Dennis Gomo (Guamond), Guelph, Ontario
After spending more than two decades playing the blues in various bands around the province of Ontario, Dennis Gomo went solo, exploring the world of creative songwriting in a way that would fit into the structure of the blues. Whether he sings about the new world order to come or his desire to spend quiet summer days at his spiritual home on the shores of Lake Nippising or just heading back to the birth of the blues by pulling off a rendition of Blind Boy Fuller, slide guitar in hand Dennis Gomo provides a captivating performance with a smooth voice and a sure, clean vocal. Now with two CDs under his belt, Dennis has been plodding a forward course, continuing the great tradition of Canadian blues.
Zeke Mazurek, Ontario
Zeke is the consummate side-guy. His temperament suits his abilities as a fiddle player, or should I say, violinist. As a member of Sneezy Waters great bands of the 1970s Zeke was often called upon to augment the various styles of music that Waters wanted to play. From the great country sounds of Hank Williams to deep cigarette lounge jazz Zeke was able to add variety and pizzazz to the arrangements. I have personally worked on projects with Mazurek and can honestly say that he has a sixth sense about making things sound better. He has backed up many others on their CD projects and yet, like Cec McEchern, has usually avoided the big spotlight. He's a musician's musician, a great player, and has integrity in his approach to making people sound better. An obvious choice for this year's Porcupine Award.
The Wakami Wailers, Ontario
joined forces as junior forest rangers for a summer at Wakami Lake Provincial
Park in Northern Ontario, Rob Hollett, Mark Despault, Mike Bernier and
Jeff Allen realized that they all shared something unique: a love for truly
Canadian folklore. They discovered this while sitting around a campfire
singing logging songs from the lumberwoods that survived the test of time,
dating back to the 1850s. They also shared in storytelling which raconteur
Allen has provided in their live shows as well as on their three albums.
In 1986 they released their highly praised cassette 'The Last Of The White
Pine Loggers' and decided to perform at schools, historic sites and provincial
parks. Over the years, separated by day jobs, families and distance, they've
had a difficult time at keeping it all together but have managed to produce
another two CDs of excellent material in an easy to digest format, complete
with humour and harmony, fiddles and spoons and the great storytelling
of Raoul, aka Jeff Allen. They have certainly brought the most traditional
of Canadian music to the young and old and I hope that they can keep on
Alastair Brown, London, Ontario
Alastair Brown, long time member of the Friends of Fiddlers' Green, has also been the host of 'A Sign Of The Times', a folk show heard over CIXX-FM (106.9) Sundays 9-11 am London, Ontario, for the better part of the last two decades. His love for traditional singing is evident as is his dedication to promoting excellent folk music to his listening community. Without people like Alastair - and believe me, I know what he goes through - dedicating themselves to the cause in a week to week battle against the tide of industrial bait that lures people into the vortex of popular music at the expense of just about everything else, we'd be in rough shape. He exemplifies those who soldier on for the sheer love of what they're doing, and we're all that much better off for it.
HARRY HIBBS AWARD FOR PERSEVERANCE
Donna Marchand, Toronto, Ontario
Donna Marchand has been hanging around folk music circles since she was a kid in New Brunswick. I have known her since the mid-1980s as a volunteer for the Mariposa Folk Festival. She has had to overcome many obstacles that have burdened her and yet she has conquered and come out a better person for it. Her passions are strong as are her clearly defined resolutions. This often gets her branded and shunned and yet she struggles onward. A few years ago I met her in a music store and she told me that she decided to go to law school; now she's legal. And then - quite out of the blue - she released her first CD: I didn't know that she could sing! Her songs are filled with harsh swipes, good cries, and a lot of joy. She has had to learn to work with others, trust in their abilities, and find the confidence that would propel this project skyward. That's why she deserves this award.
