Welcome to Reid Between the Lines

Jun 14th, 2015 Welcome Message Rob Reid 12 min read

As I was about to enter my 30th year at the Waterloo Region Record, the company floated yet another buyout in a losing campaign to forestall the declining fortunes of daily newspapers. I was counting down the clock to my 64th birthday, and had recently celebrated my two sons’ graduation from university and college, so I was ready to entertain the prospect of early retirement….


Searching for Tom

May 22nd, 2017 Tom Thomson, Visual Arts Rob Reid 19 min read

This is the third in a series of blogs I intend to post throughout 2017 in commemoration not of Thomson’s sad and regrettable death, but of his life and the art it inspired. Please keep an eye out for posting announcements on Twitter.  Tom Thomson disappeared under storm clouds on July 8, 1917. As the story goes, the legendary Canadian artist was last seen alive…


Epistles from the Grave

May 17th, 2017 Tom Thomson, Visual Arts Rob Reid 15 min read

This is the second in a series of blogs I intend to post throughout 2017 in commemoration not of Thomson’s sad and unfortunate death, but of his life and the extraordinary art it inspired. Please keep an eye out for posting announcements on Twitter. One of the most exciting things that ever happened to me as a newspaper reporter for nearly four decades occurred in…


Balm for a Winter’s Sorrow

May 16th, 2017 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 7 min read

For the last five years I shared my life with a lovely woman in a home surrounded by trees. Wherever I sat in her cosy townhouse condo — whether reading, writing or talking over our freshly ground morning coffee or cherished dram of single malt whisky before bedtime — I could see trees out of all the windows. The view offered a sense of deep contentment, a…


Master of Folk

May 2nd, 2017 Music Rob Reid 4 min read

Bill Staines has been my hero since 1977. He carries on where Woody left off — carrying on the tradition of stories and characters you wish you knew.                                                                          —…


Colours in the Key of Tom

Apr 29th, 2017 Music, Theatre, Tom Thomson, Visual Arts Rob Reid 6 min read

This review is the first in a series of blogs I intend to post throughout 2017 in commemoration not of Thomson’s sad and unfortunate death, but of his life and the extraordinary art it inspired. Please keep an eye out for posting announcements on Twitter. (Tom) blazed a trail where others may follow and we will never go back to the old days again.  …


Carving Towards the Light

Apr 13th, 2017 Books & Literature, Visual Arts Rob Reid 9 min read

Wesley Bates is one of my favourite Canadian artists. I’m fond of wood engravings as an artform and I think Bates is one of our most accomplished engravers. The painter/printmaker/book maker and I also share deep appreciation of a handful of writers including Canadians W.O. Mitchell, Timothy Findley and James Reaney, in addition to American agrarian poet/essayist/fiction writer Wendell Berry. Bates kickstarted his commercial career in…


A River Runs Through It Again: the IF4

Apr 12th, 2017 Armchair Fly Angler, Film & Cinema Rob Reid 8 min read

Although he never played the sport, my dad loved baseball. He not only watched it religiously on TV, he coached a very good community industrial fastball team in our hometown of London, Ontario for many years. I was the team’s batboy for a few years while attending senior elementary school. I even got a team jacket commemorating a championship season. I wore it as proudly…


Steel Rail Carrying On

Apr 4th, 2017 Music Rob Reid 3 min read

I was first impressed with Dave Clarke in the spring of 2001 when I saw him in a house concert hosted by Jack and Lori Cole. At the time Jack had founded Old Chestnuts Song Circle but had yet to become artistic director of Folk Night at the Registry, which continues to prosper after 11 seasons. Clarke was in town as backup guitarist for a…


Call of the Canoe

Apr 3rd, 2017 Armchair Fly Angler, Books & Literature, Visual Arts Rob Reid 6 min read

Those who glance at a map of southwestern Ontario might conclude — erroneously as it turns out — that Waterloo Region neither hears nor heeds the call of the canoe. Situated equidistantly between Lake Huron and Lake Erie, the region appears landlocked. Take a closer look and a different topography emerges, as you follow the historic, heritage Grand River and trace its watershed boasting myriad…


Roots Weekend with a Celtic Twist

Mar 14th, 2017 Music Rob Reid 5 min read

The Registry Theatre’s fourth annual Roots Weekend on March 17 and 18 has a Celtic theme in keeping with St. Patrick’s Day. The weekend’s musical festivities boast a Celtic concert, debut concert featuring Lennie Gallant and a pair of workshops. Gallant is a common name on Prince Edward Island, but the musical prowess of Lennie Gallant is unmistakeable. The award-winning singer/songwriter has not performed in…


