April 5 /02

Trip to Jacksonville, photos by Beth

delivery van, North Carolina

real palm trees in Jacksonville

David and James at Folk Alliance

"Winters white is lying still,
Over the fields and the shadowed hills,
And far below the Spring sleeps sound,
In the hardened heart of the frozen ground.
These are the things that greet my eyes,
On the February morning drive."

from February Morning Drive by DF

Hwy 143, Eastern Townships, QC - home again

Hullo All,

Hope this finds you well. Winter is very nearly behind us and spring is very nearly here. A lot of things have happened over the last few months, many of them mundane but a few of which stand out in my memory.

In the recent issue of Penguin Eggs - the essential Canadian Folk Magazine- Far End of Summer was voted Album of the Year. As editor Roddy Campbell once described me, I was "Gobsmacked". What an astonishing honour! Quite apart from all the nice things they say about me in the issue, I'd urge anyone interested in Canadian and World folk and roots music to pick up a copy. It is an excellently compiled magazine, entertaining and widely informative, written in a friendly and down-to-earth manner that carries the reader seamlessly from one article to the next. If you want to know what's happening in folk music, in this country in particular and in the world in general, then I highly recommend you take a look. If you are at all like me you'll be waiting eagerly for the next issue. I even like it when I don't get mentioned - imagine! The folk community owes Mr. Campbell a great debt for his dedication and efforts on our behalf. Have a look and see if you don't agree.

I attended my first Folk Alliance Conference in that hotbed of Folk music, Jacksonville Florida. The leaving and the drive itself spawned a couple of songs as it turned out. The conference was relatively civilized, or so the veteran attendees tell me. I enjoyed myself immensely, an easy thing to do with the likes of the Bill Hilly Band, the Be Good Tanyas and the Wailing Jennys around. I managed to meet up again with Mr. Keelaghan and as always he proved excellent company. He performed some new songs from his most recent CD "Home", a beautiful and haunting piece of work, a different facet of which seems to shine out at each listening. Stonecutters and October 70 are current favorites, subject to the next listening of course.

I had a new musical experience on the weekend just past. It took place in Kingston Ontario and involved 94 or so other performers. In case you are imagining David Francey and his Extraordinarily Large Band, a la Lyle Lovett, I should rush to clarify. Dave Clarke and I had the honour of singing and playing with the Open Voices Community Choir directed by Andy Rush, in concert at McArthur Auditorium on the Queens University campus. I'm convinced Andy is really pure energy that occasionally takes the form of a man. I'm at a loss to think of any other individual I have met who can impart such an intense sense of purpose and joy in what they are involved in.This man had, during a period of 12 weekly rehearsals, taken a group of enthusiastic singers and molded them into a splendid choral group. I have always enjoyed choral music, especially live, and I have to say I was firmly taken aback by the power and joy that was so evident on the evening. Our brief rehearsal in the afternoon with the members who could make it was merely an enjoyable foretaste of the evening performance. I am indebted to those choir members who were there,for their patience and encouragement. It was a very foreign situation for me and Andy and the choir were very accommodating. I kept listening to them and forgetting to sing.

Come the evening performance the hall was sold out and, with the full choir in attendance, things could have been completely overwhelming. The evening, however, proved to be one of the most uplifting experiences I've had singing the songs I've written. The beautiful harmonies and the exultant power of massed voices behind me was an intensely rewarding thing. I could have passed a perfect evening just listening to the choir itself. To take part in the performance and to sing with such a welcoming group of people was an honour indeed. Twelve weeks from next week there will be another evening of song in Kingston, and I would encourage all in the area to attend. It is a tribute to Andy Rush's talent and dedication and that of the choir members themselves, that all who were present this time around enjoyed themselves so thoroughly. A personal highlight for me was meeting the members afterwards, and being so warmly accepted by them. Well done, one and all and many many thanks.

I have to head out now, off to Lennoxville to see Don Bray perform at the Church Street Café. If you haven't seen Don then do so at your earliest opportunity. Those who have seen him will understand why I don't want to be late. Don's new CD "Waiting to Arrive" is an outstanding collection of songs, from the pen of a pure poet. The staggering guitar work is almost superfluous …almost. I'm convinced he somehow ended up with all the talent on that instrument that I was supposed to be born with. I wish he'd give it back. I'll ask him about that tonight.

Until next time, take care of yourselves and enjoy the coming Spring, Winter is hanging on like grim death here, but spring is waiting patiently, rubbing its hands for warmth,

Yours from the Eastern Townships,

back home

photo DK Perkins


views from the car window, New York City

Spanish moss

live oaks, Georgia

Beth by the Atlantic, Georgia photo DF

David at the beach, Georgia