Archive for the 'Music' Category

Summer of Music Festivals

Since 1995, I have taken time off during most summers to attend at least one music festival in North America. I tend to avoid overseas travel during the busy months of July and August when just showing up in a town and expecting to find a hostel bed is far from assured.

This summer was no different, and my festival-going started with the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, preceded by a night in Bennington, Vermont and an afternoon checking out the college there. This is, in fact, my longest running festival habit. I have attended Falcon Ridge every year since 1997 except for 2002 when I was traveling in Asia for five months. After camping at the Big Orange Tarp last year, I was back to my traditional home at Camp Dar and was happy to hear that they’d taken me into account when figuring how much space they needed.

A big attraction of these kinds of events is the opportunity to discover new artists, or even to give others a second or third chance. That’s what happened with me and the solo musician Ellis. I saw her first at Folk Alliance 2004 and wasn’t so impressed. I then checked out a set of hers at the 2005 Folk Alliance and thought a little more of her songs, but it was only after last year’s Falcon Ridge that I liked her enough to buy a CD. And now I’m completely hooked and can’t get enough of her.

Other people whose CDs I picked up at Falcon Ridge include Ryan Fitzsimmons, Randall Williams, Chris O”Brien, and Anthony da Costa, who would be amazing even if he weren’t only 16 years old.

After-hours were mostly spent mostly at the Budgie Dome, which provided live sets by the likes of Jack Hardy, Red Molly, Iain Campbell Smith, and one of my faves, We’re About 9.I did a lot of live recording with my new Roland Edirol R-09, but recording is the easy part. I still need to go back and split each recording into tracks, label them correctly, and do any necessary little cleanup. It will probably be sometime in 2008 before I have finished this.

My Falcon Ridge 2007 photos are now available.I had such a good time at Falcon Ridge that immediately afterward I started contemplating a return to the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival. I say “return” because after attending annually from 1997 to 2001, I hadn’t been back since. A big incentive for me was that Ellis would be performing a mainstage set, as would Gandalf Murphy and The Slambovian Circus of Dreams. This group defies description, but I found myself missing their high-energy performance just days after Falcon Ridge ended.

A major reason why I hadn’t returned to Lyons, Colorado is the fact that on-site camping tickets tend to sell out in February or March and I usually don’t plan my life more than a week or two in advance. But when I checked at the end of July, a few such passes had become available due to returns and I quickly grabbed one. I figured that by not renting a car, I could do the whole weekend for less than $600. I discovered that I could get to Lyons from the airport for only $10 on the public bus.

And it was so nice to be back. The site is really beautiful, with a river running through it, and with quite nice facilities including real toilets and permanent stages (one of them now with covered seating).

I spent my first evening listening to the final night of the Song School open mike (the festival itself didn’t begin until the next day). My most memorable moment from that night is after Darrell Scott performed. He was so obviously superior to everyone else we’d heard that the MC said “I don’t know if I’m supposed to say this, but Holy Shit!”

During the course of the festival I got to see Judy Collins for the first time, see a great set by Catie Curtis, my reprise of Ellis and Gandalf Murphy (Josiah, the lead singer of Gandalf Murphy, said that listening to Ellis’s set is like sitting down for a chat with your older sister), discover The Guggenheim Grotto, Serena Ryder, Brett Dennen, and Darrell Scott, and catch up with old festival friends. Even Chris Isaak was a lot of fun to watch!

That wrapped up my summer camping, but there was still a hole in my schedule: I hadn’t yet been to Boston this summer. Unbeknownst to many, Boston is the center of the singer/songwriter universe, and I think it even bests Austin in the category of Live Music Capital of the USA.I flew out for Club Passim‘s Cutting Edge of the Campfire Festival, which runs from Friday afternoon of Labor Day weekend until Monday night, as I have done a few times before.

This time, though, I showed up three days earlier so I could partake in the fun of Greg Klyma‘s Tuesday night residency at Toad in Porter Square. Also taking part in the fun were Dana Price, Danielle Miraglia, and the Ryan Fitzsimmons Band. Before the show, I stopped off at Porter Exchange for the worst Japanese meal of my life. See my review on Yelp.

During the weekend festivities, I barely missed a minute, there were so many good performers. I ended up returning with 19 new CDs in tow, including Susan Levine‘s latest masterpiece, seven years in the making. I first discovered Susan back in 1999, playing the open mike at a neighborhood Chinese restaurant in Cambridge, not far from where I was living.

