Last week, I was interviewed by a friend Linda Couture of Dorval, QC Linda is currently producing a podcast series about seniors in the workforce and their expertise. Although I don’t meet the age threshold, she interviewed me about my work with seniors and their musical heritage in Quebec’s English-speaking communities and why I ended up leaving an engineering career to follow this work.
Well, the time has come to slowly start wrapping the project up (for now). The month of November has been jam-packed with workshops and live shows. And we’re not slowing down just yet. We have three final livestream events coming to you between the end of November and early December 2020.
First, on November 28, 2020, we are having a huge celebration honouring the contributions of Black Quebecer’s to the province’s musical heritage. This event is in collaboration with the Black Community Resource Centre and is featuring a cross-section of the staggering diversity of Black musical talent and heritage in Montreal. Featuring The Sherwood Brothers, Ranee Lee, Michael Farkas, Fatima Wilson, Kalmunity, Todd Smith, Elli Miller-Maboungou and Lionel Kizaba, West-Can Folk Performing Co., King Shadrock, Naika Champaigne, Dominick and Beres.
On December 6, we are joining forces once again with our partner KlezKanada to bring you the final instalment of our KlezmerKonnections series featuring live music and discussion about the role of Klezmer music in building community through music and dance. Featuring live music from Montreal’s leading Klezmer players Yoni Kaston and Ariane Morin, Zilien Biret and Dan Kunda Thagard, and discussion with scholar and Yiddish dance instructor Avia Moore.
December 12 will be the final event for the project and one that’s been a long-time in the making. Hemmingford Archives were one of our first project partners and together we will be presenting a livestream that pays tribute to two of the Chateauguay Valley’s most beloved square dance orchestras, Rufus Fisher’s Orchestra of Barrington, QC and Wilson’s Westernaires led by Ellis Wilson of Brooklet, QC. We’ll be sharing live fiddle and piano music with John Wilson and Connie McClintock, interviews with friends and family, and old recordings and photographs of Rufus Fisher and Ellis Wilson. Brysonville Schoolhouse Revisited people will also be streaming the event from their Facebook page.
Join KlezKanada and the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network (QAHN) on Facebook Live for a virtual concert and discussion celebrating and exploring the role of klezmer music in building community and promoting the cultural vitality of Quebec’s Jewish community.
The event will open with a performance by Montreal klezmorim Jason Rosenblatt & Rachel Lemisch, followed by a talk and discussion with Yiddishist, playwright, and journalist Rokhl Kafrissen, and will conclude with a short set of music from master accordionist Sergiu Popa.
Rachel Lemisch, a trombonist, comes from a family of klezmorim that goes back generations. She is a founding member of Orkestra Severni, Shtreiml, and is a member of Soul Songs: Inspiring Women of Klezmer. Also a founding member of Shtreiml, Jason Rosenblatt is one of the world’s leading performers on diatonic harmonica (and definitely the world’s leading performer of klezmer music on diatonic harmonica). A multi-instrumentalist and multi-stylist, Jason is a truly unique voice in Jewish music. (Photo credit: Yakov Pollack)
Rokhl Kafrissen is a lawyer, playwright and journalist in New York City, as well as a first call super-title operator on the Yiddish theatre scene. Her writing on new Yiddish art and Jewish life has appeared in the Forward, Jewish Week, Lilith and many other publications, as well as her own blog, Rootless Cosmopolitan. Most recently, she is the author of a new bilingual (English-Yiddish) play called A Brokhe. (Photo credit: Avia Moore)
Originally from Moldova and a family of Roma musicians, Sergiu Popa has been living in Montreal since 2002. Since then, he has been gaining a solid reputation as one of Canada’s top accordionists. Classically trained, he also grew up playing at his father’s side as a wedding musician since the age of 8 – learning a vast repertoire of East European traditional folk, Roma, and Klezmer music. (Photo credit: Studio Avant Garde)
I’m very excited to announce the latest event collaboration as part of this project. In November, I was fortunate to meet some of the wonderful musicians keeping local musical heritage alive in the communities north and south of Quebec City. Many of these communities have a strong Irish heritage which lives on into the present-day.
On September 19, from 7 – 10 pm, in partnership with the Voice of English-Speaking Quebec (VEQ), the Shannon Catholic Women’s League, and the Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier Historical Committee, we are bringing you Saint Patrick’s Day in September.
We’ll be hearing from many of the musicians I met from Valcartier, Shannon, and Kinnear’s Mills in 2019 as well as several others joining us from far-and-wide. There will be something for everyone: fiddles, accordions, song, and dance.
