Is Jack Cole winding down or winding up? For the organizer of the Folk Night at The Registry concert series, it’s always a bit of both: as one season finishes, he’s already hard at work preparing for the next … and planning the one after that.
There’s always much to do when you’re running the only folk music festival of its kind in the area.
“It is unique. There are other series or concerts that present folk music, but up until recently this is the only one that has happened in the Kitchener-Waterloo area,” he said. “The Mill Race people put concerts on in Cambridge, and there is someone putting some on in Stratford. But other than that, there are sort of bar venues, but in terms of a sit-down concert series, this is the only one. The Registry Theatre is also a wonderful venue for this and anything acoustic.”
Cole spends all year planning for the next season’s folk series, announcing the lineup as the last series wraps up. That is when tickets go on sale, and he says they are already flying off the shelves, so to speak. The shows don’t start up until October, but it is never too early to plan ahead.“We have already sold out half of the tickets for next season,” he says, attributing the sales to the quality of artists the series welcomes to the area, and the quality of venue at the Registry. “The acoustics are good, the setting is intimate, there is that big stage area, so you can put single artists on or a group of five or six on there. It is a really nice place to see a concert and it is also convenient for people in the K-W area. I also like to cater the series to singer/songwriter material. So it is either traditional music, or artists writing songs that people actually want to listen to. It is not about dancing, it is not about drumming – these are intended to be listening-type concerts and I try to get people who are good entertainers and tell a good story along with the music. That is why I think I get so many season ticket holders year after year – it is not a routine experience.”
First up in the Folk Night at The Registry series is Jez Lowe, a renowned and award-winning folk musician from northern England who’ll take to the stage on Oct. 29.
“He has played at the Mill Race Festival two or three times, and the most recent time, a couple of years ago, and he was just fantastic. I always knew that he was a good songwriter, and I have a couple of his CDs but it turns out that he is also a really good entertainer. He tells interesting stories and funny stories. He tours a lot with a band, but this show will be Jez on his own. His song writing is extremely good,” said Cole.
There are also a few double bill evenings set up for the series. The second show, and first double bill, will feature veteran folk singer Laura Smith and newly minted Naming the Twins – a duo from the East Coast.
“Laura is quite well known, and she could obviously do a whole night on her own, but lately she has been touring with this duo, Naming the Twins, who are up-and-comers,” he said, adding that Smith has a familiar sound. “I was raised in the ’70s and I like to bring people in whose music reminds me of that era, and Laura qualifies for that, but I also like to bring people in that are unknown. Naming the Twins aren’t well known in the Ontario area at all. I listened to some of their music, and decided that these two would make a good combination. When I suggested it to Laura, she was excited to do it. Laura is a singer primarily, so having other artists on the bill, I think she enjoys that.”
Cole wants as many people that can fit in the Registry Theatre to come on out and enjoy some tunes and, heck, even sing along.
“For me, what I love at the end of the night, is when the audience is going out, they have been singing along, and they have really gotten involved with the concert and that happens more often than not,” he said. “I think that the big takeaway for our audiences is that they have gotten to know the performers a little bit, that they have gotten to know the music and that they have gotten to participate in the show.”