Guitar Virtuosity from the Soul

Jan 30th, 2017 Music Rob Reid 5 min read

I knew of Tony McManus as one of the world’s premier acoustic, fingerstyle guitarists before he moved to Elora, the village that’s also home to Kevin Breit, another world renown guitarist. After interviewing McManus in advance of occasional area concerts, album releases and annual master guitar workshops conducted in his hometown, I discovered how nice the down-to-earth, transplanted Lowland Scots was as a person. I…


When a Bluejay is More Than a Bluejay

Dec 20th, 2016 Books & Literature, Visual Arts Rob Reid 4 min read

Wildlife art — love it or hate it. It’s black or white; there’s no grey on this paintbrush. The battle line is drawn in indelible ink — the high art pundits and connoisseurs on one side; the general public without specialized training on the other side. It’s an art form that’s evaluated and judged through a narrow lens based on how a commentator interprets familiar…

David Blackwood3

Newfoundland Mythmakers in Word and Image

Dec 19th, 2016 Books & Literature, Visual Arts, Welcome Message Rob Reid 16 min read

I’m fascinated by the rich culture of Newfoundland. I love its music, its literature (poetry and prose as well as drama) and its visual arts. I have yet to visit Canada’s easternmost province; however, I yearn to cast fur and feather at homebound Atlantic salmon, revered as the King of Fish, on one of its beautiful rivers. David French’s Salt-water moon, the third book —…


Artist and Train

Dec 14th, 2016 Visual Arts Rob Reid 13 min read

Alex Colville was one of the Canadian artists I most admired. His unique existential realism appealed to me because of the quality of literary narrative that underlies and informs his work. Whether or not the artist intended, I have never been able to spend time with a Colville drawing, painting or print without trying to piece together the story to which he gave expression through…


Artist Behind the Mask

Dec 8th, 2016 Visual Arts Rob Reid 41 min read

Over three decades as an arts reporter for the Waterloo Region Record I wrote more about Ken Danby than any other artist, with the possible exception of Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven. I visited him at his renovated Armstrong’s Mill home/studio outside of Guelph multiple times. I also visited his wife Gillian on a couple of occasions after her husband’s premature death —…


In Remembrance of Leonard

Nov 11th, 2016 Books & Literature, Music Rob Reid 19 min read

As Canada stands in silence, with her collective head bowed in respect, gratitude, sorrow and remembrance of the fallen on this eleventh day of the eleventh month in 2016, we also bow our heads in remembrance of one of this country’s great artists. Leonard Cohen — who died November 7 in his 83rd year — embodied the heart and soul of Canada like few other artists,…


Reluctant Master of Fur & Feather

Nov 10th, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 11 min read

I joined KW Flyfishers in 2008, a year after I picked up a fly rod for the first time. Like the great Groucho Marx who famously mused, ‘I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member,’ I’m not by nature or temperament a joiner of clubs. Nonetheless, I take deep delight in this particular organization, having served as a…


Passion & Remembrance: Women on the Water

Nov 9th, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 17 min read

With few exceptions, fly fishing has been an Old Boys’ Club. Not any more. Increasingly women are discovering the joys of what is variously referred to as a sport, a pastime, a recreation, a passion, an obsession or even a contemplation (with a nod to Sir Izaak). Before proceeding I’d like to touch on a few of the exceptions to the fly fishing rule. This…


B’tween Earth & Soul

Nov 7th, 2016 Music Rob Reid 10 min read

Safe home, sweet light, no longer of this world On wings, safe and sound are you carried No longer casting shadows, no longer counting days You are love and you are loved always                         — Safe Home, Sweet Light If someone were to ask who’s my favourite male Canadian singer/songwriter, I would not be…


In the Moment – In the Hands

Nov 2nd, 2016 Music Rob Reid 6 min read

I last spoke to Don Ross four years ago when he made his One Night Only debut at the Registry Theatre. His return November 26 (a week after his 56th birthday) to Kitchener’s thriving performing arts venue constitutes his Second Night Only appearance. Prior to his inaugural Registry concert it had been a decade since the award-winning Canadian, steel-string, fingerstyle, acoustic guitar virtuoso/composer/songwriter/vocalist performed in the…