Wesley McCoubrey (button accordion) James Allan (piano) Pierre-Antoine Landry (guitar and flute) Larry Hamilton (voice) Léonard Noel (fiddle) Donna King (voice) Melanie Chamberland (voice) Guy Bouchard (fiddle) Lisa Ornstein (fiddle) Bernadette Short (interview) The Shannon Irish Dancers (dance)
KlezKanada and A Different Tune Present: Rachel Lemisch & Jason Rosenblatt – Live in Concert
Online Concert. August 25, 2020. 5:30-6:30 PM
Free tickets available! (Regular price $25)
Rachel Lemisch (trombone) and Jason Rosenblatt (diatonic harmonica) are both stalwart musicians of Quebec’s Klezmer music scene. Rachel comes from a long family lineage of klezmer musicians and is a founding member of Orkestra Severni, Shtreiml, and is a member of Soul Songs: Inspiring Women of Klezmer. Also a founding member of Shtreiml, Jason Rosenblatt is one of the world’s leading performers on diatonic harmonica (and definitely the world’s leading performer of klezmer music on diatonic harmonica). A multi-instrumentalist and multi-stylist, Jason is a truly unique voice in Jewish music.
For 25 years, KlezKanada has been strengthening Quebec’s Jewish and Yiddish musical and cultural heritage. To celebrate this milestone, KlezKanada has partnered with the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network’s “A Different Tune” project to share klezmer music with new audiences in the province. As part of KlezKanada’s 25th annual summer KlezKamp (being held entirely online this year), A Different Tune is sponsoring 40 free tickets for Quebec residents to see Rachel Lemisch and Jason Rosenblatt’s online on August 25, 2020 from 5:30-6:30 PM.
To get your free ticket to see this evening of music streamed live from the comfort of the Lemisch/Rosenblatt home to the comfort of yours, wherever you are in the province:
Tomorrow night we are collaborating with the 100 Mile Arts Network initiative of Theatre Wakefield to bring you an evening of music and more from West Quebec artists. A Different Tune will be sponsoring some of the artists from Shawville, Wakefield, and Chelsea who shared there music with the project in December 2019. You can tune in on the Facebook pages for either the 100 Mile Arts Network or A Different Tune (you don’t need a Facebook account to watch).
7:00 – 7:05 – Words of Welcome (100 Mile Arts Network and A Different Tune)
7:05 – 7:20 – Devorah Sugarman (Wakefield)
7:20 – 7:35 – Luther Wright (Wakefield)
7:35 – 7:50 – Tony McKenzie & Katelyn Zimmerling (Shawville)
This past March, I was en route to Shigawake and Gaspé when Premier Legault announced a state of emergency due to the Covid-19 pandemic. A few months earlier, I had reached out to Dave Felker of the Bonaventure County Agricultural Society as part of this project, hoping to collaborate to put together a series of music videos of local songwriters from the Baie-des-Chaleurs communities who have written songs about the area. The idea was to release these videos in the weeks leading up to the annual Shigawake Fair and Music Festival which takes place in mid-August. This initiative would culminate with the the opening night of music at the Fair, featuring an evening celebrating local songwriters and their songs of the Coast.
As I was making my way east last March, listening to the radio, it was clear the situation on the ground was changing so fast. After a few days in Quebec City I turned around and headed back to Montreal, indefinitely postponing my Gaspé trip. By May, every live music event in Quebec had been cancelled for at least the next six months and both Dave and I were regrouping to adapt to the new socially distant reality, working on our respective projects to deliver local musical programming using live streaming services.
Dave is currently leading a project for CASA called, The Gaspesian Way, which seeks to create an inventory of English-speaking artists, artisans, and their products on the Coast to help develop the local cultural milieu and increase tourist attraction to their communities. Tonight, we sat down 1000 km apart on Facebook Live, and discussed our partnership in the upcoming weekly “Thirsty Thursday” livestreams of local Gaspesian music.
Join us this Thursday at 8 pm at on the Facebook Live (details below) to hear Sammy Lind and Nadine Landry, an old-time country and cajun duo living in Pointe-à-la-Croix play music from their living room. Nadine grew up in a musical family on the Gaspé Coast before heading out West. Sammy Lind is originally from Minnesota but lived for many years in Portland, Oregon where he was a staple of the old-time country and square dance scene, founding The Foghorn Stringband, one of the best known old-time country ensembles in the U.S. and Canada. In 2016, Nadine and Sammy moved back to the Gaspé Coast, their current home-base when they are not touring the globe either as a duo or with the Foghorn Stringband. Together, they play fiddle tunes, early country and Cajun songs, alternating between fiddle, banjo, guitar and accordion.
To tune into the broadcast, simply visit either one of the two following Facebook pages (you don’t need an account to watch) every Thursday at 8pm:
This Thursday, “A Different Tune” has partnered with QAHN’s “Heritage Talks” to bring you a free afternoon of Irish culture, music, and history with a range of speakers, musicians, and dance experts. Join us over on the Heritage Talks Live Facebook page beginning at 1 pm.
Read on for bios and a schedule of the afternoon.
See you then!
1:00 PM – 1:05 PM Welcome words by Heritage Talks project director, Christina Adamko
1:05 PM – 2:00 PM Building a Monument Park: The Fight for the Irish Commemorative Stone, by Fergus Keyes
2:00 PM – 2:20 PM Celtic music by multi-instrumentalist Roy McLaren
2:20 PM – 2:50 PM Interview with Irish dance instructor Bernadette Short and researcher Rachel Hoffman. Glenn Patterson of QAHN’s “A Different Tune” project will lead the interview.
