THIS WEEK        ARCHIVES: 1 2  3 45


All photos by Beth (unless I'm in them!)


David driving through Cape Breton

Our wonderful host, Jean and David

View of St. John's from Signal Hill

Dave, David and Geoff at Green Sleeves

Tout la gang, Cape Spear. Beth, David, Dave, David, Maria and Geoff

Dave is Easternmost!

Sheila Copps and David

Cook at Avalon Ford and David

Beth on the Smallwood




Last call for the St. John's Train…….unfortunately. Otherwise, we would have been on it. We drove instead to the Far East, through Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, up to Cape Breton. A beautiful drive in the false spring. We arrived at North Sydney in time to wander around before the ferry departed for Port Aux Basque at midnight. It was good to be at the seaside again. Beth got a photograph of our favorite sign in town. It belonged to a hair styling salon called "Curl Up and Dye".

We embarked at 9:30 pm, aboard the Lief Erikson, bound for Newfoundland. It was thrilling to contemplate the voyage, the midnight passage. The wind picked up and the ship was steaming quickly out of the harbour mouth into a very black void. We watched the lights of North Sydney fall behind us then retired to our cabin for some sleep. There by the grace of St. Gravol went I.

It was dawn in the rest of Canada, half past dawn in Newfoundland. Our first sight of the island was wonderful, the clapboard houses, brightly painted, perched on the bare rock at the water's edge. It was unlike anywhere else I have ever been, more like visiting another country.

There followed a ten-hour cross-island drive under a bright sun in a clear blue sky. We passed through the various landscapes, their diversity remarkable. At one point I was reminded of the valleys in the Rockies, at another the Canadian Shield in Ontario.
There were many "Moose for the next 20Km " signs. One at Port Aux Basque reading "Moose for the next 1000 km" would have sufficed. The road was great.
We arrived in St. Johns at five.

St. John's

Words completely fail me. All I can say is go and see it for yourself. You'll likely feel as I did. Jean Hewson, who along with Christina Smith produced the beautiful CD "Like Ducks", was our host for the weekend, and as usual there was a period of adjustment upon meeting. It lasted about 30 seconds and then we were sitting in Jean's kitchen drinking tea and trading stories. Its rare to meet someone you like that much that quickly, but there you have it. She and Bill could not have made us feel more welcome. Likely, you've seen pictures of St. Johns, as I had, but nothing prepared me for the beauty and uniqueness of the city. The colours and style of the houses, the perfection of the harbour, the surrounding hills were all intensely moving. It was a place to feel at home in, but at the same time a place of splendid originality. Music was every where, the city itself wed to the harbour and its comings and goings.

Dave Clarke and Geoff Somers arrived by air on the Friday, and we toured the sights. Signal Hill was particularly beautiful. We were joined by Maria Dunn and David Ward (Lonesome and Then Some) for that trip. Rumour had it that icebergs had been spotted in Logy's Bay, just up the road, so off we went. Much singing and an extraordinary number of jokes ensued, although a grand total of no icebergs were spotted. It didn't seem to matter.
That evening we had a cocktail party to attend, with the corresponding free everything, and this was thoroughly enjoyed by all. Eileen McGann and David Kay were there, along with Penny Lang and April Vertch, so we all got caught up on each other's activities and impressions. It was a pleasure to meet up again. That evening the others were gigging in and around George St. I stayed up with Bill and found myself transported into the early days of recorded music, a fascinating and wildly entertaining tour by a true authority on the subject. You never know who you'll meet.

