Steve's Blog
Wednesday March 9, 2011

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1. Carlos del Junco, Friday March 11, 8pm, St. James Hall (3214 West 10th Avenue)

At first, world champion jazz/blues harmonica player Carlos Del Junco thought a live album would be a fitting follow-up to his Juno-nominated 2010 release Steady Movin'. But, after growing frustrated with sound quality issues, the two-time Juno nominee decided instead to make a "live album in the studio," capturing all the rawness, energy and diversity of Del Junco's live show with the crystal clarity of a studio set. The result is Mongrel Mash, a collection of the old, new, borrowed, and blue, showcasing Del Junco's mad skills on harp and long-time collaborator Kevin Breit's singularly quirky musical accompaniment - plus the rock-solid backing of the rest of the Blues Mogrels: Henry Heillig on bass, Jorn Andersen on drums and percussion and Denis Keldie on organ.

The album opens with a swampy, rockin' Breit original called "The Crazy Bastard" and follows it up with Del Junco's own "My Favourite Uncle," an airy, summery-sounding blend of New Orleans and Hawaii. From there, it moves through two more covers and three updated renditions of Del Junco audience favourites before closing with "Lil' Laptop," a new-millennium remake of "Rockit 88," in which fast computers replace fast cars as the focus of macho one-upmanship. Two Mark Sepic compositions from Del Junco's 2001 album Up and at 'Em get new treatments on Mongrel Mash. "Mariachi" goes from a middle-of-the-road Mexican piece to an edgy rockin' Latin romp in which Del Junco truly makes the piece his own. "The Field," on the other hand, slows down to become a moving melody with a long, atmospheric guitar lead-in courtesy of Breit. Just like any great live set, the album is punctuated with rip-roaring extended solos and plenty of raw, impassioned playing.

Del Junco is one of only a handful of musicians in the world adept at using the overblow technique on diatonic harmonica. The extremely difficult technique, taught to him by jazz virtuoso Howard Levy, allows him to play chromatically on an instrument that is normally meant to be played in one key center - and it is in many ways more expressive and communicative than the mechanized tone produced by the chromatic harmonica. Del Junco's sound ranges from sensitive and soulful Stan Getz-like riffs to raw, rockin' and raunchy solos that prompted one reviewer to call him the Jimi Hendrix of the harmonica.

The Cuban-born, Toronto-raised Del Junco has been named Harmonica Player of the Year seven times in the Maple Blues Awards' 14 year history. He's earned the Best Blues title from Now magazine, and he's received Jazz Report magazine's Blues Musician of the Year Award. His albums Big Boy and Steady Movin' were both nominated for Junos. He began his solo career in 1993 after winning two gold medals at the Hohner World Harmonica Championships in Germany - in both diatonic blues and diatonic jazz. He has released a total of eight solo albums and has recorded with Bruce Cockburn, Kim Mitchell, Cassandra Vassick, Oliver Schroer, and Zappacosta. He has also worked with Dutch Mason, Hoc Walsh (Downchild Blues Band) and Holly Cole.

2. The Dust Busters - Concert & Movie Premiere, Saturday March 12, 8pm, St. James Hall (3214 West 10th Avenue)

The Dust Busters are an old-time string band based in Brooklyn, New York. They met while playing in a larger band with folk music legends John Cohen of the New Lost City Ramblers and Peter Stampfel of the Holy Modal Rounders. The Dust Busters integrate a wide range of old-time songs, ballads, fiddle tunes and jug band blues into every performance. They are influenced and inspired by the direct fusion of Scots-Irish and African music that took place in Appalachia, the Western states and the Deep South from the earliest colonial times through the Second World War. The Dust Busters' music is infused with the old-time feeling and freewheelin' high energy present in the true diversity of American Folk Music. By carrying this music forward with authenticity and creativity The Dust Busters make it thoroughly contemporary, meaningful and fun! The Dust Busters are: Walker Shepard (Banjo, Guitar, Guit-Jo, Fiddle); Craig Judelman (Fiddle, Pump Organ); Eli Smith (Guitar, Banjo, Banjo-Mandolin, Harmonica, Autoharp, Jug, Spoons)

The concert will be preceded by the Canadian premiere of John Cohen's film, Roscoe Holcomb of Daisy Kentucky - using the projector screen adjacent to the stage at St. James Hall. Please arrive early to avoid disrupting the film. In fact, I think we'll ask The Dust Busters to play a few songs at 8pm to set the tone for the evening and to get everyone settled and comfortable for the movie - which will start at 8:30pm. After the film there will be an intermission, and then The Dust Busters will play a longer set.

