Canadian Folk Legends Live on Stage Together

Jan 2nd, 2020 Armchair Fly Angler, Music Rob Reid 4 min read

Waterloo’s Princess Cinemas is kicking off 2020–a new year and a new decade—with a special Live on Stage concert featuring two of Canada’s premium acoustic-based singer/songwriters. Connie Kaldor and Garnet Rogers share the stage at the Original Princess Cinema Jan 5 at 3 p.m. Tickets sold like hotcakes—as the old saying goes—so the concert is SOLD OUT. The concert is part of a double-bill tour…


Folk Night at the Registry: 14 & Counting

Sep 16th, 2019 Books & Literature, Music Rob Reid 9 min read

Season 14 finds Folk Night at the Registry sitting tall in the saddle of Waterloo Region’s traditional acoustic music horse. Giddy Up! Cambridge’s Mill Race Festival of Traditional Folk Music is gone after three decades. The Kitchener Blues Festival–including its acoustic blues component–is cowering in the shadow of its former glory . Co-produced by the Registry Theatre and Old Chestnuts Song Circle, Folk Night remains…


From Protest to Songwriting

Oct 7th, 2018 Music Rob Reid 3 min read

In the turbulent years between rock ’n’ roll and progressive rock, folk music provided the soundtrack for a generation of Americans against a backdrop of peace and civil-rights marches, urban riots, free love and the pill, Eastern religion, psychedelic drugs and back-to-the-land movement. Their numbers are dwindling, the recording artists who defined the Folk Revival of the 1960s. Tom Paxton is one of the artists…


Folk Night@the Registry’s Lucky 13

Oct 6th, 2018 Music Rob Reid 12 min read

Folk Night@the Registry’s 13th season is a blend of prominent established and exciting emerging talent from across Canada (Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland) and New York State. Presented in the partnership with Old Chestnuts Song Circle, Waterloo Region’s premiere folk series welcomes traditional folk artists and contemporary singer/songwriters who span a range acoustic styles. In addition to the 2018-19 season package of six…


Roots Weekend Showcases Best in East Coast Music

Apr 10th, 2018 Music Rob Reid 7 min read

The Registry Roots Weekend showcases the best in East Coast roots music. Featuring singer/songwriters Laura Smith and Dave Gunning and award-winning multi-instrumentalist J.P. Cormier, the fifth annual celebration of acoustic music consists of concerts on consecutive evenings and a day of music workshops led by Smith and Tom Leighton. LAURA SMITH in CONCERT.  Friday, April 13. 8pm.  $25 advance, $28 at the door. Laura Smith returns…


Unforgotten Folk

Mar 5th, 2018 Music Rob Reid 3 min read

Although Folk Night at the Registry concentrates on Canadian artists spanning the country, augmented with the occasional international artist, recent seasons have brought a variety of American performers to downtown Kitchener including John Gorka, Bill Staines, Joe Crookston, Peter Yarrow, Mustard’s Retreat and Brother Sun. Saturday, March 10 offers a Folk Night concert guaranteed to put smiles on the faces of Woody Guthrie and Pete…


Telling Stories in Song

Jan 14th, 2018 Music Rob Reid 5 min read

Since first appearing at the Registry Theatre in the fall of 2012, Joe Crookston has become a fan favourite. And why not? He’s not only a gifted songwriter, vocalist and guitarist, he’s a really nice guy: intelligent, passionate, witty and charming. All of these qualities come across when Crookston takes the stage. The upstate New York recording artist, who is also a painter, made his…


Blues for the New Millenium

Oct 25th, 2017 Music Rob Reid 6 min read

Sonny and Brownie took that last train ride and they went to some place the rest of us cannot follow that train came by That last slow train leavin’ town That last slow train leavin’ town Brownie and Sonny been goin’ down                          — Sonny & Brownie’s Last Train by Guy Davis I first…


Testimony of a Musical Poet

Oct 8th, 2017 Books & Literature, Music Rob Reid 16 min read

I pulled into Nazareth, was feeling ’bout half past dead I just need some place where I can lay my head Hey, mister, can you tell me, where a man might find a bed? He just grinned and shook my hand, ‘No’ was all he said. Take a load off Fanny, take a load for free Take a load off Fanny, and you put the…


Canada’s Mythic Troubadour

Oct 6th, 2017 Books & Literature, Music Rob Reid 28 min read

There was a time in this fair land when the railroad did not run When the wild majestic mountains stood alone against the sun Long before the white man and long before the wheel When the green dark forest was too silent to be real                                       —…


