Thursday, 20 September 2018

Peace and Social Justice

We are in the 6th year of presenting our 60's Folk Revival show at the Free Times Café on College Street in Toronto. Even after all that time, it continues to be exciting for us as a band. Each show has it's own unique audience make-up and mix of songs, which along with other influences like what's happening in the world news, shape the tone. Sometimes it's a raucous party atmosphere and other times like last night, a "gentleness" prevails. I took that word from the comments of an audience member. That's not to say there weren't lots of upbeat songs and even some passionate commentary on current events, but the overall mood was gentle.

Over the past couple weeks several requests for songs from our repertoire were sent to us by people planning to attend the last night's show. We noticed a trend as the set list developed. There was a decidedly clear interest in songs of peace and social justice. Not really surprising, I suppose, given recent political happenings here in our province and further afield. And, we were most happy to oblige with songs like 'Blowin In The Wind', 'Turn Turn Turn', 'Deportee', 'The Banks Are Made of Marble', 'Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream', and of course 'We Shall Overcome'.

Interestingly, what's happening around us even influenced the meaning of other songs quite unexpectedly. For example, in her introduction of 'A World Of Our Own', Sue mused that while it may actually be a love song about a couple, in the context of tonight's theme it could easily be a wish for a world where people were kinder and looked out for each other more. All in the room seemed up for creating 'a world of our own' like that.

Here is the set list...

Our next show is in Hamilton is Saturday, September 29th, 8pm at The Artword Artbar in Hamilton and then we are back at the Free Times Café in Toronto for our monthly show on Wednesday, October 17th at 7:30pm. See you soon!

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Hot August Night!

Thanks so much to everyone who came out to sing with us on Wednesday night. It was a really hot steamy night in Toronto but in the lovely air-conditioned music room of Free Times Café, the warmth being generated was all from a love of the music and camaraderie of people singing together. One lovely newcomer commented that it was the most fun she's had on a Wednesday night!

We introduced two brand new songs this month. 'There Is A Ship', which is the Peter Paul and Mary version of 'The Water Is Wide', and the very intense 'Cod'ine' by Buffy Sainte Marie. Two very different songs from one another. The latter has been requested numerous times over the past few years by one of the younger audience members who attends the show regularly so we were pleased to add it to the repertoire for her. 

Dwight snapped this photo of Michelle and Sue singing 'Bread and Roses', acapella a la Joan and Mimi Baez.

Another birthday was being celebrated this month, and FT's owner Judy was there, so the birthday girl got the full tradition of Happy Birthday being sung to the tune of 'Michael Row Your Boat Ashore' by everyone while having a slice of cake delivered atop Judy's head. Thanks Colin, for capturing this photo of the delivery.

It was a fun night!
Here's a list of the songs we sang...
Looking ahead to September...we two shows scheduled. The first is on Wednesday, Sept. 19th at the Free Times Café in Toronto and the next is at the Artword Artbar in Hamilton on Saturday, September 29th. It's not too soon to make your reservations for either show. 

Hope to see you soon!

Thursday, 19 July 2018

A Folk Filled July!

The 'Where Have All The Folk Songs Gone?' gang took a fun road trip out to Niagara On The Lake on July 8th, where we were invited to kick off Music Niagara's 'Sunday In The Park' Music Series. We performed in the bandshell at Simcoe Park to a few hundred people who came out to enjoy the weather-perfect day. Like last year, Meridian, one of the series' sponsors distributed plastic 'hand clappers' so it sounded like an audience of thousands!

Last night we had a good crowd of singalongers join us for our monthly show at the Free Times Café. There were a lot of first timers in the audience. After the show, one gentleman told me "I didn't know what to expect...but I loved it!" 
Here are some other lovely comments...

We introduced a new-old song that has received many requests at our shows over time called 'Morningtown Ride', written by Malvena Reynolds. Instead of ending the evening with our usual 'Go Tell It On The Mountain' reprise, we sang this lovely lullaby that was a big hit for The Seekers, to send the audience off on their way.

Here is the set list for the evening...

