Reintroduction of the canadian goose

Hello 2017

The geese flew the coop so to speak from Kevin's backyard late fall of last year. He comments on it often as its quite the racket for a number of days as they banter back and forth with louds squawks…Read more
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Summerfolk 41

Sometimes we get things right. Take this year's edition of Summerfolk Music and Crafts Festival in Owen Sound. Set in sprawling Kelso Park right on the waterfront this music and craft extravaganza attracts over ten thousand happy humans to celebration…Read more
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Poets In The Keene Valley

Our Poets' Journey took us from the streets of New York to the ankles of the Adirondak Mountains in the picturesque Keene Valley. For a country that's known for its contrasts, these opposites of human verses natural endeavours couldn't be…Read more
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A New York Experience II

New Angouleme. New Amsterdam. New York. The Big Apple. This place, so large in myth and mind to so many, one name can not do it justice. Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses offers The Lady Of…Read more
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New York city is an experience

New York city is an experience. I mean, if you've entered the heart of downtown Manhattan at peak traffic hours. Watched the crowds of people, and the zoo of cars and taxis swarming around you as you fight to maintain…Read more
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Poets In Ridgefield

The Poets' journey took us to Ridgefield, Connecticut last month to finish up our American tour of the Great Northeast. ( more info in future blogs) We were warmly welcomed by Barbara Manners and her team who host Concert Happenings…Read more
Support local music

Long live live music

Our first show of the year was fittingly a local show. In the heart of downtown Ormstown aka. Durham County. Where it all began for us at a small café called Namasthe some 5+ years ago. 
Namasthe is now closed and…

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Outside my window, I see...the river bend

For those in the know, these are indeed the first words uttered in song by Kevin Harvey from our debut album, 'Where the River Flows'. For those of you who own that album, (if you don't you really should by the way), you'll see on the…

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Valspec

Valspec, Valleyfield with Willows

Every now and again we get to perform in a professional arts center. The huge stage, the insane computer run lighting, the mind blowing sound, the television cameras, all complete with their respective technicians. It gives us a brief feeling…Read more

Barney's Wagon Wheel. 23/08/2015

We have a number of gigs coming up in northern NY, a few already done. On the 22nd of August we played at the Northern New York border festival, right outside Barney's Wagon Wheel. A little tent had been set up with an impressive sound system manned by none other than the very same soundman who took care of us at the Chateaugay, NY theatre the year before. So the sound was great. 
If if you ever saw the movie Roadhouse with Patrick Swayze. Come on ladies, we all know you have the VHS cassette tucked away somewhere, let's be honest. Well, then you can picture Barney's Wagon Wheel minus the cage and on a smaller scale. Yes, I admit I saw Roadhouse too but only because Jeff Healey appeared in it, not because Swayze ran around shirtless kicking butt with his awesome karate moves. 
Where does Kevin get these gigs. An ex roadie to Willie Nelson and a wonderful lady (whose name escapes me at the moment, sorry) offered the gig to Kevin. The sheer number of shows, contacts, leads, acquaintances, promoters and musicians that Kevin attains or already has is mind blowing. He's the ultimate booker of gigs and a relentless pursuer of connections that he feels could produce something down the road. He's the best gosh darn it!
So anyway, we opened for Trip Toe. The guys couldn't stop going on about how good the band was. Donnie Brisebois, a formidable guitarist and long time friend of Kevin's came along with us and he just loved the whole Trip Toe trip as well. We finished our set with Sugar Sweet by Muddy Waters with Donnie on lead. So all in all we had a blast and who gets to drink a Genesse Light now a days? I thought the beer was defunct, but not at Barneys Wagon Wheel. 
 

Irene's, Dorval, Stanstead. 9/08/2015

Well, much has transpired since our unique gig at Tail of the Pup. We gigged at Irene's in Ottawa which was fun but somewhat discouraging, with a dismal crowd of 10 or so. We made a paltry 0 $ after food and drink expenses, but them the breaks I guess. We had a beautiful outdoor show on the banks of the St. Lawrence in Dorval. Right under the bandstand, the evening was perfect, although it threatened rain off and on. Last night we played a house concert in Stanstead, Qc. We had a blast, a very intimate setting with just the right amount of people. The sound was great and the vibe was perfect. A big thanks to Hal and his family for hosting a wonderful event complete with food and drink.

Tail of the pup. 29/07/2015

Tail of the pup, in Saranac Lake NY is most certainly a paradise for many. If you love BBQ then this is the Mecca. If the lobster boils with the clam bakes are your vice well it too is the place to be. If Durham County Poets playing almost non stop for 4 consecutive hours turns your crank, then look no further ladies and gents
We jammed we, we covered, we ran through our repertoire, we did it all and we had good eats and lots of fun. Tail of the pup is a 13 and unders paradise, it's like a fair with all kinds of booths, an arcade, cabins for overnight stay, a playground, lots of red picnic tables, live entertainment and great food. I wish I had gone there as a kid. The rest of the band felt the same way as we gawked at the sheer awesomeness that is the Pup. The volume of people that passed through, the amount of food and drink that was doled out, the efficiency of the staff was mind boggling to say the least. So, as I like to say. Hats off to the Pup! 

The birth of a festival. 20/07/2015

       The Poets had the great pleasure to witness the birth of a music festival this past weekend. The Neely G  festival inaugural edition came to be; A living monument to a familys love of music.Nestled in the majestic forest of the New Brunswick interior the family literally moved heaven and earth to create the perfect conditions for a truly epic weekend of music. State of the art audio and video equipment and facilities combined with expert operators made for an experience of a lifetime for all those who attended. Music festivals, such as this one, are important because they provide a space for live music to happen. A chance for people to experience music viscerally, not only as sound but with a full range of emotions, and, best of all, this experience is shared. So hats off to Sheree, Deckland, and all the others who helped make this birth a celebration of life.

A house concert in Morrisburg, Ontario. 12/07/2015

Gigs... As I reflect on the many different venues we've played as a band over the last four years, none compare to the awesome place I played last night. Okay, this is a personal opinion and does not reflect the entire bands but I know that they too enjoyed it. Taking into consideration here that it's the most unlikely place one would expect a five piece band such as ours to perform in. Also, that it was my first experience doing such a thing. Where is this venue you might ask? I'm talking about someone's home. That's right, a house. Albeit a grandiose one belonging to two wonderful people, Isabelle and Leo, who are the most gracious of hosts.
Now I must be honest, I was reluctant to do this gig. Although house concerts are all the rave right now in this ever changing realm of the music business, I had a hard time imagining us fitting anywhere even remotely comfortable. And sound. Well, it was a concern as it really is everything at the end of the day. Needless to say, my fears were abated as we pulled up into the driveway of this regal home in Morrisburg, Ontario. A gorgeous house built in the 1870's that looks like it belongs in a Hollywood movie. As we hauled our equipment in I was greeted by the hosts who were very kind and made us feel right at home. We had ample room to set up and the high ceilings coupled with the hard wood floors made for a great room sound. Truthfully, I was elated.
I can't imagine how much work goes into putting this all together. Aside from booking the right act, you have to contend with an audience, setting up the house in an orderly fashion, refreshments and the monetary. Just making people feel relaxed is a task in and of itself that this couple have down in spades.
So, hats off to Isabelle and Leo. You made for a very wonderful evening of music and entertainment. For all you musicians out there looking to play in a unique location, you'd do well to attempt a gig here. Cheers to the house concert, well at least the one we played last night.

Lake Brome. 5/07/2015

The region of Lac Brome, Quebec is quite a picturesque place. An area well known for its ducks that unfortunately for them, find their way onto dinner plates the world over. I can see why a duck would love to hang out in Brome Lake. It has all the hallmarks of a duck vacation resort, with an abundance of natural water space and sprawling greenery, food aplenty and no overflow of human populace. 
Well, we ended up over in the quaint village of Knowlton which is part of Brome Lake. Having been booked for an outdoor gig as part of their annual Arts Alive Festival, we found ourselves on the green space of the local library. A precarious stage was set up on a somewhat questionable decline in the lawn and on this we piled on, sound checked and performed an hour or so straight of our tunes peppered with a few Blues standards. In short, it was a blast. I hope we can get back there sometime. I'm no duck but I too love lake Brome.
A big thanks to our sound man Scott from Scotland, he did a great job. 

