Date: Thu, 27 Dec 2001
Again good on you. Very good on you. In these days of cd flooded,
multi-genre, fragmented markets, where everyone has their own stars and
heros, big talents and accomplishments are often going unsung. The
Porcupine Awards are a great means for recognizing and lifting these
people up. Keep on man!!!!
I must add, well deserved, Tom Leighton wins the Cec McEchern award.
TOM LEIGHTON, Toronto, ON
Mostly known for his work with Mark Haines since the Zipper days in the '80s, keyboard / accordionist Leighton has always been an effective accompanist / arranger due to his keen sense of musical understanding. In the last few years Tom has expanded his presence, arranging music for Minerva in Prince Edward County and performing in a myriad of situations, on stage and on disk. His enthusiasm sparkles; he is always positive yet pointed in the right direction. He has added grace and intelligence to the work of a growing collection of artists. Originally from New Brunswick, he would appreciate the kind of work that Cec McEchern did.
played: Optimist's Jig (T Leighton) from the CD Optimists Jig, Borealis
only virtuosos need apply!
OLIVER SCHROER, Toronto, ON
Virtuosos don't grow on trees - they cannot be harvested or mass produced. Musicians are a dime a dozen; a lot of them are very good, some are great but few are able to produce the unique qualities that end up blowing peoples' minds. Lenny Breau displayed these characteristics. But there's more: tonal qualities, control, thinking in the note of the moment, perfect pitch and the ability to play just about anything that comes to mind. Oliver Schroer had advanced into the realm of virtuosity. He explores his eccentricities on the fiddle, taking it places it has never gone before. Formerly a judge at the Shelburne Fiddle Contest, he has indulged in traditional fiddle music as well as the experimental a la John Cage. Formerly with Eye Music (Montreaux Jazz Fest), Harbord Trio, Stewed Tomatoes, his credits also include that of Producer (James Keelaghan's The Road). Former winner of the Off-Beat Porcupine Award in 1994. His current CD 02 takes you way out there, to latitude 444, longitude 777 and beyond.
Selection played: Signals (O Schroer) from the CD 02 on Big Dog Records
This is the Mac Beattie Award for musicians who are proud to be Canadian.
THE RHEOSTATICS, Etobicoke, ON
They probably don't live in Etobicoke anymore but that's where they were from. The Rheostatics banded together in the early '80s: Dave Bidini, Martin Tielli, Dave Clark and Tim Vesley. (Clark was later replaced by Don Kerr) to forge a distinctly Canadian sound. The Ballad of Wendel Clark was on their first album; Stompin' Tom is one of their mentors. Songs about Saskatchewan or their take on Lightfoot's Edmund Fitzgerald litter their recording landscape. The Rheos have bucked all trends, stayed Canadian - proudly Canadian - without waving the flag. Instead they incorporate their own experiences into song, reflecting where they're from and where they're heading. Be it a bar in rural Manitoba or their on-stage antics in underwear at Maple Leaf Gardens, these guys know their hockey and wear it on their sleeves.
Selection played: Desert Island Discs (D Bidini / D Clark) from the CD Double Live, Drog Records
relating to Canadian Music & Folklore
BARCLAY - IAN JACK - JASON SCHNEIDER for HAVE NOT BEEN THE SAME
Guelph - Cobourg - Kitchener, ON
Published by ECW Press - www.ecwpress.com - 2001 - ISBN 1-55022-475-1
pages packed with well researched, well written information on the CanRock
Renaissance 1985 - 1995. And typically, it all goes back to Stompin' Tom!
This book crosses boundaries as it crosses the country, looking in on the
various scenes and what grew out of them. The seeds punk and folk flow
into into a new generation of rockers armed with the ability to record
independently in smaller studios and put their own music out there. This
book interviews dozens, stays incredibly focussed, follows timelines and
allows side trips that are enlightening. I can honestly say that it was
a true learning experience and quite literally could not put the book down
for very long. My only complaint: it was 300 pages too short!
DE LA MONDE
that which was brought here to enrich us all
ORCHID ENSEMBLE, Vancouver, BC
I was reading about the Porcupines Award and felt that our music and what we do have been left out.
from your website:
The Porcupines are awarded annually to those artists who have demonstrated their dedication to preserving and enhancing their heritage, thus enriching the culture from whence it came. They are almost entirely concentrated on Canadian folk-oriented musics.