Our next show is at the Free Time Café on Wednesday, August 15th. Hope to see you there!

Monday, 25 June 2018

Two Sold Out Shows In One Week!

What a week! At our regular monthly show last 
Wednesday night, the Free Times Café was packed with singalongers. Judy did a masterful job fitting almost everyone into the music room, and just one couple remained in the overflow or "VIP Lounge" as we like to call it. I don't like anyone to feel left out, so I checked in with them at the break and they said they were doing fine back there, enjoying the music with lots of room to stretch out.

Some special moments from the evening...Michelle led us in a particularly poignant singalong of Woody Guthrie's 'Deportee' that saw a few audience and band members tear up in light of the recent sad headlines that children of migrants were being separated from their parents in the US.
On a happier note, one of our regulars was celebrating his birthday so as is our tradition, we all sang "Happy Birthday To You" to the tune of 'Michael Row Your Boat Ashore' as a piece of cake was delivered to him atop Judy's head. Wish I'd taken a photo to share here.
Another show regular introduced his cousin from Serbia to the show this month, and even though the cousin doesn't speak much English, he told me he really enjoyed the evening. It reminded me of how music really has no borders and brings people together. Quite literally in the case of two gals that evening who were randomly seated side by side, struck up a convo before the show and by the end of the evening were planning to get together for coffee!

Here's the set list from the evening...

Then on Sunday, (last night) we performed for over 235 Torontonians who Winter in Florida and stay connected throughout the rest of the year here with shared social events. It was lots of fun! Here's a collage of a few photos from the evening...

Sunday, 27 May 2018

What About Bob (Dylan)?

Our regular monthly show at the Free Times Cafe, on May 16th, was another packed house. In fact we had to employ the 'overflow room' to accommodate everyone. And what a great bunch of singalongers they were, right from the start.

The setlist included a few more than usual Bob Dylan songs in honour of his 77th birthday. We even had a Dylan themed prize draw...this very cool illustrated book, which was coincidentally won by a lovely lady celebrating her own birthday at the show!

We debuted the song 'Today', which recently had a resurgence of requests pushing it to the top of the 'News Songs To Learn List'. In keeping with our 'rule' that songs must be from the official Folk Revival period of 1955 to 1965, we learned the New Christy Minstrels version. I was concerned that the specific phrasing and key changes in that version would be too big a challenge for the audience to sing along to. Those worries were unfounded and they sang it like champs. That's the beauty of Top 40 hits...they're locked in our brains forever!

Speaking of requests, if you know you are coming to a specific show, let us know in advance if there is a particular song from our list that you'd like to hear. We have so many songs now that we can't possibly fit them all in to one show. Here's a link to the current list Where Have All The Folk Songs Gone Song List

Our next show at the Free Times Café is Wednesday, June 20th. Dinner reservations are highly recommended to ensure a table. Call Judy (Free Times Café owner) directly at 416-967-1078. The music starts promptly at 7:30pm and the Cover charge remains $15 (cash at door).  Hope you can join us!

Here's the set list from the show...

Monday, 7 May 2018

Pete Seeger’s 99th Birthday

What better place is there to celebrate Pete Seeger’s 99th birthday than Hamilton?

Our 2018 return to Hamilton at the wonderful Artword Artbar fell on May 3, the actual date of his birth, so it was only fitting to make Pete’s music the focal point of the evening. Local music fans thought so as well, and we had a very enthusiastic near capacity crowd.

Labour songs were a very important part of Pete’s music and are always popular in Hamilton so 'Joe Hill' and 'Union Maid' were especially well received. The audience also sang along passionately to his songs from the civil rights era, 'We Shall Overcome', 'If I Had a Hammer' and 'Back of the Bus'.

It wasn’t all Pete Seeger though. Several songs received their Hamilton debuts including Woody Guthrie’s 'Deportee', Bob Gibson’s 'To Morrow' and Phil Ochs 'I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore'. Two highlights of the night were Michelle’s sultry 'House of the Rising Sun' (the Ronnie Gilbert version) and Sue’s driven 'Universal Soldier'. It would only be appropriate to give the last word/song to Pete Seeger. It seems we’re still 'Waist Deep in the Big Muddy'!