We and Bobby McGee. 1/07/2015

Bobby McGee's is a cafe located in the east end of Montreal, Ontario street to be precise. It's an interesting place that entertains all kinds of acts. We had a show there but before we went on we had the pleasure of listening to an old school swing group. Vocal, sax, guitar and bass with dancers on the floor to boot doing the charleston and the Michigan rag. It wasn't something you see or hear everyday that's for sure but being a fan of the big band years and guys like Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and Louis Prima, I was thoroughly surprised and gratified. I hope this place does well, Ontario street can be tough. Good luck to the owner and a bigger thanks to the jazz, swing band who performed. Cheers.
 

Vermont!!! 27/06/2015

Vermont! I added an exclamation point at the end because of a number of reasons. 
1) It's an awesome State.
2) The people there seem so laid back and easy going.
3) A happening night life. ( at least where we were)
4) Our first official State side gig.
Okay, there are probably a number of more reasons why Vermont deserves an exclamation point, but for this purpose let's focus on number 4 on the list.
When you start out as a band you play for yourselves until you think you sound decent. Then you play local at a cafe or something like that for pass the hat and to make a few cents. Then, you play a bigger local gig for a few dollars. Then, you move to a city gig. Then, a larger venue that's publicized in the city paper or radio for your city gig. Then a festival or two. Then, outside the province but still within Canada for what feels like an achievement to be in a venue that requires an hour plus of travelling to get to. THEN...the elusive State side gig. Admittedly, not every band or artist gets to the State side gig. Why, you may ask? Well, here's another list for you.
1) You need a P2 permit in order to play.
2) All your instruments have to be registered.
3) It costs more to play from your pocket than you'll probably make.
4) Travelling time usually totals at least 2 hours or more for there and back.
So there it is, more could be added but I think those are the main ones. In short, the logistics required to put everything in place just to be able to cross the border with instruments in tow is a massive undertaking. Not just in paper work, but in money. For us, the P2 permit cost roughly $1500 for the band, plus a nominal fee to process the paperwork and okay the permit at your first crossing. Don't forget the money put out to register your instruments, then the gas and your food. Oh, and the union dues because you need to be in the Local 1000 to be legit. Finally, instrument insurance for the wise. Wow, in all honesty, for a 5 piece band like ours your looking at 2000$ in American cash, give or take in investment just to play your first gig. That's daunting for sure.

Nevertheless, playing your first paid Stateside gig for the Canadian artist is a coming of age, a right of passage, a milestone achievement. True, as in our case you may only make 30 or 40$ in tips. Let's not forget that for the most part no one knows who the heck you are so its like starting the process all over again. One thing that being a working band does for you though is it changes your perspective. The glass isn't half empty anymore, it's half full. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. You have to invest money in order to make money. And so, we march on. 
Thankyou to all the wonderful folks that came to the Radio Bean last night and happened to hear us perform. A tip of the hat to you young college people. You danced, you had a good time and you made the gig that much more entertaining. Thanks to the Radio Bean for great food, service and for supporting the live music scene. And last but not least, a great big thanks to a wonderful State. VERMONT!!!
 

The Fringe Fest. 16/06/2015

Festivals are lots of fun to play. They're hectic no doubt, little setup time, next to no soundcheck and the gig ends before it even started, then you're shooed off the stage faster than a fly landing in your dinner plate. But within all the rush of things there's always the beauty of playing in front of the crowd, many of whom have no idea who you are. This is your chance to shine, to put together 30 minutes or so of what you feel is your best material suited for the masses. The atmosphere is usually relaxed, the vibe is almost always exciting and that feeling translates through the performance. That performance, the festival stage performance, is different, unique in that it takes on a life of its own. You can't have expectations as a performer, you can't go in with any preconceived conception of how the gig will pan out. You just do your best and hope for the best.
Case in point was the Fringe Fest in downtown Montreal. Would it rain? That was a concern of mine as the artist on stage before us suggested it was about to. That would have sucked rocks no doubt. Parking in the insanity of Montreal and getting gear out of vehicles and near the stage frays the nerves. Hoping that the guy who drank way too much, who's sitting centre stage, doesn't start acting crazy loud in the midst of a tune. If you're a control freak, by all means opt out of the festival gig. If, on the other hand
you can just take in the moment, go with the flow, ride the wave etc. you'll find the festival gig a lot of fun. Get in with the people, relax and play like the dickens. 
All that having been said. Cheers to Matt large for all the work he does for promoting folk music in Montreal. Cheers to the sound guys who work with all the different artists throughout the entire festival. And cheers to the people that invest their time and money to come and support the beauty of the live music festival. They are lots of fun to play. 

Rain, rain, go away. 31/05/2015


We managed to out play the rain in Dunham. The Dunham brewery put on a Hops and Rock festival that brought out all kinds of folk intent on taking in the festivities. We had a small stage to play on but a great sound over all. It sure does pay to have a good soundman, or in this case a sound woman. As Carl would say 'that was the best sound check ever'.
We started at 3pm and when the last chord was strummed around 4pm, the rain just started pouring down. Which cleared the audience so fast and left the street a muddy mess in no time. Regardless, we had some good eats and then headed home. A big thanks to Dunham and all the wonderful people that came out to see the show. 

Poets at the Black Sheep! 22/05/2015


The Poet’s summer tour 2015 took us up to lovely Wakefield, Quebec where we played at the historic Black Sheep Inn. This hallowed hall is the stuff of legend as some of the countries greatest musicians have played here. This particular evening was no exception as we were treated to the soothing sounds of Sin and Swoon who are Mike O’Brien and Michelle Tompkins. Soothing because this drummer’s motion sickness was cured before the first chorus was sung. Something special happens when voice and acoustic guitar sounds are blended masterfully together. Some harmonic vibration is gained that really does soothe the savage (in this case queasy) breast. Combine this heroin for the ears (we listened to their CD twice on the way home) with a candle-lit room, excellent acoustics PLUS gracious hosts Lyne and Norman who put us up for the night and we have a legendary evening of our own not soon forgotten. Thanks to Paul and all his staff at the Black Sheep Inn for continuing to make it happen with very special thanks to Magic Mike the sound man. It’s all about the sound, man. 

A license to play. 20/04/2015

Getting gigs Stateside could be pretty easy, at least finding the venue and setting a date and dealing with monetary and what not, all that is doable. But alas, in order to cross the border and in the spirit of honesty and all fairness one has to say they are making money for the gig and that in turn requires a permit. A document that allows prospective artists to perform and make money in the States if you are from Canada and elsewhere I would think. You apply for this permit, you pay a nominal fee and you have to meet certain requirements before you get the stamp of approval that in turn puts the paper in hand that will get you past the border guards with your instrument in tow. It seems straight forward and in our case Kevin had taken all the necessary steps to get our permits ready in time for our first annual Stateside gig at Dicks music store in Chirubussco NY. Well, wouldn't you know it, the powers that be were late in okaying us for the permit and we were forced to cancel the show...a real bummer for sure. Now we are all legally setup to perform as a group in the States, in fact we're even part of the Local 1000 Union for musicians. This has opened up some new doors and ventures for us as a band for sure and the whole situation taught us some things about getting ahead in this business of ours.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained I guess.
Our show at Ontario's Vankleek hill May festival was fun. A tad rainy but we had a good time performing on stage in the middle of the street. 