Murray Smith, Ontario
The art of calling dances, contra, line, round and set squares of various kinds is a truly wondrous one. Not only does one have to remember the formations and various calls, but that person has to have a sense of rhythm and feel, the ability to sing, and count in 4/4 or 6/8 time. Murray Smith has excelled in this art and is a caller in demand for old time square dances as well as for folk dances. He has learned to teach people of various levels of abilities how to enjoy the fun of the dance. He has worked with the very best of musicians for what is truly a very difficult and yet very rewarding process. Since the folk dance is a very community oriented social event, the caller has to be very good, on the ball, dedicated to this discipline in every way. Murray Smith is certainly a man who fits all that criteria and more.
Holgar Petersen, Edmonton, Alberta
About 25 years ago his love of the blues opened the gates of roots oriented musics in ways that he couldn't possibly have envisioned. Ya, right! A successful Canadian record label run out of his house, one that would feature international artists as well as some of Canada's finest stars? But it happened. Stony Plain Records was Holgar's brainchild - a one man operation until he was forced to hire somebody to look after things when he took the job as Artistic Director for the fledgling Edmonton Folk Festival in the early 1980s. He gave it five years during which time he established the festival as one of the great Canadian folk fests. He changed the way in which folk festivals entered the modern era, the proof being the way that many other festivals copied many of Edmonton's success. Holgar has hosted his own blues radio show over the CKUA Alberta network for 20 years but is better known - coast to coast - as the congenial host of CBC Radio's Saturday Night Blues (heard 11 pm on Radio One).
Raynald Ouellet, Montmagny, Québec
A superb diatonic accordionist from a place where the accordion is king of traditional instruments, the heartland of the accordion world, and home of the world class Festival Accordeon. Raynald Ouellet was a member of one of the first Québec trad bands to take the music beyond the borders of his native province, Eritage. The band, which included a young Benoit Bourque, recorded one LP for Stan Rogers' Fogerty's Cove label. Since then Raynald has been active playing traditional music of Québec as far away as Scandinavia. With machine gun rapidity and a great sense of timing, Ouellet is a sure fire to spark the music in the most minimalist of settings.
Willie Metallic-Dunn, Restigouche, New Brunswick
entered the mainstream of the itinerant Canadian singer/songwriter market
in the 1970s, Willie Dunn went on to record a couple of great albums towards
the end of the 1970s. He was popular with any audience he played before,
weaving tapestries of words to portray the biographical sketches of great
Indian chiefs of the past. His ability to get things done was a great inspiration
for younger Native musicians who saw him go on to produce award winning
films, including one about the great Blackfoot chief, Crowfoot. He has
toured extensively, performing his excellent songs at folk festivals and
on reserves. A compilation of songs from his two LPs has been recently
released on CD by Aurel Tradition Records out of Vancouver which contains
some of his best work.
Al Brisco, Mississauga, Ontario
Al Brisco's name has become synonymous with the pedal steel guitar in Ontario. Originally from the Ottawa Valley where he learned his instrument. It was that sit down to, thing: the weird looking guy in the Country & Western band that made the tears well up in your eyes. But the steel guitar has always gotten a bad rap; a good player can imitate the human voice, a train, birds, weasels, just about anything, even a cop car hunting you down on the 401. Over the years Al has played, on record and television, for the likes of Tommy Hunter, Ian Tyson, George Hamilton IV and Pure Prairie League to name just a few. In 1979 he formed the Steel Guitar Club of Canada to preserve the integrity of this unusual instrument. I have noticed that since Country went New the instrument has receded from being in vogue but it is people like Al Brisco that will insure its place in our folklore. I met him in Pembroke last June and he gave me his CD and I'm just wild about the sounds this man can get from a couple of sets of strings and a metal slider. He was inducted into the Ottawa Valley Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994.A true musical virtuoso.
Tanglefoot: Joe Grant, Al Parrish, Steve and Rob Ritchie, and on their latest CD Full Throated Abandon, Francis Skrzeszewski who has since left the band. When they first started out they delved into the collections of musical folklore to develop their repertoire which suited them just fine for a number of years. But personnel changes and maturity lit the spark of songwriting about historical figures of Canada like Laura Secord. They also researched into the past of interesting individuals, most of whom lived in Upper Canada, now Ontario. On their latest release they have blossomed as songwriters and have developed the ability to take us to an old hockey game when they used to play 7 a side, or revisited pioneers of the Selkirk Settlement near Wallaceburg who suffered great hardship as they cleared the land. Wherever they take us it's special and they certainly deserve the recognition illuminated under the neon of a name that echoed throughout the Ottawa Valley: Mac Beattie.
