Scottish tunes.
Dorothy Hogan recognized the music of her own backyard. While others in the industry were searching far and wide for unique folk music, Hogan put these albums together utilizing the skills of Harry Hibbs, Stompin' Tom Connors, Judy Greenhill, Fred, Graham and Eleanor Townsend, Maurice Bolyer and the University of Guelph Folk Choir. The albums, recorded in the 1970s, remain Canadian classics.
Stevedore Steve once imagined him as a rusty pipe from which the most beautiful spring water is produced! Roy recorded numerous albums, has written a couple of thousand songs with topics ranging from old dogs in Alberta to nationalistic ones like ''I Wouldn't Trade a Million Dollars For A Single Maple Leaf'. He was billed for years as 'The Goofy Newfy' because of a satirical song of that title in opposition to the Newfy Joke. After his heyday on the Canadian country music scene, his star waned and he ended up playing the worst bars in Toronto. That's what he's doing now. Still writing fine songs, I often refer to him as Canada's version of John Prine.
Dubbed "an honourary Canadian" by Gene Wilburn, Lee's songs of the Great Lakes could be from either country. In fact, Murdock's albums feature many traditional folksongs of both sides of those wonderful waters. Lee researches his work tirelessly. He is attracted to marine museums and their archives like a bear is to honey. While many of the songs he sings are his own, he has successfully incorporated the world of the past with that of the present. He is a living embodiment of folklore in action.
Tommy was a Scottish-Canadian who loved his musical heritage. His fiddle playing, his jokes, and his love of his homeland drove him to found one of Canada's first fiddle clubs, the Nobleton Fiddle Club. He also played with an off-shoot group of the club, The Limeridge Fiddlers, who would tour senior's homes, hospitals, and special benefits events without accepting payment for their services. Tommy Anderson lived for his music. He instigated annual cultural exchanges of fiddlers and dancers between Scotland and Ontario. He died only last month and will be sorely missed.
Gene Wilburn, a self-admitted old folkie - or 'Grey Hair' - was an old fan of Ian & Sylvia. When he attempted to renew his record collection with CDs, he realized that there was a bounty of Canadian folk music released on CD that few people knew about. He was determined to do something about it. Gene purchased thousands of dollars of Canadian folk CDs and put together this comprehensive guide which has received rave reviews from all over the North American continent. In fact, it even mentions winners of previous Porcupine Awards.
This is definitely a band you wouldn't want to hear at a folk festival. But is it folk music? It certainly is! This is a complete bastardization of a Wade Hemsworth song. The band even wrote to Wade to get permission to do it this way. This is young people rocking out to folk music and they rock really well.
Parry was in love with the poems of Robert Service. After immigrating to Canada in the 1970s, he heard Sheldon Posen tell the tale of 'The Cremation of Sam McGee' and was hooked on Service forever. After years of research on the man Robert Service, Parry used his imagination and ingenuity to recite certain of Service's works, and put others to music. A fascinating album, The Man From Eldorado retraces the footsteps of Service from the Yukon to France during WW1.
Gordon Fisch nominated Vollrath for this award but I told him that we at the Porcupines don't accept outside nominations. However, he did plant the idea in my head. Vollrath is a vibrant and particularly brilliant fiddler. He began playing when just a lad, winning his first competition at the age 13. In 1985 he won the North American Fiddle Championship. He has backed up artists like Ian Tyson, George Fox, Colleen Peterson and Freddy Fender. He has also composed many nifty fiddle tunes. He is a Member of the Orderof Canada and Member of the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.
The CD begins with footsteps in the snow - How Canadian! - a door opens, he steps inside, the door slams shut and he sits down and begins to play the blues. He plays for almost an hour before it's time to leave, back into the Canadian winter. Nothing but Lester and his guitar on this album, no overdubs except one; no other players; no devices. It's pure and natural folk-blues.
Known widely for his songwriting of rural Ontario, this prolific songwriter has penned some real gems. From his great song 'Indiana Road', recorded in 1987, Eaglesmith has chronicled the plight of the farmer through the depressions of the 80s and 90s. Farm auctions remind you of the plight of the Okies from 'The Grapes of Wrath'. His CD with the Flying Squirrels - 'from the paradise motel' - is alive with these gems. Keeping the story of Ontario alive.
Host of the Radio Boogie on CKLN in Toronto, co-booker of the Flying Cloud Folk Club, his love for bluegrass and old time country music is legendary. This man knows of what he speaks! This critic, non-player, shoots for the roots. His knowledge and understanding of folklore and folk music is surpassed only for his love of it. That is why he puts every extra hour of every day into his radio program and other musical endeavors.
Taylor writes a column for the Saint John Tribune on Country and Folk music. In doing so he has helped countless struggling musicians along the way. He has dug deep, pulled out all the stops, and recovered the careers of many who would have quit. He's spoken of with love and respect by nearly everyone who's met him. His enthusiasm for the genre of folk music is overwhelming. I mean, while most of us try to get a copy of an album, Gerry tries to get 3. His home is built around his record collection and his enthusiasm never wanes.
They have been playing traditional folk music together for years. Specializing in American country/folk and old time dance music, Cathy and Arnie decided that it was time to start a weekly folk club in Toronto. It would mean a drive down from their home in Aurora, giving up their Sundays and hopefully having a lot of fun. Well the fun was there but so were the headaches. Sunday afternoons at the Jack Russell Pub worked great: they booked featured performers and also made sure that any guitar or dulcimer slinger in the crowd got up to do a tune. Then they got the boot with less than a week's notice. They persisted and shifted their fledgling club from location to location before finally finding a home at The Oasis. In the meantime, they generated a great appreciative audience and greatly added to the folk scene in Toronto.
