Tag Archives: JD Edwards

Review: The Small Glories & John Wort Hannam at The Arden

Songs, whether we are the performer or the audience, can help us to make sense of the world we live in. Last night a packed house at St. Albert’s Arden Theatre had perennial prairie favourites John Wort Hannam and The Small Glories (Cara Luft & JD Edwards) to help us unravel ours. When Wort Hannam described the imminent sense of home he felt when he saw the Dairy Queen in Claresholm while introducing “Good Night, Nova Scotia” I immediately was able to translate that to my own experience of cresting the Obed summit on the Yellowhead as I moved back home from a few years on the coast — I didn’t know the sight that Wort Hannam related but I certainly understood the feeling.

This deep sense of understanding permeated my experience of the evening at the Arden. When Edwards recounted introducing “Old Garage” to UK audiences including a heckler who apparently shouted that he had sheep that were older than Edwards’ garage, again I was transported to another time. A time which included me attempting to explain to my Welsh friends that back home there was a living history park (Fort Edmonton) that housed historical buildings — preserving things from the 1880s or 1920s — at which point inevitably someone would point at a building and say “oh, did you know that was built in the 11th century?”. Luft also stirred up memories when she described herself as a third generation Albertan (me too!) who got to share our beautiful province with the UK folk musician Bella Hardy a visit that resulted in the powerful “Time Wanders On“.

The evening addressed ideas of tradition and culture and was at times light and joyful, and by turns profound and dark.  Wort Hannam’s musical reaction to Edmund Metatawabin’s memoir Up Ghost River cracked open not only the devastating history of residential schools in Canada, but the repercussions of them in an individual’s life. While The Small Glories take on Sacred Harp singing with “Wondrous Traveler” embodied the American tradition’s emphasis on exuberant participation (you can typically hear a “sing” from outside the building it is being housed in) even if it did stray from the strictly vocal nature of it.

The double bill of The Small Glories and John Wort Hannam reminded me about what it meant to live in Alberta and Canada at this time, and helped to refocused my understanding of the world.

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Top Picks from Mariposa Folk Festival 2014

Mariposa was a blast, but this morning we were back on the road. Headed north then west, on our way to Winnipeg. The seemingly endless trees, lakes and highway gave us lots of time to reminisce and evaluate our own Mariposa’s. The categories and results are in:

 

Wish I Was There

Sable: I had Folk Rock group, the Most Loyal on my schedule but was unable to make it to their sessions. I wanted to check out their combined use of vocals, piano, organ, bass, drums, strings, and electric guitar. Alas, I will have to placate myself with sound samples for now.

Twila: I wanted to see Craig Cardiff‘s concert. I’d heard excellent things about a house concert he  played in Edmonton earlier this year, but being in Wales hadn’t been there myself. I managed to catch a few tunes of his at the ‘Songwriting Basics’ workshop was left wanting more and wishing I had been able to hear the concert on Saturday.

New Discovery

Sable: Elephant Revival gave a rousing Maintage performance on Saturday night. There was a strong sense of ensemble between all the players and I enjoyed how different members came to the forefront to have vocals or instrumental solos throughout their set. It emphasized the strength of each individual player and there was no one particular Artist at the forefront. Their collective musical jams were powerful and trance-inducing.

Twila: Ennis. I Caught their performances as a by-product of them being grouped with some known-to-me quantities, so when I started waxing poetically about Ennis to some friends over the internet, I got a chorus of ‘HOW COULD YOU NOT KNOW ENNIS?’ and ‘YEAH THEY ARE AWESOME’. Both true statements. The blended quality of the sister’s voices and their enormous stage presence captivated myself and those around me too. Better still was their ability to tell us (the audience) stories that became part of our own stories.

Favorite Workshop

Sable: Saturday morning with Birds of Chicago, Aviva, and The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer was the perfect way to start a chill day. The groups were getting used to the collaborative workshop segment but the Birds of Chicago did a great job of building a musical foundation for improvization to occur. Numerous bending harmonia solos from the Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer and soaring melodic lines from Aviva complimented the musical genesis on stage.

Twila: Saturday afternoon at the Estelle Klein Stage ‘The Gordon Lightfoot Songbook’. Magoo, Tim ChaissonJD Edwards and Dala were joined by the man himself. The group on stage was a huge ball of nerves and excitement (for reasons only revealed when Gordon Lightfoot graced the stage after a few tunes had been sung). It was great hearing different interpretations of this iconic songwriter and then hearing Lightfoot sing too, well it was really the cherry on top. The playlist for today’s drive was updated to include many more Lightfoot songs…