Impressive first-time (for me) performers included Moe Provencher, Todd Martin, Carsie Blanton, Christina Schell, Nicole Reynolds, Chad Perrone, Liz Longley, and Lindsay Mac (who plays her cello like a guitar).

Campfire Festival CD Table


No I didn’t buy a copy of each and every one of these.

I wasn’t back in San Diego long before my mind started thinking of “What If”s. What if I headed up to Oregon for the Sisters Folk Festival? What if I head out to Joshua Tree for their festival? Or maybe I’ll stay put for a bit.

Live Music in Greece & Bulgaria

Being a live music fan, when I travel I naturally like to seek out some live music venues. I haven’t been very successful in Greece or Bulgaria.

Greece is full of “music bars”, but that just means that the bar plays music over their sound system, or maybe they have a DJ (sometimes brought over from the U.S.) spinning tunes.

In Thessaloniki, I went to Face Bar for their “Girls Play Guitars” night, but I messed up and went on Thursday instead of Wednesday.  I’m not sure how I did that, but I still had a great time, and my one experience hanging out and talking with locals (other than people I was renting rooms from).

The one concert I found was entirely by chance. I was on my way back to my hostel in Athens and I was peering in an open door when an old man on the street told me that a concert was about to start and he thought it was free. He checked with the staff and it was indeed free so I went in for a while.

It was a guy playing instrumental tunes on an acoustic guitar, and I quickly fell asleep, owing both to the lack of vocals and the late hour.

Ahh, the late hour. This is a beef of mine and I must admit that it applies to much of Europe and many other places too. That concert didn’t start until 23:00, and that seems to be early.

Now, I must point out that I’m a late-night person and you’ll often find me hanging at Lestat’s until two in the morning, but that doesn’t mean I want my concerts to start after midnight.

Here in Sofia, Bulgaria there are a bunch of places called “Pop Folk” clubs, and that got my hope up as a chance to see some local pop or folk artists. But when I inquired I was told that most just have a DJ.

However, there’s a place near the hostel I’m staying at that does have live music. I was told they open at 22:30, so I went over there about 23:00 to see about getting in.

The first bad sign was the large number of security dudes standing by the door, along with two metal detectors and an icon indicating that knives and guns are not permitted inside. Oh, and the name of the place is “Sin City.” It doesn’t quite have the ring of “Java Joe’s.” Basically it’s a dance club.

However, it’s a big place with two floors with different music plus a smaller room called “Folk Club Help” and they said it would have live traditional Bulgarian music (not quite what I wanted, but better than the thump thump thump I heard coming from the rest of the building). I paid my 8 leva (4 euro) and went inside. Of course it was so early that I was the only one there besides the staff. They said the music wouldn’t start until midnight. Oh, alright. But then I was hit with the really bad news. The room was fully booked. “No room at tables. No room at the bar” they told me. And I noticed an unopened whiskey bottle on each table, and a small rectangular stage in the middle of the room. I tried to talk my way into being allowed to stay, but it didn’t work. I was able to get my admission fee back from the cashier even though the Folk Club staff told me they don’t issue refunds but I’m free to roam the rest of the (thump thump thump) club.

It probably would have been an interesting experience. I noticed that some of the other Folk Pop clubs I visited promised a striptease, but it looks like I’ll never know.

The problem with visiting a country for just a few days, apart from not being able to grasp big things like the language, is that it can often be the little things that are truly frustrating. Sometimes you have to live somewhere for months (or years) before you learn your favorite places. In a few days, you just don’t have the opportunity to find the places you might love. But sometimes you luck out and find a great place. And maybe a word like “Folk Pop” doesn’t mean quite what you think it means.

Update on 2007-07-01: I don’t know how I forgot to mention my favorite live music experience in Greece, at Lyrakia (AKA Liraki AKA Cafe Crete AKA Kafe Kriti)musicians playing at Kafe Kriti in the town of Chania (AKA Hania or Χανιά). The Lonely Plant guide describes this place as “rough and ready”, and indeed a fight broke out one night between two of the regular patrons and spilled out into the street. But the music was authentic, traditional Cretin, and the place was patronized both by locals and by tourists, many of whom said they return here year after year.

Folk Alliance in Montréal

I’m back from the annual Folk Alliance conference, held this year in freezing cold Montréal, Québec. It was four solid days of euphoria for me as I got to sit around intimate hotel rooms and hear some of my favorite musicians play, as well as discover new people.