China Quarries #8

Edward Burtynsky’s Dark Satanic Mills

Nov 1st, 2016 Visual Arts Rob Reid 8 min read

Where man is not, Nature is barren — William Blake Men dig tons of earth to find an ounce of gold All things change to fire and fire exhausted falls back into things  — Heraclitus When I first came eye-to-eye with Edward Burtynsky’s monumental photographs in 2002 I was reminded of Heraclitus, that wise ancient who remains as urgently relevant today as he did in…


September Trout

Oct 14th, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 8 min read

I was recently purging my electronic archives in honour of autumn cleaning when I came across the earliest personal essay I wrote celebrating my passion for fly fishing. I was still working as an arts reporter for the Waterloo Region Record at the time. Reading it after a decade evoked pleasing memories which I’d like to share. I’ve added some current reflections for context in…


Carrying Folk Music Into the Next Decade

Oct 11th, 2016 Music Rob Reid 8 min read

Folk Night at the Registry launches its second decade of co-presentations between Old Chestnuts Song Circle and the Registry Theatre. The partnership has been one of the most fruitful for the live performance venue, located in the heart of downtown Kitchener. Program artistic director Jack Cole has booked acoustic artists from England and the U.S. in addition to Canada. A couple of concerts cast a…

Tony McManus

Paying It Forward at the Registry: Season 16

Oct 6th, 2016 Film & Cinema, Music Rob Reid 16 min read

The Registry Theatre is my favourite live performance venue in Waterloo Region. It has the inspired and affordable programming, the staff starting with program director Lawrence McNaught and the warmth, accessibility and intimacy to satisfy all my entertainment needs. The vibrant performing arts presenter located in the heart of downtown Kitchener has unveiled its playbill for its 16th season. For less than $250,000 annually, the Registry…


Music of Rivers

Oct 3rd, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler, Books & Literature, Celtic World Rob Reid 10 min read

Fly anglers and writers — not to mention fly angling writers — are fascinated by the evocative relationship between music and rivers. I’m no exception. One of my favourite fly fishing writers, W.D. Wetherell, who is also an accomplished author of novels, short stories and non-angling essays, reflects on the music of rivers in a chapter titled Symphony in Vermont River, the first volume in…


Last Cast: Thoughts on the Closing Season

Sep 30th, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler, Books & Literature Rob Reid 9 min read

Like most kids, I grew up associating September with new beginnings. From elementary through high school and from university through graduate school, the month was the threshold we crossed to a new year — with all the excitement and expectation that passage entails. As an arts reporter on daily newspapers for more than three decades, September marked the beginning of a bustling autumn of entertainment…


Shining the headlights on Night Drive

Sep 17th, 2016 Books & Literature, Music Rob Reid 14 min read

I don’t know why I write these lines It’s not like I could send you the letter It’s that I love you more after all this time It’s that I wish I’d shown you better — Night Drive First there was Night Drive the song. Now there’s Night Drive the book. Both celebrate the love of one brother for another brother. Garnet Rogers released the song…


Modern Man in Search of a Soul

Aug 30th, 2016 Theatre Rob Reid 5 min read

STRATFORD — The late Robertson Davies once observed that Canada’s two greatest writers were Anton Chekhov and Henrik Ibsen because both reflected a Northern sensibility. Symbolically speaking Davies was right on the mark — or so I believe. How you interpret the Stratford Festival production of John Gabriel Borkman at the Tom Patterson Theatre determines the depth of your appreciation. It’s often stated that Ibsen’s…


More Fun Than an Emollient Exemplum

Aug 25th, 2016 Theatre Rob Reid 5 min read

With friends like this, who needs enemas?      — as spoken by Beralde, brother of the hypochondriac Argan STRATFORD — This might come as a shock to those reared on Hollywood film and television, but the penis and pissing, not to mention the rectum and defecating, penetrated comedy long before Animal House and Family Guy. These were common targets of low fun in the…


Bassin’ on the Grand

Aug 20th, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 7 min read

Inch for inch, pound for pound, the gamest fish that swims — Angling pioneer Dr. James Henshall’s enduring observation about bass in his classic The Book of Black Bass, published in 1881 Mention the Grand River over a frosty pint in a local pub and most fly fishermen assume you’re talking about the stocked brown trout fishery in the tailwater between Shand Dam at Belwood…

