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Waterloo Region Festivals Reflect Community Personalities

Jul 14th, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 8 min read

WATERLOO REGION — We are fortunate in Waterloo Region to have an abundance of free outdoor music festivals sprinkled throughout the summer. Interestingly, the three festivals that have been around the longest embody and reflect the personalities of the communities in which they unfold. The university city of Waterloo has a jazz festival, blue-collar Kitchener has a blues festival and the early Scottish mill town of Cambridge has…

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Sweetgrass Synchronicity

Jul 11th, 2015 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 9 min read

I’m lucky. I’ve caught sufficiently few fish to remember the ones that mattered. The first was a 42-inch, northern pike caught on light spinning tackle for small-mouth bass. It was on a modest, sausage-shaped lake not far from Marten River. I was in a 14-foot, aluminum boat with a guide who was raised in Cambridge, Ont. before succumbing to the allure of Northern Ontario, and another…

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Inviting the world to Kitchener

Jul 6th, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 2 min read

  KITCHENER — Isabel Cisterna is a sterling example of one person making a difference. Since founding Neruda Arts in 2001, the Chilean-born and raised artistic director, actor, playwright, arts promoter and cultural activist has exerted a singularly significant impact on the cultural texture and artistic life of Waterloo Region. Sure she has the vivacious — and infectious — energy of a devoted publicist, obsessively…

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Looking Ahead at Stratford

Jul 6th, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 4 min read

STRATFORD — Some time ago the Stratford Festival started announcing next season’s playbill mid-summer of the preceding season rather than waiting until season’s end. The practice was likely initiated to prevent programming tidbits from being leaked to the press — eager-beaver scribes with a nose for a scoop. Nonetheless, the annual announcement is like learning in advance what you will be getting from the jolly fellow dressed…

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Theatrical Juggernaut Called Drayton Entertainment

Jul 5th, 2015 Theatre Rob Reid 6 min read

I remember my first trip to Drayton in the green days of summer, 1991. I had never visited the tiny, nondescript, rural crossroads before. I was not on an agricultural assignment, as one might expect. My mission was to review the inaugural production by a new theatrical venture. Yes, that’s right, a new theatre in, of all places, Drayton! Who would’ve thunk it possible? That first…

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Transforming History into Drama

Jul 4th, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 4 min read

BLYTH — One of the magical things about the creative process is that you never know where, when, how or even why, an idea, theme or concept — in short, inspiration — will transform into art. Playwright Sean Dixon was in Lucan, Ont. a  few years ago conducting research for The Outdoor Donnellys — a play produced by the Blyth Festival about the infamous ‘Black’…

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Blues in the Backyard

Jul 3rd, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 2 min read

CAMBRIDGE — I love house concerts and backyard folk picnics. I enjoy their causal, informal intimacy. I enjoy the opportunity of meeting and chatting with the artists. I’ve met some wonderful artists — David Francey, the former trio Modabo, Nashville alt country songwriter David Onley, Texas songwriters Slaid Cleaves and Gurf Morlix and Scottish folk singer Robin Laing, to name a few — in the…

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 Artistic Journey through Life, through Nature

Jul 2nd, 2015 Visual Arts Rob Reid 7 min read

KITCHENER — I got to know Robert Achtemichuk when he was director of the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery. Seldom have a I met an artist so acutely uncomfortable in the skin of an institutional administrator — a position he held at the Waterloo gallery from 2004 through 2010. Happily, he’s back doing what he was placed on earth to do — making art. (I…

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Fishing is Family Fun

Jul 2nd, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 1 min read

KITCHENER — Contrary to what some people might think who while away hours watching The World Fishing Network, fishing is not primarily for professionals. Fishing is for families. It’s something for moms and dads, grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles to share with their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Fishing is family fun. If you are looking for a place and an event to dip your…

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Casting on the Rivers of Paradise