A big thanks to Ron & Judith at the Artbar and the great audience. We’re looking forward to returning in the fall! Check out the compilation video here: Artword Artbar May 3 2018

Here's the setlist from the evening...

Artword Artbar Setlist - May 3, 2018
Green Green

Walk Right In
Turn Turn Turn

Where Have All The Flowers Gone
Michael Row Your Boat Ashore

Goodnight Irene
Tom Dooley

This Land
The Times They Are A Changin’

I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore
House Of The Rising Sun

To Morrow
Universal Soldier

Joe Hill
Waist Deep In The Big Muddy

You Were On My Mind
Back Of The Bus

Un Canadien Errant

Little Boxes

If I Had A Hammer
Puff The Magic Dragon

Go Tell It On The Mountain
Union Maid

We Shall Overcome

Our next show is our regular third Wednesday of the month at the Free Times Café. Wed. May 16th 7:30pm. Reservations are recommended. Call Judy at 416-967-1078 today

Monday, 30 April 2018

60’s Folk Revival In Hamilton!

We zipped over to Hamilton last week to do a little postering in advance of our May 3rd 60's Folk Revival show at the Artword Artbar. As we were putting them up they were generating interest from passersby. We're hoping that translates into a nice full room of singalongers! Yes...the audience gets to sing along. We even hand out songsheets!

May 3rd also happens to be Pete Seeger's birthday...would have been his there will be an extra emphasis on celebrating this great man and his music.

If you haven't been to the Artword Artbar yet, I'm sure you will be thrilled as we were to find this cosy, welcoming space run by Ronald Weihs and Judith Sandiford who are dedicated to presenting quality theatre and music.
DATE: Thursday, May 3rd

VENUE: Artword Artbar, 15 Colbourne Street, Hamilton 905-543-8512 or 905-912-9083
TICKETS: $15 Reservations recommended or purchase advance tickets online 

Here is some helpful venue info:
~ All-ages welcome
~ Licensed. Micro-brew on tap. Wines, highball cocktails, bottled beer, coolers. Also espresso, tea, juices, and light meals.
~ Street parking at meters, and anywhere not signed “By Permit Only”. There are 2 municipal lots, one off Hughson and one off Mulberry. ** Do not park in the mall parking lot across the street from the club; parking tickets are issued starting at 8pm **
~ Accessibility: the main floor is half a story above street level. Washrooms are a full flight of stairs down to the lower level.

Hope to see you there. It is going to be a fun show.
Sue, Dwight, Michelle, and Tony

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Celebrating Pete!

With Pete Seeger’s birthday just around the corner, on May 3, we decided to celebrate his music and memory at last night's monthly show at the Free Times Cafe. Our favorite saying of his is that he always wrote songs that people could sing along to and getting the audience to sing along is more or less the mission of our 60’s Folk Revival show.

The biggest challenge with a Pete Seeger night is in choosing which songs to play from his vast catalogue. He wrote, re-wrote or covered so many songs of the era. His career from 'hoboing' with Woody Guthrie to the Almanac Singers to the Weavers to the McCarthy blacklist and then back as a solo artist is almost the story of the folk revival itself.

Throughout his career he maintained a sense of fairness and social justice. As he wrote or updated songs, he always ensured that his co-writers and or heirs to public domain songs received both creative and financial credit when he filed copyrights. As a result, Joe Hickerson (Where Have All the Flowers Gone) and the family of Jose Marti in Cuba (Guantanamera) among others have benefited from the popularity of those songs.     