Marie-Theresa Lawlor, South Porcupine,
(now currently living in Toronto)
and collating stories and histories of people so that they may be preserved
and protected for future generations is a mighty ambiguous task indeed.
Fraught with emotions, one has to gain the respect and trust of the subjects
in order to get them to open up and speak forth. Marie-Theresa Lawlor has
always held an affinity for the early pioneers of the Porcupine gold camp
of Northern Ontario, namely the women who emigrated to Canada only to find
themselves work in the most rustic of settings. She has taken their stories
and their photographs and exhibited them in galleries and venues throughout
Ontario. She has spent countless hours documenting the legacy that has
been left to her by her aging subjects and in doing so has opened the light
in a dark room of a small portion of Canada's past that would have otherwise
been lost like so many others. This is the spirit that would have made
Fowke and Barbeau proud.
Pierre Schryer, Northern Ontario, and Dermot Byrne, Ireland
Pierre Schryer of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, multiple winner of Canada's most prestigious awards for old time fiddling was touring in Ireland when he chanced to meet with soul brother, Ireland's most excellent accordion / melodeonist Dermot Byrne. Dermot is well known for his playing with Irish group Altan. As soon as they met they realized their unique connection and fit their instruments together like a pair of mitts. The powerful recording 2 Worlds United took them 2 years to record due to their busy touring schedules. With production work done on both sides of the Atlantic this is an ingenuous blend of various styles of Celtic oriented musics: the Irish, the Québécois, the Ontario style and others, they have blended their own unique styles together in a wonderful array of notes and dances.
Stompin' Tom Connors Sings Bud The Spud
and Other Favourites,
Dominion Records LPS 21002 - 1969
This was a classic moment in time, in the history of Canadian records as well as to songwriters, historians and folklorists. This was the moment when Stompin' Tom Connors arrived on the scene, the man with the big black cowboy hat, the boots and the stompin' board. This was the definitive album that would go gold without radio airplay, without much of a music industry, an album that would help make Connors one of the most recognizable Canadians living today. With songs like Bud, Rubberhead, Luke's Guitar, Sudbury Saturday Night, The Old Atlantic Shore, TTC Skidaddler, The Canadian Lumberjack and I'll Be Gone With The Wind (and others) it would forever change the landscape of Canadian Music. It inspired the likes of Stan Rogers to go it alone with his own recording company. And the rest is history. But a good listen to this album and you realize that, whatever its short-comings, in the production for instance, it doesn't matter: you're get snagged along, riding on the bumper as Bud drives that truck down the 401 with Mickey Andrews steel guitar siren wailing in the distance.
Guy Bouchard, Québec City, Québec
A fiddler, an entrepreneur, and a promoter of Québécois folk music. Guy was a member of La Bottine Souriante in the early days of the late 1970s and since then has performed in various configurations throughout Québec and the New England states. It was in New England that he met his life partner Laura Sadowski who learned French and moved to Québec City. Together they formed the Trente Sous Zero distribution company which has a vast collection of hard to get folk music from Québec. But the thing that most impressed me about Guy Bouchard was the production of a cassette by Québec fiddler André Alain. This is one of the most interesting albums of tunes you will find anywhere. Perhaps this is where Guy learned his appreciation of weird tunes - what we call crooked tunes - because he has since recorded two albums of crooked tunes which were learned from obscure places. His activity has the buzz of Bolduc and thus this Porcupine Award
Marcelo Puente, Toronto, Ontario
Like so many other immigrants who bring their cultural heritage along with them to their new land, Marcelo Puente has gone on to incorporate his Chilean background into the realm of Toronto's multi-cultural fabric. Having lived in Canada for over 25 years he has endeavored to ensure that the struggles of his times and the loves of this life are represented in his music. He hasn't strayed too far away from the early days of the Trojan Horse Café. His music still has the punch and dynamic strength to enlighten us without preaching. He paints musical pictures that we can enjoy on various levels and he's always remained a constant, in vogue or out, as his recent CD Mares Y Barrios demonstrates. He has had many ups and downs in his life of rollercoaster-like experiences but his thoughts are fluid, he is always congenial and deserves to be recognized for his great contributions to the Toronto community.