GilGarratt as RobertDonnelly

Truth is Stranger Than Drama at Blyth

Aug 12th, 2016 Theatre Rob Reid 10 min read

We must never take words for granted. There’s no such thing as happy endings; something always comes after. — Peg Dunlop BLYTH — The last two of four world premieres at the Blyth Festival have sent me barrelling down memory lane in a literary roadster. If Truth Be Told and The Last Donnelly Standing take me back to when I was introduced to Canadian arts…

Me holding a 15-inch bass

Fishing Dogs & Pleasing Poppers

Aug 11th, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 9 min read

My fly angling buddy Dan Kennaley has a fishing dog. His nine-year-old golden retriever Maggie spends hours trying to catch minnows in the shallow waters in front of the cottage Dan shares with his family on a postcard lake in Muskoka. Exercising the Two Ps of Fly Fishing Maggie’s methodology is a model of patience and persistence. With the exception of her wagging tail, she…


The Eagle(smith) Has Landed

Jul 31st, 2016 Music Rob Reid 8 min read

I’ve known Fred Eaglesmith for more than three decades. I fondly remember the first time I interviewed the fiercely independent artist in the kitchen of a farmhouse between Brantford and Hamilton he was sharing with his wife at the time. He had a thick blond beard and was wearing a plaid work shirt and denim overalls. We sipped cold beers as our conversation ranged far and wide over the musical landscape. Born…


O Brother, How I Love Those Fishless Nights

Jul 21st, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler, Single Malt & Food Rob Reid 6 min read

If you play hockey and don’t score any goals, you lose. If you play baseball and don’t hit any runs, you lose. If you play basketball and don’t shoot any baskets, you lose. If you play football and don’t score any touchdowns or field goals, you lose. However, if you fly fish and you don’t catch any fish, you still win. ‘What?’ the competitive sceptic…


Just Keeps on Racing

Jul 20th, 2016 Welcome Message Rob Reid 7 min read

CAMBRIDGE — I’ve been attending the Mill Race Festival of Traditional Folk Music for most of its 24 years. In fact, the free-admission, three-day celebration of folk music held at the height of summer is my favourite festival. It doesn’t attract the big crowds of the Kitchener Blues Festival; it does’t have the high profile of Guelph’s Hillside Festival. But founding artistic director Brad McEwen…


Breathing Life into a Trio of Dramatic Kings

Jul 13th, 2016 Theatre Rob Reid 5 min read

Four lagging winters and four wanton springs end in a word: such is the breath of kings — Richard II STRATFORD — Graham Abbey is a true child of Stratford. Not only has he been a member of the festival company over 18 seasons, he’s Stratford-bred. This season he adds the credentials of dramatic adapter and associate director to his diverse acting credits. Abbey has edited…


Portrait of Madness, Evil & the Supernatural in a Nightmare World

Jul 8th, 2016 Theatre Rob Reid 5 min read

Blood will have blood — Macbeth STRATFORD — Macbeth is the most terrifying Shakespearian tragedy because of its portrait of madness, evil and the supernatural — all of which manifest themselves as reality rather than as metaphor, sign or symbol. Stratford Festival artistic director Antoni Cimolino has constructed his production — a season highlight continuing through October 23 at the Festival Theatre — on the…


Paddling into the Mystery on Canoe Lake

Jul 3rd, 2016 Books & Literature, Tom Thomson, Visual Arts Rob Reid 7 min read

The death of Tom Thomson resembles a ghost story told around a campfire late at night beneath a panoply of stars, with the Northern Lights dancing in the distance beyond a dense enclosure of boreal forest. Those who believe Canada’s most famous painter died under suspicious circumstances — whether misadventure, foul play or murder — will view Gregory Klages as a killjoy or stick-in-the-mud. In…


Seeing a World in a Grain of Huron County Sand

Jun 30th, 2016 Theatre Rob Reid 8 min read

To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour — Auguries of Innocence by William Blake BLYTH — In his sophomore season at the helm of the Blyth Festival, artistic director Gil Garratt is staging a quartet of world premieres that tell stories harvested from…


Casting Lines on the Waters of Friendship

Jun 27th, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 10 min read

And each year on the river, once or twice, I will meet men and women with a fire of generosity in them, of love for others that God required old prophets to have. — David Adams Richards In contrast to family, we choose our friends — at least according to the old adage. I don’t know whether he chose me or I chose him, but Gary Bowen…