Finest in Folk: Season 12

Sep 14th, 2017 Music Rob Reid 12 min read

Season 12 of Folk Night at the Registry spans the expanse of Canada, but has a strong East Coast flavour. It launches its six concerts with a couple of traditional shows before settling into its familiar pattern of contemporary folk artists and singer/songwriters. It blends established names and old friends with rising stars and series premieres, from Canada and the U.S. As a special treat,…

Tom Thomson Statue in Huntsville

Tom As Rock Star

Jun 19th, 2017 Books & Literature, Film & Cinema, Music, Theatre, Tom Thomson, Visual Arts Rob Reid 55 min read

Tom Thomson went missing on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park on July 8, 1917. His body was recovered on July 16, 1917. To commemorate the centenary of the death of one of Canada’s great national icons, I am posting a blog each day throughout these days of mystery devoted to aspects of the painter’s life, art and legacy. The fifth instalment, Tom As Rock Star, takes…


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 7 min read

Tom Thomson went missing on Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park on July 8, 1917. His body was recovered on July 16, 1917. To commemorate the centenary of the death of one of Canada’s great national icons, I am posting a blog each day throughout those days of mystery devoted to aspects of the painter’s life, art and legacy. The third instalment in the series is an…


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…


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 Virtuoso with an Acoustic Soul

Jan 30th, 2017 Celtic World, 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…


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,…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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, Newgrass & Beyond

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…


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…

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…


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…


Taking a Detour Home

Nov 15th, 2015 Music Rob Reid 6 min read

Scott Merritt has the talent to be a household name across Canada. But talent isn’t enough to lubricate the star-making machinery of the music biz. Happily, popularity and wealth aren’t an accurate measure of success. In Merritt’s case, talent coupled with integrity and a warm even-keeled temperament combine to make him the quintessential songwriter’s songwriter, not to mention a highly respected independent producer and recording…


Folk Anthem of Justice, Mercy & Peace Marches On

Nov 6th, 2015 Music Rob Reid 5 min read

Kitchener — There have been few periods in the history of popular music when song and politics converged more powerfully and with such endurance as the folk revival of the 1960s. Following in the footsteps of Paul Robeson, Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger and The Weavers, a generation of young artists wielded music as a means of political activism, social protest, justice and peace….


Singing Songs of Tom & Group of 7

Nov 5th, 2015 Music Rob Reid 10 min read

It is imperative that the artist reveal through the medium in which he is happiest, what he sees, thinks and feels about his surroundings. – Franklin Carmichael No contemporary Canadian singer/songwriter better embodies and reflects the spirit of the Group of Seven than Ian Tamblyn. It took the celebrated artist a staggering 38 albums, but he has finally dedicated a recording to the legendary artists he so…


Renaissance & Beyond: Community in Song

Oct 26th, 2015 Music Rob Reid 6 min read

Large choirs repeating the same familiar repertoire year after year is not my idea of deeply enjoyable choral music. Think of it this way, as much as I love turkey with all the trimmings (I don’t mean to offend turkey lovers), goblers every Thanksgiving, every Christmas and every Easter gets tiresomely predictable. This is when tradition degenerates into cultural tyranny. Now replace the word ‘turkey’ with the…


Folk Night at the Registry

Oct 2nd, 2015 Music Rob Reid 9 min read

KITCHENER — I first met Jack Cole and his wife Lori, a ceramic artist, more than 25 years ago. I had applied to rent the upper apartment of their two-storey home in an established neighbourhood adjacent to downtown Kitchener. I didn’t get it. Although we shared a love of folk music and I had a steady job as an arts reporter for the Waterloo Region…


Fearless Fearing

Sep 24th, 2015 Music Rob Reid 2 min read

The clock is ticking down on a pair of complementary events roots music fans and aspiring roots musicians will not want to miss. Stephen Fearing is visiting Waterloo on Friday (September 25) for an evening concert at First United Church following a rare songwriting workshop in the afternoon at the Button Factory. The acclaimed singer/songwriter/guitarist is well known to area music aficionados, having appeared many…


Registry Theatre Launches 15th Anniversary Season

Sep 15th, 2015 Film & Cinema, Music, Theatre Rob Reid 22 min read

It’s never a wise investment for municipalities to throw good public money after bad private profit. Nonetheless, municipal bureaucrats and politicians are often seduced by big, inefficient operators at the expense of small, efficient, community based groups. It’s amazing how readily gullible politicians, aided and abetted by a misguided bureaucracy, parted with $270,000 of taxpayers’ money to underwrite the Big Music Fest. Mark Higgins, the smooth-talking promoter…