Jul 2nd, 2015 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 2 min read

The passing of Ian Colin James  on June 29 is sad news for all fly anglers. An agricultural graduate from the University of Guelph who lived in London, Ont.,  James was a big man with a huge appetite for life. I was privileged to spend a day with him on the Grand about a decade ago. He taught me a great deal — not always…

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Good Food Writing is More Than Good Cooking

Jun 30th, 2015 Single Malt & Food Rob Reid 9 min read

CAMBRIDGE — I’ve seldom written about food; however, I’ve had the privilege of talking to a trio of Canadian food writing giants. Although we never met, Edna Staebler — author of Food That Really Schmecks and other monstrous best sellers — would occasionally phone me when I was an arts writer for the Waterloo Region Record. She would call in response to an article or review she…

Blissful Bistro Dining in Blyth

Jun 27th, 2015 Single Malt & Food Rob Reid 5 min read

BLYTH — There was a time when, if you traveled to Blyth to see a play at the festival, you had one option with respect to dinner — the home-cooking provided by the Blyth Inn. Then, three years ago, the hometown couple of Peter (Fanshawe College culinary grad) and Sarah Gusso opened Part II Bistro (the II is actually a knife and fork). The bistro…

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Seeds Grow Into Drama at Blyth

Jun 27th, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 5 min read

BLYTH — A dear friend who passed away much too early once described southwestern Ontario as the belly button of Canada, meaning that the area is a lifeblood of sorts. It’s certainly a fertile, agricultural bread basket. This fact has been reaffirmed every summer since 1984, when I began covering the Blyth Festival, first for the Brantford Expositor and then, since 1986, for the Waterloo…

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Jurassic World of Daily Newspapers

Jun 26th, 2015 Media Notes Rob Reid 5 min read

KITCHENER — They say timing is everything. It was certainly fortuitous timing June 24 when THEMUSEUM hosted a Weenie — or is it Wienie? —  Roast for me in acknowledgment of my early retirement from the Waterloo Region Record. I was entering my 30th year at The Record, comprising three-quarters of my four decades at six newspapers across Ontario. On the cusp of my 64th…

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Our Man in Montana

Jun 25th, 2015 Armchair Fly Angler, Books & Literature Rob Reid 10 min read

Pour a Drink, light a fire and turn the page. I have a story to tell.                                       — Keith McCafferty from Cold Hearted River One of my greatest regrets is not taking up fly fishing earlier in life. I came to the deeply pleasurable pastime after leaving 50…

Fly fishing on the Willowemoc Creek in the Catskills

The New England Literary Imagination

Jun 24th, 2015 Books & Literature Rob Reid 9 min read

Of all the places I have visited, three have touched my mind, my heart and my soul, not to mention my imagination. Scotland, the home of my paternal ancestors, Ireland, because of my interest in Celtic music and spirituality, and New England. I can’t even say this about the mystical American Southwest. I love all things New England — its landscape, history, art (from Winslow…

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In Search of an Unlikable Whisky

Jun 23rd, 2015 Single Malt & Food Rob Reid 4 min read

Scotland, my auld, respected mither! Tho’ whiles ye moistify your leather, Till, whare ye sit on craps o’ heather, Ye tine your dam; Freedom an’ whisky gang thegither! Take aff your dram! — Robbie Burns Down through the centuries, across Scotland’s varied landscape, malt whisky was known in Gaelic as uisce beath — the Water of Life. And with very good reason. I have spent…

Jonathan Goad, Geraint Wyn Davies. Photography by Don Dixon.

Enough to Make The Bard Smile

Jun 23rd, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 23 min read

STRATFORD — The Stratford Festival’s opening week was its most successful in years. The week launching its 63rd season was strengthened by a pair of solid productions the following week. Of the eight productions, only one — Carousel — was an unequivocal disappointment. An impressive record. Most encouraging was the fact that the works of William Shakespeare were well served. All in all, it was enough…

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Spirituality Through the Back Door

Jun 23rd, 2015 Celtic World Rob Reid 11 min read

I entered the miraculous, marvellous, sacred world of Celtic spirituality through the back door. And I haven’t retreated since. I was never a regular churchgoer. Although I was baptized in an Anglican Church, where my mother and her sister went as children and where my mother and father were married, I didn’t attend church regularly growing up. Sometimes I accompanied friends to their churches, but nothing ever…

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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…

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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…

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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…

Let's go outside … Jim Harrison, author of Davla.