If I had to pick the performance that left the strongest impression, it was the showcase by Chris Chandler, a spoken-word artist I first saw at Kerrville last year, and his m usical accompanist Jo Smith. I keep notes on the performers I see, usually assigning a rating of 1 (decent), 2 (quite good), 3 (I need to get some of their CDs), or 0 (they suck). After Chris and Jo’s performance, what came out of my pen was “Oh My God!” as no number seemed capable of expressing my awe of them.

There was such a great dynamic between Chris and Jo. So I was devastated to read just a few days later that Jo Smith had decided the life of a traveling musician is not for her and she and Chris will not be touring the country. If anyone has a tape of one of their performances, I’d love to get a copy.

Summer 2004

I am off to the East Coast for my near-annual pilgrimage. I’ll visit with my sister and mother in New York before heading up to MA, first with my mom and then on my own. While I’m there, I’ll attend MacWorld Expo and the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. I had also intended to go to the Usenix conference but this conflicted with my family visit, so maybe I’ll head to Atlanta in the fall to LISA instead.


I’d thought about going to the Kerrville Folk Festival for years, but I was scared by all the talk of rain, floods, and fire ants.

I decided to brave all that and finally got around to attending for the first time this year. It was different from all the other folk festivals I’ve attended. This one is more like summer camp for adults. It’s not just a weekend of headliner acts, but 18 days long, and the emphasis is more on what goes on in the campgrounds, while the main stage is secondary. Many people I talked to never or rarely went to the main stage. Days were spent sitting around reading, talking, cooling off in the nearby river, or driving into the town of Kerrville for a little dose of civilization (Texas-style: the Barnes & Noble wannabe store devotes a full third of its books section to Christian books). Nights were spent watching the official acts, followed by staying up until 0400 wandering the campground listening to music emanate from various song circles.

This was also my first time in Texas, and it did seem like a different country. I liked how everyone is very polite and found myself adjusting my speech accordingly so I didn’t sound too much like a brash Californian. The HEB supermarket (more like a French hypermarché) was a favorite hangout of mine when I wanted to cool off and/or eat local cuisine like a brisket sandwich.

At the end of my trip, I spent a few days in Austin, staying at the local hostel and doing my best to check out the local music scene.

Second Summer in Boston

Music is my life and San Diego is severely lacking in this regard, so I had to go where the music is, and that meant living in Boston until it got too cold for me to stay. Well, I think I could put up with the cold, but I really wanted to hit the road and travel more and I was already paying for one apartment (in San Diego) that was sitting empty and I didn’t want to have a second empty flat in Boston. But I will be back. There are too many attractions in Boston for me to stay away for long. I also attended a web publishing “Boot Camp” there, took a bunch of bicycling adventures, and went camping in Acadia National Park.

Summer 1998

I took advantage of Summer (1998) and tried to get to as many folk festivals as I could reasonably attend. Towards the end of July, I went to upstate New York to attend my second Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, camping with other members of the Dar Williams internet discussion list.

Because the Newport Folk Festival also appeared to have a pretty good lineup this year, I decided to kill time on the East Coast for the two-week interval. The first week I hung out in Boston, with the stated intention of catching as many musical shows as I could. This involved spending most evenings at Club Passim in Harvard Square. I was there for Tuesday night’s Open Mic, Wednesday’s Christopher Williams and Pierce Pettis gig, and I was back again on Thursday to see both of Dan Bern’s shows.

The next week was spent on Long Island, staying with my sister at her place in Westhampton Beach. Talk about “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”! I couldn’t believe the display of wealth evident all around that area.

The easiest way to get from Eastern Long Island to Newport, Rhode Island, was via Block Island. I couldn’t complain. Block Island’s a great place and this was a wonderful excuse to visit again, if only for my five-hour layover between ferries. I rented a mountain bike and tooled around the island, with my first stop being at the Southeast Lighthouse. Last time I was on the island, in 1993, the lighthouse was in the process of being moved away from the cliffs on which it stood (and which were eroding more and more each year, threatening the very existence of the lighthouse). At the end of the day, I hopped the ferry to Newport and was met by one of the people I would be sharing a B&B room with. I spent the weekend attending the festival before heading home to San Diego on Monday.

music in Napa

I actually made it up to Napa for the Napa Valley Music Festival on September 20 and 21. Highlights included attending all four hours of Steve Seskin’s songwriting workshops (though I’ll probably never write a song in my life), Steve’s main stage performance, the Joel Raphael Band from my current home town of San Diego, and several of the songs heard at the after hours song circle I attended, but especially Mark Bradlyn‘s “Outside The Family Way“, about how he’s just not cut out for a life of raising a family. I identified quite strongly with that one.