Travelling. 26/04/2015


Travelling is a big part of a working bands life. If you want to play outside of your town or city then you have to hit the road to get there and often times that can mean a good few hours drive. Almonte Ontario is one such gig that took a good deal of time to get to. Roughly 3 hours or so. You plan your day around packing up your instruments, cd's and other necessities for the show, getting gas and loading up the van, everyone meeting at Kevin's for a specific time and then you're off. Hopefully, you don't get lost, thanks to the inventor of the GPS that saves us from that nightmare.
Arriving in Almonte for us was a joy. You're finally there and the road trip is half done, the town was nice to see and the venue a knockout. The hospitality of the Folkus Concert Series folk who hired us was wonderful. So kind and courteous. We had a catered meal served to us along with wine, beer, coffee and snacks, the whole experience was great. We opened for Ball and Chain and the show went very well. The musical connection with the other band, chatting the music biz and what not was fun. All this to say that travelling can be gruelling but when you get there and you're treated to such an awesome bunch of people who make that trip so much worth while, then who cares? Thanks so much to Amanda, Sandy and Brendan who took such great care of us. Also to the caterers, the food and hospitality was over the top. Folkus rocks!
P.S. A great big thank you to all those who attended the show, without you there would be no travel. Cheers, DCP.
 

An awesome concert at the Salle Jean-Pierre Houde 17/04/2015



Hats off to the The Salle Jean-Pierre Houde and the Reseau Scene administration for an awesome evening. Our concert there was magical and the vibe, electrical. One of those shows that come about every now and again where everything seems to gel and flow seemlessly. The band connects, the crowd responds, the sound is perfect, all of these parts come together to make a memorable show. Really, the relaxed atmosphere, professionalism of the staff and team like attitude made the night. Our green room was graced with a bottle of quality vino, beer and various snacks. We were fed before the show and during the intermission, we were treated like royalty...even though we're far from it. The staff took care of our ticket sales and tended to every need no matter how flippant. 
So, a big thanks to Etienne and Johnathan (our sound man) who were very much a part of a successful evening. Also all those names I can't remember, cheers.
 On a much different note and regretfully a sad one at that, our good friend Jeff Boyle passed away a few nights back from cancer. A talented artist, musician, mechanic, song writer and over all wonderful person. We'll miss his humour, his joie de vie, but more importantly his friendship. A longtime friend of Kevin's, he leaves behind a loving family, and a slew of friends who have all been blessed and touched by his personality, his giving heart and personable demeanour. There will never be another Jeff, when ever the topic of nicest person you knew came up jeffs name was unanimous. Not a mean bone in his body and a heart of gold. God bless you Jeff and rest in peace, we love you and miss you, truly a small part of ourselves has gone on with you but we'll take that part back when we meet again brother.
A song at the concert was also dedicated to the memory of Angus Macintosh jr who sadly passed away last week. A very close friend to my younger brother Pip and husband of his loving wife Erin. He too will be greatly missed.
Life is short and time goes by quick. Love and cherish each moment of every day, build memories that you can carry with you forever and love your neighbour as yourself. One never knows when that neighbours time is up, so treat each time spent with them as if it were your last. N

Kind words from the Side Door Coffee House. 11/04/2015


A word to thank the Durham County Poets once again, on behalf of Plain Folk, for a fantastic set on Friday! I think the audience was unanimous in thinking that because of you guys, this was the very best evening this season (and we’ve had some great ones!) I personally enjoyed every second of it, and I have been listening to your new CD on a loop ever since. It made the drive from Montreal to Morrisburg feel especially short this time around! 
 
Please extend our thanks to the rest of the gang (Dave, Neil, Jim, Carl, thank you!) We’re very pleased that things are going so well for you guys and wish you the very best going forward. We’re pleased that you were able to sell a few CDs. People mostly don’t buy CDs anymore, so to sell 10 in one night is quite a feat! 
 
 

The show must go on. 4/04/2015


Sometimes you promote and pull all the strings to get a good turn out at a gig and it just falls short of your expectation. Let's be honest, every band or artist hopes to have an audience when they perform. A paying audience even better. Well, the reality of it is that it doesn't always turn out that way. And so every performer within the business of music specifically will be able to tell you of those nights where they're staring out to a sea of empty seats to the bar man and a straggler who just so happened to come in as they heard you strumming a few chords during sound check. Such was the case with our Casa del Popolo gig on Friday night. But to quote the famous saying 'the show must go on', we did just that. We performed with gusto and enthusiasm to a small audience despite the feeling one gets when few show to your gig. 
Sherman and Lee did the same and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to their songs. They kicked off the evening with the same trooper like attitude every jaded musician tends to develop over years of working the trade. Even Stephen Barry himself, I'm quite sure could relate to you a story or two of his own regarding the ghost town gig. He played bass for Nancy that night and it was great to see him taking the back seat and doing his thing. 
Despite the palid turn out, I can honestly say it was lots of fun. Every show has its moments and this one was special. Whether you play to a crowd or only to one, give it your best. After all you're doing what you love and enjoy...playing music and that's what it's all about at the end of the day.

A Musical Collaboration. 29/03/2015


It's always a pleasure when you get to collaborate with other musicians or artists on a project. True, it doesn't always gel as you'd like but when things work out magic can happen. Our last two shows were examples of a musical comraderry that came together well and naturally. 
A good friend of ours is a fella by the name of Norm Rennie, anyone in the Valley living out our way will have at least heard of him. He's a music lover, musician, singer and supporter of the live music scene. Folk gospel music is something he knows and does very convincingly in his Willie Nelson meets bluegrass sort of delivery and we were fortunate enough to back him at a Church in Verdun. A charity event for the Missions Children Fund held annually was the cause and the turn out was wonderful. The music was enjoyed by all and seeing the smiling faces and people singing along is what makes it worth while.
The following night we performed as opening act for a band from Boston called 'Mist Covered Mountains'. A talented Celtic style band who traveled our way to play in Jim's 'Machine Shop'. Again, it was fun to watch the audience enjoy the music as much as we enjoyed performing. Hats off to 'Mist Covered Mountains' for a great show. 

Juno for Bros. Landreth and local 1000 for us. 3/19/2015


Not that long ago Jim had the pleasure of hosting the young and talented Bros. landreth at his home for a house concert, I missed that house gig but heard an awful lot about it. The vocals were tight, the musicianship was stellar and they shared a connection that went beyond the music, they were also fun and down to earth guys which makes it all that much better. Kevin got their debut album 'Let it Lie' which I borrowed and listened to over and over. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, from the very first track that they would make it big. Well, I'm so happy to hear that they took home the Juno for best roots and traditional album of 2014. Congrats to a group of talented Canadian fellas that frankly well deserve a Juno and much more. 
Now for some more down to earth news from a band whose lead vocalist's niece knows the Landreth Bros. Very well. We're in the union now and can play State side gigs without a hitch, that's some seriously good news. We joined Local 1000 which will open some doors for us for sure. Onward and upward as Jim always says.
 Check out the website for the Bros. landreth, it's a great site. http://www.thebroslandreth.com
 

Montreal's West Island live show venue. 3/13/2015


Playing at the Calistoga Grill on the West Island of Montreal is somewhat of an annual event for us, It's always fun and the food and service makes for a real good experience. We had the 6th Poet, (John McColgan) join us for the show. Thanks to all of you who came out, the turn out wasn't the biggest but the vibe was good. Thanks to Bill who showed up to chat with us about some interesting musical adventures he's had, we're looking forward to meeting him again sometime. Our friend and photographer Shawn McEnroe who showed up with camera in hand (He said I smiled this time!)and Ben who took some video and audio footage, along with Jess who is so faithful in working the merch table, cheers to you all.
Again, thanks to the staff and to Calistoga Grill for the opportunity to play. 
If you're interested in some great live shows from cover bands to original music check out the Calistoga Grill at www.calistogagrill.ca.


