1. Remembering Koady Chaisson
The Canadian Celtic and Roots Music scene was rocked last week with the news of the sudden passing of banjo wizard / composer Koady Chaisson of PEI trio The East Pointers. Such a huge loss. A tragedy. I am struggling to find words. Our hearts go out to his wife Chloe and their kids, to his cousins and band mates, to the music community of PEI, and to all who came across this amazing band in the past 7 years or so.
They only played one Rogue show, back in October 2018, but we were able to film it. Our good friends at Hubcast Media not only recorded the show with multiple cameras, they also recorded an interview I conducted with Koady and his cousin Tim Chaisson on stage after the gig, and they aired an edited version of the concert on Joy TV. They have now remastered the audio and you can watch the full concert and the interview by clicking here
I first heard of The East Pointers when I was on vacation in Australia at the end of 2014. My friends Roger Holdsworth and Susi Lanagan of Melbourne's iconic community radio station PBS FM asked me what I knew about the band as Roger was interviewing them for his Global Village show and Susi had been asked to feature them on her show, What The Folk, in anticipation of the band playing some Australian festivals in the following weeks. I was a bit ashamed to admit that I had never heard of them! However, I listened to their debut EP and was impressed. I'm sure Roger was able to pull off the interview with his customary aplomb - and with no assistance from me!
We saw the band at Cape Breton's Celtic Colours Festival in 2015 and I was so impressed I bought their first full CD, Secret Victory, at the concert in Membertou, and was determined to bring them to Vancouver at the earliest opportunity. That chance came in October 2018, of course, and it really was a superb concert.
What is so remarkable about the band is that all their instrumentals sound 100% traditional, yet they are all original compositions by the band members, driven by Koady's stunning tenor banjo playing. They also write their own songs, and blend the banjo with Tim's fiddle and Jake Charron's driving rhythm guitar and keyboards. Their sound is also quite contemporary, with the use of bass pedals and the occasional loops, but remains tasteful and hugely melodic, with great lead and harmony vocals.
The next time we saw them was at Denmark's Tonder Festival in 2019, where we introduced their music to our Danish friends while grooving to their brilliant set on the huge outdoor stage. I recall telling Koady that I was disappointed to see that their next Vancouver show was to be at The Fox Cabaret that Fall. We had not even been approached to present them a second time. Koady was unaware of this, and told me that they had loved their Rogue gig the previous year and would definitely push for a Rogue return next time around. Covid and last week's tragedy put paid to that, but I am very grateful to Catherine, one of our volunteers, for providing me with a copy of their latest CD, Yours To Break, after that Fox show. I'm not sure where I purchased their second CD, 2017's What We Leave Behind. Probably from iTunes. It's my favourite East Pointers album, and what they leave behind is a fabulous body of work. You can read more about Koady Chaisson and the band on their website.
R.I.P. Koady Chaisson. And thanks for the great music and the great memories. You are sorely missed already, my friend. I am heartbroken.
2. Rogue Shows On Hold
With the rampant Omicron variant of Covid wreaking havoc around the world we have been startled by the realization that we now know increasingly large numbers of people who have been infected. So many friends, volunteers, and musicians. It's getting worse. We are all vaccinated and most of us have had our booster shots and flu shots, so we hope to avoid infection, or at worst, just have a mild case of this deadly virus-borne disease. With this in mind, we decided to postpone our last December shows as well as our January concerts. We do have some shows booked for March, April and May, including return gigs from favourite artists like Coig, The Fretless, Martyn Joseph, Lydia Hol, and Early Spirit, as well as our Heritage Series of shows with some cross-cultural performers celebrating such events as Chinese New Year, Mardi Gras, Black History Month, Persian Norooz, and even The Beatles' Get Back! We are not sure when these concerts will take place, but rest assured, THEY WILL TAKE PLACE, as well as rescheduled shows with Jim Byrnes, and The Small Glories (shown above, performing at the Mission Folk Music Festival a few years ago).
Right now, though, our priority is the health and safety of our audience, performers, staff, and volunteers. Stay safe, folks. Be kind, and, for for your own sake - and for the sake of every one of us, if you aren't yet vaccinated then roll up your sleeves and get it done. It's safe, it will protect you, and will probably save your life, but more importantly, it will protect EVERYONE ELSE too! We can - and will - beat this virus! And music - LIVE music - will come back. Soon. We promise. Let's keep in touch. Updates will be posted on our website ...
P.S. Thank You So Much for all the contributions you made to our request for last-minute donations to help us pay for the improved lighting at St. James! Your NY Eve donations amounted to well over $5,000, and they will be matched by a government grant, too! Yay!! Go Rogues!!!
3. Radio Waves
I'll pay tribute to Koady Chaisson, and to Canadian Blues artist Harpdog Brown on this week's edition of The Saturday Edge On Folk on CiTR fm 101.9 and www.citr.ca(8am to noon this, and every Saturday). I'll also have some new music from the likes of Janis Ian, Steve Dawson, Karine Polwart, Nathaniel Rateliff, Yves Lambert, and much more. I hope you'll join me! There are also podcasts available of previous editions of the show, dating back to 2005 (over 1,000 shows!)
If you still need to listen to music curated by a human, rather than a Spotify or iTunes algorithm, Radio Rogue is pumping out some great tunes from our website 24/7.
Finally, set your PVR to record The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Thursday to see Allison Russell singing her remarkable song, Persephone, live at the Ed Sullivan Theatre in NYC. There is usually an extra song recorded and made available on Colbert's website, so check that out, too!