Summer of 1997

Wow! Amazing! Incredible! That sums up my feelings upon returning from the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in Lyons, Colorado. This has been the summer of folk music festivals for me. My first one was two years ago in Edmonton. I stayed in a hotel (the official hotel!) and hung out by myself for most of the time. See my Edmonton report for all the details of that trip.

This Summer’s experiences were a bit different. At the end of July, I flew to Albany, New York to attend the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival located in Hillsdale. I subscribe to the Dar Williams discussion list on the ‘net and a bunch of people decided to get together at Falcon Ridge, as Dar would be performing there. I had nothing better to do and I’m always looking for excuses to go traveling, so I jumped at the opportunity. All us Dar fans created Camp Dar, a place where we could all hang out and enjoy not just our common love of music, but each other’s company too. Jef Scoville was the elder statesman who showed us how it’s all done, while most of the other people were first-time festival goers in their teens or twenties. Dar even came by her namesake camp on Friday afternoon, friendly as always. Her manager, Charlie Hunter, stopped by several times and was always very gracious towards all of us.

At the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, I camped with the Folk Music Digest contingent, around the BOT (Big Orange Tarp). This was an older group, made up mostly of musicians. No matter what time I wandered into the camp, someone was sure to be playing an instrument, whether a guitar or a harp. I could never forget I was at a music festival.

Dar’s performance at Falcon Ridge was wonderful, of course. Other performers I had come to see included Greg Brown, Cheryl Wheeler, Dan Bern, and Moxy Früvous. But the biggest surprise was Janis Ian. Sure, I remember her sweet songs from the ’70s and I figured she’s another washed-up artist living on her former glory, but that was definitely not the case. She just blew everyone away! Her guitar-playing was amazing and had everyone in awe. At the end of the evening, it was Janis that everyone was talking about.

I had never seen Dan Bern before, but I was suitably impressed. I’ve been told that people either love him or hate him. I have to place myself in the former category, though there were plenty in the latter among the Camp Dar contingent. He’s very “in your face” and some people don’t like that. But you just have to be wowed by a guy with “balls the size of grapefruits”. He also happened to be performing a show in Montréal when I was there a few days after Falcon Ridge so I went to see him again.

Vance Gilbert was very funny. He is quick to point out that he, as an African-American, is a distinct minority at these (mostly White) folk festivals (“there aren’t many chips in the cookie”). I think I also saw three or four Asians (besides myself) at Falcon Ridge. Vance Gilbert also did a Performance Workshop on the Workshop Stage, where he critiqued and gave advice to up and coming performers. This was also quite entertaining. One of the people he helped out in this way was Diana Jones, doing her song “The One That Got Away”. I also heard her perform later in a song circle. I really liked her performance and I bought her CD at the “Record Tent”. However, I was disappointed by it when I got it home and spun it. It was the CD I was most looking forward to hearing, but the song she performed is not on the disc, and I didn’t feel that anything on her CD lived up to the live performances I had seen. Another song circle song that stuck in my mind was Hollywood Comes To Hoboken, by Greg Cagno, an autobiographical song about the singer’s car being towed when Ron Howard and company arrived to do a shoot on his street:

I got towed by Opie
Ritchie Cuttingham towed me
I don’t care who you are I was here before you
You’re a big shot director
And I’m just a renter
But I’d appreciate my wheels back when you’re through

Speaking of song circles, this is where the real discoveries are made. And at the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, it was especially true that while it was the big names on the main stage that got me on the airplane, it was the never-heard-before artists in the after-hours song circles that made the biggest lasting impressions.

I usually gravitate towards female singers, but the ones that really blew me away at Rocky Mountain were males. Andrew McKnight, from Middleburg, Virginia, sang some really poignant tunes, such as his Last Call Waltz, about a first date going absolutely nowhere, while Steve Seskin was my absolute favorite. For the four days before the festival begins, a Song School is held on the grounds, thus attracting an even stronger group of singer-songwriters than is usually present at these festivals. Steve Seskin was one of the teachers (along with Vance Gilbert, David Wilcox, Tom Paxton, Catie Curtis, and others). He has been writing and performing for 25 years, but he says that early in his career he made the decision not to tour, which is why we haven’t heard of him, though many of his songs have been recorded by, and been hits for, other artists.