We are the Orchid Ensemble, which combines Chinese traditional and western musical instruments and blends musical traditions from China, Europe and beyond, creating a new sound which is both innovative and distinct. Our repertoire ranges from traditional and contemporary music of many regions of China, to New Music, World Music and Jazz. The unique combination of erhu (Chinese violin), zheng (Chinese zither) and marimba creates a fascinating tapestry of musical textures and colors, which consistently intrigue and delight the audience. The ensemble is also regularly developing new collaborations with musicians and composers from a wide variety of world cultures.
Although based on Chinese music, what we play is distinctly different from the typical Chinese ensembles in Chinese. The influences we have received are only found in Canada, coming from a wide range of Canadian immigrants' native cultures. We have preserved and enhanced our heritage in our own ways, which should be recognized. Therefore, I request the inclusion of more styles of music at the Porcupines Award for it's truly the Canadian award for folk music.
I couldn't have said it any better than that! The Orchid Ensemble is Lan Tung, Mei Han and Jonathan Bernard. They are truly deserving of this award.
Selection played: Streams of Light from the CD Heartland, Independent
something or someone that's way out there and not stopping
MAGOO, Udora, ON
Anybody who knows Magoo knows he's way out there. He's from Richmond Hill but has traveled to Mars (Mars Rocks! with Kirk Elliott) and yet somehow always manages to be pulling people together. Well known for his fabulous collection of shirts, his latest CD is called 'Shirt Pay' (2001). Whether he's MCing from some folk festival stage, performing for kids or adults, year after year it's the same old Magoo, who began his recording career (on vinyl) from the stage of The Richmond Inn. Magoo, a.k.a. K B McGregor, is an integral part of the Ontario folk music scene. And he doesn't just look into space - he goes there.
played: Blue Skies (KB McGregor) from the CD Shirt Pay, KBM Enterprises
a song is a song is a song eh?
MELWOOD CUTLERY, Toronto, ON
In the mid 1980s Melwood Cutlery and the Fashion Plates invaded Toronto from Ottawa and left a few broken dishes behind them. He then moved to Toronto where he established himself as a very good singer/songwriter, not just a run-of-the-mill cat who disappears into thin air after a year or two. Around 1990 he moved to Vancouver where he matured into an even better songwriter. Being a father further enriched his life and Melwood used his music to communicate it. He has the ability to compose hummable tunes, drawing on his pop influences, using interesting chord changes while keeping the songs short and memorable. This is the most difficult Porcupine Award for me to decide on; there are literally thousands of aspiring songwriters out there who look like bus drivers, students, store clerks, waitresses, hobos and accountants. There are few that can pen a dozen great songs every time he/she decides to record another CD. Melwood Cutlery has done that and deserves to be heard.
Selection played: The Great Northern Diver (M Cutlery) from the CD If It Rains, Dish Stack Records
SONG OF THE YEAR
one that keeps coming back at you
DUNN for WHISKEY EVENING (from the CD For A Song)
When you do a weekly radio show like Back To The Sugar Camp you listen to hundreds of songs on dozens of CDs throughout the year, to decide what to play on air. With so many CDs being flung at you by artists hoping for whatever air time you can give them, you run the risk of being over-exposed to it all and can easily burn out. It's a tough job (but I love it). Needless to say, when a really great song jumps out at you, one that works its way into the bloodstream, making all your atoms vibrate every time you listen to it, you know you're onto something good. This was the case with Whiskey Evening. A stand-out song. And what makes it stand out? A lot of things have to conspire correctly to make this happen. The song has to be catchy without the usual clichés; it has to inspire a satisfying mood (whiskey as a subject matter can do that to you); it helps if it's well recorded; and lastly, yet most importantly, there is the performance factor to consider. Maria Dunn has done all of those things with this particular song, which is why it works so many wonders.
Selection played: Whiskey Evening (M Dunn) from the CD For A Song, Independent
to those who make CDs sound so great
The technical wizardry that was going on at Hamilton's Grant Avenue Studios in the very early 1980s has become legendary with the name Daniel Lanois (read about it in Have Not Been The Same). With Brian Eno hanging around the place, revolutionary ideas were recorded into reality and it rubbed off on everyone associated with the place. Scott Merritt was one such person. His self-produced album 'Serious Interference' was recorded there in 1982 and more than stands the test of time. While other producers were more concerned with current trends, Merritt let his mind wander and captured it on tape. Over the years he has developed into a unique producer, responsible for the emerging sounds of Fred J. Eaglesmith's wonderful albums, among others. By utilizing ambient sounds (the Eno-Lanois ethos) and textures he creates living atmospheres for songs to breathe and flourish in.