 

Goodnight Irene's, goodnight. 8/03/2015


Our first show of the year took place at the infamous Irene's Pub on Bank St. Downtown Ottawa. It takes a good few hours for us to roll in there, but the trip was certainly worth it. I just love this venue. The ambience, decor and vibe is second to none and the food and service was great. A big thanks to Danielle Allard who opened for us, she's a real talented singer songwriter and she played an awesome set of original and cover material. ken the sound man was real pro, how he came through at a blink of an eye with that over the top reverb for the Gregorian chant I'll never know!? Hats off to you bud, it was a pleasure working with you. We also had the pleasure of having Rick Fines show up who I believe was in town to do a guitar clinic the next day, thanks for showing up Rick. A great big thanks to Kevin Neil and co. who drove up from the Ormstown Qc. area to see us and others who have happened to see us before and came out again. Live music wouldn't be worthwhile if it wasn't for your support, so cheers to you all. Also a big thanks to Randy MacNeil who came out to capture some photographs of the band and to update us on his latest project. Thanks Randy. 
Check out Danielle Allard's site at www.danielleallard.com
Randy MacNeil at www.RandyMacNeil.com (he authored and photographed a book on the Canadian Blues scene.)
Rick Fines at rickfines.ca
p.s. Thank you to Ben & Jess for freely giving of their time, work and support, we're forever grateful.
 

Poets' Journey. 27/02/2015


 Had a few days to reflect on what happened at the Folk Alliance International (FAI) music conference in Kansas City, Missouri and discovered the most potent memory was of Sir Chris Hatfield. I’ve already Knighted him in my own mind (I’m sure the authentic title will follow) because he represents the very best in all of us. What a human! His presentation on the importance of music had us all weeping with tears of joy and glory in human endeavours that can only be had through exposure to such positive truth. And he’s Canadian. As a country we don’t often get a chance to ring our own bell and are reluctant to do so,(as in, “I’m sorry I apologize so much”) but Sir Chris shows us what a great Canadian is. Or rather what a great human is. Now there's a country we can all belong to. J

Travelling Blues, musical cure. 21/02/2015


The pleasure of airline travel or the not so good pleasure of it? Getting to Kansas City, Missouri proved to be more of the latter for us. Delays in Dorval and in Chicago and lost luggage put a slight damper on things. Thankfully, walking through the doors of the Sheraton, downtown Kansas City proved to be the cure all for our travelling blues.
We came through the front door of the hotel, a little worn out and road weary and immediately saw a mass of musicians and people gearing up for what proved to be an awesome musical gathering. Folk Alliance International is the place to be once a year if you're an artist or band looking to get your music out to those who can get you noticed. Literally more than a thousand or so performers ranging from the singer songwriter to the raucous, raw Nashville bands pumping out the polished seudo alt folk. To sum it all up in one word, in my opinion would be 'mind boggling'. As a first timer you're dumbstruck. Everybody and anybody who matters in the realm of folk, whether it be trad. or all the other branches of the style are there. Performing, perusing, promoting and taking in the myriad of official and private showcases that take place in the evenings and into the wee hours of the morning.
The talent is incredible. The musical offerings are what can be likened to going to a huge buffet where every dish you eat is as good as the one before. Virtuosos, up and coming Grammy or Juno artists, street performers, musicians young and old, all sharing and partaking in the one common, universal language that is music.
I could wax on about our time here at the FAI and there were certainly many memorable moments, Chris Hadfield's speech and visual presentation being up there for sure? We were well received and came across a number of people that surprisingly had already heard of us. Hopefully we'll get some work and maybe even a State side tour if things go well.
Anyway, a plane to catch in the afternoon and lots of travel ahead for the trip back home. Jim will be adding a blog of his own quite soon talking about his view of the trip. Again, a big thanks to FACTOR and Canada Council for sending us here. N
 

Kansas city here we come! 16/02/2015


We're off to Kansas City, Missouri for the annual Folk Alliance conference. We received some grant money from FACTOR and Canada Council which pretty well paid for the entire trip. So, a big thanks to the powers that be that allotted the funds, we'll do you proud. Also, a great big thank you to Tamara Kater and Heidi Fleming for getting the ball rolling. And let's not forget our faithful and patient frontman Kevin Harvey, who lost more than a few hairs trying to get the paper work in order. Bright and early Wednesday morning we'll be off to the airport and getting on that plane. Keep checking the blog for daily updates on our time there. N

The shape we're in!


Things are shaping up to be quite busy for us this year. We'll be interviewed and performing live in the Vermont PBS studio on the 31st. Our shows begin in February and the calendars filling in fast. This year we hope to get out to Nova scotia for their annual folk festival and we'll be heading down to Connecticut, New England and Maryland if all turns out as planned. Lots of work on our new upcoming album which we hope to have out this year sometime. A pro video in the works and of course, practice, practice, practice. We should have a song preview up on the site real soon of 'Grimshaw road'. A great tune written and composed by David Whyte that we're having so much fun with. Its delta blues in its roots with a sprinkling of folk and has a real haunting vibe to it. Again, things will be different for our next album but with the same DCP feel. Thanks for checking in on the blogs, there'll be more to come real soon. Cheers.

2015


What a great year we had. Some memorable shows and many new friends and contacts were made. Although our gigs don't start until March, we're busy practicing new material and working to keep things sharp. Looking forward to seeing familiar faces again this year at upcoming gigs. See you soon. DCP.

Cold weather, hot tunes 09/12/2014


So the weather's changing and the cold and snow is settling in. Gigs are piling in for next year and it looks like it will our busiest so far. Great news. New material is coming together as we start fleshing out our third album and the fun of ironing out the finer points of each song is keeping things interesting.  These are good times for sure.

Le Petit Campus 11/25/2014


I can't begin to count how many shows we've played to date, some memorable, others not so memorable. Either way, I think I can talk for the band as a whole when I say that performing with Durham County Poets is a hoot! It's fun, always different, challenging and artistically satisfying in a musical kind of way. 
We had the pleasure of playing at le Petit Campus last Sunday night. The turn out was minimal at best, but the vibe was great and those that were present made for an awesome evening. Jesse Speed opened with a wonderful set of original acoustic tunes. Then we played and Kevin did his off the cuff comedy routine. Yes, he did the whale joke. John joined us on the kit the entire show and Bernadette on the violin for wayside, ragman and Moon. 
A big thanks to Matt Large for the opportunity to get some showtime in Montreal. Also, a big thanks to Adam Pearson (the sound guy) for doing such a great job behind the board. 
 

NERFA, November 2014

 Some of the best moments of our lives are spent in the company of loved ones. The poets spent three days at the North East Regional Folk Alliance {NERFA}  in Kerhonkson, New York, with some of the most talented musicians in the world. Gathered at what could be loosely called a musical trade show musicians and industry types exchange information with the hope of future benefit for all. These conferences tend to be overwhelming with constant social interaction combined with very late nights leaves a body drained but happy. Happy because in spite of all the pressure to promote we still find lots of time to pursue the love of playing music. Some of our best memories are of jams held in the lobby of the hotel. Relationships formed while playing music are unique because we find common ground in the songs we share. Only later on after the music stops do we get “properly introduced.” The Poets would like to thank NERFA, all the volunteers that make these conferences possible, as well as Mike Beck-Access Film Music, Max Cohen, Donna Hebert, Molly Hebert-Wilson-Mist Covered Mountains, Heidi Fleming-L’association Folquebec, and Tamara Kater- Folk Music Canada for all their invaluable support and especially all the musicians we heard and got to play with. See you in Kansas City. JP
  

Between the river and the field. 06/11/2014


The seasons change quickly in the Chateauguay Valley because there are only two of them; sowing and reaping. Marked by a tenfold increase of farm equipment on the fields and roads of our neighbourhoods farmers frantically face the deadlines imposed by the weather upon their plans of a dry harvest. Hundreds of tons of corn and soybean { Our two main crops since the demise of mixed farming. Mergers and acquisitions have changed farming as well.} are harvested according to moisture content with only the smallest increase adding greatly to the cost of processing. Our dairy farms, having grown huge over the last generation, require industrial sized  installations to handle the vast amounts of food and waste generated by milk manufacturing. Farming has become big business in the Valley. The fact that the farms have been in the same family for two hundred years or more suggests a line of succession rare even among royalty. There most be something about this valley that keeps the descendants of the original Scottish settlers here even with all the changes of the modern economic world imposed upon them. Something that draws newcomers, like myself, to settle here as well, between the river and the field.

