Wednesday, December 03, 2008


I don't even want to MENTION. how long. it's been. Let's just call it a lost weekend and pretend I'm still 29...


The world is a bloom of infinite thoughts
and that would be beauty enough
but for the elegant pains we endure
to prove our true love for the stuff.

So a low-grade malaise sinks in like a coin
tossed in to the well for a prayer;
it floats like a dancer caught up by two arms
then drops to the bottom of care.

Like a cat spotting shadows the rest of us can't
there are few who can see past the doors
to the vast undulation of sunsets beyond;
a fractal equation of stars.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

FOUND GEMS - Summer time, and the livin' is easy...

Good lord, have I gotten behind on my updates, or what?? I'll catch up and post them all in the next few days, but for now, here is my CKUA monty project update from July 19:

There's a parade outside our windows today, and the 'county fair' is coming to town! Even though I haven't gone in years, knowing that the fair is in town always makes me feel like a kid again. So this week, I bring you some children's songs, found like a shiny new penny at thebottom of the slide!

From outside my townhouse the other day, I heard the cheerful sound of the ice-cream trolley passing through the neighborhood, and it made feel nostalgic for childhood summers. In tribute to the lazy days of carnivals and lemon-aid stands, this week I want to share some of the great children’s songs I’ve come across. None of these songs come from children’s albums, but they do reflect the spirit of the genres.

1. The Greatest Songs of Woody Guthrie
Originally released as a two-volume set in 1972 by Vanguard, this album was later condensed from 29 songs to 23 songs, to be released on CD. The CKUA library has the original two-album set.
Includes performances by: Guthrie himself, Cisco Houston, The Weavers, Country Joe McDonald, Jack Elliott, Odetta, and Jim Kweskin.
Here are some notes I found on the web, written by Cisco about his friend Woody Guthrie:

… I first met Woody in Los Angeles, California in 1938, where he had a daily radio program…We used to sing together on his program, and I would help him open the letters and count the quarters, which he always shared with anyone who needed a few---and I did. Those were hard days! With Will Geer, one of our finest actors, we traveled up and down California, putting on shows of skits and songs for the migratory workers.
…During the years that followed Woody and I traveled and sang together throughout the country. We sang on street corners and in saloons all over the big Southlands. We were always trying to get enough money to get to the next town. …During World War II, we were Merchant Seamen together. I can remember Woody coming aboard ship looking like a walking pawn shop window, with guitars, mandolins and fiddles hanging all over him. We took the instruments everywhere we went, and we sang and played all over Africa, Sicily, and the United Kingdom. We got torpedoed a couple of times, and when the ship didn't sink too fast, we would get the whole crew to join in, singing the "Reuben James." We've had a lot of years and a lot of good and hard times together, and I only wish I had the space to tell you more about Woody Guthrie. He is quite a remarkable man. (, found July 18, 2007)

The first album includes a wonderful group of (some of my favourite) children’s songs, all written by Woody, and my number one pick is:

Cisco Houston, covering “Ship in the Sky”

2. Newport Folk Festival, 1960 Vol. 1

Alan Mills, “I Know an Old Lady”

Anyone who grew up in Canada will know this song, but most of us probably think of Burl Ives when we hear it. He did the version that we hear in the National Film Board of Canada’s 1964 film of the same name. It was actually co-written by Alan Mills and Rose Bonne. This live version of the song is great because you can really hear how tickled-pink the audience is!