Send in the Clowns

Jun 23rd, 2016 Theatre Rob Reid 3 min read

STRATFORD — I have loved the beautiful heart-aching ballad Send in the Clowns since Judy Collins recorded it in the 1970s. However, I’m not a big fan of A Little Night Music, Steven Sondheim’s romantic romp of mismatched couples in turn-of-the-century Sweden. Inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s 1955 cinematic comedy Smiles of a Summer Night, the musical adaptation is too ‘vaudevillian’ for my tastes. And this despite…


American Dream Transformed into Nightmare

Jun 17th, 2016 Theatre Rob Reid 4 min read

STRATFORD — Had the term ‘American Dream’ not existed it would of had to be invented for Arthur Miller. In Death of a Salesman, Miller’s 1949 Pulitzer Prize-winner, the disillusioned salesman Willy Loman is destroyed by what he perceives as the dream shared by all Americans. Miller began examining the dream transformed into nightmare two years previously with All My Sons. Although his sophomore play was…


In Love with Shakespeare

Jun 15th, 2016 Theatre Rob Reid 4 min read

I will have poetry in my life                        — Shakespeare in Love STRATFORD — Romeo and Juliet is not one of my favourite Shakespearean plays. But as I was taking in Shakespeare in Love on a recent evening, I found myself yearning for the tragedy about ‘the pair of star-cross’d lovers.’ It’s no surprise that…


Last Goodbye to Mr Hockey

Jun 12th, 2016 Books & Literature, Journeys Rob Reid 10 min read

There’s a small tattered black and white Kodak snapshot buried somewhere in an old photo album showing a smiling five-year old boy standing in front of the Christmas tree. He’s smiling because Santa brought him his first Detroit Red Wings jersey (red with its distinctive white winged-wheel), red pants with white stripe down the sides, gloves, shin pads and red socks with horizontal white stripes…


Tributaries Flow from Carl Beam

Jun 12th, 2016 Visual Arts Rob Reid 6 min read

The Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery established a close relationship with the late Carl Beam. In 2004 gallery curator Virginia Eichorn organized It’s All Relative, a touring exhibition featuring 50 ceramic works by Beam, wife Ann and daughter Anong. Following the artist’s death in July 2005 from complications due to diabetes, the Waterloo gallery hosted a memorial service. I was honoured to be invited as a…


Where Trout Rivers Flow Both Ways

Jun 10th, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler, Books & Literature Rob Reid 14 min read

The river flowed both ways. The current moved from north to south, but the wind usually came from the south, rippling the bronze-green water in the opposite direction. — Margaret Laurence Like the river in Margaret Laurence’s 1974 novel The Diviners, the trout rivers of Roscoe, New York, flow both ways — at least symbolically. This ‘impossible contradiction, made apparent and possible’ is the result…



May 19th, 2016 Theatre Rob Reid 6 min read

Before completing my first shift in the newsroom of the Waterloo Region Record, I was off to Niagara-on-the-Lake to review the opening week of the Shaw Festival. It was late May, 1986. I had just been hired as one of three arts reporters at what was then known as the Kitchener-Waterloo Record. It turned out to be the sixth — and last — newspaper for…


Have Sax — Will Travel

May 11th, 2016 Music Rob Reid 3 min read

I first met John Tank in 2011 when he returned home to perform at the Uptown Waterloo Jazz Festival. Accompanied by his wife and legendary Toronto-based pianist Bernie Senensky, I was immediately struck by the tenor sax virtuoso’s warm, gracious friendliness. Tank’s reputation certainly preceded the introduction, but regrettably it was not recognized by the festival. Born in Kitchener, Tank had been living in New…

David Francey

Canada’s Robbie Burns

May 10th, 2016 Music Rob Reid 4 min read

I first met David Francey at a house concert hosted by Jack Cole, founder of Old Chestnuts Song Circle and artistic director of Folk Night at the Registry, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary. It was 1999 and the Scottish-born, Toronto-raised singer/songwriter had just released his debut album Torn Screen Door. He was accompanied by Montreal-based guitarist Dave Clarke and multi-instrumentalist Geoff Somers, who eventually…


Cradle of American Fly Fishing Endlessly Rocking

Apr 28th, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler, Books & Literature Rob Reid 10 min read

the best fishing is done not in water but in print — Sparce Grey Hackle One of the highlights of more than three decades of writing about the arts for daily newspapers was reviewing the opening week of the Stratford Festival. While nothing could draw me away from that cultural privilege, a thin shadow of regret fell over opening week festivities a few years ago…