So we made sure we played the ‘obvious’ Pete Seeger songs like 'Where Have All The Flowers Gone?', 'Guantanamera', 'Turn Turn Turn', and 'If I Had a Hammer'. We also added some edgier deep tracks like 'Waist Deep in the Big Muddy' (which got him censored on the Smothers Brothers Show). But in covering Woody’s 'Deportee', Malvina Reynolds’ 'Little Boxes', the traditional 'Michael Row Your Boat Ashore', Florence Reece's 'Which Side Are Youn On?', and  Lead Belly’s 'Goodnight Irene', we realized just how big a reach Pete had. These songs are as closely associated with him as with the writers. Even Phil Ochs’ 'Love Me I’m a Liberal' gives Pete Seeger a shout out… “he sure gets me when he sings those songs”!

Even with all these songs, we didn’t get to other songs he sang frequently like 'Joe Hill', 'Union Maid', 'We Shall Overcome' and 'John Henry' to note a few. The Pete Seeger celebration will just have to be a year around endeavor!

We’ll continue the Pete Seeger celebration at our next show on May 3 at the Artword Artbar in Hamilton.

We’re back at the Free Times on May 16 and it’s a good bet we’ll be playing more Bob Dylan tunes than usual in honour of his big day on May 24!

APRIL 18 - Set List
Set 1
Set 2
Green, Green                               
Walk Right In                                 
500 Miles                       
Which Side Are You On
Michael Row Your Boat Ashore
Where Have All the Flowers Gone  
Tom Dooley                                
Goodnight Irene
A World of Our Own   
Turn Turn Turn
House of the Rising Sun
This Land Is Your Land                  
Waist Deep in the Big Muddy
Love Me I'm A Liberal
The Times Are a-Changin'   
Until Its Time For You to Go
Steel Rail Blues
Un Canadien Errant
Eve of Destruction
You Were On My Mind                
What Have They Done to the Rain/ Little Boxes
If I Had a Hammer                          
Puff the Magic Dragon
Tell It On the Mountain

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Folk Singing Away The February Blahs!

There were no February blahs at the Free Times Cafe on Wednesday night. Instead, a whole bunch of fresh folk faces joined with regulars to inject the February edition of ‘Where Have All the Folk Songs Gone’ with the revival spirit in the truest sense of the word. The evening had so much to offer.

We celebrated Black History month with two civil rights era anthems, 'Back of the Bus' and 'We Shall Overcome', which continue to remind us how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go. One our long time regulars Eric, was celebrating his birthday, which we feted with the Bonnie Dobson version of the beautiful 'Un Canadien Errant'. We also made a few people cry (including some band members) with 'Puff the Magic Dragon' and 'Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream'. 
The gang with the Birthday Boy and friends
What really stood out though were all the first timers. They were large in numbers being drawn to the show from our diverse ‘marketing machine’ of street posters, band member newsletters, online and magazine postings (Whole Note, What’s On TO) and our other performances like the recent Winterfolk festival and a Canada 150 show. And they were large in spirit. More than one audience member mentioned how emotional it was to hear the songs of their youth once again, which had them at times fighting back the tears, good tears! Of course, those didn’t get in the way of their robust sing along voices.

As if it couldn’t get any better, our friend Roly presented us with a cool vintage Kingston Trio songbook, which will be a cherished keepsake! 

Just a reminder that there's NO SHOW IN MARCH so mark Wednesday, April 18 in your calendar for the next edition of the folk revival.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Another Great Year Of Folk Singing Ahead!

2018 got off to a great start with a wonderful group of singalongers at the Free Times Café on Jan. 17th.

Can't believe 'Where Have All The Folk Songs Gone?' is now in our 6th year of monthly shows. It's true that ime sure flies when we're having fun!

There's more fun ahead...

Next show is Wed. Feb. 21st
(NOTE: there's no show in March)

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Happy New Year!

It has taken a couple of days to recoup our energy after a fabulous New Year’s Eve at the Free Times Café. With two shows that included over 50 songs we were a pooped but happy band at the end of the night. There was a nice mix of first timers and regular attendees of our monthly shows.

One couple, who live in Detroit had found the show online and made the trip to Toronto by train especially for it!

Some first timers learned of the show via one of the many posters that we put up around the city and one attendee said it was the dove image that caught her attention. It evokes that message of Peace that I think attracts us to much of the music from the Folk Revival.