Selection played: Slumberland (S Merritt) from the LP Serious Interference, Duke St. Records
FAVOURITE ALBUM FOR 2001
just a good excuse to recognize another great CD
SIGNOR FARINI AND OTHER ADVENTURES
This is a brand new award. Finally, after all these years of handing out Porcupines, I am charged with my very own, personal Porcupine Award. I love listening to music and I have my own personal biases and opinions. Yet each year I am forced to listen to numerous CDs that are sent to the Sugar Camp. I also have an extensive record collection (and a brand new turntable). Then there's radio, tv, the net, books to read, places to go to, people to see, family to be with, hockey to coach, music to make etc. The list goes on and on. Every once in a while I get a chance to just sit back and relax and choose an album that I really want to hear - my personal favourite. And this year it's Signor Farini by Ian Bell. Ian was awarded a Porcupine (Heritage Preservation) in 1990 for his work at collecting, preserving and performing truly fine Canadian folk music (while listening to The Rolling Stones). But he is an excellent songwriter, researcher and performer, and has collected some excellent stories which he has put to disk on this CD. From Quebecois accordion tunes to passionate Ontario based tales of interest, here is a CD that takes me places.
Selection played: Song of India (I Bell) from the CD Signor Farini and Other Adventures, Free Range Records
must be at least 25 years old
STAN ROGERS: FOGERTY'S COVE - 1976
Financed and recorded by then folk music Czar Mitch Podolak on Barn Swallow Records, this was the first of Stan Rogers' legendary albums which changed the face of Canadian folk forever. Produced by Paul Mills and utilizing the services of Stan and Garnet Rogers along with David Woodhead, Jerome Jarvis, Ken Whitely, Grit Laskin, Bernie Jaffe, John Allan Cameron and Curly Boy Stubbs (Mills's alter-ego), this album was an omen for things to follow. It is a landmark event in Canadian recording history! The first appearance of Barrett's Privateers, Make and Break Harbour and The Rawdon Hills. Since Stan's death in 1983 his albums have continued to sell like hotcakes and his legion of fans are passionate affectionados who keep the spirit alive. A record (CD's available too) that deserves to be in every Canadian home. Play it for 'em when they're young and they'll know what it means to be a Canadian.
Selection played: Watching The Apples Grow (S Rogers) from the LP Fogerty's Cove, Fogerty's Cove Music
SPECIAL PORCUPINE APPRECIATION AWARD
KELLY McGOWAN, Toronto, ON
6:31 a.m. EDT Sunday, June 17, my dear soul partner, fellow musician, wife,
and mother of my sweet children, Kelly McGowan, died after an amazing battle
with the demon of breast cancer at the age of 43.
I was surprised and saddened to learn of the death of Kelly McGowan. Her energy and drive was always present in her performances. I first heard her perform in the Harbord Trio with husband Don Ross and Oliver Schroer, and although she performed with musical giants she was the glue that held them together. Whether singing a traditional celtic song, playing her bodhran or plucking her harp Kelly had a magical presence that brought smiling fairies into her audience. I last saw her perform a few years ago at the Eaglewood Folk Festival and was blown away by her stage presence. She was commanding her audience by just standing before them, a new-found confidence emanating into the night. When I mentioned it to her she responded by telling me a little secret: she had been fronting a rock band for a couple of years. This award - in its small, little way - shows a special appreciation for a very special person who will live on in our memories and every time we open Circle of Stone.
Selection played: Reynardine (trad) from the CD Circle of Stone, Familiar Music
GEM OF CANADA
OCCHIPINTI: CREATION DREAM - THE SONGS OF BRUCE COCKBURN
Previously known for his jazz guitar work with NOJO, Michael Occhipinti decided to embark upon a new path with this recording. When I first heard about the project I was a little skeptical: an entirely instrumental jazz album of Bruce Cockburn songs! I didn't get too cranked up about it until I was sent a copy and couldn't believe my ears. The first time I aired it from the Sugar Camp I got phone calls. Michael came to the Camp to talk about the album and even more calls. Cary went out and purchased a copy the very next day. The CD contains dynamic production, illuminated arrangements and stellar playing. From hard driving rhythms to the saxophonic cool it paints landscapes not normally found on planet Earth. Cockburn, who usually cringes when he hears how other musicians cover his songs, was overwhelmed - he even makes a guest appearance on Pacing The Cage. Every track is a spiritual journey - something very special. This CD deserves more attention than it gets. It's simply phenomenal.