Brian Hebert, Pembroke, Ontario
When Brian was just a lad his fiddle teacher / hero Reg Hill, who played with Mac Beattie's Ottawa Valley Melodiers, would have his protégé come on-stage and play for the young step dancing sensation Donnie Poirier. While Poirier would go on to guest on Messer's TV show, Hebert would have to be content fiddling up a storm in the valley. He entered contests and usually won. Eventually Brian would become a high school teacher where he would help hundreds of kids develop into decent human beings. He would teach a lot of them how to play the fiddle too. Brian became so proficient at his craft that he was considered the one of the best young fiddlers in the valley. He recorded an LP in the late 1970s which included some of his own compositions and lead the Renfrew County Fiddlers. A perennial judge at the Pembroke Fiddle Contest (one of the country's most prestigious) he is revered as a technical expert in the art of bowing. Louis Schryer, many times a Canadian fiddle champ, claimed at Brian's recent CD launch, that he often goes to Hebert for technical advice. So with the release of The Timber Train Collection, which features mostly original compositions, one can actually hear the musical proficiency which Brian Hebert, just like Don Messer before him, exhibits.
Anita Best, St. John's, Newfoundland
Knowing Noel Dinn is not a pre-requisite for this award, but it helps. Anita Best was a good friend to the Figgy Duff crew which included Dinn and another of her good friends, Pamela Morgan. Her involvement in the music scene in Newfoundland, where she is seen as a leader, is exemplary. Her knowledge of folklore and the songs she chooses to sing links her directly into the times and places that are evoked whenever her lovely voice is put to the test. I attended a concert - one of a series put on in the battery at Cape Spear, the eastern-most point of the North American continent - which Newfoundland belongs - and was mesmerized by the charm, the sounds of the sea, the wind and the light from the lighthouse as she sang. A previous Porcupine Award winner for her collaboration with Pamela Morgan on The Colour of Amber, Anita Best is a national treasure who gives her all every time she performs. She is a vital link between the generations and for this she deserves this particular award.
A Journey Through Celtic Music by Sheldon MacInnis, Big Pond, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
Dan Joe MacInniss was one of the most loved fiddle players in Cape Breton. His ability to read music, heightened by his collection of manuscripts of old Scottish compositions, and his uncanny ideas about how to string medleys of tunes together ensured that an endless supply of fiddlers came by the house to bow in the kitchen. That, along with an annual event called The Big Pond Picnic, were the childhood background of Dan Joe's children, Sheldon being one of them. Sheldon went on to perform in a group called Sons of Skye while attending university in Halifax. He graduated as a scholar and dedicated himself to teaching at the Celtic College in Cape Breton. After his father's death in the early '90s Sheldon started writing this book. Except for the fact that it gets a little self indulgent and dry in parts, Sheldon MacInniss does in fact take the reader through a very close journey through Cape Breton's Celtic world, from the inside out. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it but it's the lasting impressions left upon me that I think is most important. A Journey Through Celtic Music is published by University College of Cape Breton Press - 1997 - ISBN 0-920336-55-8
David Woodhead, Toronto, Ontario for his CD Sweets & Conundrums
A former winner of the Lenny Breau Award for his excellent work as a bass player, David has created a powerful CD filled with mood swings, mind poems, portly images and never a wasted moment. Off beat being different, being hard to categorize, being something unique, something stunning, Sweets and Conundrums is a CD that I just want to keep playing cuts from on Back To The Sugar Camp. Every track is implicit and a true portrayal of some aspect of his life. Without words he has been able to do what most songwriters strive for by scrabbling their minds for lyrics. Using various instruments, most of which he plays himself, Woodhead has created something that probably won't go down well in most traditional settings but instead is the art of folk jazz.
