July, 2003

Canso: Stan Rogers Festival.

This year we were invited to perform at this unique festival on the very edge of the continent. Beth, Colin and I drove down east from Ayer's Cliff, picking Dave and Geoff up at Halifax airport.

We drove from there to Bridgewater NS and a concert at Italy Cross Fire Hall, for Karen Reinhardt and Seaside Folk. The weather was extraordinarily warm and the hall was packed. I was thinking if we were all to fall victim to Spontaneous Human Combustion we were in the right place. The spontaneity was present in the singing and laughter that continued throughout the evening. It was a wonderful place to meet people and I appreciated all of those who drove so far to see us. It was a memorable concert for us, and we were all happy we had met up with Karen at the Lunenburg Festival the previous summer. Many thanks to all who helped pull it together.

We drove the next day to Canso, with a side trip to Peggy's Cove, a place Beth and Colin had never seen. I hadn't been back since I had hitchhiked there as a teenager. My friend and constant traveling companion, Derek Cooke and I had unrolled our sleeping bags on a patch of grass, a hundred yards from the lighthouse. We woke in the morning to the sound of cameras clicking wildly and the excited chatter of a busload of Japanese tourists. Unbeknownst to us we had become a tourist attraction overnight. Colin and I had our picture taken at the spot. The memory was so clear, it seemed impossible that all that time had elapsed.

The road to Canso is a long and winding one, hugging the ocean, affording a new view of the coastline with every turn. Many of the place names mentioned in the songs of Stan Rogers appear on the signposts, and it is obvious why this place held such sway with him. It is a lonely and beautiful part of the country, and past Canso lays the vastness of the Atlantic. The area is often cold and foggy apparently, but for our entire stay the weather was sunny and warm. The fog in the evening only added to the impression of being at the end of the road, on the edge of the known.

Stanfest itself was something of a miracle really. The drive terminated at a park in the middle of Canso, an incongruous stage looming out of the dusk and the fog, surrounded by the workshop tents and an endless procession of concert goers.

We were billeted with Doug and Tim Anderson, in a house built by Doug's great grandfather. The house reflected the depth of the family's roots in the area, a monument to their perseverance. Of course the legendary eastern hospitality was evident in all their kindness to us, to the extent that we were treated to fresh Atlantic crab, caught hundreds of miles off shore by fishermen friends of Doug. It was a wonderful treat.

Dave, Tim, David, Doug and Geoff

The music and lineup were wonderful as well, and the number of people who make the trip was astonishing. We enjoyed all our workshops and main stage, meeting up with friends old and new. A highlight was catching the evening performance of Garnet Rogers on the main stage, his first visit to the festival that bears his brothers name. It was apparent watching him that he is his own man in every sense, and it was a powerful musical moment. As much as the festival is built around the memory of one man, it does indeed celebrate the singer songwriter, and the community that music itself creates.

Harry Manx, Jeremy Penner, Adrian Dolan, Garnet Rogers, Marc Atkinson, Chris Fry, Glen Manders and David (Dave and Geoff just out of sight) at "Oh Canada"

We would like to thank Troy Greencorn and the crew of volunteers for putting together such a unique and welcoming festival. It was a treat to attend and a fine testament to its namesake.

Dave, David and Geoff, main stage Sunday night

back home

Photos by Beth

Canso sky

Geoff, Karen, David and Dave, Italy Cross

Colin on the very spot! Peggy's Cove

"just caught sight of the Queensport light"

View of the festival looking down at the "Hillside" stage

David makes some new friends

Chuck Brodsky

Greg Brown, Chuck Brodsky and Enoch Kent

Night at Stan Rogers Folk Festival