I heard Steve sing Friday and Saturday nights, and was suitably impressed, but his crowning achievement, and the performance that won over tons of new fans, was his Sunday appearance on the Workshop Stage. He opened with a new song, New Orleans, a gender-swapped, younger, Bridges of Madison County, where a 28-year-old woman pulls off the interstate to gas up and ends up staying, getting married, having children, and working at the gas station where she stopped, leaving behind her former life in New Orleans. The power of this song, though, is more in what’s not said. We’re never really told much about New Orleans, other than “That’s another story … that’s another time, that’s another town, that’s another life.”

When she dropped the kids off
At mothers’ day out
All the ladies had their questions
But they knew not to ask about
New Orleans

I thought maybe it was my own memories about New Orleans that were making my eyes water, but after Steve’s second song, someone in the first row grabbed a box of Kleenex off the stage and started passing it around, so I knew that I was not alone. What I thought was so special about his songs is most were not explicitly tear-jerkers; the emotional impact was stealthily injected into the songs. Like with New Orleans, the greater impact was often made by what was implied rather than by what was said. Steve Seskin has perfected the art of the story song.

I hear that all of Steve Seskin’s CDs sold out immediately after his workshop stage performance. Luckily, I had bought one of his albums the day before the stampede. Everyone I spoke with agreed that Steve’s performance was awesome. I’ll have to track down any live performances of his next time I’m in the Bay Area, and order his other CDs.

Megan McLaughlin, a school teacher from Oakland, California, was another of my song circle favorites. She had also been at Falcon Ridge, as had several other people performing around the real and virtual campfires.

Back to the Main Stage, I was happy to see Cheryl Wheeler again, along with only my second viewing of The Nields. Their vocal harmonies are wonderful, and their workshop stage performance with The Burns Sisters was an added treat. I also finally got to see Eddie From Ohio, and I was so impressed that I bought three of their albums, after promising myself not to get carried away and buy too many CDs this time. I also experienced my second time seeing Nancy Griffith and Catie Curtis, and good first impressions of Tom Paxton and Peter Himmelman.

Overall, the three festivals I attended this summer were an absolutely wonderful experience. For those who have never attended, just imagine several days filled with nothing but great music all around you, almost twenty-four hours a day.

After Falcon Ridge, I spent a few weeks traveling around Québec. I didn’t have that much time to spend again after Rocky Mountain, but I did spend Monday doing a little sightseeing, checking out Rocky Mountain National Park and the town of Boulder, Colorado.

Québec surprised me. I never realized how French (in terms of language) it really is. Yeah, I know they want their own country and all (sort of) but I expected it to be more bilingual. In fact, I found the anti-English feelings to be quite strong. I would even go so far The PFK Colonel as to say their French-only stance is laughably pompous and arrogant. They try to be more French than the French and even the French I met thought it was ridiculous. For example, their stop signs don’t say STOP, but rather ARRÊTEZ. But what do stop signs say in France? They say STOP. Another example is that popular fried chicken restaurant from Kentucky. Around the world it is known as KFC. It’s KFC in Japan; KFC in China; KFC in France! But noooo, those crazy Québecois couldn’t stand to have a TLA based on English polluting their fast food drive-thru lanes. So in Québec, the Colonel smiles down from his PFK sign.

I was also surprised by how few English-speaking visitors come to Québec. 99% of the people I met in the hostels were either French, Belgian, or Québecois. I expected to see many more Americans (Montreal is only an hour from the border; four hours from Albany, New York) and Anglophone Canadians. But who can really blame them. English speakers are most definitely made to feel unwelcome. For example, the city of Montreal has gone through the trouble of erecting tourist information kiosks around the city. But they are entirely in French, with not a word of English on them. Hey, this is Canada guys!

Once you leave Montreal, you’re really on your own (good thing I’ve studied French for five years). In the countryside, absolutely everything is in French. I must add here that I’m not the xenophobic type, nor do I look for trouble. When I visited France a few years ago, I did not encounter any of the rudeness that many Americans report. I spoke French as much as I could (that being not very well) and tried to follow local customs, such as always greeting the shopkeeper upon arrival. I was more than happy to try and fit in with the local culture, and this is probably why I had all good experiences.

I felt differently in Québec, though. Probably because it all seemed so farcical. After all, this isn’t France. I saw it as a bunch of people pretending to be French; pretending so hard in fact that English has been completely banned from their land. But they’re only fooling themselves.