Guy Davis

Blues Live On

Aug 9th, 2015 Music Rob Reid 5 min read

I asked for water, she gave me gasoline                     — Saturday Blues performed by Guy Davis KITCHENER — This is the first time in the TD Kitchener Blues Festival’s 15-year history that I didn’t try to cover as many acts as possible in my capacity as an arts reporter for the Waterloo Region Record. With retirement…


Ending Clean

Aug 5th, 2015 Music Rob Reid 13 min read

So get down on the highway You foolish one You’re going to be feel so bad When your best friend’s gone                          — Lonely One Car Funerals On a cold February in 2008 Canadian music lost one of its most beloved songwriters. William Patrick Bennett died from a massive heart attack February 15 at…


Folk Music Isn’t Just for Old Farts

Aug 2nd, 2015 Music Rob Reid 4 min read

CAMBRIDGE — As I was enjoying the 23rd annual Mill Race Festival of Traditional Folk Music an observation started taking shape. Although a healthy portion of the performers were young (in their 20s and 30s), the vast majority of audience members were older (50 and up). This paradox poses a serious problem for the folk festival going forward. It might even threaten its future. The…


Legend in the Making

Jul 26th, 2015 Music Rob Reid 9 min read

The first time I heard John Gorka I didn’t recognize the voice. It was 1990 and my bride and I were honeymooning amidst the fall colours of New England — one of my favourite places on this holy earth. One afternoon we dropped into a music store in some picturesque town in Vermont or New Hampshire, where we heard a warm, rich baritone floating among…


Remembering Songwriting’s Master Craftsman

Jul 25th, 2015 Music Rob Reid 9 min read

It’s just a way to while away the time until you die. — Guy Clark on songwriting I was deeply saddened when I heard from a friend that Guy Clark died three days ago on May 17 at his home in Nashville after a long illness. He was 74. The Grammy winner was one of the most respected singer/songwriters of his generation. Born and raised…


Beauty Lies in the Boulder to Birmingham

Jul 24th, 2015 Music Rob Reid 8 min read

Emmylou Harris is a beauty. Yes she’s physically beautiful. She also has a beautiful voice.  She’s a beautiful interpreter of other writers’ songs. She’s a writer of beautiful original songs. She harmonizes beautifully with singers of all ranges and styles. Notwithstanding her beauty, Harris is one of the most respected and influential artists in American popular music over the last half century. The voluminous gold and…


Casting words on Melodic Waters

Jun 21st, 2015 Music Rob Reid 24 min read

Fly angling has been the subject of more fine literature than any other sport — even baseball. Ernest Hemingway’s Big-Two Hearted River, Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It, David James Duncan’s The River Why, Harry Middleton’s The Earth is Enough, William Humphrey’s My Moby Dick and Thomas McGuane’s Ninety Two in the Shade are just a half dozen of the most famous examples of…


A Voice from the Past Returns

Jun 20th, 2015 Music Rob Reid 4 min read

One of the most glaring omissions in the few respectable compilations of the best or greatest albums ever recorded by a Canadian recording artist is Coast to Coast Fever. The album was first overlooked in Bob Mersereau’s Top 100 Canadian Albums, published in 2007. It was overlooked again in the CBC Music’s 100 Greatest Canadian Albums Ever. Pity, because the album recorded in 1973 by…


Southern Gentleman Gone But Not Forgotten

Jun 20th, 2015 Music Rob Reid 5 min read

When Jesse Winchester died on April 11, 2015, a few weeks before his 70th birthday, after a long struggle with cancer, roots music lost its Southern Gentleman. Winchester was not only a sweet, gentle man, he had one of the tenderest voices imaginable. His voice was the sweetest honey not produced by bees. It was like a warm embrace, with a soft slur bespeaking his…


Cowboyography Reprise

Jun 20th, 2015 Music Rob Reid 5 min read

Over the past three decades I have reviewed a number of Ian Tyson concerts, in addition to all of his new albums. He remains one of my favourite singer/songwriters. I’m old enough to have attended Ian and Sylvia concerts — first at Mariposa as headliners on Toronto Island in 1968 and then in concert at Alumni Hall, on the campus of the University of Western…