FMO & Westboro Ontario. 19/10/2014


We had a blast at the FMO (Folk Music Ontario). A chance to meet fellow musicians and folks in the know when it comes to folk music within Canada. The show at the Westboro Masonic lodge put on by the Spirit of Rasputin was a lot of fun. A big thanks to the organizers, Kate and Hollis (I hope I'm spelling that right), and to all who attended. We'll hopefully be back in 2016 sometime and have some video footage of the event. Now it's onto rehearsal and preparation for our next album which we'll be sending samples of to you via this site in the upcoming months. 

Thanks to Le Riverain. 06/11/2014


A gig at Le Riverain in Ormstown is always a fun event. Good food, good staff, good people and a real good ambience makes for an evening of good tunes and good times, all around it's just GOOD. And good is good, if we all had a little more good in our lives the world would be a gooder place to be. All right I'm getting out of hand here. Thanks to Summer and the staff at Le Riverain and a big thanks to all who came out to support the Poets and good (I couldn't resist) live music if I do say so myself. Cheers and be good!

Blogging Blues. 21/10/2014


Okay, so it's been nigh on a month since I last wrote a blog. Admittedly I'm not so good at this social media thing but it's gradually reeling me in. Although we have been quiet on the gigging front, the band's plugging away on new material for our next album and also a video. Yes, a video. Not a cheesy dance video with a bunch of hip hop girls gyrating to some urban groove, but a more conservative approach, a small peek into the world of the poets. A few clues for y'all. The song will be new and never performed anywhere or for anyone, except for Darlene (Kev's wife) who hears every tune a few hundred times before recording and then a few hundred after it. A new foray for us into the unknown, so wish us luck.

Last show of the summer. 29/08/2014


Well, our last show of the summer has come and gone and we'd like to thank all those who came out to see us over the past months, we appreciate your support. It seemed fitting to play at the Calistoga grill in the West island as it gave us 3 sets and some liberty to jam some tunes we don't often get to do. Now it's back to practice and writing and future plans for hopefully another DCP album. Keep looking at our webpage or Reverbnation for upcoming shows.
Cheers, the Poets.
P.S. We will be at the Petit Campus in the fall.

New seats for the theater. 23/08/2014


So we performed for a benefit to purchase new seats for the Chateaugay NY, town hall theater. We crossed the border and registered our instruments early so we could make load in and sound check on time. The show was real fun and the stage was very roomy, which makes for a change as most stages are somewhat constraining. We wish all the best to the town hall on their renovations and seat change, hopefully we'll be back again in the future. A big thanks to all who showed.

 

Good fun in Ormstown. 19/08/2014


Thanks to all who came out to our show at the Namasthe in downtown Ormstown on Friday night, it was a blast. We celebrated Yannick's parents 40th anniversay (Wow! that's my age.), Kevin Neil's birthday (only 35...yeah right) and of course our dear friend and brother in arms, Jimbo the machine Preimel's birthday! Darlene, Kevin's wife is too about to celebrate her birthday, so happy birthday to all. Carl came in to the gig  just on time after having flown in from up north where he was playing that same day. Oh, the life of a pro musician. Well, all that needs to be mentioned has been said, again a big thanks for all in the valley for your support and appreciation of our music, we love you all.
One more important thing to say on behalf of the band. THANKS to Ben and Jessica for their continued support and help. It's hard to find merch salespeople, roadies, fans, music lovers and genuine nice people all wrapped up into one these days, but we have found that in Ben and Jessica. They're the best!

Super moon at the Black Sheep. 10/08/2014


Saturday morning at roughly 8:30 am we piled into the Vanaction with our equipment and jetted off to Ottawa. Traffic? Of course...but we made our radio show interview at Carleton University radio station just on time. We hung around Wakefield until we went on stage at around 9 pm. The show went so well, John was on the kit and Kevin was in fine form and everything came together almost effortlessly. Thanks to all who showed up for contributing to such a great night. Most of all I'd like to thank the moon which came out like never before. Jim said it was a super moon, one in every 10 years or so. I believe him 'cause Jim knows pretty well everything, even little bits of useless info you'd never think of retaining he's retained. Cheers to the Black sheep for having us back as a headliner and cheers to Erin Adair who opened for us. Until next time Wakefield. Oh, and thanks to Mike our sound guy at the Black Sheep, great job as usual!

Guerrilla gigs & Pete's meat. 04/08/2014


Alright, here's an update for all those interested in the goings on of the Poets. We played an afternoon set at Smoked meat Pete's which went well, we're back there on the 6th of September for an official gig. We jammed a little outside on the main drag in st. Anne- de- Bellevue prior to going to Pete's and managed to get a few listeners to come out to see us play later that afternoon. On Saturday the 2nd of August we played in st. Urbain. Lots of fun, and even though it rained we had a great time together playing and entertaining the crowd. Performing is a pleasure and a privilege, doing it with this band is fantabulous!

Sherblues & Folk fest. 07/07/2014


We had a great time in Sherbrooke, we played two shows and they were so different from each other. One being outside in an ampitheater and the other at a local show bar called Loubard's. Great reception from the Sherbrooke folk and well treated. The sound was pro and the vibe was special. Thanks to Ben and Jessica our faithful roadies, who selflessly come out to our gigs and do all those jobs that have to be done but are hard to do when you're performing and chatting between and after sets. We love you guys. 

Writing & recording. 30/06/2014


We're working hard. Practicing, gigging, writing and forging ahead. Material for DCP #3 is already being etched out and pieced together, God willing, it's looking real good. We'll have some tasty tidbits of song snippets coming your way pretty soon, so stay tuned.

A round trip


Chateauguay to Dewitteville, Dewitteville to Montreal, back to Dewitteville then over to Huntingdon, back to Dewittevile then home to Chateauguay.
That summed up my day of travel, albeit Jim took the reins most of the time to avoid falling sick. The Montreal Folk Fest was a great experience, much thanks to Matt and Joe who did a bang up job of putting this together. A tip of the hat to the tireless volunteers who were so helpful and courteous, that for a brief moment it felt as if we had made the big time and had our own road crew. As for the stage, well, it was so nice to get up there and perform, a pleasure. A great big thanks to the sound crew, they did such a great job and to the grub catered by Tuck shop, superb. All in all a real good time.

Our Valley CD launch in Grove Hall, Huntingdon, was also a hoot. Much thanks to all who helped decorate and bring this together. Ben and Jessica, Katie and co. you da best. Until our next album launch folks.

100 years of the Ormstown fair


And it rained. It wouldn't be the Ormstown fair without some rain now would it. Let's throw a little mud in there, a boat load of mosquito's and some humidity. Now that makes for a great fair if you ask me. We all knew the weather forecast but that didn't dampen anyone's spirits at all. People showed up in droves and as the Poets played into the night the droves walked outside while a scant few but lovely and encouraging bunch of folks sat, danced and even sang along with our tunes inside the friendship tent. Thanks to all you kind people that watched and stuck with the band, we love you. When we go for our Juno award we'll be sure to give a shout out to you all, for your support and encouragement. I personally enjoyed the show (playing I mean). One day I'll figure out That's alright mama, until then Carl will sing it to me and Dave will look at me with a confused look and ask me if I'm sure I'm playing it right. No Dave, sadly I'm not too sure what the heck I'm doing at times but keep on loving me. Until the 21st everyone, see ya then, rain or shine. 06/04/2014

Not the road again. 06/06/2014


Yes, Willie Nelson said it in song and so begins our first road trip to Kemptville, Ontario demain. We will perform and enjoy ourselves and eat a little and chat a little. For those of you who are into having a wonderful evening of good food, ambience and music, come on by. We'll hit you up for 8 little dollars at the door and try our darndest to sell you our new album...just being honest here. Hope to see you there.
P.S. The radio show was a hoot, aside from trying to get there without losing our minds in traffic. Thanks to Gerry, who by the way owns a beautiful Gibson acoustic that I covet, very muchly.