Let Us Now Praise Jim Harrison

Jun 20th, 2015 Books & Literature Rob Reid 5 min read

Jim Harrison left this Good Earth on March 26, the day after Good Friday and the day before Easter Sunday. He was 79. How fitting for a man who apprehended the world and all its flora and fauna as sacred. He cast a critical eye on those sad sacks of humanity who exercise dominion over the world and her creatures, water, soil, vegetation and sky. American…

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Big Sky Lives of Quiet Desperation

Jun 20th, 2015 Books & Literature Rob Reid 3 min read

Thomas McGuane is better known more for the raucous life he once led than for the books he has written. In his early days he was known as ‘Captain Berserko,’ hanging out with such celebrity rebels as Peter Fonda and Jimmie Buffett, in addition to writers Richard Bratigan, Jim Harrison, Guy de la Valdene and artist Russell Chatham. His wives included the actress Elizabeth Ashley…

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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…

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Grand River Suite

Jun 16th, 2015 Visual Arts Rob Reid 6 min read

CAMBRIDGE — June is the month when our thoughts begin meandering to the lazy, hazy days of summer and to summer activities such as canoeing, kayaking, hiking and fishing, not to mention open-air artistic endeavours. Consequently, thoughts turn to lakes, streams and rivers. For many who live in Waterloo Region and its immediate environs, rivers mean the Grand. Anyone who views the Grand as a…

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Around the Next Bend

Jun 16th, 2015 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 4 min read

As an avid armchair angler who read about fly fishing long before I ever worked up the courage to try it, I never leave a fly shop without perusing its selection of books. On a visit to Hunter Banks, the first-rate fly shop in the heart of downtown Asheville, N.C., I noticed Around the Next Bend, the fourth book by Jerry Kustich, the former Winston bamboo-rod…

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Blyth Festival 2015 Season Overview

Jun 16th, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 7 min read

BLYTH — There is something old and something new about Gil Garratt. When the Blyth Festival was looking for a new artistic director last fall, it turned to an old friend. The Toronto-based, theatrical jack-of-all-trades has been associated with the festival for much of his professional life. For most of the previous 16 years he served the festival in various capacities before being appointed its…

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Myra’s Story Returns to Kitchener

Jun 16th, 2015 Archives Rob Reid 4 min read

KITCHENER — I love one-person plays. To me they are the dramatic equivalent of short stories. Sometimes the plays are written by others, sometimes they are written by the artists portraying the character or characters on stage. Despite finding the term ‘one-person’ awkward, I’ve enjoyed many one-person plays over the years. Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain, Julie Harris as Emily Dickinson, Douglas Campbell as William…

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The Lure of Entitlement and Disgraced Journalists

Jun 16th, 2015 Media Notes Rob Reid 6 min read

Celebrity and journalism make for strange bedfellows. With celebrity comes a sense of entitlement. For those who practice it, entitlement is a natural right of the gifted; it’s sexy, its addictive, it’s an aphrodisiac reeking of power and control and authority. It’s the latest fashion statement. Who cares whether entitlement compromises journalistic integrity? It’s all relative, anyway. It’s do as I preach. My business is…

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The Allure of Bamboo

Jun 16th, 2015 Armchair Fly Angler Rob Reid 9 min read

I didn’t have much interest in reading about bamboo fly rods until I purchased one. Now I have three. Although two rods were commercially manufactured half a century ago (by Montague and Granger) and the other was made by an unknown rod builder, the trio cast well on the water. Catching my first trout on two of them was absolutely thrilling — especially for an…

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….