The west is what Keelaghan writes about most. With four albums of songs to his credit, all critically acclaimed throughout North America, I get the feeling that Keelaghan's best stuff is just about to emerge on his next album. That's my hunch. But when a songwriter pens a song like 'Cold Missouri Waters' with such intensity, dimension, passion and conviction, a song that grips the listener and journeys into the head of the narrative like this one does, you shake yourself loose from its grip when it's finished and wonder how the hell he could write a song like this!
After having spent several years in various bands singing boisterous Irish songs, Holmes teamed up with Bobby Watt and together they penned 'The Call', a song that Watt recorded on his 'Homeland' CD and for this they won a Porcupine in 1991. This year Rick Fielding felt that Holmes deserved added recognition for his poem 'The River'.
Harvey is a singer/songwriter who's been honing his skills for nearly 3 decades. Little known on this side of the Atlantic, we were fortunate enough to have him appear on The Acoustic Workshop where we learned all about him. With a fine voice and guitar he sings his well crafted songs that come straight out of his heart. It was difficult choosing who should win this award, but when Rick remembered Harvey sitting across from him in the on-air booth, there was no question who should receive this award this year.
Jason came as a complete surprise! One day Rick received his CD in the mail - just like the dozens of CDs a month - and within 30 seconds he was dumbstruck: this guy is really good! He had to have him on his show and Jason didn't fail to impress him even more. He's better in person than he is on his excellent CD 'Hiss of Distance'. As Fielding said: "Some nights the show feels like it's 3 hours long; with Jason it lasted only minutes.".
Danielle has been a student of Québécois folk music and dance since the early 1980s. She was founder of Centre de Valorisation du Patrimoine Vivant, a cultural organization dedicated to the preservation of Quebecois folk dance and traditional music. She was instrumental in recording Denis Pepin and Lisa Orenstein's tape 'Danseries de la Belle Province' in 1984. She helped bring the legendary Marcel Messervier to Mariposa in 1985. Danielle has gone on to win awards in Quebec for her own music with her band Rockabayou. She helps keep the works of Mme La Bolduc alive and interacts with many traditional musicians in Quebec.
André was one of the founding members of La Bottine Souriante. His guitar playing techniques and foot tapping skills defined the new wave of traditional music played in Quebec. He has gone on to produce albums by various artists. Nevertheless, it is his guitar playing that is truly exceptional. Based in the traditional music of Quebec, it has been expanded by his exploration of traditional Irish and American music.
Doug is a Dobro player extraordinaire who breathes new life into this beautiful instrument. His solo album 'Canadian Borderline' features great songs and tunes, including a hauntingly charming rendition of Neil Young's 'After the Goldrush'. He runs the Malahat Mountain Music label and also plays in 'Travels With Charlie', a 4 piece band that does some great acoustic folk-oriented music.
An incredible blend of youthful rebellion and traditional singing that gives her the stage presence of an experienced veteran helps in the delivery of these very traditional songs sung in a most traditional way. Somehow her youth transcends flowing through the circulatory system of the songs. She puts all of herself into them. Currently touring with Ashley MacIsaac, she is spreading the aged old songs of her homeland to a new generation of listeners, young and old!
Hidden from eastern Canada until this past year, these two seasoned performers have become quite the hit in these parts now. Still fairly unknown in these parts, their music leaves unmistakable impressions on all who see and hear them. But it is the pen of Bill Gallaher that captures this award with historic songs about the ChilkootPass, Newfoundland Sealers, Louis Riel, The Great War, and other lesser known Canadian personalities of our collective past. The Last Battle was edited from three cassettes of their music by Hamilton folk personality Brian Morton.
This is a great bit of Canadiana! Stink turned a lot of heads when it was originally released back in 1969. This first official release by Mendleson Joe, along with Mike McKenna, Tony Nolasco and Mike Harrison. They went to London, England to record this and came back with one of the best Canadian blues albums in their hands. Legendary classics like Beltmaker, T.B. Blues, One Way Ticket, Think I'm Losing My Marbles and Better Watch Out!.
This album is the wrapping up of one of Canada's greatest folk bands ever. Figgy Duff was the collaboration of the late Noel Dinn and Pamela Morgan. Together they sought out the finest traditional players and formed a band that would transcend traditional and rock. With friends like Emile Benoit and Rufus Guinchard nodding with approval, they were the first band in Canada to successfully pull this off. A retrospective features nearly all the artists who ever played with Figgy Duff, from Frank Mahar to Jamie Snider; Geoff Butler to Anita Best; from Massey Hall to Amsterdam; Montreal to Corner Brook, this band did it all. Meticulously put together by Pamela Morgan, this labour of love contains two tracks never previously released from a Toronto session in 1978. Tracks from all 4 albums cover their recorded years. Pamela now feels that she can move forward again. Watch out for her first solo CD sometime in the new year.
Here is a woman who has dedicated her life to the understanding of Canadian folklore. Not just music, but stories, traditions, riddles, and crafts. Fowke has collaborated on numerous books, has written and presented numerous articles and essays on Canadian folklore, and has collected numerous gems in the field. Her recordings of O.J.Abbot singing Chapeau Boys, Lost Jimmy Whalen by Martin Sullivan, Lake of Caogama by Lennox Gavan are legendary. Her many books, like 'Lumbering Songs of the Northern Woods', complimented her Folkways recordings from the field, inspired others to go out and collect folklore. Pioneer in her field, Fowke hosted a CBC radio show on Canadian folk music. She will always be remembered for her book 'Folksongs of Canada' which she edited. She lives in East York and loves to play bridge on Monday nights.