Category Archives: People

Farmer The Band Visits The Barn

This Saturday, June 23rd, catch an early show at The Barn in Meaford featuring Farmer The Band.  This duo plays original folk roots music with a multi-instrumental approach that they call a “two-person-one-man-band” to give a full sound without the aid of looping.  From Southern B.C., they are in the midst of a cross-Canada tour and have added a stop in Meaford primarily because they are intrigued at the idea of playing a venue called The Barn, given that they are called Farmer The Band.  In order to play here, they will be coming straight from an afternoon concert in Waterdown to be ready for a 7 p.m. start at The Barn.

The duo, consisting of husband and wife Glen and Lourine Koide, originally came together after meeting at an open mic.  They chose their unusual name because their mission is to bring communities together the way that farmers do.  Their music is greatly inspired by what they hear of CBC Radio Two, in particular Canadian musicians like Joel Plaskett, Danny Michel, Bahamas, Del Barber, and Amelia Curran. They call it “roots Canadiana”.

Although they started off with just voices and acoustic guitar, they wanted more of a full band sound and they have added instruments as they went along, until now you might hear the two of them playing as many of seven instruments at one time, including kick drum, snare, trumpet, tambourine, hi-hat and harmonica.  The only thing holding them back from adding more is the limitation of their four arms and legs.  Their cross country tours stop at small venues that allow them a direct connection with their audience.

Here are some snippets of their endless Canadian odyssey.

Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door.

Signing Off

Well, I’m winding down this site.  I just don’t have the time to keep up with it.

I see that even though my posts have become less frequent a lot of people still check it out every day and I appreciate that.  I especially appreciate Gillian Gillian who regularly sends comments.  I was going to write up a retrospective guiding you to some of my favourite articles from the past two years (this is post #399) but I haven’t found the time to do that.  The site will still be up for a few more weeks but it will be static;  If you want to revisit some of the articles you can use the search engine.  They cover a lot of ground.

In the two years of writing this I’ve discovered that there is a great wealth of talent in our area.  I hope that you will continue to get out and support them.

If you like my writing you will still find an article of mine in The Meaford Independent once a week.

On Sunday evening July 15th I’ll be playing a concert for Friends of The Meaford Library down at the Rotary Pavilion in Meaford Harbour.  I do that every year and I enjoy the chance to fill an evening with my original songs and stories, so mark your calendar and come by to say hello.  I’m a compulsive story teller, so you’ll also catch me with a new tale to tell at Diana Young’s next Story Slam, happening at Crow Bar and Variety on July 10th (with special musical guest Michael O’Connell).  Hope to see you there.

See ya!



Steve Dickinson’s Songs and Stories For A Saturday Night

Review of concert at Massie Hall, May 19, 2018, by Bill Monahan

This past Saturday, Massie Hall presented Steve Dickinson in concert as part of this year’s concert series.  Steve had been the first performer presented at Massie Hall thirteen years ago when a local group of volunteers had bought the historic school house to turn it into a community centre and Pete Miller initiated the tradition of summer concerts.  Last year Steve performed here as a kind of homecoming after several years of international adventures in the music business.  His return on Saturday night brought out an audience which included some die-hard fans who have all his albums.

Presenter Ralph Bergman introduced him as “a local legend”.  Despite a quiet humility, his talent lived up to that billing with engaging songs and a one-in-a-million voice.

After a few opening songs that reached far back into his past, including “Marlowe Lindsay”, an evocative look at mortality, Steve did a medley of Bob Segar songs.  It was fitting because his vocal similarity to Segar had taken him far afield, sharing the stage with bands like Boston and being included on a compilation album alongside legends that included Elton John and Rod Stewart.  The short Segar medley kicked it up a notch and the original songs that followed burned with intensity.

He introduced one song, “Summer Rain,” from his 2002 album called “Good Old Days”, saying, “I thought this was going to be a million seller.  Instead I had to get a bigger house to keep a million of them in my basement.”  It was ironic because the song really does sound like it should have been a huge hit, with all the touchstones of timeless classic rock.  Another irony is that Steve at one time played with members of Kid Rock’s band and “Summer Rain” sounds perfectly suited for that artist.

If it hasn’t become the radio staple that it deserves to be, you can still download and enjoy both the album and the song from iTunes, CD Baby or Spotify.  His music ages well and any of his albums if well worth an addition to your playlist.