3. Old-Time Southern Dance Music; The String Bands, Vol. 2

Uncle Bud Landress, “Rubber Dolly Rag”

‘Uncle’ Bud Landress was an incredibly prolific performer in the 1920’s American South. Here is what had to say about his version of this song:

His interpretation of "Rubber Dolly Rag", a fiddle tune that for many represents the essence of nostalgia for the good old days, is considered the standard, at least to the point where it is Landress that gnabed [sic] songwriting credit for the piece when it was covered by country stars such as western swing bandleader Bob Wills or guitar virtuoso Chet Atkins. Merle Haggard wrote a song about the song, "Uncle John", and Captain Beefheart liked "Rubber Dolly Rag" so much that the original recording made it onto a compilation entitled Gimme Dat Harp Boy which purports to be a flattened, miniaturized vision of Beefheart's desert island jukebox.
(, found July 18, 2007

4. So Glad I’m Here – Bessie Jones

Bessie Jones was one of the founding members of the Georgia Sea Island Singers, a roots music group that drew on the diverse Afro-cultural music traditions of the region. details some of the history that made these small American islands so unique:

Once the site of large plantations, the islands were seized by the Union in 1861, early in the Civil War. It was a strategic location from which the Union could easily blockade shipments that were headed to the rebellious Southern states. The original landowners had fled, leaving something in the neighborhood of 10,000 former slaves behind. These people became part of what was known as the Port Royal Experiment, a chance to see what fate would bring to the newly freed slaves. Since the Northern army had consistently rejected the enlistment of black soldiers, the governing and security of the Georgia Sea Islands was handed over to locally enlisted citizens, meaning that for the first time in American history, African-Americans were allowed to protect themselves. From the end of the Civil War until the '30s, these islands enjoyed a period of isolation from mainland life. During these years, a further cultural blend took place between the descendents of two sets of former slaves: the Afro-Americans and a huge group of former slaves from the Bahamas who traveled there following the abolishment of slavery in the British empire. (, found July 18, 2007)

On this particular album Bessie goes solo, performing the songs she learned as a child, and the liner notes include stories about them in her own words. The best children’s song on the album is:

Bessie Jones singing with local children, “Shoo Turkey”

Happy Listening!


Saturday, July 21, 2007


Writings on aging
Should be left to the young ones
Lest it seem tacky.
Welcome, Natablogians!!

This week at CKUA, I am steadily breaking-on-through to the other side of the United States section of the world LP's. Since we are fully engulfed in the festival season now, this week's theme is festival albums. Like beads at Mardi-Gras, these gems are bound to get you into a celebrating mood.

FOUND GEMS – The United States

As you may have guessed, the United States section of the world music LP’s is a huge treasure trove of folk and blues favourites. Since there are over 350 albums to choose from, I’ll spend at least a few weeks picking out worthy highlights from here. As far as festival albums go, there are so many big names and classic songs that I’m reluctant to try and single out a handful, but I’ll give it a go!

The Newport Folk Festival (various artists)
The first item on my list is actually a collection of 19 albums; live recordings from the Newport Folk Festival, spanning the years 1959 to 1965. There is so much great stuff in here I’m sure someone could do an entire show – or two – using these albums alone! The collection includes rare performances by artists like Pete Seeger, Buffy Saint-Marie, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Doc Watson, Maybelle Carter, Jose Feliciano – honestly the list just goes on and on. If pressed I’d say the stand-out album for me was the seventh album – Newport Folk Festival, 1964; Evening Concerts, Vol. 1, which includes a rendition of “Corinna” by Sleepy John Estes, a moving performance of “Cod’ine” by Buffy Saint-Marie, a haunting version of “El Pastor” by Jose Feliciano, and features Phil Ochs performing the brilliantly satirical “Draft Dodger Rag”.

On air:
Jose Feliciano, “El Pastor”
From Newport Folk Festival, 1964; Evening Concerts, Vol. 1

The Waimea Music Festival (various artists)
I found some notes on this album at the Waimea General Store:

Back in 1974, a stage was built in the middle of a beautiful Waimea pasture just out of town...Panini Records had the world-famous Wally Heider Recording crew bring in six thousand pounds of the finest recording gear to the Big Island from Los Angeles. "Never before in Hawaii's musical history had a concert been recorded with this level of sophistication. The performances are spontaneous, captured in the moment for you to enjoy." Some of the finest Hawaiian musicians of that time got together for an afternoon of incredible music and fun.