Tom Coxworth, Edmonton, Alberta
Having spent years as a broadcaster of CKUA's popular folk show Folk Routes, Coxworth survives due to his never-ending quest of discovery, developing wide ranging musical interests. Bringing these interests to the airwaves is not that easy: one has to search the bins of second hand stores and flea markets while keeping up to date on newly released material. This is not something one does in their spare time - this is something one does as an obsession, or sorts, a healthy one that is then conveyed to the listeners in a comprehensive format that is both educational and entertaining. Instead of stagnating on one's laurels, Tom Coxworth has a very good, well rounded and balanced approach to his programming.
From Toronto, Canada: Mainline on The Great North Wind, June 10, 1999
It was one of my all-time favourite shows! I had just been informed that The Great North Wind was in peril and had decided to end the program after 11 years. On the 11th anniversary I held an on-air party, stocked up on beer and put one of my favourite Toronto bands into the studio. They had only performed once - 6 weeks before - in the past 25 years, but here in the studio were 4 original members minus leader Mendleson Joe. We had Tony Nolasco (vocals, drums); Mike Harrison (bass); Ted Purdy (guitar & vocals) and Mike McKenna (guitar & vocals) along with harp player Bob Adams who had the original licks down pat. They were a bit uptight and nervous to begin with but by the time the second set rolled around - the beer was almost gone by then - they rocked. I was just grooving, having my own command performance of one of my favourite blues bands, the residue of which still stings my eyes in shades of blue. Just fantastic!
Evelyn Datl, Toronto, Ontario
The first time I saw Evelyn Datl was when she was playing keys with Mark Haines & The Zippers at Mariposa in the mid-1980s. After that I would run into her now and then, sometimes with the Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band. Somewhere along the line she got into the production end of things and has developed a strong reputation for her work. More often I receive CDs from local artists who have worked with Evelyn and raved about the experience. And it shows in their work. People swear by her so I investigated further and got a point by point run-down by October Browne who's self titled CD was released this Fall. I listen for production because I believe it to be the hidden art of any good CD. I can hear things that wouldn't have been there if it had not been for the special approach each producer brings to their work. Having been put through the process myself by producers, and having spoken with many over the years, I can appreciate the limitations an artist has in the studio. It is the producer's job to have incite, wisdom, technical know how and good ears and yet all of these are meaningless without that special personal touch which, quite obviously, Evelyn Datl possesses.
Festival Memoire Et Racine, Joliette, Québec
Now five years old, I have attended the past four festivals and watched it grow. This is one of the most delightful folk festivals that I know of. From the way that audience members are encouraged to interact with the performers, a place where there are no superstars who demand isolation from the masses, this festival is as friendly as they come. All performers are treated with the utmost respect by both the volunteer corps and the audience. Utilizing an acoustic stage concept for the workshops has lead to spontaneous happening that just wouldn't have happened otherwise. A non-stop main stage evening concert, using a 20 minute set side stage for smaller configurations while the bigger stage is being set up, has provided audiences with excellent shows. Drawing artists from New England, Ontario and sometimes even Europe has set Québec's traditional folk arts up as a central pillar of the festival. With all the crap we hear in the news about Québec, it is important that such events take place to bring the human touch experience a reality.
Willie P. Bennett, Peterborough, Ontario
I readily admit that I have overlooked some of the best songwriters when
dishing out this award, but remember, the Porcupines aren't about who is
the best at anything; they simply recognize people for exceptional contributions
throughout their work in the folk arts. It is an undeniable truth that
there are amazing songwriters out there making a good living but it is
also true that the vast majority of songwriters don't make very much money
at all. Willie P Bennett has had his songs rivet people to the wall, helplessly
caught up in the mood and words. They often go away with a song stuck in
the grooves of their heads. This was so true, in fact, that three of Canada's
most respected folk oriented performers decided to do a tribute album of
Willie P's material and called themselves Blackie & The Rodeo Kings
after one of his songs. After nearly 30 years of slugging it out in the
boondocks Willie P has left us with a fabulous legacy of songs, and still
he continues to impress us. He won the Juno Award for the best Roots/Traditional
album, Heartstrings, last year. His first home of his own was a closet
in Stan Rogers' London, Ontario house in the early 1970s. There he was
surrounded by the cream of new Canadian songwriters and it obviously rubbed
off on Willie P Bennett, currently a side man for Fred Eaglesmith.