McGill radio 90.3 fm. 05/06/2014


Our Goodfriend, Gerry Goodfriend is kind enough for the second time to invite us onto his morning, weekly radio show Folk Directions. Actually, we harassed him incessantly to let us on but that's not important. Exciting nonetheless, a live performance with some casual banter back and forth. Fun,  , fun. 

Our new album is in. 07/05/2014


Yes folks, as of today we received a shipment of boxes containing a huge amount of CD's which we hope to sell to you. For 15$ you can own an audio and visual representation of love, sweat, tears, frustration, creativity, passion and most of all us. Be forewarned all you die hard folky's out there, that this is truly a stew of songs from all genres except rap, metal, hokey country, classical or meditation music. No offense to any of those styles but it just ain't our bag. So please open up the coffers and support live music and true honest, unadulterated not overly processed and tweaked music. You'll be the better for it.

Jim's house concert. 13/05/2014


Last night Drummer Jim hosted what will be the first of a series of House Concerts. The Bros. Landreth, a four piece band from Winnipeg, which we met at last years OCFF, performed a spectacular set for 30 people in an intimate home setting. We wish the Bros. Landreth much success. 
 
 

Coffee & practice. 28/08/2014


Every now and then we head over to the cafe Namasthe in downtown Ormstown to practice and enjoy a
good cup of Java, it's where it all started for us. Kevin and I, then Carl, then Dave, then Jim. Every time we're there it reminds me of our first times playing together, three years ago now.

 

Hats off to the Echo Hunters. 22/04/2014


Although they didn't make it to the number one spot in the CBC searchlight they still made the top 10 and that in itself is a great achievement. Congrats guys, you're number two in our hearts as we have to put DCP first just out of principal. 
 

Summertime & the living is easy


Yes, summer is fast approaching and that means shows and festivals for us. We're working hard to bring two albums alive and to put out a fresh sound to our listeners. I don't think we can say the living is easy as the music industry is by no means an easy one, but we love what we do. And really, writing, recording and performing music is all about love, the love of music.  18/04/2014

You win some, you lose some


Onward and upward as Jim always says. 
Again, thanks to all who voted for us at the CBC searchlight 2014 contest, we appreciate the support.
 

Chewing nails. 12/04/2014

Saturday, April 12th, 2014
Chewing nails
Well, tomorrow is the day we find out whether we got through to the next round in the CBC searchlight contest. It's a nail biter for sure. Stay tuned for an update on our homepage regarding our placement, and on behalf of the band...a big thanks and please don't forget to vote each day. Cheers.


Thursday, April 10th, 2014
New Orleans for 1, reality for the rest
 
As Dave enjoys a well deserved life of leisure in the wonderful city of N'Orlans, Louisianna with his belle Mary (lucky sucker!). The rest of us are practicing at Jim's awesome log cabin home working on our new tunes and getting ready for our first of many shows. We miss him, that Davey boy and his Texas slinger like guitar playing.

Monday April 7th, 2014
Searchlight continues
posted by Neil
As fun as the CBC Searchlight contest can be it's also a little nerve racking. It's impossible to tell how well you're doing and you can only hope you have enough loyal voters who are willing to check in each day to vote for you. Regardless of what happens though, it's good exposure and allows some musical comradery amongst the artists, and is a great way to recognize and appreciate all the great talent Canada has out there that we would otherwise not know about. So we forge ahead folks...with a smile and fingers crossed.
 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Bye, bye Groove shack
Posted by Neil

After a good while of being shacked up in the shack, we're finally holding a mastered copy of our 2nd album 'Chikkaboodah Stew' (that's the final spelling). We had some good times recording, but it all goes by so fast. Now we're in the process of completing the artwork and visuals for the album design with Christina our design illustrator. Soon it will all be sent off to make into CD's and then it's onto shows and shameless self promotion. So hold onto your hats, for all of you who enjoyed our first CD, all I can say is this is album is different...in a real good way! Please check out our 'Gigs' section where you'll find our calendar of upcoming shows. We hope to see you soon. DCP

P.S. www.durhamcountypoets.com is now affiliated with Bandzoogle. A big thanks to Dave Cool and the gang (no pun intended) at Bandzoogle for helping us set up the site, you da bomb!!!


Saturday January 18, 2014

The fabled Black Sheep Inn

Well, after months and months of emails phone calls, we finally got a gig at the fabled Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield Quebec. It felt a little bit like a rite of passage somehow.

We opened for a band called “the Ohm”. I think we passed the audition cause we’ve got a return engagement in June (Yay!) and we’ll be launching our second C.D. “Chikaboudda” (not sure bout the spelling yet). On Monday we’re back at the Groove Shack finishing solos and harmonies and such. We are trembling with anticipation at its completion. Well maybe not “trembling” but really excited. 


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Liberation in Wakefield

Posted by Carl  | 

A funny thing happened on my way to the gig. Actually, it wasn’t funny at the time but here it goes. The Durham County Poets booked a double bill at Kaffe 1870 in Wakefield Quebec with the Echo Hunters. To save on gas, us Poets piled in to Kevin’s van, equipment and all. Jim was driving and Neil and I shared the back seat. Where I was sitting, the neck and headstock of my upright bass was leaning on a kind of shelf on my left. It kept falling on me, so I decided to try and remedy the situation by extending the seatbelt that was there as much as I could and wrapped it around the neck of the bass many times and then feed the seatbelt back into it’s spool. This worked well. I felt proud of my ingenuity. I rode out the rest of the trip with no more knocks from my bass. We got to the venue and offloaded most of the stuff and the bass was the last thing to come out. I pulled on the seat belt and immediately felt the unmistakable clunk of the belt locking it self. I pulled and pulled and pulled and clunk, clunk, clunk was the result every time. I decided to feed as much slack as I could back into the spool in hopes of relaxing the mechanism enough to unfurl the belt. With no slack left I gently pulled and felt a gentle clunk. I had rendered the situation worse. Pull,.. clunk, pull,.. clunk. PULL, PULL, PULL, CLUNK, CLUNK, CLUNK. …Panic was starting. I sat back and started weighing options. Cut? That must be like $200 bucks. Can’t afford that right? Electric bass? I could play that bass but it would just not be the same. Cut?...no...Maybe?...no! A creeping sense of panic was replaced with despair.

Enter Jim,

As I sat there realizing I was possibly defeated by my own ingenuity (smartassness), Jim took over the attempts at the liberation of the bass. First, he removed the plastic cover over the spool and started probing the thing. I’m not sure but I think it bit him cause when he retrieved his hand, he was wounded with a cut. Undeterred, Jim scanned the belt and removed the cap covering the bolt that fastened a loop through which to belt passes. The bolt was round and had what looked like a torx drive commonly used in cars and such. Anybody got a “torx” set with them? Ha! Ha. I started thinking about what the mechanic’s reaction back would be back in Ormstown when he saw an upright bass hopelessly stuck in the van. Then I started thinking about visegrips and where I might find them in Wakefield.

The triangle,

Jim had recently purchased a classical triangle as an addition to his arsenal of percussion instruments to go “ding” at the appropriate times in our tunes. The triangle came with a little metal striker. Jim had misplaced the striker sometime before leaving for Wakefield and looked around his shop and replaced it with an allen key. As Jim made a mental inventory of tools he might possibly have with him an image of the allen key formed in his mind. There must be at least fifty different sizes of these things. He had just the one, which he had brought and was intended for a different role. My belief in Divine intervention had been waning as of late but when that key fit perfectly in that bolt my faith was restored. The bass was liberated from its constraints and the gig went on. Food, drink and all around good times were the order of the day. Amen.

