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Popular Folk Night at the Registry

Bruce and Marilyn Ogram’s property on Line 86 is home to numerous decorations, including their prized tractor-riding lawn jockey. [Scott Barber / The Observer]

Now that we’ve rolled into 2011, the busier part of the Folk Night at the Registry series kicks into gear. It’s a busy time for Jack Cole of the Old Chestnuts Song Circle, though part of that comes from working on next season’s bookings as well.
In the immediate future, he welcomes Haines and Leighton to the Registry Theatre next weekend. The Jan. 29 show is one rescheduled from September.
An even bigger organizational job is the next show on the schedule, the Southern Ontario Folk Reunion in March.

Next Saturday, the stage belongs to Mark Haines and Tom Leighton.

The two joined forces as a duo in 1992 with the release of “Foot To Floor, Repeat On Beat.” They perform an original and traditional repertoire, influenced by their Celtic and North American folk roots. They are multi-instrumentalists, combining traditional fiddle, accordion, guitar, bouzouki, and bodhran, blended with synthesizers, tone generators and processors. Leighton sometimes plays four instruments at once: left hand pumping the accordion and bass, the right hand thumping the drum, while his feet deftly work the pedals of the keyboards.

It makes for a big sound.

THE PAST COMES ALIVE The Southern Ontario Folk Reunion will feature seven performers from the heyday of ‘70s coffeehouses, including bassist David Woodhead, a composer and producer who has appeared on more than 150 albums.

“These guys put on a great live show. Mark is an excellent songwriter and Tom is ‘Mr. Everything,’” said Cole, noting they’re known for their personable stage presence and humour.

There’ll be plenty of that traditional folk-show mainstay – storytelling – during the Southern Ontario Folk Reunion that marks the fourth show in the six-concert series.

That show, said Cole, will be a walk down memory lane for anyone who took in the folk scene during the 1970s, and a musical history lesson for other fans of the genre.

Two venues in London and Stratford (Smale’s Pace and The Black Swan Coffee House) nurtured a company of songwriters the likes of which are unlikely to be seen again, he said.

Writers and performers included legends such as Stan Rogers, Colleen Peterson, Willie P. Bennett, Bill Hughes, Michael Lewis, Walter Maynard, Jackie Washington, all now passed on. Others still at it today included David Bradstreet, Garnet Rogers, David Essig, Doug McArthur, Paul Mills, the Dixie Flyers, Rick Taylor, Laura Smith, Valdy, Brent Titcomb, Bob Burchill, Cedric Smith, Terry Jones and Richard Keelan – the last four being part of Perth County Conspiracy (DNE).

“These are the guys that showed up at all the coffeehouses and all the folk venues,” said Cole, who credits them for inspiring his own foray into performing folk music.

“These are top-quality songwriters. It’s about time we celebrated it.”

Seven of those musicians, all still active today, will take to the stage Mar. 12: Juno-winner David Bradstreet, Bob Burchill, Doug McArthur, Paul Mills, RickTaylor, Brent Titcomb and David Woodhead.

Each will likely do three songs, along with plenty of storytelling and tributes to Stan Rogers, Willie P. Bennett and Colleen Peterson.

“It was a prolific period – there’s lots to choose from. They’ll do their songs, and they’re all going to be on stage together, backing each other up.”

The series will be rounded out with a performance by Dave Gunning (Apr 9) and then capped by the appearance on May 7 of the legendary Sylvia Tyson.

In a first, Cole is arranging a summer concert, A Tribute to Harry Chapin (June 17 and 18) to raise money for world hunger relief, a humanitarian cause for which Chapin fought. The concert falls a month prior to the 30th anniversary of his death.

Haines and Leighton hit the stage Jan. 29 at 8 p.m. The Southern Ontario Folk Reunion is set for Mar. 12 at the Registry Theatre, 122 Frederick St., Kitchener. Tickets are $18 ($20 at the door), available at the Centre in the Square box office by calling 578-1570 or toll free 1-800-265-8977 or online at www.centre-square.com. For more information, check out www.folknight.ca.

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