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

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 will post a blog each day from July 8, 2017 through July 16, 2017 devoted to aspects of the painter’s life, art and legacy. I begin with a…


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, 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…


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 God’s final judgment on humanity’s terrible desecration of Holy Earth will be to call home brook trout, his loveliest of creatures, as punishment.                            — Rob Reid  Fish hits, living, split-cane stick lifts to…


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…

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…

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….


Ballad of Spoon River

Nov 16th, 2015 Theatre Rob Reid 2 min read

If you think small town America was a kinder, gentler place, simpler and more innocent in the early years of the 20th century, think again. Pick up a copy of Spoon River Anthology. Published in book form in 1915, Edgar Lee Masters’ collection of short, free-verse poems pulls the lid off the collective coffin of a small town in the midwest through a series of…


Union of Canoe & River

Nov 16th, 2015 Books & Literature Rob Reid 9 min read

I wish I had a river                — Joni Mitchell, legendary Canadian singer/songwriter First God made the canoe, then he created a country to go with it                — Bill Mason, legendary Canadian canoeist and filmmaker Rivers and canoes comprise the great Canadian union. This bond of geography and history, place and identity,…


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…

AboveLake Superior

Tracing the Footsteps of the Group of Seven

Oct 14th, 2015 Film & Cinema Rob Reid 6 min read

The Group of Seven remains a paradox. No Canadian artists are more familiar in terms of simple identification. Everyone has heard of the Group of Seven, right? But, after a century, do we really know the group’s seven founding members — Lawren Harris, J.E.H. MacDonald, A.Y. Jackson, Franz (Frank) Johnston, Arthur Lismer, Franklin Carmichael and Fred Varley — as individuals? Do we really know what…


Quiet Joys of Choral Evensong

Oct 13th, 2015 Celtic World Rob Reid 5 min read

Since joining Church of the Holy Saviour’s community of faith four years ago, I have wrestled with a perplexing question: why do so few parishioners attend Evensong? To me the evening choral service, conducted on the third Sunday of every month from September through May, is the midtown Waterloo, Ontario Anglican church’s best kept liturgical secret. I’m not qualified speak to the liturgical components of…


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…


A Life with Words

Sep 28th, 2015 Books & Literature Rob Reid 10 min read

Writers rely on words to communicate with readers. But synchronicity occurs between writers and readers when experiences are shared. This happened as I was reading A Life with Words, a new memoir by Richard B. Wright. I have long admired Wright’s novels. He’s not only a fine novelist, he graduated from Trent University (where he was later awarded one of three honorary doctorates) as a…


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…


Joy of Fly Fishing

Sep 19th, 2015 Armchair Fly Angler, Books & Literature Rob Reid 8 min read

One of the deepest pleasures afforded readers of fiction is discovering a writer through synchronicity, as if you were destined to find a specific writer in the dense wilderness of literature. It’s a gift bestowed on readers by inquisitive literary gods. This happened to me most recently with a couple of writers born and raised in Appalachia, where they continue to live and write —…


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…


Remembering No Great Mischief

Sep 5th, 2015 Books & Literature Rob Reid 16 min read

The 14th annual One Book, One Community campaign is quickly approaching. Emily St. John Mandel visits Waterloo Region to introduce readers to her National Book Award and PEN/Faulkner Award nominated Station Eleven. She arrives September 22 and remains through September 24, participating in a whirlwind of public readings. I had the honour of conducting public interviews in the City of Waterloo as part of the…


Songs of Rain, Snow & Remembering

Sep 2nd, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 2 min read

While listening to Lynn’s Jackson’s contemplative Songs of Rain, Snow and Remembering I was reminded of the adage: Every cloud has a silver lining How this old saw relates to the Kitchener singer/songwriter’s eight studio album is self-explanatory. Jackson sings her sad songs with such passion, empathy and eloquence that she draws listeners back from the edge of despair to a safe place of solace…


Raymond Carver as Angling Poet

Aug 31st, 2015 Armchair Fly Angler, Books & Literature Rob Reid 21 min read

Raymond Carver was celebrated as one of America’s best short story writers before his death from lung cancer at the age of 50 in August 1988. He was also an accomplished poet who published eight volumes of poetry in his lifetime. During the last five years of his post-alcoholic career, he oversaw publication of three major collections — Fires (1983), Where Water Comes Together with…


Fireside Fishing Anthologies

Aug 29th, 2015 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 19 min read

There are few things that give one more pleasure on a winter’s night than a good work on fly fishing.                            — Theodore Gordon writing in his last year for The Fishing Gazette The anthology is a time-honoured form of outdoor sports and angling literature. Fireside or bedside collections have been common and…


Turning Human Baseness into Comic Gold

Aug 26th, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 4 min read

STRATFORD — The Stratford Festival’s 63rd season opened with Antoni Cimolino directing Hamlet with a sure creative hand. The 2015 season’s last production is The Alchemist, an acid comedy written by Ben Jonson — William Shakespeare’s friend, rival and sometime critic — also directed with a steady hand by the festival’s artistic director. The two productions bookend a season that maintained an admirable level of…