Over the years Steve Dickinson has been backed up by the best.  When he started, some of the best local musicians played with him and since then he’s been backed by members of the bands of Bob Segar, Eric Clapton and Kid Rock.  He’s been produced by the talented Rick Hutt and co-written with artists like Dean McTaggart.  He’s had more than one ride of the roller coaster of music business success.

With all of this history lending a superstar legitimacy to his music he proved on Saturday night that he is, as Ralph Bergman quoted Trevor Mackenzie as saying, “a complete show all on his own.”  With just his voice, guitar and occasionally harmonica, he held the audience in his hands, hanging on every word even as he unravelled fairly lengthy anecdotes between songs.  And he was called back for an encore, for which he performed one of his airplay successes, “Ten Summers Past”.

And with that the concert was over all too soon.

Saturday night’s concert was one of a series of impressive shows lined up this summer at Massie Hall.  A small unassuming venue seemingly miles from anywhere, it is a real find for local music fans.

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The Ezra Duo Brings The Work of Pioneering Women Composers To Meaford

by Bill Monahan

This Sunday, May 20th, Meaford will be treated to a recital of classical music by The Ezra Duo, starting at 4 pm at Christ Church Anglican on Boucher St.  This is the second in a series of concerts held at the church to help raise funds for the maintenance of their pipe organ.  The first concert in May, featuring the jazz stylings of the Patricia Wheeler Quartet, was a great success with a full house and standing ovations.

The Ezra Duo is a young pair of classical musicians who came together at the Glenn Gould School in 2016 and has since performed at Carnegie Hall in New York and won several awards including the Golden Classical Music AwardsJacob Clewell plays viola and Sasha Bult-Ito is on the piano.  The recital on Sunday will include sonatas by Brahms and Shubert but in addition they will be performing works by two pioneering 20th century female composers, Rebecca Clarke and Jean Coulthard.

British-born composer Rebecca Clarke’s Sonata for Viola and Piano has been called one of the greatest works of the 20th century.  It is the highlight of a frustratingly small body of work by the composer who faced a lifelong upstream struggle for recognition primarily because she was a woman.  While it caused a sensation when it appeared in 1919 the Sonata gradually faded from public knowledge as the composer lived out her life as a housewife, but has enjoyed acclaim since its rediscovery in 1976 and has since become one of the most frequently performed large works for viola and piano.

Violist Jennifer Strumm, who performed the piece on International Women’s Day last year, explained why.

“Rebecca Clarke re-established the instrument as something that could be soft and feminine and wild and powerful and much more like a jazz singer,” she said, “Every time I go on stage and play this sonata, I know in a way that I’ve got this, because it’s got this incredibly powerful opening and you just own the stage. It’s so not what people expect from a viola sonata and I love that. For the viola it’s a hugely important piece. She envisioned a different kind of viola, one that wasn’t pigeon-holed into any one idea. She was writing with this incredible fascination for colour and every possibility of the instrument.”

Jean Coulthard, born in Vancouver in 1908, was able to enjoy much more extended success as a composer as well as a respected educator,  Her musical ambitions were encouraged by her family and she attended London’s  Royal College of Music in the late 1920’s to study for a year with Ralph Vaughan Williams.  During the depression years, she associated with the likes of Aaron Copland, Arnold Schoenberg, and Béla Bartók.  In 1947, she began a 26-year-long career teaching theory and composition in the Department of Music at the University of British Columbia.

While she too was often marginalized by male American and Canadian colleagues and was at one point considered out of touch by the new music establishment, by the end of the century her work was recognized for its integrity, purity of expression and deeply emotional language.  Part of her legacy includes generations of students who have helped to shape the national musical arts in Canada from the late 1960s onward.  In 1978 she was awarded the Order of Canada.  In 1990, Maclean’s magazine named her to its Honour Roll, and quoted Mavor Moore, former chair of the Canada Council, who praised Coulthard as “an extraordinarily original composer, with a voice very much her own.”

The Ezra Duo will perform her Sonata Rhapsody, for viola and piano, composed in 1962.

While The Historical Leith Church, ostensibly the centre of live classical music in our area, is by definition within the Municipality of Meaford, this concert is a rare opportunity to hear a classical recital in downtown Meaford.  That combined with the opportunity to hear sonatas performed by women composers makes this a special treat for fans of romantic classical music.

The concert at Christ Church Anglican starts at 4 pm and will include an intermission.  Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for students.

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