A Cinematic River Runs Through Waterloo

Apr 13th, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler, Film & Cinema Rob Reid 8 min read

A cinematic river runs through Waterloo for the fourth consecutive year with the return of the International Fly Fishing Festival. Founded in 2011, the festival — popularly known as IF4 — grew from a handful of screenings in western Canada to more than 100 screenings across the country and the U.S., as well as internationally. ‘We’re truly international,’ confirmed Jennifer Bird, publisher of Fly Fusion,…

Algonquin - Homage to Tom Thomson by Ken Danby

Land of the Canoe

Apr 8th, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 8 min read

I haven’t done as much canoeing as I would have liked over my six and a half decades on the planet. For example, I’ve never gone wilderness-tripping. However, I have canoed since camping as a youngster. My partner Lois canoed growing up during summers at her family cottage on Lake of Bays. For a couple of years she owned a yellow canoe. As an avid…


Roots Weekend at the Registry

Apr 5th, 2016 Music Rob Reid 8 min read

Many roots music fans are amateur musicians, which makes learning from the pros a special treat. In 2014 the Registry Theatre presented its inaugural Roots Weekend, a combination of concert performances and workshops featuring two pairs of Canadian artists. Acoustic blues artists Rick Fines and Suzie Vinnick joined ukulele ace James Hill and cellist Anne Janelle. Last year the popular downtown Kitchener performance venue ventured…


Delta Bluesman Finds Inspiration in Montreal

Mar 27th, 2016 Music Rob Reid 4 min read

(Browne) gives me that kind of tingle like when I first heard Leadbelly and Big Bill Bronzy                               — the late Long John Baldry Canadian music fans have long lamented homegrown artists who leave the Great White North for the greener pastures of fame and fortune south of the 49th Parallel….


Bluegrass a River with Many Tributaries

Mar 10th, 2016 Books & Literature, Music Rob Reid 6 min read

I’m a huge fan of what is commonly known as Americana music. My ears were blown open in 1996 when classical cellist Yo Yo Ma teamed up with bassist Edgar Myer and fiddler Mark O’Connor to release Appalachian Waltz. Four years later the trio released Appalachian Journey. The trio’s innovative fusion of classical music with bluegrass, old-time country, mountain music, folk, jazz, rural blues and…


On the Funny Side of the Street: A Night of Brighter Laughter

Feb 1st, 2016 Archives Rob Reid 3 min read

Christine Lavin has been tickling the collective heart of the New York City folk/singer/songwriter scene since 1984, when she left hospital work to pursue music full time. Born and raised in Peekskill, a city nestled within the New York Metropolitan area in Westchester County, Lavin became the de facto den mother of the NYC acoustic music community, performing and recording while promoting such artists as Suzanne…


Big Man, Big Voice, Big Talent

Jan 24th, 2016 Music Rob Reid 6 min read

Matt Andersen is a big man with a big voice and a big talent. I mean BIG. The New Brunswick-bred blues artist has the kind of vocal force — force is the only applicable noun — reserved for opera and selected gospel singers (I’m thinking of the powerful contralto Mahalia Jackson as an example). Although a gifted songwriter and guitarist, it’s his soulfully expressive voice that sets…


Wild Speck: A Poem

Jan 21st, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler, Books & Literature Rob Reid 1 min read

— inspired by Ted Hughes’ poetry collection River Fish hits, split cane stick lifts to set hook. Line tightens, almost audible, a tuned guitar string. Rod bends in sweetly singing arc, shivering crazily, a snake roused from slumber. Electric vibration, sliver of refracted light, evanescent — Frozen in the Now. Hearts race in syncopation, fish torpedoes, conspiring with current. Shout of ‘fish on’ interrupts hallowed…


Tom’s Top 10 or Reluctant Recommendations from a Fly Fishing Pro

Jan 18th, 2016 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 4 min read

He didn’t want to do it. He rejected the bait for as long as he could. But finally Tom Rosenbauer succumbed to constant harping from listeners to his Orvis Fly Fishing Guide podcast for a list of his favourite fly angling books. I found the 11 January 2016 podcast posted with Phil Monahan on Twitter and gave it a listen. The New England-based fly angler/author needs…

James Keelaghan

Can Take the Songwriter Out of the Prairies; Can’t Take the Prairies. . .