Great Northern, Vancouver, BC
When I received their CD Low Lonesome in the mail I thought, 'Oh no! Another bluegrass album.' Not that there's anything particularly wrong with bluegrass, but a lot of it is so typically traditional. However, upon hearing the disk I was immediately impressed with the sounds and realized that there as something else going on here. Not only were many of the songs original, even the Roy Acuff stuff sounded refreshingly new to listen to. And then I noticed that, not only was there the banjo, mandolin, stand-up bass and guitar, but a cello and a viola which explained the unique sound. The singing was tight, as was expected of any one self righteous enough to record bluegrass music, but so was the playing, down to the finest detail. I thoroughly enjoyed the CD from start to finish: short, sweet and to the point, leaving me wanting more instead of being glad that it was finally over. Now we only have to get some eastern festivals interested in bringing them here.
Howie MacDonald, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
In 1989 Señor Paul Lyon introduced me to the music of Howie MacDonald. A young, vibrant fiddler from Cape Breton (you've all heard that expression before) with a great sense of humour and the highest of credentials. Born and raised in the Mabou area he was close to John Morris Rankin and his family. When the Rankin Family formed in the late 1980s Howie was asked to be the fiddler. Having already recorded two LPs of his own with John Morris and Jim Rankin backing him up, he was a natural fit for the band, an anchor of reliability. When I asked the host of CIUT's Celtic music program, Francis Fougere of Atlantic Ceilidh, to have the honour of choosing the recipient for this year's Winston Fitzgerald award, with all the amazing fiddlers out there that he could have picked, he wanted this to go to Howie. And I'm really glad he did. On his second album, A Taste of Cape Breton, he recorded a medley of tunes in tribute to the late great Scotty Fitzgerald who had only recently passed away. In fact, the opening strathspey was overdubbed with Winston talking about the kinds of gigs he loved to play.
Richard Flohil, Toronto, Ontario
Richard Flohil, Toronto, Ontario
Richard came to Toronto as a young man on a mission in the late 1950s. He wanted nothing more than to meet the great Muddy Waters and other Chicago blues men he had heard about in his native England. Not only did he meet his hero, he brought him to Toronto to play a gig which, incidentally, was the start of a long and illustrious career in the Canadian music business. A frustrated trumpet player, Flohil left the music making to the experts and did all he could to get audiences out to hear, first hand, what the great ones could do. He introduced Buddy Guy to Canada on a Mariposa stage in 1967, something Buddy has never forgotten. Managing artists, promoting their events was a specialty that Richard learned to excel in. Able to do just about anything and get away with it, Flohil took risks that most others would just balk at. As editor for twenty years of the CAPAC (Composers, Authors and Publishers Association of Canada - forunner to SOCAN) magazine, The Canadian Composer, Richard became a roving ambassador for the organization, an indispensable part of their game plan. Co-founder of the Canadian music industry trade magazine The Record, he had just about every Canadian release sent his way, some of which should never have been recorded in the first place. Good or bad it all found a home in Richard's huge record collection, now bordering on being a national archive. Artistic Director of the Mariposa Festival in its waning years, Richard tried to bring back the old glory from the old mule but that was not to be its fate. As publicist for artists ranging from Loreena McKennitt to Eric Bogle, Ian Tyson and countless others, as well as his official capacity as Eastern Canadian operative of Holgar Petersens's Stony Plain Records, Flohil has his finger in just about every roots oriented pie that there is. He also sits on the board of the Toronto Blues Society and the Roots/Traditional Juno committee. Now officially collecting his old age pension Richard is still as lively, controversial and active as he always has been. He enjoys life to its fullest. Congratulations Richard Flohil.
Lucky Ambo, New Brunswick - fiddler
Of Acadian decent from Nouveau Brunswick, Ambault made his way to Ontario in the 1950s and joined the CKNX Saturday Night Barndance crew. He competed in various fiddle contests and made quite the name for himself. His downfall was the bottle which saw him get tossed out of a few bands, which was really too bad. He performed with an Ontario outfit called The Calgary Range Riders and toured throughout the province. He recorded one LP for the Continental label back in 1962 and died twenty years later, the alcohol getting the better of him in the end. But he was a really good fiddler.
