Its last full season having been interrupted by the onset of the still-ongoing pandemic, the Folk Night at the Registry series has resumed, albeit in a scaled-back form.
Still, it’s all about the music, and the music will be in full tilt, starting February 25 with Dave Gunning and J.P. Cormier. That’ll be followed April 15 by the Allison Lupton Band and, on May 13, by Joe Crookston. There’s a bonus show of sorts when Boreal performs April 14 as part of the Registry Roots Weekend. Not officially part of the (abbreviated) series, it’s nonetheless a treat for fans of folk.
The resumption of the series comes on the heels of a considerable amount of work by organizer Jack Cole of The Old Chestnuts Song Circle. The pandemic caused a great deal of disruption in all facets of society, and was particularly hard on the entertainment business. He notes, for instance, that several folk festivals have shut down in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis that began three years ago.
With his folk series, it took a couple of years to finally finish out the 2019-20 season, and prompted an investment in technology to allow for livestreaming. Watching online continues to be an option with the return to live concerts, a fact that helps offset the reduced seating capacity put in place at the venue in order to allow for more spacing.
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It also provides an option for those fans who still aren’t comfortable getting out to see live music, which is particularly true of older audiences, said Cole, noting the addition of livestreaming has been a “win-win-win” for the series, the artists and the audience.
“There were a lot of new ticket sales, so we actually made more money for the artist. We didn’t have people uncomfortable in the theatre. We told people, if you have any symptoms, just tell us and we’ll give you a live stream ticket instead, so we didn’t have sick people coming to the theatre just so they didn’t waste their ticket. With an older audience, those factors were all important,” said Cole of the adjustments made in the past few years.
Given that the first concert of the series – Dave Gunning and J.P. Cormier – now has a small waiting list for in-person tickets, the livestream option provides a new opportunity.
That show is something of a do-over from three years ago when circumstances conspired against getting people out for the concert.
“When they offered to come back as part of their new album release tour, I jumped at it,” said Cole of the February 25 show.
Next in the series is the Allison Lupton Band on April 15. The Cambridge-based flute player has long been immersed in the Canadian folk scene, mixing that sound with her study of Irish and Celtic music. Her newest album, “Words of Love” showcases her original material, songs which fit so perfectly into the canon of Canadian folk music that they could easily be mistaken for traditional numbers, he notes.
She’ll be joined by her all-star band mates – among the best players in the world – Andrew Collins, Shane Cook, Tony McManus and James McEleney.
“Those guys are world class on their instruments,” he said. “It’ll be great, so I’m really looking forward to that. And she’s just a lovely person to work with.”
The shortened season ends with Ithaca, NY-based singer-songwriter Joe Crookston’s show on May 13.
“He’s a great entertainer, a great songwriter and a great musician as well,” said Cole of the songwriter who’s an accomplished guitarist, fiddler and slide player, as well as a visual artist. “He’s a real performer. He gets the audience involved and pulls them in to whatever he’s doing.
“I got to know him because of his songwriting, one song in particular that I thought was just brilliant. That led to another brilliant one, and another brilliant one and another brilliant one …”
With this season yet to get underway, Cole is already busy with season 16, having booked most of what will be a return to something more like a pre-pandemic schedule.
All of the shows on the current agenda run at 8 p.m. at The Registry Theatre, 122 Frederick St., Kitchener. Advance tickets and series passes are available exclusively through www.folknight.ca and from Cole directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.