Saturday evening found us all dressed up with somewhere to go. Beth looked absolutely beautiful in her Juno attire. I was very proud to be with her. People were decked to the nines, and it was all very impressive. The ball room where the dinner was held looked like something out of the Oscars, very much the setting for a gala event. Our table was at the front, and all of us who were nominated in the Roots and Traditional category were seated there, with the exception of April, whose family was in attendance. We had a gas to say the least, a strong sense of camaraderie ran between us. It wasn't a case of superficial artifice either, just a mutual recognition of the fact that all of us had worked hard to get there, and all were in with the same shot at winning.
The dinner was totally memorable, as was the entertainment, and our award came up just after dinner. I looked around the table as they began the introductions and was very proud to be included with such fine musicians and people.
The winning of it was a bit of a blur and retains an unreality inherent in the moment. I was, and am, greatly honoured. I had far too many people to thank and so I said as little as possible. It was a wonderful moment.

David's acceptance speach, scribbled on the back of an envelope moments before his category was announced. B.G. For photos check out archive 2

After the awards, we played to a packed and noisy Green Sleeves Pub, where people sang along and we got to sing on Maria Dunn's brilliant song, "Take It Easy On Me". There were the three Davids (Ward, Clarke and Francey) and of course "Davey Boy"" Somers, forming the Dazzle of Daves. A Crowd of Bold Sharemen closed the night in rollickingly splendid fashion, all intense playing and stirring harmonies. They are a must see if ever you get the chance. Spilled onto George St. at 4 AM, into a shoulder to shoulder crowd of incredibly good-natured revelers. Sunrise found most of us still wandering the streets of St. John's and marveling at our good fortune at being there at all. We bid goodnight to Maria and David at the end of Gower Street, on a beautiful spring morning.

Next day we were touring the vicinity again with Dave, Geoff, Maria and David. Our course took us to Cape Spear, the eastern most point in Canada. We were huddled along the fence at the waters edge getting our picture taken when Clarke made the enlightened observation that at that point in time, his were the Eastern - most buttocks in Canada. We could only concur, and be jealous. There was much singing in the car on the way back. Very memorable for me.

I'm sure you saw the Juno Show on the TV, big time and very flashy. Great Big Sea and Nickleback were both excellent, the first time I'd seen either band.

The evening itself was followed by a reception hosted by Sheila Copps. I said hello and thanked her for the soiree, and she proved friendly and interesting. Very pleasant indeed. We left not too late, as we had the 10 hour drive in front of us next day.

Car trouble raised its ugly head the next morning and nine o'clock (our departure time) found us awaiting the bad news at the Avalon Ford dealership. All hail the boys who work there. We were back on the road at Noon, barreling westward to Port Aux Basque, but not before bidding a fond farewell to Jean and Bill. Can't wait to see them in the summer. We met many people in St. Johns that make the prospect of returning a much-anticipated event.

The race to the ferry was just that, but we made it with an hour and a half to spare. Beth and I made our way to the bow of the Joseph and Clara Smallwood for the midnight departure, said a heavy hearted goodbye to Newfoundland then went below to the cabin. We slept the sleep of the truly tired.

The return journey was a delight, playing the splendid CDs of Jim Payne, Fergus O'Byrne, Jean Hewson and Christina Smith and Minnie White. It allowed a part of us to remain on the island even as we drove further to the west and home.
Again, there are too many people to thank for making the trip such an enjoyable time, so I won't begin a list. I would like to say that I may have won the Juno, but everyone who has helped and supported the music along the way has had a hand in it….I'm just the lucky one who gets to keep it and I'm very grateful for that.

PS When we finally arrived home the first thing we saw was a hand-painted banner stretched across our porch. It said " The Paperboy Delivers!! Francey bags the JUNO!" With huge grins we walked into our house only to find more decorations, food, beer, flowers and a beautiful card. Well, that did us in and we both burst into tears! We have had so much support from so many wonderful friends, all I can say is thank you, we love you all!!!

back home

Ferry workers, docking at Port Aux Basque

Gower Street

David and Beth on signal hill

Maria Dunn and a dazzle of Daves "Davey Boy" Somers center

"Take it Easy on Me"

Us at Sheila's reception

Friendly service in St. John's, our van is fixed!

David on the Smallwood