Love’s Labour’s Found

Aug 20th, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 4 min read

STRATFORD — You don’t have to be familiar with the chronology of William Shakespeare’s plays to sense that Love’s Labour’s Lost is an early effort. It’s obviously the work of a young playwright anxiously strutting his stuff. Brimming with ‘poetry, wit and invention,’ Shakespeare negotiates the forest of language, occasionally losing his way, as he edges along the winding path towards dramatic mastery. Paradoxically, it…

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…

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Such Stuff as Dreams

Aug 9th, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 3 min read

I am alone on the moon — Mary’s Wedding BLYTH — William Shakespeare said it most beautifully — we are such stuff as dreams are made on. Stephen Massicotte takes Shakespeare’s observation to heart in his lovely dream play Mary’s Wedding. It’s the last of the four main stage plays to be presented by the Blyth Festival this season; it’s the first production to be directed…


Burton Cummings Stands Tall

Aug 7th, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 4 min read

KITCHENER — American Woman was more than a punch in the solar plexus of a strutting international superpower entangled in an unpopular war. When it hit the airwaves in January 1970 it was a defiant declaration that Canadian rock music had arrived on the world stage. All songs led to the rock anthem Thursday night (August 6) when former Guess Who lead singer/keyboardist Burton Cummings…


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…

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Fury Sinks Under Its Own Steam

Aug 1st, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 3 min read

BLYTH — In the fall of 1913 the deadliest storm ever to strike the Great Lakes sunk 12 ships. More than 250 lives were lost. Of the dozen ships that went down, four have yet to be found. In 2000 the Wexford steamer was discovered in 75 feet of water in Lake Huron, nine miles off St. Joseph. Former Blyth Festival artistic director Peter Smith…


Hands Stained in Blood

Jul 29th, 2015 Theatre Rob Reid 2 min read

STRATFORD — Thanks to Sigmund Freud, most of us know something about Oedipus. But general knowledge does not prepare us for the searing power of the ancient Greek tragedy on which the Vienna psychiatrist based his famous complex. Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex is as blunt as a fatal whack across the back of your head. Oedipus, king of Thebes, kills his father and marries his mother, fathering two sons…


Commedia dell’angling

Jul 29th, 2015 Armchair Fly Angler, Books & Literature Rob Reid 7 min read

The late Paul Quarrington lived large. He had many passions encompassing writing, music, sports, partying, cigars and fly fishing. He wrote hilarious accounts of his piscatorial exploits in two wonderful memoirs — Fishing with My Old Guy and From the Far Side of the River, both published by Greystone. He also wrote my favourite hockey novel, King Leary. I wrote a review of Quarrington’s From the…


Rest in Peace Robin

Jul 27th, 2015 Theatre Rob Reid 6 min read

I’m deeply saddened by the passing of Robin Phillips, at age 73, after prolonged illness. If the Canadian theatre community is not mourning, it should be. The Stratford Festival should be grieving not only for its former artistic director’s death, but for missed opportunities. After covering the festival continuously since 1984 for two newspapers, one of my greatest regrets remains Phillips not being invited back…


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…

Dan happy to be on the Rocky

Friendship, Wild Specks & Sweetgrass Synchronicity Reprise

Jul 24th, 2015 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 13 min read

Dan Kennaley is the closest person I know to a Renaissance fly angler. He’s been fly fishing for more than 30 years, travelling regularly to such legendary destinations as Algonquin Park, the Catskills and Adirondacks. He fishes mostly for trout and bass, whether wading streams and rivers or paddling canoe, inflatable pontoon and float tube on lakes. He’s an accomplished fly tier who has designed…


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…


On the Water

Jul 24th, 2015 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 6 min read

Ponds and rivers have inspired some of America’s finest nature writing. Henry David Thoreau’s Walden and A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers and Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek readily come to mind. There’s also accomplished New England poet Donald Hall’s Here at Eagle Pond and Seasons at Eagle Pond, among many others. Guy de la Valdène’s On the Water holds its own…


Tom Thomson on the Block

Jul 20th, 2015 Tom Thomson, Visual Arts Rob Reid 6 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 devoted to aspects of the painter’s life, art and legacy. The second instalment in the series is an appraisal of George A….

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Many Lives of Nonie Thompson

Jul 20th, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 3 min read

It’s always a special occasion when Nonie Thompson returns to the Registry Theatre. In 2008 she suffered an aneurysm on the eve of her concert at the vibrant downtown Kitchener performing arts venue. The scary medical crisis produced consequences both literal and figurative. It compelled the singer/songwriter to leave the familiar surroundings of Kitchener-Waterloo and return home to Penetanguishene on the southeasterly tip of Georgian Bay. It also became a…


Size Really Does Matter

Jul 19th, 2015 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 6 min read

It started with a short, sharp email transmitted by a cell phone. ‘Give me a call.’ The email came from Dave Whalley, former professional guide and past president of KW Flyfishers, the local fly angling club based in Waterloo Region, which straddles the Grand River, a designated Canadian Heritage River. The subject line was promising: Fishing Tomorrow. When I returned the call, Dave asked if I…


Elle Hitting the Boards

Jul 17th, 2015 Theatre Rob Reid 5 min read

I became a Douglas Glover fan in 1983 after reading Precious while working at the Brantford Expositor. Brantford is not far from where the writer was born in Simcoe, Ont. — I worked at the Simcoe Reformer before The Expositor. He was raised on a tobacco farm outside of nearby Waterford. Since then I have eagerly anticipated each new novel or, later, work of non-fiction. He has…