Jan 16th, 2016 Music Rob Reid 4 min read

I first talked to James Keelaghan more than a quarter century ago, when he was an emerging singer/songwriter. At 56 he’s one of Canada’s not-so-old elder songwriting statesmen. He’s also artistic director of Summerfolk, the annual summer roots festival based in Owen Sound, celebrating its 41st anniversary. At the time Keelaghan was based in his hometown of Calgary. He was one of a handful of Prairie-bred…


Trim & Dram

Jan 11th, 2016 Journeys, Single Malt & Food Rob Reid 5 min read

I harbor an aversion to barbers usually reserved for dentists. The cause of this pitiful condition extends back to childhood when my dad, a professional firefighter for nearly four decades, fancied himself an amateur barber. Every couple of months — until I was working and able to finance trips to a barbershop adorned with a Toronto Maple Leafs calendar, assorted outdoor magazines and remnants of pungent…


Poet as Savage Angler

Dec 14th, 2015 Armchair Fly Angler, Books & Literature Rob Reid 8 min read

I imagine this midnight moment’s forest: Something else is alive Beside the clock’s loneliness And this blank page where my fingers move.                               — The Thought-Fox Ted Hughes wrote with his penis as much as with his fountain pen. It was both his greatest strength and his greatest weakness, which cast the…

Creative Enterprise

Down for the Count

Dec 10th, 2015 Media Notes Rob Reid 3 min read

WATERLOO REGION — The Creative Enterprise Initiative is down for the count, surviving on life support for a year. It appears Waterloo Region’s municipalities are easing the beleaguered arts organization down gently before closing the lid of the coffin. Waterloo Region Record municipal reporter Paige Desmond reported that regional councillors voted to give the organization $141,000 in 2016, with the proviso that it shut down…


Musings of an Obsessive Diarist

Dec 6th, 2015 Books & Literature, Celtic World Rob Reid 9 min read

Robertson Davies was a cunning literary prestidigitator whose legerdemain spanned the breadth of his writing. After all, he disguised Fifth Business, his masterwork, as an epistolary novel rather than acknowledge that it is a postmodern fusion of spiritual autobiography and romance quest in the shape of C.G. Jung’s myth of individuation. Similarly, while written as a letter to his headmaster, the novel is actually a…


Old Fantastical Duke of Dark Corners

Dec 3rd, 2015 Books & Literature Rob Reid 7 min read

Twenty years ago Canada lost one of its great writers: Robertson Davies. I offer these recollections and reflections with a merry heart on the anniversary of his passing and acknowledge the release of the captivatingly engaging first volume of his selected diaries under the evocative title of A Celtic Temperament. The first book I ever read that wasn’t mandatory school reading was Fifth Business. It…


Celtic Crusade with a Canadian Thrust

Nov 29th, 2015 Books & Literature, Celtic World Rob Reid 5 min read

Once upon a time the Medieval Celtic World was synonymous with the Dark Ages. That perspective began to be challenged, and was eventually modified, with a series of books with titles that made grandiose claims championing Celtic achievement in all its manifold forms. The Celtic stone got rolling at a rapid clip in 1995 with How the Irish Saved Civilization. Subtitled The Untold Story of…


Voice of the Land Celebrated in Documentary

Nov 29th, 2015 Books & Literature, Film & Cinema Rob Reid 13 min read

Bush land scrub land —                Cashel Township and Wollaston Elvezir McClure and Dungannon green lands of Weslemkoon Lake where a man might have some                opinion of what beauty is and none deny him                                    …


Just Keeps on Popping

Nov 28th, 2015 Music Rob Reid 6 min read

Like the Energizer bunny, Glenn Smith just keeps on popping. The irrepressible blues impresario is turning the page on a new chapter in his ongoing Book of Blues in Waterloo Region. Like any compelling narrative, it’s an evolution of what happened previously. Smith, who spends most of his time running Ethel’s Lounge, the popular watering hole in UpTown Waterloo, is starting a new venture called…

Creative Enterprise

Critique of Arts Funding Sting

Nov 16th, 2015 Media Notes Rob Reid 4 min read

The Creative Enterprise Initiative has learned nothing from the errors of its ways in the not-too-distant past. This is sad and regrettable, but not unexpected given its tenuous leadership. Waterloo Region tax payers remain in the dark as to what really happened when Heather Sinclair, CEI’s founding CEO, was unceremoniously fired in 2014 following a couple of years of abject failure — at considerable cost to taxpayers….