2:50 PM – 3:30 PM Donovan King, founder of Haunted Montreal Ghost Tours will tell a bone-chilling Irish-Montreal ghost-story
3:30 PM – 3:50 PM Celtic/Jazz flute player David Gossage closes the afternoon with traditional music and original compositions.
Fergus Keyes has had a lifelong interest in the general history of Montreal, Quebec, and Canada. Based on his heritage, his special focus has been on the Irish immigration and contributions to Quebec. For over 10 years, the Montreal Irish Monument Park Foundation has been dedicated to building a beautiful world-class memorial park around the Black Rock on the Montreal side of the Victoria Bridge to remember more than 6000 Irish victims that died and were buried in the the area in 1847. Fergus Keyes, a founding director of the organization, will provide details on this journey from a concept to reality – and the many difficulties, as well as positive steps that have been encountered along the way. Keyes will discuss some of the main historical elements of this topic as well as bring the audience up to date on the latest developments, including the recent discovery of numerous human remains at the site.
Roy MacLaren, Multi-Instrumentalist, The Narrows
A native of Quebec’s Eastern Townships, Roy’s introduction to Celtic music was through his first instrument the highland bagpipes. After receiving a grant from the Quebec government to study the piping traditions of Brittany, France, he discovered the tin whistle and spent time travelling and playing in Ireland and Scotland. While living in Nova Scotia, Roy has recorded and performed with musicians such as Joel Plaskett, Buck 65 and Al Tuck. Residing in Quebec’s Eastern Townships once again, he still performs with Halifax-based Celtic group “The Narrows” who play a range of repertoire from the Newfoundland, Irish, Cape Breton, and Québécois traditions.
Bernadette Short, Bernadette Short School of Irish Dancing, Commission Certified Irish Dance Adjudicator
Bernadette came to Montreal from her native Dublin in early 1974. From age 6 she was a pupil of the renowned Peter Bolton School of Irish Dance in Dublin and participated in many festivals and competitions throughout Ireland until moving to Montreal. There, she became involved in passing her knowledge and passion for Irish dance and culture to her new friends across Quebec. Over the years, she has fostered and spread the traditions of Ireland enriching the community where she lives and abroad. She is not only an Irish dance teacher, but is also a qualified adjudicator, much in demand across North America. She has judged major championships around the world including the World championships and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the school she created.
Rachel Hoffman, Concordia University
Rachel studies anthropology and Irish studies at Concordia University, exploring the historical roots that link an Irish-speaking past with a present-day Quebec. Her particular interest surrounds Irish music, dance and language, and the cultural space they occupy.
Donovan King, Haunted Montreal
Donovan is an Irish-Montreal historian, teacher, tour guide and professional actor. As the founder of Haunted Montreal, he combines his skills to create the best possible Montreal ghost stories, in both writing and theatrical performance. King holds a DEC (Professional Theatre Acting, John Abbott College), BFA (Drama-in-Education, Concordia), B.Ed (History and English Teaching, McGill), MFA (Theatre Studies, University of Calgary) and ACS (Montreal Tourist Guide, Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec). He is also a certified Montreal Destination Specialist.
David Gossage, Composer, Improviser, Multi-Instrumentalist
David Gossage is one of Montreal’s most respected and experienced musicians. Once cited by Gazette music critic as “Montreal’s secret weapon” multi-instrumentalist David switches from flute to guitar, whistles and harmonica with ease and in virtually all styles of music.
He attended the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and later received his degree from Concordia in Montreal specializing in theory and composition. Over the years David has played in all styles of music including African, classical, rock and funk, but he is probably best known for his jazz and Celtic playing. He has headed his own groups in both these styles and is considered one of the pioneers of the acid jazz scene here in Montreal.
David currently tours with his new band Dave Gossage and the Celtic Mindwarp. He has played in North American venues from New Mexico to New York City and from Louisiana to the Baffin Islands and all over Europe. David also teaches Jazz at the Schulich School of Music at Mcgill and Concordia University.
A few weeks back, my friend and colleague Laura Risk gave an online fiddle workshop for this project. The event had originally been scheduled to happen at MacDougall Hall in Ormstown but we moved it over to Zoom in light of current restrictions on public gatherings. We had nine beginner fiddlers join from all over Quebec and one student from southern Ontario. At the intermission, we were treated to a short set of fiddle music from the Chateauguay Valley’s barn dance era by John and Connie Wilson of Brooklet, QC (near Huntingdon). He provides some nice commentary on the role of this music in the dances and answered mine and Laura Risk’s questions about the musical history of the local area. Here is the Zoom online footage of their set.
I’ve known John for about ten years now and it’s always a joy to hear him play – even over an at-times unreliable rural Internet connection on Zoom. He has a distinctively graceful and expressive style that is complemented so well by Connie’s old-time piano style. I’m looking forward to sharing more music and history from John and his community later in this project. Stay tuned!