Lee Cremo, Eskasoni, Cape Breton - fiddler
Lee Cremo, a Micmac, grew up playing the fiddle of his people, incorporating the Scottish music of Cape Breton into his repertoire but always keeping that Native sense of rhythm in his playing. He soared to great heights and was well respected across the country for his unique style. He passed away in October, 1999.
Beth Ferguson, Ottawa, Ontario - singer/songwriter
A well loved and gifted singer/songwriter, originally from Renfrew in the heart of the Ottawa Valley. Beth was well loved within the folk community and formed strong musical connections with talented people like Ian Tamblyn, Marion Linton and Terry Tufts. She was a member of a women's a cappella group called Malaika when she was diagnosed with cancer. She recorded two CDs, the last of which was released the week she died in November, 1999.
Bob King, Ottawa, Ontario - country singer
A member of the Happy Wanderers with Ward Allen, Bob King had an illustrious career in the Canadian country music scene. He wrote some great songs about this country, recording them on close to a dozen albums for the Banff label in the 1950s and 60s. His tribute to Ward Allen, after the fiddler's death, was warmly received for its sincerity. After the Wanderers he drifted into obscurity, passing away in the early 1980s.
Mel Levigne, Honey Harbour, Ontario - fiddle champion
Mel was a truly natural talent, a man of principle who played the fiddle on his hospital death bed back in 1996. The winner of the first two Shelburne Fiddle Contests in 1951 and 52, he decided to retire from open competition to let someone else have a chance at winning. In fact, the winner the following year was his good friend Ward Allen. He and Allen formed the nucleus of Earl Heywoods bands on the CKNX Saturday Night Barn Dance. He waited until it was almost too late to record his music, only one cassette of tunes which are hard to come by.
Richard Flohil, Toronto, Ontario - music impresario & publicist (see Golden Porcupine above)
Murray Smith, Ontario - dance caller
Murray Smith has been calling dances for thirty years. Very much in demand for his abilities to set the squares straight, teach the moves and get the dancers going, he is a brilliant resource for square, contra and other forms of old time dance. Has worked extensively with some of the best fiddlers, including Graham and Eleanor Townsend. An all round professional when it comes to calling dances.
Jackie Washington, Hamilton, Ontario - singer
One of the all time favourites of the folk festival scene in Ontario, the always chuckling, most lovable man in the world. Washington has been singing old jazz, blues and popular favourites from the big band era which he grew up in. Has attended every Home County Folk Festival (London, ON) since its inception, has a lifetime achievement award named after him by the folks at Sudbury's Northern Lights Festival Boreal, and has recorded extensively with Ken Whiteley and Mose Scarlett for the Borealis Records label throughout the 1990s.
Kings Of Love by Blackie & the Rodeo Kings, True North Records, produced by Colin Linden
Colin Linden wanted to record a tribute album to this year's Golden Quill Award winner, Willie P. Bennett and asked his friends, Tom Wilson and Stephen Fearing - also great Bennett fans - to participate. The result was the first Blackie & The Rodeo Kings record which was supposed to be the end of it. But there was an undeniable force at play here. Stephen Fearing used Colin to produce his Industrial Lullaby CD; Tom Wilson fed off this Blackie project as it opened up new markets for him; Colin, as busy as he always is, really wanted to make it a band. Kings of Love was born out of that first coming together and features songs by a variety of under appreciated Canadian singer/songwriters, including a few more by Willie P. But something seemed to go wrong somewhere as new material just kept showing up in the studio: brand new songs by Fearing and Wilson; an ancient song by The Band that was never commercially recorded. There was enough material for two CDs so they packaged it all under Kings of Love. This album goes all over the place with brilliant production, excellent sounds, exquisite performances and a joi de vivre you can't buy in any recording studio. Their live shows are some of the most entertaining you'll see anywhere. This is, hands down, my favourite CD of the year.