Selection played: If I Had A Rocket Launcher (B Cockburn) from the CD Creation Dream, True North Records
PORCUPINE NEW HALL OF FAME AWARDS
NORM HACKING, Toronto, ON
Norm Hacking has been writing and performing his own songs for three decades, a genuine troubadour. His first album was recorded (live) in 1977 giving us a glimpse of what his stage show was like; it hasn't changed much. He was a commanding presence back then and he's still one now. In 1987 he released Stubborn Ghost, an album that truly defined his talents. After much initial media hoopla the album went nowhere - there was no place for it on Canadian radio. His career coasted after that, leveling out on a park bench in Toronto's Beeches neighbourhood where Norm would sit with his guitar singing to passers by. Various attempts at resurrecting his career fell flat. But the things that Norm always held close to his heart kept manifesting in spite of it all: he continues to write great songs while his dedication to the concept of the 'open stage' has remained a constant up-hill struggle. He loves to sing and loves to play and has certainly paid his dues in the process. His songs have recently been covered by numerous artists on 'One Voice: A Tribute to Norm Hacking (2001).
IVAN HICKS, Riverview, NB
(See Golden Porcupine Award below)
KELLY McGOWAN, Toronto, ON
(See Special Appreciation Award above)
BRENT TITCOMB, Toronto, ON
Brent Titcomb was just a young man in Ottawa when he teamed up with Bruce Cockburn and Colleen Petersen in 3's A Crowd in the late 1960s. Since then his solo career has taken many twists and turns which culminated in his 2001 release 'Beyond Appearance'. In the late 1970s he was one of the hottest acts in Canadian folk music but due to the sour days of the early 1980s, when folk oriented musics were abolished by radio industry playlists, before the days of campus / community radio stations, when even well established folk festivals like Mariposa suffered permanent damage, his career sputtered underground. Sputtered but never extinguished. A hugely talented and spiritual person, able to put the world into proper perspective, he danced onward and upward. His latest songs are mature examples of a master craftsman. He now sometimes performs with his fiddling son Liam, a planet arising over distant horizons.
DAVID WILCOX, Toronto, ON
He started out playing mandolin for the Gangrene Boys, living in Toronto's famed Yorkville Village. He was once the biggest blues rocker in the country - had a cult following and caused a mini-riot at the Mariposa Festival just because he was there. He had personal problems which affected his career; just when things were looking pretty good something would tie an anchor to his legs. Through all the turmoil the Telecaster still blasted through his distorted amps. David Wilcox is a true genius! Buried beneath the hardened surface was poetry just waiting to happen. This manifested with his Capitol/EMI release 13 Songs in 1996, which effectively put an end to his big label tenure. But 13 songs was Wilcox at his most sensitive best - it just didn't fit the way EMI was doing business. His latest release - Rhythm of Love on Stony Plain - is a perfect example of the Telecaster swinging blues rocker as a Rattlesnakin' Daddy and that's why he's been inducted into the Porcupine Hall of Fame.
Lifetime Achievement Award
IVAN HICKS, Riverview, NB
Ivan Hicks is one of the nicest people you'd ever want to meet and if you're into fiddle music, he's from heaven. He has been entertaining the people of New Brunswick since he was a mandolin child backing his father - Porcupine Hall of Famer Curtis Hicks - at dances. In the early 1960s he was a member of the Golden Valley Boys who went on to record an album of country music. In the 1970s he won various fiddle contests, including the prestigious Maritime Fiddle Contest (twice). A teacher by profession (now retired) he understood how to teach young fiddlers how to play properly. Coming from the old school of thought where the music accompanies the dancers, he understands the very nature of what he plays. In 1985 Ivan was inducted into the New Brunswick Country Music Hall of Fame, followed by induction into the North American Fiddlers Hall of Fame (1990) and now the Porcupine Awards Hall of Fame. In fact, Curtis and Ivan Hicks are the first father and son members of the Great Hall of the Porcupines. He has appeared on my radio shows with his wife, Vivian (pictured above) and his band, The Maritime Express. He is a true gentleman with a legion of fans and friends that stretch from one end of this country to the other.
Selection played: Hillbilly Calypso (N Landry) / Y2K Calypso (I Hicks) from the CD Generations, Maritime Express