 

Smile for the camera
Posted by Jim  | 

The allure of magic has entranced many over the centuries and as part of the generations raised by television next door neighbour Sonny Duncan and I were avid followers of The Magic Tom Show. Armed with my collection of empty plastic bubble bath containers (Baba Looey, a sombrero wearing donkey, was my favorite) and Sonny, with his collection of mini-brick chimneys, found ourselves at CFCF12 studios on Ogilvy Avenue for a taping of the show. As a pair of cartoon informed 6 year olds from the suburbs of 1965, we had some idea of the fame that would be bestowed on us by our peers (mainly by Gordie Bailey, the youngest of our little troupe, who could not make the trip that day.) We arrived at the studio with that potent combination of fear and excitement that awaits those who dare face the spotlight. Time for the show and tell segment where Magic Tom leans in and asks his guest what he has in the Steinberg’s shopping bag. Here’s my chance to show the world what a boy of taste and distinction collects. Out comes Baba Looey. Cue the giant camera zooming in for a close-up. Not having much media savvy (at that time media barely warranted a plural designation) I managed the widest grin possible (this was a giant camera after all) and the most articulate “cheese” I could muster. Many years passed before I understood why Magic Tom chose the alternative taping of the etch-a-sketch master and penny collector over the obvious appeal of Baba Looey and mini-brick chimneys.

  Fast forward to now. The Poets rendezvous for an interview with the lovely and talented Christine Long of C.T.V. at the Divan Orange, a show bar on Rue St. Laurent, where the Poets are sharing the stage with the Bombadils (real magic here) on the 26 of March. Ms. Long leans in to ask what sort of instruments this percussionist uses. Cue the zoom in of the giant camera and in spite of past experience (or because of it) the dreaded grin finds its way onto my face once more. I could hear the ghost of Magic Tom Auburn chuckling in the distance…

 

Poets on the loose in Ottawa

 Our next stop was the Mussee des Civilizations where surely we would find someone to trade verse or bawdy rhymes .The first exposure to what’s in store for the curious visitor are the full size many centuries old totems where whispered implications seam to grow the longer you stand in their presence. We continued on to the Vodun or Voodoo exhibition, a darkly lit way in to another world that confounded and compelled in equal measure. Then the zombies attack! (Not real zombies, only a really life-like prop that fell on Kevin that Jim the drum man knocked over, as he tried to play a huge, off limits drum. It was then that Kevin screamed “Zombies!”)  After a hasty evacuation from the museum of the faint of heart, our heroes found themselves progressing through exhibits showing various stages of  exploitation of natural resources that our country is at times, all too effective.

 Time for some fresh air, Jim the drum man strolled towards the breathtaking view of the river framed by the stately parliament buildings above, and remarked to a passing stranger that civilization has it’s cost, but for the price of a movie, ours does well to promote a place that seeks to examine what it means to be civilized. This to, is where the river flows…

 

Competition? What competition.

I had a long-standing argument with a friend that music is art and not a competition. Music is not the Olympics, I would say. Turns out, I was wrong. While tidying up the Groove Shack (scene of the crime, our recording cave) I had CBC on the radio and a contest called “Searchlight” was announced. It is CBC’s way of promoting new artists. I have never entered a music competition in my life but I was intrigued. After consulting with the Poets, it was decided we would enter “Field of Briars” just for fun. The idea of the contest is to have your friends, family, fans, basically everyone you’ve ever met vote online for your song. Instead of voting your band off the island, you’re voting to keep your band on the island. Until there’s one band left. Ta-Da! The winner. We were shocked to find that in the Montreal area, there were 144 entries. This is before you go up against the rest of the country in the “nationals”. We figured, hey you never know eh? So, we started our campaign with vigor and enthusiasm and after the first week, we found ourselves in Montreal’s top 20. We were surprised and suddenly made conscious that maybe, just maybe we could end up going somewhere with this. With renewed energy, we continued our Facebook and emailing campaign. It worked! We made it to the top 5 in Montreal. We started entertaining thoughts of victory. So again we hit our computers running and four days later on my way to a gig, my ears glued to the radio, the CBC announcer was broadcasting from in front of the Divan Orange where one of our competitors would be performing that night. Oh no! Why else would he be announcing from that location? My heart sank as I heard squeals of delight coming from the girls in the band who had just won. I guess we let ourselves be infected with hope and expectations and now were feeling despair. Dealing with disappointment and rejection is a hard lesson to learn and is one that should be mastered if we are to be artists. On the bright side, we made it all the way to the top 5 and that in itself is great. We learned that we have a lot of people behind us and it gave us the shot in the arm we needed. So we decided to set a date for CD number two. As Jim likes to say, the beat goes on…

 

The Montreal Launch

Our Montreal launch was successful. We didn’t get any parking tickets and everybody had fun. We were introduced by Larry Cassini of Hollar Productions and guitarist and producer of The Echo Hunter’s. John McColgan, our producer performed with us. Katie, our #1 fan ran the merch table and Sherri put out the food which was halfway gobbled up by the zombie-like-grumpy-old-men regulars who hang out at the Inspecteur Épingle. The place has a really nice stage, good lighting, and sound. A lot of musicians showed up to support us. There was generally a good vibe to the whole evening. We will book a show at a bigger venue this winter. Stay tuned…

 

Pilgrimage to the CBC

One of the things on my bucket list is to have music that I helped create be aired on the CBC. I love the ceb. I’m a huge fan. Getting onto the CBC parking lot is like gaining access to Fort Knox. There is a story I heard about two guys in a truck who just showed up there and with moving equipment in hand, walked in and simply moved a Steinway grand piano into their truck. I’m told this is why CBC has security that rivals The Louvre. We got to the gate and stated our names and were granted admission to the vast parking lot. Once in the building, we had to find Sonali Karnick, our host. The CBC building is like a city onto itself. I’ve never been the Vatican but I imagine it somewhat like this. The first floor is set up like a shopping mall with shops and you can see shows being broadcast through plate-glass windows and a massive cafeteria that seems to have higher and higher levels of dinning choices. We found an information desk and were directed to a much bigger security desk manned by a friendly fellow who called his colleague in the parking lot and gave access to Neil. The security area is not unlike what you might find in an airport. If you clear this hurdle, you can go on the escalators that take you up to the higher levels of the building that probably are occupied by the CBC gods. We were told to wait in the cafeteria. We sat around drinking coffee and shooting the breeze for while, as we were early for our interview. Jim saw Sonalie and called to her and there she was. The lovely Sonali Karnick in person! Jim and I are big fans and were starstruck. She is just as she appears to be on radio friendly, quick witted and fun to hangout with. She and Jill, her producer, brought us to their studio and the interview went as smooth as silk. It was a good day for the Poets (except for the ticket part).

 

The Poets Get a Parking Ticket

If there’s one thing I hate in this world, it’s getting a parking ticket. Here’s what happened.

On Thursday morning, the “Vanaction” (Kevin’s ride) showed up at my door at 7:30 AM with Jim in the driver’s seat. It was the day of our radio interviews. Kevin figured we should allow for a two-hour commute to Montreal. I, being more of an optimist when estimating travel time, would have preferred more time in bed and less than on the road. But Kevin was right! It took us almost two hours to get to CKUT. We offloaded the instruments at the door and now had to find parking. Successful parking in the McGill ghetto is a challenge surpassed only by accomplishments like climbing Mount Everest, getting a Nobel peace prize or even winning the lottery. I started my parking space hunt by cruising up and down every street in the ghetto, going further and further from the station and landed up on Park avenue a good 15 minute walk back to the station.

I can understand the sense of panic that might ebb it’s way into your mind as you are trying to find a legal parking spot with your radio interview only minutes away. I can understand how desperation can warp one’s perception of reality and make a man believe he has found a good spot. Like someone lost in the desert may see a mirage of an oasis. Such is what happened to David. On the other hand, Neil, kept things much more simple. He just parked his car in a spot reserved for medical vehicles. Why didn’t I think of that! We played our tunes and did the interview which went well and headed back to our cars so we could get ourselves to our CBC interview. David and I walked and got to his car and of course, there on his windshield, like a scull and cross bone flag on a pirate ship, was a ticket. Quel horreur! Did Neil get a ticket? Did they tow away his car?... No, of course not! As they say, “go big or go home”.