John Cohen's earliest films focused on Appalachian music in Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia. He later surveyed a wide spectrum of American music and musical performers, including African-American children in the Carolina Sea Islands, cowboys in Arkansas , Native Americans in Oklahoma , and the counterculture street musicians in Berkeley , California , and New York . He has also extensively researched and documented Andean culture and the British and Scottish roots of ballad singing. As a musician, Cohen was one of the founding members of the New Lost City Ramblers, a group that formed in the early 1960s and was central to the revitalization and popularization of folk music. As a still photographer, Cohen focuses on folk musicians and various indigenous tribes in Peru . His new book of photographs, Past Present Peru (Steidl, Gerhard Druckerei und Verlag), documents Andean culture was published last fall.

John Cohen explores the life, philosophy and music of Eastern Kentucky banjo player, coal miner and construction worker Roscoe Holcomb. Holcomb has been injured on the job and forced into early retirement. He discusses his life and music and plays a number of traditional songs from his region. Using intimate footage of Holcomb at home as well as footage of his family, community and region, Cohen presents a remarkable and visually beautiful portrait of Roscoe Holcomb, a man who despite economic hardship and changing times has maintained a powerful and authentic personal music and philosophy.

3. Radio Waves

I updated Radio Rogue yesterday with a new playlist featuring a few brand new releases and previews of our upcoming concerts. You can access it here.

The Edge On Folk this Saturday from 8am to noon on CiTR fm 101.9 and will feature an interview with The Dust Busters - possibly playing live too - and some new releases by Fearing & White, The Savoy Family Band (playing at West Van Library during the Jazz Fest in June!), the amazing Nicolas Pellerin et les Grands Hurleurs (the HIT of last weekend's Festival du Bois), Pied Pear (Rick Scott & Joe Mock vinyl tracks, combined with new songs on CD for the first time), Steve Dawson, Jeffery Broussard, Karen Savoca, Boubacar Traore, Good Lovelies, Wailin' Jennys, Michael Doucet & co, and more songs from the Folk Alliance "vaults" 2011: Suzie Vinnick, Kruger Brothers, Harpeth Rising, Kevin Welch, etc. and some old Willie & Lobo classics dusted off and polished up a bit. Please join me for four hours of the very best in Roots music - plus a new section: Classic Tracks from the last Quarter Century On the Edge!

4. Celtic Fest

Mardi Gras is over, time for rigs and jeels and breen geer. I'm sorry I'll shtart again. Time for jigs and reels - but definitely not green beer! Vancouver's Celtic Fest is back, and there are some wonderful events to take in, including the Ceilidh on March 17th at The Yale, Spirit of the West with The Starbirds at The Vogue on the 19th, and the St. Patrick's Day Parade on Sunday March 20th at 11am - followed by the Celtic Village on Granville Street, live music, workshops and more. Full details on

5. Fundraising & Pizza, Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company, 1876 West 1st Ave., Tuesday March 22nd, 5:30pm to 10pm

Come and celebrate not having to cook! Come and enjoy excellent organic food, grown locally, and cooked in a wood-fired oven. Enjoy a beverage with your meal. Leave room for dessert. Bring all your friends and family. Celebrate Roguery! Meet fellow Rogues, our volunteers and board members, and treat yourselves to a great meal that goes further. 10% of the food and bar take comes to The Rogue to help us keep going and to help fill the gap left in our finances by recent funding cutbacks. There will be live music, door prizes, and a grand prize of a Parcel O'Rogues 10 Ticket Pack. Come on down to the best pizza joint in town and support The Rogue! Here's their menu:

See you at The Rogue!