According to everything I’ve read, the 1970’s were quite a renaissance period for Hawaiian music, and this album captures some the best traditional and experimental artists of the time.
For me, the highlights of this two-album set are the slack-key instrumental pieces by Fred Punahoa, who was a major influence on many other prominent artists of the time. According to an article I found about him on Wikipedia, they are the only two recordings of his work ever made: (however, I cannot verify this since there are no sources cited).

On air:
"Slack-key Instrumental #2" by Fred Punahoa

San Francisco Blues Festival (various artists)
Last but certainly not least is a 3-volume collection of highlight performances from the San Francisco Blues Festival in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Volume 3 includes three songs performed by the great Big Mama Thornton in August of 1979, just a few years before her death. Despite looking frail and surprisingly thin in her cover photo, she does a moving rendition of her signature song “Ball and Chain” that reassures her audience that her voice and her presence are just as big as ever.

On air:
"Ball and Chain" by Big Mama Thornton

Happy listening!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

It's time for Natabaloo's second installment of Diggin' fer Treasure, aka Found Gems...Y'ar!! I'm on the tail-end of finishing up the Canada section, the last half of which mainly covered the eastern cost.


We are moving a fair chunk of the Canada section into R3, or North America Misc., to accommodate our collection of First Nations music (which is often border-less). So far, this one caught my eye the most:

Inuit Throat and Harp Songs
Eskimo Women’s Music of Povungnituk
- Tagaq, the not-so-traditional throat singer is coming to the Edmonton Folk Fest this year, so of course it has piqued my interest in throat singers. I think what I like best about throat singing is how often the women break down into laughter at the end of a song, which is quite common in this genre, from what I understand.

More from the R1 section: The Canada LP section is more or less complete, just a few loose ends to tie up. Here are a few more treasures I’ve come across:

In the Dawning – A Story of Canada
Various artists
- This collection includes some intriguing collaborations and many notable artists, such as Christopher Plummer with The London Symphony Orchestra, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Connie Kaldor, and many more. The arrangement of the songs constructs a story, which follows a narrative that is interspersed through out the liner notes.

Musique du Quebec
Various artists
- A compellation in six volumes, this collection is a veritable who’s who of 1970’s French-Canadian musical artists. Originally released in 1979, it celebrates the first thirty years of “The chanson (that unique manifestation of popular music in Quebec)” (liner notes, first page).

Songs of the Iron Trail: The Canadian Railroad Experience in Song
Performed by Barry Luft and Tim Rogers, with Grit Laskin
- I knew I’d have a soft spot for this album as soon as I saw the title, because my grandfather worked on the Ontario railways for many years after the Second World War. He actually worked right on the ‘iron trail’, fixing the ties to the ground with a hammer, just like the folk song Johnny Cash recently made famous, “John Henry”. The amazing thing about this album is that the melodies feel quite upbeat, even though the subject matter is about harsh working conditions and the melancholy that comes with desperately low pay. I suppose that, as with many folk music traditions, sympathetic lyrics are paired with a sweet tune in order to uplift or to soothe its disaffected and malcontented audience. I’m particularly fond of track 6, “Hobo’s Song to the Mounties”, and track 9 (side 2), “The Kettle Valley Line”, the two least cheerful sounding songs.

The songs I came across the most this week:
Le Six Grande Pieds
Money Musk
A La Claire Fontaine
Un Canadien Errant
(English translation: A Wandering Canadian) – A google search of this title may pull up lots of Leonard Cohen links. Don’t be fooled! It was originally written over a century before he covered the tune.

If I’m not being too optimistic, next week I should be able to start giving updates on the United States (R 2) section. It’s a big one, so that will probably be the focus of this log for the next couple of weeks, at least!

Happy listening!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Hi everyone!As I have mentioned before, I'm interning at CKUA radio in the music library for the summer. I spend most of my time basking in the wilderness of theWorld Music LPs. The head librarian, the lovely Susan, thought it would be a nice idea for me to keep everyone posted about some of the gems and oddities that I come across while wading waste deep into the underbrush of the second floor library, and I thought it would be nice to post my finds here too.