 

2 Gigs

Well, It’s been busy week. On Thursday we played at Via del Mondo restaurant in Chateauguay. We thought we should get there early just in case. The stage was still being built when we showed up for sound check - talk about last minute eh? The guy building the stage was a little stressed. We couldn’t make our soundboard work with the guy’s equipment because of non-compatible wires so he frantically plugged all kinds of stuff until he could determine that he wouldn’t be blamed for anything. Once he got a microphone working he started saying “eh!...eh!…eh!” in the mic really loudly. Most people say “check 1 2 check 1 2” ... He figured his stuff was working and relaxed a little and launched into “Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen. Welcome to blah…blah…blah” He then told us he does an Elvis show and plays keyboards and if we ever needed piano or drums or whatever he could do it for us. He left. But our board still wasn’t working so now we had to figure out how to make all this work somehow. Neil managed to MacGyver up the system and we went “check 12..check 1 2..” and everything was hunky dory. It turned out to be a really good evening. The place filled up and we all had a good time. The boss was happy and booked more gigs.

16 hours later…

I was hauling my bass up the stairs of the Industrial Building at the Ormstown Fair Grounds for the Branches & Roots Festival. The building is a work of art in itself.  It has a rare “trussless roof” and was probably built in the 1930’s and has not changed since except for the stage, which was added by a film production and made to match the period décor. The stage must have been 24 x 24 feet - big enough to an RCMP equestrian show. We were scheduled as the second act of the evening. The band was in top form and we were given a standing ovation which I was oblivious to cause I was trying to get my stuff offstage as fast as possible. Next time, I’ll stop to smell the roses. We felt really good after the show. Our Montreal launch is our next thing - so we’ve got work to do. Stay tuned…

 

The Poets Go Back to High School (for an afternoon)

I must say playing with the Poets has been a collection of weird and unusual gigs. We’ve played at a garage sale, on the lawn of a restaurant, at a café for the lunch crowd and so on. Who knows maybe we’ll get a gig at the supermarket next. Last Thursday, we played at a kind of 5 à 7 for students at a francophone high school in Huntingdon that was really more of a 3 à 5 inaugurating a little park with a bunch of benches near the entrance. Apple juice was served, music was played, speeches were made and a huge group photo was taken from atop a fire truck ladder erected a hundred feet in the air with the apparently fearless photographer waving to us to say “cheese”. It impressed the hell out of me, as I would have been clinging to ladder with a death grip - you would have needed the “jaws of life” to pry me away from those rungs. Neil couldn’t make the gig so our good friend Pierre Lachance filled in and added a French element to our show by playing “Lesson From Me” with the lyric translated by Pierre. We also played some Robert Charlebois tunes. The kids had a good time and were loaded onto yellow buses and drove off and when the last bus was out of sight, PARTY TIME! The teachers broke out the beer and the band was truck up once again. We played “The Moon Won’t Go Down” and the teachers howled up a storm for that number. It was a nice way to spend one of last days of summer.  A thanks goes to the great staff at Arthur-Pigeon.

 

The Raven and the Crows

One of the things I love about living in the country is observing nature. Every now and then I am blessed with wild animal sightings. Fox, eagles, owls, rabbits, deer and one time, a porcupine scratching at my back door. Early last spring I heard the unmistakable croak of a raven that was being chased by a bunch of pissed off crows. An aerial battle for territory I suppose. On time at a rehearsal at the Groove Shack, I saw about twenty-five crows hanging out in the massive maple tree outside my house. I said, “They look like a biker gang up to no good” and Jim said “that’s called a murder of crows” and so, the second verse of “Someday” (on next our album) was born. A few days into the recording sessions for our album I went for a bathroom break and out the window I saw the raven gliding above the river. A solitary crow dove down to intercept the raven from behind. Just as the crow was about to strike, the raven flipped over and flying upside down, presented his talons to the crow that immediately backed off. It was one of the coolest displays of aerial acrobatics I’ve ever seen.

A week ago, I took Penny (the wonder dog) out for her early morning pee and from the maple tree I heard “Bark, bark, bark” it was the raven imitating the sound of a dog. He did it over and over again. I’ve heard stories of ravens doing this at the Tower of London but here it was happening right here in my front yard. Cool eh?

 

The Hemmingford Garage Sale Extravaganza

We didn’t have a gig this weekend so we made our own guerrilla gig in Hemmingford. Neil and I piled into Kevin’s van (the “Vanaction” as we like to call it) cause we had our upcoming video shoot to plan. Hemmingford was packed with cars and people checking out the biggest community garage sale I’ve ever seen. There was a kind of circus atmosphere about it I would say. We setup across from the pub (great spot) and played a set sans mics or amps. We sold a bunch of cds and took the proceeds to the pub and blew most of our earnings on some pints. It was a pleasant mini adventure and a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. This week, we have an afternoon gig at a nearby francophone high school. It’ll be a kind of 5 à 7 for the students who will be inaugurating some sort of park but it’ll be more of a 3 à 4. We’ll be performing “Lessons from Me” en français for the first time with our good friend Pierre Lachance on vocals.

 

David's Surprise

The morning after the Fair, David got up early as he usually does and got into his car, turned the key. The radio was tuned to CBC like usual and he heard the last few bars of “Devil You Know”. A song he wrote on our album. How about that!

 

The Adventures of Penny the Wonderdog

Penny (the wonder dog) who sneaked her way on to our album cover had a close call while I was at the fair. Sherri took her out for a pee outside armed with treats to reward and celebrate the anticipated accomplishment of Penny’s mission. After 10 minutes of Penny running around sniffing stuff in the front field, there was no sign of Penny doing her duty. Sherri decided to go back inside the house still clutching the aforementioned treats. She (Sherri) put the treats down on the table and retrieved her bottle of allergy pills as her allergies where acting up. That’s when she heard Penny at the door. She opened and immediately gave Penny what she thought was a dog treat still in her hand. Of course, Penny gladly accepted the offer. Instantly, Sherri realized she had just fed Penny an allergy pill. She yelled “Nooooo!” and Penny looked guilty and crawled under a chair. Completely convinced she had just poisoned the new love of her life, panic began to set in. What to do! This was of course, on a Sunday. The veterinarians would all be enjoying a day off. She decided to call our long time friend and vet, Dr. Bill. The answering machine said “our offices are closed right now…blah, blah, blah” when Dr. Bill’s came on and said “hello”. Bordering on hysteria, Sherri went on about how she had mistakenly given Penny an allergy pill. Dr. Bill said “was it the drowsy kind or the non-drowsy kind?” Sherri said she wasn’t sure and Dr. Bill said “Looks like you’re going to a hyper dog on your hands or if it’s the other way, don’t let her drive or operate heavy machinery… she’ll be fine.” Sherri had to muster up a bit of courage to tell me this after I got home. I laughed my head off!

 

Havelock Fair

Yesterday, we played at the Havelock Fair. It is Quebec’s oldest as the first one was in 1871. It is a traditional country fair with no amusement rides but more like potato sack races and various exhibitions representing old fashioned farm life. We were well received by the people there and sold some cd’s. The gig was at 12:00 PM which was kind of rough for me having played a bar gig the night before. We are conspiring to do a guerrilla gig at Finnigan’s market In Hudson, Quebec soon. They’ll never know what hit em’. Ha!
 

Rockburn Pub

Today we played at the pub in Rockburn which is just shy of the US border in southern Quebec. It’s a kind of Mecca for motorcycle people. There are beautiful country roads and spectacular views. We played on the grass outside amongst the people relaxing in the adirondack chairs. We were really well received and sold a bunch of CD’s. We were drowned out by the occasional flock of Harleys but all in all it was a grand afternoon. We had done a guerrilla gig there the week earlier with no mics or amps. What’s a guerrilla gig? It’s when a band just shows up at a particular place and just plays acoustic unscheduled gig. It’s really fun. We’re planning more.