Another Dar Concert

For the fourth time in my life, I attended a Dar Williams concert on 1997-06-12, and as always, it was a wonderful experience. Check out a great review of that appearance. Mary Dolan and Randi Driscoll opened. Mary has long been one of my favorite local artists.

Summer 1996

Summer 1996 was pretty busy. Lots of events to keep me entertained.

Toronto was great! I really liked that city. Too bad it gets so cold in the winter or I would consider living there some time. I went for Greg Wong’s wedding, and a good time was had by all. I found it interesting that they felt it necessary to hire two armed guards for the banquet (this is super safe Canada) because there had been a spate of recent robberies of wedding banquets due to the large amounts of cash given as wedding gifts.

The Barenaked Ladies were wonderful, as usual. I dragged my business partner along to the concert and he liked them so much he flew off to Arizona to see them again the next night. Ahh, another rut he’s in…

I saw my sister twice, once in New York in July and then again in L.A. in August.

No Edmonton Folk Festival for me this year

I missed out on the Edmonton Folk Music Festival this year. Tickets sold out very early. I snoozed; I losed. The plan was to hit both the Folk Festival and the Fringe Festival. Oh well. Maybe next time.

Spring Break in Seattle

I spent a few days of my Spring Break in Seattle. I had never been there before and had heard it was a nice city so I decided to check it out, along with my friend Joyce. We stayed in Pioneer Square. And what luck! It didn’t rain while we were there. We also caught a Barenaked Ladies concert at the Moore Theater, wandered Bainbridge Island, and went to see the locks at Bremer.

Loreena McKennitt in Tokyo

I got to see Loreena McKennitt for only the third time in my life while I was in Tokyo and got a chance to speak with her. Here’s a copy of the write-up I did for the Old-Ways mailing list…

Loreena spent about a week touring Japan with The Chieftains, including three shows over two days in Tokyo. I attended the final show on the last day (1995-12-04), as did a few other old-ways list members, though I didn’t get the chance to meet any of them.

The Tokyo concerts were held at the Globe Theater, a modern version of the Old Globe, and a place that seated about 350 people. However, the crowd in attendance was definitely there to see The Chieftains, and probably saw Loreena only as a hinderance to seeing the main act.

Loreena came to Tokyo with only Brian Hughes in tow, and started off the show at 19:05 with four songs, including She Moved Through The Fair, The Bonny Swans, and Prospero’s Speech. Twenty minutes later, it was over. The crowd gave polite applause, but did not even come close to requesting an encore. After all, they were there to see The Chieftains.

The response to the main act was much more enthusiastic. The Chieftains played for close to two hours, including a second encore set after the house lights had been raised but the audience refused to leave and demanded more. Loreena and Brian sat in with the band on a few numbers including a rendition of her Bonny Portmore.

Unfortunately, the concert lacked that magical feel that Loreena concerts usually invoke. Perhaps because I was sitting on the second (of three) level, in a corner with little sound getting to me, and the fact that her set was so short. It also didn’t help that I was not enamored of The Chieftains, who perform mostly instrumental Irish music.

The after-concert happenings made up for any prior disappointment though. Old-Ways list members had been told that they would be able to “meet-and-greet” Loreena after the show and to enquire at the venue as to the specific place and time. Because this was the last show in Japan, an end-of-tour party was being held after the concert at a nearby pub, and Old-Ways members were invited to come along.

The party featured tons of food (pizza, mini-drumsticks, fish cakes, paella) and an open bar. Brian Hughes happened to wander over so I spoke with him for a while, covering various topics including Seeds of Love. Among other things, I mentioned that I was surprised to see in the liner notes that Loreena had composed that tune in 1981, and that those of us who saw her perform it in concert had wondered where it came from. He said that the first time he practiced with Loreena, back in 1987, she had played it, but it just never made it into print before now.

After grabbing a bit more food (I hadn’t eaten since my lunch of Burmese Moo Hin Nga and it was now after 22:00), my friend and I wandered over to Loreena, who was now standing by herself. We just chatted for a long while, until it was time for her to leave. It was really nice to talk to her in such a casual setting, as one might do with anyone with whom one had a casual acquaintance, talking about subjects as varied as her business philosophy and her upcoming vacation plans.

My First Folk Festival

In the summer of 1995 I went to the Edmonton Folk Music Festival in Edmonton, Alberta. Here is my take on Festival events, as posted to The Old Ways mailing list (a list by and for fans of Loreena McKennitt). Or take a look at my complete travelogue.