Oh, and another cool thing…after we sang MTA, an audience member held up her ‘Charlie Pass’. It’s a metropass issued in Boston in honour of the character in this legendary Kingston Trio song. I’m kicking myself for getting distracted during the break and forgetting to take a photo of it.

Going into the evening we were a tiny bit concerned that we'd have the stamina to get through the number of songs we’d be singing throughout the evening but it was no problem at all. In fact we happily played an unplanned-for Encore song at the very end of the night or rather early in the morning!

Thanks to Judy Perly, her staff, and everyone who came out and made it such a special night for us. Both audiences were warm and enthusiastic, and we can’t think of a better way to have ushered out 2017 and welcomed 2018!

Thursday, 7 December 2017

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? Come Party Like It's 1965!

Last year our New Year's Eve show at the Free Times Café was so much fun, we have to do it again this year. However last year's show sold out so quickly we had to turn many folks away. This year we're planning two shows so no one will be disappointed! 

New Year's Eve 
with Where Have All The Folk Songs Gone?  
Free Times Café, 320 College St, Toronto

Buffet Seatings: 6 & 6:30pm - $55
Music 8 to 9:30pm - $25
Buffet Seatings
(incl. midnight champagne & party favours): 8 & 8:30pm - $65
Music 10 pm thru midnight - $35

Reservations Required 416-967-1078
Book early - seating is limited!
Check out our video on You Tube:

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Full Coat Rack = Full House

Squeeze by the coat rack!
It was a lively crowd that filled the Free Times Cafe last night for our November edition of 'Where Have All The Folk Songs Gone?'

Not only did they fill up the coat rack, they also filled the room with a great spirit and their folk full voices.

Musical highlights included...
  • A reprisal of our new Malvina Reynold’s "mini set" of ‘What Have They Done To The Rain’ and ‘Little Boxes’ and once again experienced what a great activist songwriter she was.
  • ‘Tzena, Tzena’ continues to be a crowd favourite and we are slowly learning the proper Hebrew pronunciation...that’s ‘tszayna’!
  • Sue and Michelle made us teary-eyed with their respective renditions of ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ and ‘We Shall Overcome’.
  • We debuted Pete Seeger and Les Rice’s ‘Banks of Marble’, the latest addition to our repertoire, which Michelle nailed. I learned from one of our audience members that it was covered by none other than Bernie Sanders back in 1987.
  • People sang along to every word of Phil Ochs’ ‘Changes’ even though it wasn’t in the songbook...our audience really knew their folk music!

Best of all is when we get to talk to folks at the break and after the show. One first timer told me “The show made me feel like I was 20 and back in high school!" Another gentleman visiting from BC, told Sue there was nothing like this show back home and that it felt like "a real gift". The 60’s folk revival spirit lives on!

Next show, actually 2 shows, are on New Year’s Eve. Check out the Upcoming Shows for details.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

What Are You Doing New Years Eve?

Last year's New Year's Eve show was sold out and many people who wanted to be there were turned away😢 this year there will be two shows😊!!

Here are the details:

Friday, 20 October 2017

Full House of Folksingers

(Photo by Hilde R.)
Another fun evening of folk songs on a gorgeous October evening in Toronto. The room was packed with an enthusiastic gang of singalongers...of all ages. A group of a dozen twenty-somethings gathered to celebrate a birthday. Nice to see young folks embracing this music. It was so sweet to see them join hands and sway together while singing 'Puff The Magic Dragon'.

Actually there were three birthdays in the house. 
This is how we celebrate birthdays 'folk style'...Judy delivers cake on her head while we sing "Happy Birthday To You" to the tune of 'Michael Row Your Boat Ashore'. (Photo by Hilde R.)
We debuted two new songs this month...
The poignant 'What Have They Done To The Rain?' by Malvena Reynolds and Gordon Lightfoot's 'Steel Rail Blues'. Two very different songs from one another and both very well received. They bring our repertoire up to 72 songs!

Next show is Wed.Nov. 15th at the Free Times Cafe. Reservations are always encouraged to ensure you get a seat. 416-967-1078