Why all the references to the great outdoors, you ask? Because for my very first update, I shall pass along the secret treasures of the R 1 section, otherwise know as the Great White North (Canadian folk music, that is). Only one section in, and I've already discovered some fascinating stuff...


Saskatchewan Jubilee – The Young Sound (Vol. 1)
- Released for Saskatchewan’s Diamond Jubilee in 1965
- I just had to include this album as a sweet look back at what was considered ‘the young sound’ in 1960’s Saskatchewan. As a side note, the blue and yellow cover art reminds me why the Ukrainians so often made the prairies their home: the vast blue skies and golden fields of wheat were so much like the familiar landscape of the homeland, just as it was represented on the Ukrainian national flag.

Lumbering Songs from the Ontario Shanties (Folkways recording)
- This is a fascinating collection of folk songs that came from the hard-living lumber shanties of the nineteenth century. In the liner notes, Edith Fowke (no joke!), the compiler of this album, talks about the borderless nature of American and Canadian culture in the shanties, where young workers would often cross the border to find work. This cross-pollination of stories makes for a colourful collection of shanty tunes.

Cape Breton Pipe Selections
The MacDougal Girl’s Pipe Band and Piper Deanie Munroe
- According to the Big Pond (NS) website, Piper Deanie Munroe “was the first female piper to release a recording of bag pipe music”.
Besides this fantastic example of ‘Girl Power’, you have to check out this album just for the psychedelic cover art!

Coast to Coast in Canada with Canadian Artists
- When I researched this album, I discovered that it included a selection by Olaf Sveen, who worked at CKUA in the late 60’s to the early 70’s! I just love it when that happens.

Canadian Folk Songs
- This massive 9 album collection is probably one of the greatest caches of Canadian folk music in the LP library. It explores both Anglophone and Francophone standards by some of the top artists of the day. Also known as ‘The Centennial Collection”, it was released by the CBC in 1967 to mark “a hundred years of Confederation”. Each album/volume in the set follows a theme. So the first volume is “Riddle Songs and Traditional Ballads”, followed by “Legendary Ballads and Historical Songs” and so on.

Finally, here is a list of the Canadian folk songs that keep popping up on all kinds of albums in this section:
When the Ice Worms Nest Again (I watched a documentary about these creatures once; strange little squirmy black things that huddle together in masses of Arctic ice)
Concerning Charlie Horse
A Great Big Sea
(which I believe is where the band got its name)
Black Flies of Ontario
(we all remember this one from the CBC's animation)
Squid Jiggin’ Ground
Tickle Cove Pond
The Shantyboy’s Alphabet

Happy listening!

It takes me all day
to work myself up to living

she said

but I like the idea
of a mind that works like that.

It introduced me
to a lost piece of the universe
it proved to me
that the mind is blind
to realities unrecognized;
as new to the senses
as a an undiscovered colour

My mother was a Pinkerton once,
and she was an usher
in some sepia toned movie theatre
years before she met me
but I know those memories
just like my own
learned through inherited memory
of inherent truths
embedded in the molecules
of collective unconscious

But you
showed me something new
that perhaps
I had been stumbling upon
and knocking my head against it
for years.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

I've just added a new link in my "Other Hep Cats" section. Her name is
PixieRiot and she knits amazing stuff. She is also venturing into the world of home-dyed yarns, so check out her growing stash of goodies for sale. I met PixieRiot at CKUA (where I'm working for the summer), where she acts as the uber-library tech for CKUA's HUGE music collection when she's not knitting or singing.

Thursday, May 31, 2007


The really good fortune tellers
don't perceive some immovable chain of events
that define a future:

Instead they are expert
at the art
of encouraging manifestation
of your best possible selves

She will show you

the ultimate sublimation

of your innescapable

free will

and desires.