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Photo Beth Girdler
Bill Richardson and David in front of the CBC building in Vancouver

Hullo All,

Greetings from the golden West. Well the trip continues to amuse and amaze. The road between Calgary and Vancouver was a stunner to say the least. It's remarkable what gets forgotten over the years. I managed to forget nearly all of the Rocky Mountains, which is no mean feat in itself. That being said, the feeling of awe they inspire is utterly unforgettable. There we were, scuttling past the feet of these behemoths, feeling our full insignificance hit home. I think it is their immensity and permanence that dwarfs us and our efforts at grandeur and scale. I looked up from the floor of the Yoho Valley at the surrounding mountains and saw them as benign and patient giants, dwarfing cathedral and pyramid alike, massive and timeless. It was a glorious drive through. I won't forget this one. Later that night we arrived in Vancouver and slept very well. We could smell the sea.

The Vancouver Folk Festival was a wonderful time, an astonishing conglomeration of musicians from all over the world. Highlights were many and for my part there were no disappointments. Sharing a workshop with the Jenny Whitely Band is something we all enjoy greatly, excellent songs and straight up players. I saw a traditional African troupe chant and dance their magic through the crowd at one stage, and on another, got to sit next to and sing with Kate Rusby, the English traditional singer. If folk music had highlight reels at the end of the day, that would be my play of the week. Kate has a sweet and heartbreaking voice with accompaniment to match. Nearly moved me to tears. I did actually succumb to the same when the Vancouver and Seattle Labour Choirs joined together and sang an arrangement of Torn Screen Door, late on the Sunday afternoon, with the sky heavy and the rain falling steady. Meeting with many of the choir members afterwards will stay with me for a long time.

All in all, a splendidly run festival powered by the hundreds of volunteers manning the kitchens, garbage, sound stages, gates etc. You realize that a festival on such a scale would be impossible to pull off without their efforts and their unfailing cheerfulness under any and all circumstances is a wonder.

On the Monday following the Festival, I had the opportunity to meet and be interviewed by Bill Richardson, host of Richardson's Roundup, at the CBC building in downtown Vancouver. The building is an edifice that resembled (in grandeur at least) the Orwellian Ministry of Truth, in the novel 1984. Fortunately, Bill Richardson does not in any way shape or form resemble Winston Smith's antagonist O'Brian. In fact, hardly any torture took place. A more pleasant and wittier person you couldn't hope to meet, and his manner and personality was such that one was left with no option but to relax and enjoy the talk. The interview was taped and aired the following afternoon. We had just boarded the Spirit of British Columbia, a beautiful BC super ferry, on our way to Victoria. We wanted to hear the interview but radio reception in the van was non existent. Beth asked the Purser if there was a radio we could listen to, and having mentioned the gist of the problem, we found ourselves on the bridge with the Captain, First Mate and Quartermaster, staring out at the most magnificent view of the Islands and passages imaginable. Watching the crew work was fascinating, all constant vigilance and cool professionalism. Each one in turn took time out to answer our questions and queries, patiently explaining to Colin the steering, navigation and docking procedures, much to his fascination. He was allowed to lay hands on the wheel, thankfully still within the ultimately capable hands of the Quartermaster, but for Colin it was as good as the real thing and I have never seen my son so concentrated on anything, even a video game. He was thrilled beyond measure and I can't thank the crew enough for their kindness. So on that note, we would all like to thank Captain Larry Macham, First Mate Mark Gunn, and Quartermaster Jana Visser for their exceptional courtesy and kindness. They are certainly a credit to their ship and to BC Ferries in general. I don't think it could get better than working on that vessel.

I will write about the Island in the next postcard, as this one has turned into a short novel. Our best to all back home in the Townships and musical friends everywhere. As Dave Clarke said the other day, "Most people complain about being tired, but I'm going to do something about it". Words to live by on this trip.

Yours from the other side of the mountain,


Friday, July 20
The Golden West

David Francey appearing next week:

July 20-22
Islands Folk Festival
Duncan, B.C.

Click here for the complete summer schedule...