Steve's Blog
Wednesday October 26, 2011

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It's a busy week at The Rogue, with Battlefield Band on Wednesday at Capilano University and a sold-out show with David Francey at St James Hall on Friday.

1. Battlefield Band, Wednesday October 26th, 8pm, North Shore Credit Union Centre for the Performing Arts, Capilano University

Scotland's Battlefield Band make their first appearance in town with the new line-up, which, since the retirement of Alan Reid, will be their first here with no founding members of this pioneering band. The Batties started way back in 1969 and you might think they could have become jaded or outmoded in all that time. Far from it! New band members have been introduced seamlessly into the band over the years and they now have four very talented and versatile multi-instrumentalists in the band. Mike Katz was born in California and is probably the only touring Jewish bagpiper who looks like an extra from a ZZ Top video! Not only is he a fabulous piper, he also plays various other wind instruments, bass and guitar, and is a prolific composer. Sean O'Donnell comes from an Irish family in Glasgow and is a fine singer and player of various strined and fretted instruments. On the new CD he even handles Otis Redding's That's How Strong My Love Is, turning it into a definitive Scots R&B classic (while keeping the band's Celtic roots intact with a segue into The Water Is Wide!) Alasdair White is primarily a brilliant fiddler, but he also excels on fretted instruments and lots of wind instruments - including bagpipes. The newest member is Ewen Henderson, a piper, fiddler, and an excellent singer in both Gaelic and English. The new CD is fittingly entitled Line Up and will be available at the gig tomorrow night. You could even win a copy in our Raffle.

2. David Francey, Friday October 28th, 8pm, St. James Hall, 3214 West 10th Avenue

David Francey was once called "the closest Canada has to Woody Guthrie" by local entertainment rag The Georgia Straight. He certainly has a great gift for writing both poignant and politically-astute songs with catchy melodies. We don't have any tickets left for this show, but there may possibly be some available on stand-by at the door around 7:45pm on the night if people who have reserved tickets don't show up in time. (Note: if you HAVE reserved tickets, you MUST be in line by 7:30pm to keep hold of those reservations.) David will be joined on banjo and other strings by Chris Coole of the Foggy Hogtown Boys and Mark Westberg on guitar. We wouldn't be surprised to see Karla Mundy - a former roommate of Westberg's in Quebec - joining David on harmony vocals on one or two songs. (Karla is a Shirley, of course, and also a former member of Mad Pudding and Cleia. A great singer!) It's Halloween weekend, so we'd love to see a few of you in costume! We'll have some Treats for you, and a wonderful bundle of CDs as the prize for the best costume!

3. April Verch, Sunday November 6th, 8pm, St. James Hall, 3214 West 10th Avenue

Whilst it is very gratifying to have a sold-out show for the first time in many months, we cannot rest on any laurels. We knew the Francey show would be popular as soon as we booked it. Shows like this make our programming both very special and, frankly, feasible. We are currently in the midst of a string of concerts showcasing some fabulous new Canadian bands. You may not have heard of some of these performers, or you might have seen them in the past and not realised just how much of a quantum leap forward has been taken by the more familiar names, so we encourage you to take a chance on some new faces - or revisit some artists who have recently released their most impressive work to date. Our November concerts - and the two in early December - are crucial parts of our programming and philosophy. On Sunday November 6th it's April Verch and her trio coming to St. James Hall. She is a stunning fiddler, step-dancer and singer who has graced our stage numerous times over the years. This time it's a totally different persona, and you will be amazed at the transformation! She has a great new CD, That's How We Run, and a brilliant backing duo of Cody Walters on claw-hammer banjo and bass, and Clay Ross on guitar. April is enjoying a new lease of life and, while she's always been a dynamic performer, is now unleashing her stunning array of talent, and rapidly becoming one of Canada's most compelling entertainers. We hope you will come out on November 6th and witness this remarkable performer - and support our endeavours to bring you the best in Canadian music.

4. Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba, Thursday November 10th, 8pm, St. James Hall, 3214 West 10th Avenue

On Thursday November 10th we host a feast of African music at St. James Hall, when the Cap Global Roots Series - in conjunction with Caravan World Rhythms - brings Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni ba from Mali. This concert was originally scheduled for a downtown venue, but that room was double-booked so they had to find a new home for the concert. We are thrilled to be a part of this presentation! Bassekou plays Ngoni, a leather and wood stringed instrument that is an ancestor of the banjo and guitar. He is joined by his brother Fousseyni and two other Ngoni players - a sort of string quartet, African style - and his wife, the glorious singer Amy Sacko plus a percussion player and a calabash player. You may have seen the band at the folk festival in 2010 or possibly at the Cultural Olympiad earlier that year - although that show was brought forward a few hours with no notice, so even I missed it! I've been playing their music on my radio show for over two years and they have long been one of my favourite African bands. Bassekou is also a member of the supergroup AfroCubism, which recorded a wonderful CD a year ago. They were, in fact, meant to be the original project which morphed into Buena Vista Social Club a decade back. Several African musicians foudn themselves stuck in war-torn Burkina Fasso and couldn't get to Cuba, so producer Nick Gold had to find another band to record. He found the veteran Cubans in Havana and the rest, as they say, is musical history. AfroCubism is a worthy successor to that seminal CD, and is strongly recommended to any fans of African and / or Cuban music.

5. Radio Waves

Please join me on Saturday from 8am to noon on CiTR fm 101.9 (Shaw Cable fm 88.5 and Telus TV Channel 3717) or online on for four hours of the best in Roots Music from around the world. This week will be my annual Halloween Special, plus new releases by artists like Oh My Darling (Winnipeg), Crooked Still (Boston), Rosie Ledet (Louisiana), and previews of all our concerts - and much more!

Also, Radio Rogue is available on our website for free streamed audio 24/7/365 with 1,500 songs including heaps of concert previews, reviews, and new releases. Visit the Radio Rogue page for listening instructions.

6. Rogue Folk Review

I'm working on the November issue of the Rogue Folk Review this week, but will have a one-page flyer available in the mean time at the Battlefield Band and David Francey shows so you can read all about our next few incredible concerts.